January 15, 2008
In working through aspects of this thesis I have come across a fair amount of literature on the future of the printed book. I knew going into this project that I would find such discussions but what is curious to me is our desire to weigh in on such a what if conversation. Yes the book in its printed form has been a fundamental tool to our society since its inception and yes today for the first time in history that which the book offered can now be offered by something else. But this new technology, right now culminating with the Kindle I guess but I have yet to see this new device in action, can it really replace the book? Or rather is this really a conversation worth having. Now I know that I have defended the value of this artistic conversation and in so doing have met many individuals who believe the entire conversation of defining art has no value and ultimately hurts art in our culture, I obviously disagree with that sentiment. But with the discussion over the plight of the book I really see no value. This new medium will create a new art, not a new platform for the same art. So the better question is will the old art die? I don’t think so either, writing has not died out after typing became available, and with that I don’t think print will go out even if this Kindle and its super screen that doesn’t strain eyes really does work.
I guess the point of this post is to get that out, I’d rather these authors focus on what makes internet writing unique and new rather than waste time describing it as an improvement to the book. TV is not an improvement to film and VHS did not replace the cinematic experience. But on the flip side I don’t think those comparative arguments work either, because radio I do believe is on the out thanks to the internet and soon TV will follow.
But both of these mediums never established themselves like the book did and that may be its saving grace. It is part of our history and its tangibility along with its content is what makes it unique.
So here I am complaining that this argument is occurring in these texts and by doing that I too am contributing to the discussion. Oh well back to the thesis…
December 21, 2007
Today was the last day of school for my old high school of which my sister is now a senior. I being an alumnus snuck myself to watch this winter tradition. I bring it up here because I think that it so perfectly describes the power of art in education. The performance was one hour long and consisted of different acts by different grades, for example some 6th graders read their own poetry while the first graders performed a procession and high school groups both sang and danced. The most memorable for me was what the fifth graders did; the sword dance. A highly choreographed performance involving swords that are incorporated into a star by the intercrossing of the dancer who are marching in a circle, sounds complicated, looks complicated, but as being once a fifth grader who did it, it isn’t that hard to pull off.
Regardless of what was performed, the performance as a whole brought the school together, from kindergarten to twelfth grade, from students to faculty, and my push will be to get alumni there as well. What I am trying to say is that it helps connect that community; it removes the boundary of age, of position, of background and allows us all to enjoy something together. Even better is the fact that there was no one dominating medium of artistic production, we had costumes, dancers, musicians, singers, writers, and of course an audience interaction and response (which I count as a whole other medium).
Sorry I don’t have much more to say just yet but I guess I want to add this one final thought.
I talk about art and write about art and produce art because it is fundamental to community.
November 23, 2007
I would like to change gears a little bit here and delve into a conversation on Narratology, a relative new field dealing with narrative and its transmedial aspects. A leading author on the topic, Marie-Laure Ryan, defines a new definition of narratology for the contemporary transmedial world of today in her book Avatars of Story. I would like to start by quoting her definition of story and narrative:
“Story, like narrative discourse, is a representation, but unlike discourse it is not a representation encoded in material signs. Story is a mental image, a cognitive construct that concerns certain types of entities and relations between these entities. Narrative may be a combination of story and discourse, but it is its ability to evoke stories to the mind that distinguishes narrative discourse from other text types.” (p5, Avatars of Story)
Using this definition we can expand the concept of narrative to include more abstract media such as music, where the story is not specifically established but rather our absorption of the melodies are interpreted through narrative means. Ryan acknowledges this through identifying the terms we use to describe musical narrative such as exposition, complication, and resolution. What I find extremely intriguing about her approach to narrative is that she sees it more as a scalar rather than a binary feature. Basically she is of the mind that rather than being or not being a narrative, something (that being a musical score to a novel to a film) falls under a level of narrativity, basically it has a level of storiness that makes it more or less a narrative. What is useful about this definition, and this relates to a recent comment made on my Art or art post by Kaz, is that it removes the debate on whether something is or isn’t a narrative and places the emphasis on how different narratives relate.
This will become extremely important when we start to look at how the internet functions as a medium of artistic expression. The internet will allow for the audience to become participants in a much more constructive and collaborative way. I bring this up because I think that the exploration of narratology, the storiness of a work of are despite the medium, will have a big impact in looking at how blogs will function as their own style of literature. It is the thesis of my thesis that blogs should be treated as a new genre of writing, something to be compared with poetry or pros. I believe that the largest element that differs the blog from other forms of literature is the blog’s ability to allow for collaborative creation. Unfortunately one only speaks in potentials at this stage and my research has yet to show me established artistic blogs, comparable to say the New York Times Best Seller List, but I doubt that that is entirely true so I ask my readership for help at this point. Show me the hidden treasures of the blogosphere.