Response: Remediation – Bolter and Grusin

Remediation: Understanding New Media – Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin

I’ll be honest in saying that I had a hard time wrapping my skull around this one. I have not seen Strange Days, so the virtual reality elements presented in that film and this article were a bit out there.

Simply put, the concept (and contradiction therein) of remediation is to erase all traces of media by multiplying it. As we have continually seen in GUI design, technology is more and more trying to become transparent: simply a recreation of our everyday actions.

Immediacy and hypermediacy are concepts which we are all familiar with, and that are dependent on one another. Using the example of CNN – the website and the television broadcast – we see the overlap and dependence of immediacy on hypermediacy and vice versa. (Even in 1999 when this was written.) A multi-media hypermedia website must borrow from the immediacy of a video newscast or story. Likewise, an immediate communication such as a newscast on television borrows from the hypermediacy of the web with generated computer graphics and the overall look and feel of a website.

The history of hypermediated art is interesting, since we’ve all been told that history repeats itself. “Some hypermediated art has been and remains an elite taste, but the elaborate stage productions of many rock stars are among many examples of hypermediated events that appeal to millions.” To me, it’s great to see that even ten years ago someone was thinking of hypermedia as art and dependent upon design. This sentiment has rapidly grown – hence our program. Appealing to millions with hypermediacy as an expression of art is the end goal – where we may finally be able to monetize media and design in the proper way.

It is not until the end of the piece that Bolter and Grusin really narrow the focus of their publication. The most important discussions contained before regard the concept of hypermediacy, which not only are most of us aware of, but easily recognize and accept. We even see a couple of reappearances of our friend Marshal McLuhan in regards to the “repurposing” of media. Of ways in which a medium can remediate, I think the most accurate and forward thinking is when a medium “absorb(s) the older medium entirely, so that the discontinuities between the two are minimized.” This “ensures that the older medium cannot be entirely effaced; the new medium remains dependent on the older one in acknowledged or unacknowledged ways.” As we’ve seen media evolve, for the most part, older mediums have not been entirely eclipsed, but rather remain a small part of a now larger concept. Again using the examples of video games, specifically ones which the authors refer to as “interactive films.” Though I am not a gamer, I still think that video game interfaces are currently doing the best job at recreating and repurposing media for the goal of having an “interfaceless interface” – assimilating the user into itself.


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