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Research on Remix and Cultural Analtytics, Part 4

Image: Detail of sliced visualization of thirty video samples of Downfall remixes. See actual visualization below.

As part of my post doctoral research for The Department of Information Science and Media Studies at the University of Bergen, Norway, I am using cultural analytics techniques to analyze YouTube video remixes.  My research is done in collaboration with the Software Studies Lab at the University of California, San Diego. A big thank you to CRCA at Calit2 for providing a space for daily work during my stays in San Diego.

The following is an excerpt from an upcoming paper titled, “Modular Complexity and Remix: The Collapse of Time and Space into Search,” to be published in the peer review journal AnthroVision, Vol 1.1. A note will posted here, on Remix Theory, announcing when the complete paper is officially published.

The excerpt below is rather extensive for a blog post, but I find it necessary to share it in order to bring together elements discussed in previous posts on Remix and Cultural Analytics (see part 1 on the Charleston Mix, part 2 on Radiohead’s Lotus Flower, and part 3 on the Downfall parodies). The excerpt has been slightly edited to make direct reference to the previous postings, and therefore reads different from the version in the actual text, which makes reference to sections of the research paper where more extensive analysis is introduced. Consequently, in order for this post to make more sense, the previous three entries mentioned above should also be read.

The following excerpt references sliced visualizations of the three cases studies in order to analyze the patterns of remixing videos on YouTube. The reason for sharing part of my publication now is to bring together the observations made in previous postings, and to make evident how cultural analytics enables researchers invested in the digital humanities to examine cultural objects in new ways that were not possible prior to the digitalization process we have been experiencing for the last decades.

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To understand how a meme evolves based on the first remixes that a user may find can be evaluated by developing visualizations of the three cases studies that show the editing of the video footage over time.  To accomplish this, I took the frames of thirty videos of each meme and sliced them in order to examine the types of pattern the editing actually takes.  What we find is that with the Charleston Remixes the video footage stays practically the same except for a few remixes in which the footage of Leon and James dancing was used selectively as part of bigger projects.  “Mr. Scruff – Get a Move on | Charleston videoclip” is one of these exceptions, in which the video is re-edited to match the sound (see slice detail below).  Another is “Charleston & Lindy Hop Dance ReMix – iLLiFieD video.mix (Version),” (also see below).

Image: A two column slice visualization of the 29 of 30 remixes (one remix was omitted because the footage is not the same performance.  That video is not relevant to evaluate how the video footage of this meme is left intact).  For a full list of this visualization visit: http://remixtheory.net/remixAnalytics/ and select “Charleston Video Slices.” View large version of this image.

Image: this is a slice visualization of “The Charleston and Lindy Hop Dance Remix.”  When comparing this sliced image to other slices in the two-column visualization above, one can notice the selective process with which footage from the Charleston Style was used.   This video is much longer than the original footage, and has been compacted in order to show how the video was selectively edited.  To view this remix, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POupa2sW1UI&feature=player_embedded. This video was uploaded to YouTube on May2, 2009. View large version of this image.

Image: this is a slice visualization of “Mr. Scruff remix.”  When comparing the sliced image to the other slices in the two columns visualization above, one can notice how the same footage was edited repeatedly to match the beat and sections of the song. This video is much longer than the original footage, and has been compacted in order to show how the video was selectively edited.   Visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Bx5-itIA0pQ.   This video was uploaded to YouTube on January 10, 2008. View large version of this image.

Image: A two-column visualization of Lotus Flower Remixes.  The original video by Radiohead is on the top-left.  Most of the videos sliced in this sample were uploaded within the first two weeks after the original video was uploaded by Radiohead on February 16, 2011. For a full list of this visualization visit: http://remixtheory.net/remixAnalytics/ and select “Lotus Flower Video Slices.” View large version of this image.

In the Lotus Flower Remixes (See image above) we can note that the editing of the videos is quite diverse; the footage is remixed (heavily edited) to match the beat and the overall feel of the selected songs, with the very first videos.

The Downfall remixes (see figure below) consists of video footage that for the most part has been left intact. What is remixed is the fake translation of Hitler’s rant.  The subtitles for Hitler are sometimes in the middle of the screen, in others at the bottom; sometimes the typeface is small, and at times large.  But in the end the video footage is left intact and the translations very much obey the rhythm of the original editing.

