Remediating the apocalypse

Hybrid Media Networks

Bolter and Grusin's (1999) notion of remediated, hybrid networks take us beyond the normal theory of networks reiterated in other hypertext theory.

Media technologies constitute networks or hybrids that can be expressed in physical, social, aesthetic, and economic terms. Introducing a new media technology does not mean simply inventing new hardware and software, but rather fashioning (or refashioning) such a network. The World Wide Web is not merely a software protocol and text and data files. It is also the sum of the uses to which this protocol is now being put: for marketing and advertising, scholarship, personal expression and so on. These uses are as much part of the software as the technology itself. For this reason we can say that media technologies are agents in our culture without falling into the trap of technological determinism. New digital media are not external agents that come to disrupt an unsuspecting culture. They emerge from within cultural contexts and they refashion other media, which are embedded in the same or similar contexts. (19)

George Landow also argues that the intertextuality of hypermedia opens traditional notions of author/work/tradition into a broader space of text/discourse/culture. This opening-up helps us avoid narrowly conceived technological and historic or textual determinism.

While Bolter and Grusin's "genealogy of affiliations" is similar to this view of intertextuality their constellations of remediated forms can be read as applicable to both a set of texts as well as a set of textual systems or media.

Our culture conceives of each medium or constellation of media as it responds to, redeploys, competes with and reforms other media. In the first instance, we think of something like a historical progression, of newer media remediating older ones and in particular of digital media remediating their predecessors. But ours is a genealogy of affiliations, not a linear history, and in this genealogy, older media can also remediate newer ones. Television can and does refashion itself after the World Wide Web and film can and does incorporate and attempt to contain computer graphics within its own linear form. No medium, it seems, can now function independently and establish its own separate and purified space of cultural meaning. (55)

This notion of the hybrid/network allows us to conceptualise the interconnected elements of news, film, television, fiction not just as a series of connected texts but as producing material artifacts which are at once new as well as deeply embedded in historical forms.

See also Foucault's notion of "network" as a phenomenon "that is able to link together"

This web project is an evolving space exploring contemporary manifestations of the apocalyptic in current affairs and popular culture. It is being developed in association with my Ph.D. research and is both a research method and a presentation of that research. In exploring the apocalyptic I am particularly interested in mapping a series of multimodal mythic clusters that are evolving through a process of remediation which I identify as a key cultural logic for an age in which electracy is the new literacy of nomadic subjects. This hypertextual presentation foregrounds affiliational logic and although I hope the project accumulates meaning it does not seek to present a single, formal, linear argument. I have presented some of these ideas in more traditional academic formats in other places. Although the navigational choices are the user's own these tips may be useful. Feedback is very welcome.

Marcus O'Donnell 2005-2006