Thursday, February 25, 2010

The fiction of reality

The readings in the course thus far keep me coming back to a question. How does media representation affect the way we draw lines around the “real and the non real”. Where is this line drawn and redrawn in the media? How does the new media or the internet, photography complicate these lines?

An important concept that seems to orbit this question is the “promise” of reality that new media engenders. For example the ubiquitousness of the internet mimics the expansive, tangential, chaotic, realm of the human mind. But at the same time the internet is only a 2 dimensional façade of reality.

For me this connects with Foucault’s statement about the mirror: “I see myself where i am not, in an unreal, virtual space, that opens up behind the surface.” The internet similarly contains the same conundrum and mirage. The world opens up behind the screen, but there is nothing there. A persona sees what is not there, in this “virtual space that opens up behind the surface.”

I also want to connect this the recent obsession with the “real” in recent media. We have the rise of reality tv, and the snowballing popularity of documentary film, journalistic photography which seems to accompany every printed news articles, mass mediated lectures, ie the Ted talks, Spoken Word poetry which features autobiographical performances. All of these new media fads are predicated on the fact that truth and reality are inherent. But at the same time reality is forced into narrative structures.

What we can focus on in this new fad is that it operates on the same “lie” or false promise of truth, because while the subjects may not be professional actors, and the material come from the raw trenches of reality, producers must edit and condense footage into a story line that is comprehendible and digestible in a short time span. Thus reality is transported from its orginal context and becomes something completely new. it is filtered through the vector of narrative constraint. In this way reality based media lies in that it hides its discursivity.

SO WHAT?! What are the implications? Why does it matter?

At the turn of the 19th century Picasso said: "Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth". Fast forward to today, where our culture's art proclaims to deliver truth. So then, if we base art on truth are we telling lies? What do we risk when we package truth into narrative arcs and sever it from its context? how does the trend toward comedy, satire, cartoons and scifi complicate this premise? does that reality makes more sense when it is squeezed into narrative and storytelling? How is this façade of reality blurring the traditional lines of real and not real?

No comments: