Monday, February 13, 2017

TV+Screens - Core Response

The readings this week made me hyper aware of how much my life is structured around TV. Anna McCarthy's "Television While You Wait" presents a strong set of examples and analysis of the use of television screens while we wait, while we're presumably "dead" or bored, completely mindless. And more than just the doctor's office or Planet Hollywood these days—screens are built into cars, safety guide videos when you take a flight have become so much more entertaining, and people can’t help but to take out their phones when waiting in line at Disneyland. Does our ability to have the TV into our personal space in a public space change its role? Position? It’s an ability to personalize our boredom and occupy our time with what we wish to educate or more likely entertain ourselves with but I wonder if that somehow divides the individual, too much, from their immediate present in a harmful way. The temporary space that television is meant to occupy isn’t as temporary when you can take it with you. For me, it makes the waiting feel constant. This brings me to Margaret Morse’s “An Ontology of Everyday Distraction” which I also thought was a an interesting read. In the subsection Derealized Space she notes “Nonspace is not mysterious or strange to us, but rather the very haunt for creatures of habit”, then “(Nonspace)…is an uncanny oscillation between life and death” (196). These spaces, the car, the freeway, the living, the mall, the computer, are places in which we remain within our head space and we are meant to flow from one to the next. The metaphor of life and death feels so brutal but I think it works. I wonder if there’s a way to inscribe a flow of nonspace which would make the oscillation between life and death less abrupt, perhaps even change to life and a deep sleep or a dream state. I guess having mobile devices is a step toward that, where people can use the screen to prepare for their next “life” moment. Finally, I found Beatriz Colomina’s “Domesticity at War” to be very enlightening. More than the television’s star role in the center of the living room, the entire household becomes a place of privatization, cut off from the world but connected to the world via the screen. It reminded me of my experience during 9/11, how I would have never known about it had my mom not called the house and told me to turn on the TV. Plus I was in Hawaii and 6 hours behind. I remember feeling how unreal it all seemed to be. And still it was my only way of knowing what was going on.

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