IMAGES Journal for Visual Studies

projects: Visual Culture and New Media

The Media and Globalization: "Postomodernization" of Film and Television

By Saša Vojković

Globalization implies the simultaneity of communication, which also means that the link between film and other media is becoming stronger. In this sense, the new media also determine the modus of cultural expression; while the classical film theory questioned the relation between film and other forms of art, today the relation with new media is of importance. The development of visual technologies, thus, inevitably reflected upon the film medium. While the film is the fundamental polygon for the representation of "worlds", today's multimedia culture broadens this experience. Cinematic realities intertwine with real space, and physical and spectacular spaces overlap. As far as feature films are concerned, the basic question which arises is how the development of media technologies influences film narration and questions of subjectivity and identity?

David Rodowick warns that the rapid development of the new media entails a serious question for film studies. He goes as far as to describe the film as "the incredible shrinking medium". Relevant discussions by Walter Benjamin and Paul Virilio assess the historical impact of the new technologies in the sense of a progressive shrinking and ultimately total elimination of something both theoreticians take as fundamental condition of the human perception – the spatial distance between the subject which is viewing and the object that is being viewed. Cultural analyst Ackbar Abbas refers to Verilio's argument about the relation between disappearance and speed; the type of speed appearing in the age of electronic technology, the mediation of reality and spatial deformations resulting from this speed. Something is happening to our experience of space. Space is becoming diverse and oversaturated with signs and images, at the same time becoming increasingly abstract and elusive. One of the key questions that inevitably arises in this context is the question of subjectivity in the "disappearing space", which is closely related to the ways in which (especially in film texts) the transformation of identity is thematized.

According to Virilio, speed primarily serves the viewing. The viewing machine is a speed machine which undermines traditional terms that refer to what is visible and what is not visible. From this follows the production of the seen without looking, which, as Virilio contends, is only a reproduction of the intense blindness which will become the ultimate form of industrialization. "It is today impossible to talk about the development of the audiovisual without talking about the development of virtual pictures and their impact on human behaviour, or without talking of the industrialization of viewing/seeing and the growth of the market of synthetic perception and all ethical questions included in it." If speed is not a phenomenon but the relation between phenomena, the question that arises regarding the distance in the viewing of the phenomenon is reduced to the powers of perception. For this reason we perceive reality in the sense of intensity, i.e. speed, rather than in relation to light and darkness, reflection, or some other, today outdated categories. Kinematic energy imposes itself as the energy of the image. Relevant is also the discussion by Manuel Cassells, who contends that the historic specificity of the new communication systems does not lie in the introduction of virtual reality, but in the construction of real virtuality. The new communication system based on digital networking of different media modes of communication includes all cultural expressions. Culture is, thus, mediatized through communication, historically created systems of beliefs and codes are transforming ever more rapidly, strengthened through the operation of new technological systems.

What interests us in the above-mentioned discussions is the impact of the new media on film; obviously, digital technology primarily influences the representation/depiction of reality, and this mediatized reality is displayed in films. Globalization is connected to "postmodernization", which influences the visual style of films. Film texts are opening a new line of communication which confirms the necessity of intersubjective inclusion, as well as the importance of intercultural and transnational literacy. An increasing number of films generate new discursive and analytical spaces that need to be taken into account. The realization of media literacy is closely linked with the circulation and movement of the source of identity, the subjectivity or style determined by the development of communication networks and new technologies, especially new media. In this framework, the question of global television programmes in the local context will be studied.

The fact will be taken into account, that one hundred years after the birth of film, the cinematic way of looking at the world, the structuring of time, the storytelling, the connection of one experience with another, has become the principal way in which users of the new media come into contact with all cultural information. As Lev Manovich contends, Gutenberg's galaxy was transformed into Lumiere's, cinematic, galaxy, and the film medium became the most complex cultural interface.

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