Image: A two-column visualization of The Downfall Parody remixes.  The original video with no subtitles is on the top-left.  Videos sliced in this sample were uploaded between 2007 and 2011.  At the moment it is not certain whether the 2007 upload was the first because many remixes have been taken down by YouTube.  For a full list of this visualization visit: http://remixtheory.net/remixAnalytics/ and select “Downfall Video Slices.” View large version of this image.

Image: Visualization of Downfall video, with proper English subtitles.  The thin horizontal white bars near the bottom of the frame are the subtitles.  To view this video visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bmkUlXp5sk&feature=related.   Some of the remixes present the subtitles in yellow. View large version of this image.

Image: visualization of “Hitler’s Reaction to the new Kiss album,” a video remix in which Hitler rants about the album’s title “Sonic Boom.”  The subtitles (the thin horizontal white bars) in this case move all over the frame.  To view this video visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwOLfppXhsk&feature=youtu.be. View large version of this image.

We can note in the three case studies that the approach of remixing is in part defined by the way the original remix or footage was produced.  With the Charleston Remixes, most contributions leave the video footage intact.  No major editing took place until September 2007, that is a year and four months after the first upload.  With the Lotus Flower Remixes, editing of the footage is done from the very beginning, while with the Downfall parodies, it does not place at all.  Why would this be?

Based on the diagrams (see the link “visualization of links” for each case study on the page remixAnalytics) and patterns of editing that I present, we can note that the later videos are in fact responses to previous productions.  In the Charleston Remixes, the video footage is left intact because it is intact in the first remix.  With Lotus Flower, the original footage by Radiohead is heavily edited, which gives remixers the license to immediately manipulate the footage in selective fashion—by omitting some parts of the footage while repeating others to match the selected songs.  With the Downfall remixes, the result is similar to the Charleston Remix: the footage is practically left alone because the meme demands that the basis of the meme be that only the text be remixed; therefore, the only major shift takes place with the placement of translations on the screen: sometimes on the middle, but for the most part at the bottom.  The only other shift we can notice with the subtitles is that they may crossover from one shot to the next based on the emphasis of the content that the remixer wants to make.  But none of the Charleston and Downfall videos are as heavily edited as the Lotus Flower remixes.  It is also worth noting that these are all selective remixes, which means that they all are dependent on a clear reference to the original source.[1]   If such reference is lost, then, the remix withers, and would become either a badly concocted reference, or simply a product on the verge of plagiarism.

One last element that needs to be considered, which apparently affects the production of the memes, as is also argued by a study on YouTube funded by Telefonica [2], and also supported by the research of Jean Burgess and Joshua Green [3] is that due to the viral emphasis on YouTube, online users are most likely to find an already remixed version of a video, and not the original if the remix has enjoyed more views.  The exception to this is Lotus Flower, for which YouTube apparently always offers the original video as part of possible selections, on the first page of all results.  This is likely because given Radiohead’s popularity, their YouTube channel has a large number of views.  For the Charleston, this is not always the case, as the original footage sometimes will not come up with certain video remixes.  For the Downfall meme, it is even more difficult to speculate how videos produced before 2007 affect users who currently search for the meme, because they are likely to find videos that are popular, but not necessarily the newest nor the oldest—but rather the most relevant based on the terms used for the search in relation to the number of views.

[1] For the full definition of the selective remix see “Selective and Reflexive Mashups.”

[2] Meeyoung Cha, Haewoon Kwak, Pablo Rodriguez, Yong-Yeol Ahn, and Sue Moon, “I Tube, You Tube, Everybody Tubes: Analyzing the World’s Largest User Generated Content Video System,” http://an.kaist.ac.kr/traces/papers/imc131-cha.pdf

[3] For Burgess and Green this is evident based on their assessment of the emphasis of presenting popular videos first, and the fact that YouTube members deliberately find ways to promote their videos to become as popular as possible. See Jean Burgess & Joshua Green, YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture (Cambridge: Polity, 2010), 74.

Introducing ImagePlot Software: explore patterns in large image collections

Image: 883 Manga series from the scanlation site OneManga.com.
Total number of pages: 1,074,790

Lev Manovich and Jeremy Douglass, 2010.

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ImagePlot is a free software tool that visualizes collections of images and video of any size. (The largest set we tried so was: 1,074,790 one megabyte images).

