Thursday, April 3, 2008

Desktop Images?

The electronic document as defined by Gitelman on page 128 can only be defined by its cultural standing or social category as an electronic object. Therefore, electronic objects must be rethought of as in a public sphere. Take the example of the desktop photograph. As a personal choice that image is in the context of the computer owner’s public sphere. It personalizes their machine. However, how does the image build or define subjectivity? What happens when some one else sees our desktop image?

Gitelman on page 126 uses the example of art students taking projected slides of artwork for the real thing because of the context. The agency a computer owner feels in choosing a desktop image and the transference of knowledge the student takes in both are in the imaginary realm. By imaginary realm, the image from the past becomes reconstituted in the present through social categories. This redefinition of an object by social connections is part of the subjectivity in new order electronic capitalism. Mediascapes, to use Appadurai’s term, have to ability to tag on real social problems. This dangerous ability for an electronic image to be reinscribed by specific, social contexts speak to the central paradox of Appadurai’s argument: “primordia have become globalized” (15). The image is a global force that can be changed by any individual, any group. What both theorists are implying is a state of disjuncture in images that still flows. The image has changed context, but still has meaning. My question then is the danger in allowing this change, especially if it goes without notice? If choosing our desktop images at all personalizes the machine? The role this new electronic document has in building selfhood or heeding it?

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