Some weeks ago I attended a panel discussion on the subject of heroes. Lance Strate was a member of the panel and he made an interesting observation regarding the difference between heroes as represented in cinema as opposed to television. Cinematic heroes appear on a screen, television heroes on a monitor. If there is anything I've learned from thinkers like Marshall McLuhan and Tony Schwartz it is that communications mediums/forms possess their own internal resonances. Screens resonate differently from monitors.
And here is the piece Peter calls Internal Resonances:
Peter then added the following at the end of his blog post:
In exploring text & image on the web for the past decade I have come to appreciate the civilizing influence of language. Language offers control, whereas imagery just takes over.
So, Peter uses three oppositions or dialectics in this artwork:
I should add that part of the point I made in the panel discussion is that film as a medium relies on a screen, which implies a process of screening or filtering, keeping things out, whereas television is displayed on monitors, which implies a funtion of monitoring or constant surveillance.
But the dualities that Peter identifies brings to mind the fact that media ecology scholars have used many different polar oppositions in an attempt to create a dialectic and ecological approach. let's start with one of the basics:
That was a big one for Einstein, but also for others including Harold Innis, who talked about space biased and time biased cultures, and Korzybski, who talked about space-binding and time-binding classes of life. Innis also distinguished between two kinds of media based on transportability and durability:
McLuhan also used a binary opposition in categorizing media, and had a number of other such tensegrities (to use Buckminster Fuller's neologism), including
Right brain——Left brain
And I know there's more, McLuhan loved to create these contrasting pairs of terms, but let's not forget the two that Walter Ong made famous:
And Lewis Mumford had his twin ideologies:
And implicit in Neil Postman's work, along with many others, is the following basic, Biblical opposition:
And then there's
The latter being Susanne Langer's distinction between symbol systems that are propositional, such as language and mathematics, and those that are not, which includes pictures and all other art forms. Also, Camille Paglia uses the two types of paganism (as I mentioned in a previous post, Social Media and Pagan Residue)
Basic to the field of communication are such distinctions as
and the two main types of communication
although these also correspond to the ancient distinction between
and also between
General semantics has a number of these as well, including the aforementioned time-binding and space-binding, and as I discussed in a previous post, General Semantics Logomania, there's
and, ironically enough, the two orientations
And to return to physics once more, we have
As the two basic parameters of the universe.
And have I exhausted the possibilities? Hardly! But this does go back to the idea that binary oppositions are basic to language itself, and to the human mind. I believe Ferdinand de Saussure first talked about it in his work on semiology, and it was central to that of the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, who famously wrote about the essential human polarity of
And maybe I should add here that back when I started the late, lamented media ecology program at NYU, and the stduents would go out after class with Neil Postman and Christine Nystrom to Eddie's for beer and burgers, Neil and Chris introduced a game one night where we had to come up with pairs of items that fit the categories of
It was fun to do, and an exercise in aesthetic sensibility as well as playing with binary oppositions. My own entry, looking down at the table, was that pepper is cute, salt is not cute.
So, anyway, go check out Peter's website, Illumination Gallery, and otherwise, well, let me know if you think this post is cute, or not cute...