DOWNLOAD IMAGEPLOT 0.9

ImagePlot works on Mac, Windows, and Lunix.
Max visualization resolution: 2.5 GB (2,684,354,560 grayscale pixels, or 671,088,640 RGB pixels).

ImagePlot was developed by the Software Studies Initiative (softwarestudies.com) with support from the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH), the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), and the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA).

Along with the program, we also distribute a number of articles by Lev Manovich, Jeremy Douglass and Tara Zepel that address methodologies for exploring large visual cultural data sets, and discuss our digital humanities projects which use ImagePlot. (The articles can be also downloaded directly from softwarestudies.com.)

Visualizations created with ImagePlot have been shown in science centers, art and design museums, and art galleries, including Graphic Design Museum (Breda, Netherlands), Gwangju Design Biennale (Korea), and The San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art.

ImagePlot software was developed as part of our Cultural Analytics research program.

Learn more about Imageplot at Software Studies.

Research on Remix and Cultural Analytics, Part 3

Image: detail of video montage grid of “Hitler’s angry reaction to the iPad.”  One of several remixes on Hitler’s Downfall.  Larger images of this montage and others with proper explanation are included below.

As part of my post doctoral research for The Department of Information Science and Media Studies at the University of Bergen, Norway, I am using cultural analytics techniques to analyze YouTube video remixes.  My research is done in collaboration with the Software Studies Lab at the University of California, San Diego. A big thank you to CRCA at Calit2 for providing a space for daily work during my stays in San Diego.

This is part 3 of a series of posts in which I introduce three case studies of YouTube video remixes. My first case study is the Charleston Style remixes.  The second case study is Radiohead’s Lotus Flower remixes.

In the above video, Hitler rants about the iPad’s lack of features.

I learned about the Downfall remixes while doing research for the Charleston Style remixes.  For a good assessment of its development, read Know your Meme’s blog post of August 1, 2011.   These parodies consist of various excerpts from a not so well-known film titled Downfall, released in 2004, about the last days of Hitler and his inner circle before they all committed suicide.   There are a few scenes that have been used for the remixes, but I chose the most popular, which is also the longest excerpt remixed, of about 3:59.  The footage presents Hitler being told by key members of his inner circle that Berlin is surrounded and that it is only a matter of time before the enemy reaches them in the city.  Hitler is upset about the fact that he was not told the truth sooner and rants for quite sometime to eventually come to terms with his certain defeat.

In the above video Hitler rants about not getting the role as the Joker in Batman.

The parodies consists of taking the original footage, and implementing subtitles in English that have nothing to do with what Hitler is actually saying in German.   Instead, the subtitles present him ranting about the lack of features of the iPad, his realization that Pokemon does not exist, and his disbelief that Kanye West was extremely rude to Taylor Swift when West interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech at an MTV video awards to tell her that Beyonce was a much better music artist, among many other remixes.  I made a definite decision to focus on the Downfall remixes after I ran into one that showed Hitler upset about the “fact” that the Lotus Flower remixes had surpassed the Downfall Parodies’ popularity on YouTube.

In the above video Hitler rants about the Lotus Flower remixes.

I consider this reference a way of coming full circle between the memes.  With the Downfall parodies I was unable to find remixes before January 2007; and, therefore, I am not sure what the first parody may have been (check know your meme’s entry for a parody of 2006 that is no longer available); many which have been featured on articles by newspapers are no longer available on YouTube.   Nevertheless, new ones keep showing up, as reflections and commentaries of current events.


Montage grid of Downfall video, with proper English subtitles. 
View 2200px wide version Note that the resolution of the grid montage I make available does not allow for the subtitles to be read.

With the Downfall remixes, the result is similar to the Charleston Remix. In the Charleston, it is only the music that is switched, and for Downfall, only the subtitles are changed; therefore, the only major shift takes place with the formal placement of translations on the screen: sometimes on the middle of the screen, but for the most part at the bottom. For this reason, I’m only showing one montage grid visualization (above).

Visualization of Downfall with original English subtitles (no longer available on YouTube). View 2000px image. The thin horizontal white bars near the bottom of the frame are the subtitles.  To former link of this video is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bmkUlXp5sk&feature=related.  

