Remediating the apocalypse

The Double Logic of Remediation

Bolter and Grusin (1999) describe remediation as a term that captures the constant “oscillation” between “transparent immediacy” and “hypermediacy”. While this oscillation is notable in contemporary media of all forms - particularly new digital media - both elements have a long “history as a representational practice and a cultural logic” (31).

They write:

We are in an unusual position to appreciate remediation, because of the rapid development of new digital media and the nearly as rapid response by traditional media. Older electronic and print media are seeking to reaffirm their status within our culture as digital media challenge that status. Both new and old media are invoking the twin logics of immediacy and hypermediacy in their efforts to remake themselves and each other. To fulfill an apparently insatiable desire for immediacy, “live” point-of-view television programs show viewers what it is like to accompany a police officer on a dangerous raid or to be a sky diver or racing car driver hurtling through space….the logic of immediacy dictates that the medium itself should disappear and leave us in the presence of the thing represented: sitting in a racing car or standing on a mountain top.

Yet these same old and new media often refuse to leave us alone and new media often refuse to leave us alone. Many web sites are riots of diverse media forms…Television news programs feature multiple video streams, split screen displays, composites of graphics and text….Even webcams, which operate under the logic of immediacy, can be embedded in a hypermediated web site, where the user can select from a jukebox of webcam images to generate her own paneled display. (5-6)

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