New Media Response 5
One of the main takeaways I got from what we read in John Kim’s Rupture of the Virtual is the disappearance of the material and its implications. In light of new interface technologies such as See-Through Graphical Interface (STGI’s) which project the virtual out into the material, the book discusses the need to “rupture the virtual” and reconnect with our built environment and material surroundings (Kim 147). It brings up concepts related to Baudrillard and the Spectacle such as how the very desire we feel to reconnect with the material stems from the alienation and fragmentation of society (Kim 148). The discussion of the outdoor media projections was a good way of highlighting the way that the virtual aspires to create the illusion of there being no mediation (Kim 9). The material environment is not engaged in outdoor movie screenings, for example: “A common use of site in outdoor projection is simply to add ambiance or mood to events, and in this sense, rather than enhancing localism or community, the media can further distance us from our built environment by projecting the virtual out into it” (Kim 146). Thus, the material is disregarded for the more preferable immaterial.
Other parts of the reading discuss ways to more directly engage with the material. One interesting idea that was brought is to enable the encounter with the material through virtualized experience as a way to encourage critical reflection (Kim 65). I am slightly confused by this point because then wouldn’t the material be a representation of the material and not the material itself if it is being experienced through the virtual? Perhaps this is where the critical reflection would come into play.
Rupture of the Virtual also talks about some of the ways that these new interface technologies are used in the military, touching on similar points made in Militainment. To me, this quote does a good job of summarizing the significance of using this type of technology for military purposes: “…the STGI imposes an information layer between users and their physical surrounding by projecting graphical information into their field of view” (Kim 65). “Information” is a key word here because these technologies allow soldiers to receive constant updates on their battlefield conditions and receive and transmit data to make operations as successful as possible. However, another effect that it has is that it allows soldiers to “literally see from the perspective of the firearm, as if they were their own gun” (Kim 51). Militainment talks extensively of how Hollywood uses this perspective and viewpoint in their movies and military recruitment videos. The second half of Militainment talks about the ways that video games and reality tv “…progressively integrates the citizen into the momentum of the war machine” (Stahl 110). Through partnerships with the military, video games are realistic to real war and the military has modeled many training simulations from video games. You can also buy toys, which is another example of the interactive and consumable war.
My media object this week is the trailer for a new Fall 2017 television drama called The Brave on NBC. It uses all of the techniques that Militainment discusses in sensationalizing violence and the military. It has shots of soldiers in full gear walking with a beautiful Middle Eastern sunset in the background (1:07–1:08), rooms with sophisticated technology and screens with maps projected on them, and the trailer frames this heroic military narrative around key American values: “for family, for courage, and for honor.” The reason I chose this media object in addition to it being a good example of using the same techniques described in Militainment is also because these newer shows could serve as substantial point of analysis of how media today is manipulating our opinion of contemporary political issues. So many come to my mind (Homeland and The Night Shift) ,and more are always being made, such as The Brave, SEAL Team, and Valor. They are less interactive than video games or reality tv, but as hollywood has demonstrated, fictional dramas do have an influence on public opinion and culture. It would have been interesting for Stahl to analyze some of these tv shows and the narratives that they push for in the current political environment.
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