Visualization of “Hitler’s Reaction to the new Kiss album,” a video remix in which Hitler rants about the album’s title “Sonic Boom.”  View 2000px image. The subtitles (the thin horizontal white bars) in this case move all over the frame.  To view this video visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwOLfppXhsk&feature=youtu.be.


Visualization of “Hitler Rejected For Joker In Batman 3.”
View 2000px image

Another shift we can notice with the subtitles is that they may crossover from one shot to the next based on the emphasis of the content that the remixer wants to make. But none of the Charleston and Downfall videos are heavily edited as the Lotus Flower remixes. I will compare at length the three case studies in part four of this series.

Remix[ing] Re/apropiaciones, por Eduardo Navas

Escrito para el MEIAC, Badajoz, España, marzo de 2010, para la exposición Re/approriaciones organizada por Gustavo Romano, lanzada en Diciembre del 2009.  Publicada en red con permiso.

(English Version)

La exposición Re/apropiaciones, comisariada por Gustavo Romano, propone que los artistas de la cultura en la red encuentran su potencial creativo en la apropiación, la selección y la combinación de material preexistente y lo hacen en un meta-nivel: el del “re”, o, más concretamente, el del remix [remezcla] como forma de discurso. Con este fin, Romano recontextualiza al artista como un “redireccionador de información” más que como un creador. Tomar esta premisa como punto de partida para la producción creativa en los inicios del siglo xxi nos conduce a una pregunta recurrente que se nos plantea con frecuencia acerca de la conciencia popular del remix: “La remezcla, en tanto que acto de combinación de material, lleva existiendo ya mucho tiempo, podría afirmarse que desde que se concibió el lenguaje simbólico; por tanto, ¿qué tienen de peculiar los elementos del remix que se han explorado durante las primeras décadas del siglo xxi que tanto los distingue de aquellos que se dieron en el pasado?”[1]
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After Iran’s Twitter Revolution: Egypt, by Eduardo Navas

Note: This text reflects on Egypt’s revolution to reconsider the role of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, in real life changes.

This text is also available on The Levantine Review and Vodule.com

A peaceful revolution against a regime that had been in power for 29 years sounds impossible until one evaluates the events that led to the fleeing of former President Hosni Mubarak out of Egypt on Friday, February 11. The Egyptian people were able to organize with the use of social media; it was Facebook that rose to the occasion. Needless to say that what happened in Egypt is undoubtedly of historical importance.

About a year ago Wael Ghonim, a thirty-something Google executive decided to create a Facebook group “We Are All Khalid Said,” named after a young man who was killed by the Egyptian police.[1] The Facebook group reached hundreds of thousands, and Ghonim used it to educate people about their rights as citizens. More recently, a youth group known as April 6 was inspired by the events in Tunisia; along with supporters of Mohamed ElBaradei (a nobel prize winner who is active in revitalizing the politics of Egypt), with whom Ghonim also collaborates, they decided to turn the Police Day Protest (which previously was linked to British suppression), scheduled for January 25, into something much bigger. Ghonim announced the event on Facebook, and about 100,000 people signed up.[2] The rest, needless to say, is history–Tahrir Square was filled with thousands of people, and they never left until Mubarak stepped down from office.

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Remix: The Ethics of Modular Complexity in Sustainability, By Eduardo Navas

COMPLETE TEXT

“The Ethics of Modular Complexity in Sustainability” was published in the CSPA Quarterly, Spring 2010 Issue.  My text is available online according to a Creative Commons License adopted by the CSPA Journal. The content may be copied, distributed, and displayed as long as proper credit is given to the CSPA and the individual author(s), and as long as these contents are used by others for noncommercial purposes only.  Any derivative works that result from these contents must also be shared alike.

The journal is the print publication for The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, a non-profit that supports artists and organizations in the process of becoming ecologically and economically sustainable while maintaining artistic excellence.

Editor statement for Spring 2010 issue:

In this issue, we’re working against the stereotypes of the form, and attempting to broaden its term. As always, we’re exploring our chosen theme across disciplines and were delighted to include sculpture, visual art, theater, public art, and media art in the following pages. Instead of asking for work based on waste materials, we asked for work built from objects that already exist.

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Abstract: “Remix: The Ethics of Modular Complexity in Sustainability” evaluates sustainability in networked culture.  It considers how the flow of information in terms of immaterial production and its relation to knowledge play a role in a fourth economic layer supported by the growing ubiquity of globalization.  It revisits and expands, yet again, on my interest in Jacques Attali’s concepts of noise and music to propose a critical position fully embedded in pervasive connectivity.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This text was written as a testing ground for my growing interest in the concepts of volume and module, as explored in vodule.com.  Consequently, this text uses the term modular complexity, but does not define it.  I consider this text as part of my process to develop a precise definition of modular complexity in social and cultural terms.  The interests that inform this text are also relevant to my current research on Remix and Cultural Analytics.  Future writings will make clear the interrelation of all these ongoing projects.

This online version contains minor edits made in order to clarify the argument.

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At the beginning of the twenty-first century, sustainability can be read with a double meaning: to be self-supportive while socially conscious. This is because specialized fields (and individuals who work in these fields) need to be aware of their interconnectivity if they are to subsist in global culture. Sustainability is relevant in the arts and media according to the interrelation of material and intellectual production, given that such relation supports specialized fields. Sustainability, when linked to social consciousness, modifies how the recycling of material becomes relevant in culture at large. One could promote a philosophy of sustainability, which embodies critical awareness of the politics of intellectual and material property with real consequences in daily life. This is relevant in all areas of culture, even when one may produce strictly in the realm of aesthetics, and other specialized spaces that appear distanced from politics and economy.

The double signification of sustainability also shares principles of recycling with Remix as a form of discourse.  This is because Remix expands across culture from music to ecology: from immaterial pleasure to material responsibility.  The act of remixing has become common due to the rise of information exchange dependent on cut/copy and paste, which is an act of sampling data in all forms.  It enables individuals to apply the attitude of recombining in the realms of aesthetics and material reality, albeit with different results.  To be able to critically understand how such attitude functions in the symbolic and the material is the very challenge of sustainability.

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Transmedia and Remix Debate at Brazilian Digital Culture 2010, by Eduardo Navas

Image: Main Entrance of Cinemateca Brasileira.

I visited Sao Paulo Brazil on November 17th, to participate in a panel discussion for Brazilian Digital Culture 2010, organized by the Brazilian Ministry of Culture. I was invited to discuss the relationship of transmedia and Remix along with Maurício Mota (Os Alquimistas), and moderator Newton Cannito (Secretary for the Audiovisual/Ministry of Culture).  What follows is not so much a summary of the panel discussion, but rather a reflection on my views on transmedia and Remix, after evaluating my participation.  But first, I will begin by giving some general impressions of the day I spent in Sao Paulo.

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MAPPING TIME: Visualization of temporal patterns in media and art

Note: To get a sense of cultural analytics, read my previous entry from December 2009: http://remixtheory.net/?p=408.

Also visit:

http://www.softwarestudies.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/culturevis
http://gallery.calit2.net
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Exhibition by Lev Manovich, Jeremy Douglass, William Huber

With: Adelheid Heftberger, Agatha Man, Alex Avrorin, Bertrand Grandgeorge, Bob Li, Chanda L. Carey, Christa Lee, Christine Pham, Colin Wheelock, Daniel Rehn, Devon Merill, Jia Gu, Kedar Reddy, Laura Hoeger, Michael Briganti, Nichol Bernardo, Ong Kian Peng (aka Bin), Rachel Cody, Sergie Magdalin, So Yamaoka, Steven Mandiberg, Sunsern Cheamanunku, Tara Zepel, Victoria Azurin, Xiangfei Zeng, Xiaoda Wang.

October 4 – December 10, 2010
gallery@Calit2
University of California, San Diego
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Regressive and Reflexive Mashups in Sampling Culture, 2010 Revision, by Eduardo Navas

Download a high resolution version of Diagram in PDF format

This text was originally published on June 25, 2007 in Vague Terrain Journal as a contribution to the issue titled Sample Culture. It was revised in November 2009 and subsequently published as a chapter contribution in Sonvilla-Weiss, Stefan (Ed.) Mashup Cultures, 2010, ISBN: 978-3-7091-0095-0, Springer Wien/New York published in May 2010.

It is here republished with permission from the publisher and is requested that it be cited appropriately.  This online publication is different from the print version in that it is missing images that help illustrate the theory of Remix that I propose.  I do encourage readers to consider looking at the actual publication as it offers an important collection of texts on mashups.

