Monday, January 16, 2017

Dark Shadows [Non-Core Response #1]

In this week's readings, it became apparent very quickly that technology not only affects our contemporary interpretation of media, but also the longevity of the theories themselves. Many of the seemingly unique elements that defined television (for theorists in the 1960s-'80s)—its liveness, flow, segmentation, etc.—are no longer universally relevant, especially as more people watch "television" using on-demand streaming. I wanted to briefly highlight another of those technological changes: high definition. In Understanding Media, McLuhan notes that "the TV image rendered the sharp and clear photographic image as blur and blear" (186). Today, however, the TV image is virtually indistinguishable from cinematic (née "film") images in its clarity. However, this conflation also applies to older TV shows that were recorded for the distribution technology of their own era, but now appear on HD streaming services, such as Dark Shadows. For me, much of the charm of watching this show now is in seeing the edges of the sets and the under-made-up actors—though perhaps not the most flattering, it does afford a certain element of "liveness" or "realness" that perhaps does match some of these earlier theories.

DVD version—not even fully representative of 1960s/70s TV quality

HD'd version on Hulu today
Tina Fey projects similar anxiety about the transition from SD to HD on 30 Rock in 2009

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