Thursday, February 18, 2010
S.03 Homogenization and Physical Space
To consider globalization an architect of homogenization is to sustain a common assumption which Ang questions in “In the Realm of Uncertainty”. She argues that today’s profusion of communication may instead lead to confusion and dissociation—that the fact ‘that the globe generally and intimately is becoming more integrated paradoxically is not leading to an easily comprehensible totality, but to an increasing diversity of connections among phenomena once thought disparate and world apart”(163). The collisions occurring within this plethora of communication may lead not to integration, but to increased chaos and plurality of meaning. Wark states that “the media that feed us are not only more and more concentrated, but increasingly global in both ownership and extent… developments come together” (267). I was confused about the meaning of the word “concentrated” in this passage. Is Wark referring to a process of fusion within media and therefore opposing Ang’s view, or is he referring to the physical constraints of media? In “Global Media Event”, Wark repeatedly refers to something called a media vector. The idea of a vector inherently implies direction. Although Wark writes of the ease with which these vectors can be created and rearranged, he is still acknowledging the fact that they are a fundamental part of the system. He writes that “one of the striking things about September 11th is that the event happened in a major node in the media network, and hence was rapidly and thoroughly reported, thus provoking remarkable different responses around the world”(267). Therefore although there seems to be an accepted notion of the ubiquity of cyberspace, media and communication, the existence of so-called media hubs highlights the ongoing importance of physical space. Bringing his argument one step further, Wark writes that “the vector is a form of power…rapid and effective access to useful information is a vector”(273). This raises another interesting question—is the actual access to media the core of power or does power lie in the hands of the distributor of the media? Is there even a distributor of media? This seems to contradict Ang’s theory of communication which does not distinguish between a sender and a receiver. In regards to unsuccessful communication, Wark states that “after all, our training, our prejudices in relation to the vector might be part of the problem”(274)—but Ang states that “if meaning is never given and natural but always constructed and arbitrary, then it doesn’t make sense to prioritize meaningfulness over meaninglessness”. How does this affect the concept of an exchange of power within communication and media?