I would like to thank Greg J. Smith for giving me the opportunity to publish my initial ideas in Vague Terrain, and Stefan Sonvilla-Weiss for inviting me to revise them as a contribution to his book publication.

This version brings together much of my previous writing.  Individuals who have read texts such as The Bond of Repetition and Representation, as well as Turbulence: Remixes and Bonus Beats will find that many of my definitions and theories of Remix are repeated in this text.  I found this necessary to make sense of a fourth term which I introduce: the Regenerative Remix.  Those who have read the previous version of this text may like to skip pre-existing parts, and go directly to the section titled “The Regenerative Remix.”  However, all sections have been revised for clarity, so I encourage readers to at least browse through previously written material.

An important change has been made to this text.  In the original version I argued that Reflexive Mashups were not remixes.  In 2007 I did not know what Reflexive Mashups could be if they were not remixes in the traditional sense, but after consideration and rewriting, I developed the concept of the Regenerative Remix.  To learn more about this change in my definition of Remix as a form of discourse I invite readers to consider my revised argument.  I also introduce a chart (above) which helps explain how Remix moves across culture. I also include an entirely new conclusion which will clarify my earlier position on software mashups.

A note on formatting: The text below is set up in simple text form.  This means that italics and other conventions found in print publications are missing.  If you would like to read a print ready version, please download a PDF file.

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Introduction

During the first decade of the twenty-first century, sampling is practiced in new media culture when any software users including creative industry professionals as well as average consumers apply cut/copy & paste in diverse software applications; for professionals this could mean 3-D modeling software like Maya (used to develop animations in films like Spiderman or Lord of the Rings); [1] and for average persons it could mean Microsoft Word, often used to write texts like this one. Cut/copy & paste which is, in essence, a common form of sampling, is a vital new media feature in the development of Remix. In Web 2.0 applications cut/copy & paste is a necessary element to develop mashups; yet the cultural model of mashups is not limited to software, but spans across media.

Mashups actually have roots in sampling principles that became apparent and popular in music around the seventies with the growing popularity of music remixes in disco and hip hop culture, and even though mashups are founded on principles initially explored in music they are not straight forward remixes if we think of remixes as allegories. This is important to entertain because, at first, Remix appears to extend repetition of content and form in media in terms of mass escapism; the argument in this paper, however, is that when mashups move beyond basic remix principles, a constructive rupture develops that shows possibilities for new forms of cultural production that question standard commercial practice.

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After Media (Hot and Cold), by Eduardo Navas

Image capture, July 11, 2009, http://hulu.com

The following text was originally published during the month of August, 2009 as part of Drain‘s Cold issue.  The journal is a refereed online journal published bi-annually.  The text is republished in full on Remix Theory with permission.  Drain’s copyright agreement allows for 25% of the essay to be reblogged or reposted on other sites with proper citation and linkage to the journal at http://www.drainmag.com/.  I ask that their agreement be respected by the online community.

In 1964 Marshal McLuhan published his essay “Media Hot and Cold,” in one of his most influential books, Understanding Media.[1] The essay considers the concepts of hot and cold as metaphors to define how people before and during the sixties related to the ongoing development of media, not only in Canada and the United States but also throughout the world.[2] Since the sixties, the terms hot and cold have become constant points of reference in media studies. However, these principles, as defined by McLuhan, have changed since he first introduced them. What follows is a reflection on such changes during the development of media in 2009.

McLuhan is quick to note that media is defined according to context. His essay begins with a citation of “The Rise of the Waltz” by Curt Sachsk, which he uses to explain the social construction behind hot and cold media. He argues that the Waltz during the eighteenth century was considered hot, and that this fact might be overlooked by people who lived in the century of Jazz (McLuhan’s own time period). Even though McLuhan does not follow up on this observation, his implicit statement is that how hot and cold are perceived in the twentieth century is different from the eighteenth. Because of this implication, his essay is best read historically. This interpretation makes the reader aware of how considering a particular medium as hot or cold is a social act, informed by the politics of culture. McLuhan’s first example demonstrates that, while media may become hot or cold, or be hot at one time and cold at another, according to context, the terms, themselves, are not questioned, but rather taken as monolithic points of reference. To make sense of this point, McLuhan’s concepts must be defined.

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