Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Screens Really Two-Way? wed sec.

Jameson seems to give the window two primary functions, summarized by his quote of Milton:
"Window... to admit light or air, or both, and to afford view of what is outside and inside..."

This question is brought up with regard to the Garcia's house. Were the purely glass walls for the purpose of letting in light, or seeing out (as suggested by the eye-shape of the house itself)? These questions for me seemed straight forward, and can be seen in the use of blinds, tinted windows, etc.

However, when Jameson first suggests the television as a window, I had some doubts.

"In which direction does this window "face"? Looking out onto the world, presenting a view of the distant (tele-vision)? Or does it intrude into the home, all the homes, transforming the space, transporting the "world" into the world of the homes..."

To make this comparison, I think you first have to look at the functions of the window. The first is to allow light to pass through. To this, Jameson says that the television set projects light into the room of the view, just as light comes through the window into your home. The second is allow sight through. To this, Jameson says that the television allows you to see out of your home into the outside world. On the surface, these seem like adequate parallels.

However, what about the two-way nature of physical windows? At night, a lamp sheds light onto the street. Furthermore, a passer-by can see through a window into the home just as well as the inhabitants can see out. Does the television exhibit this same reversibility?

With regards to this question, Victor Burgin's inquiry on JenniCam seems very interesting. While many on the internet fit Freud's "exhibitionist" theory, one of "see and be seen", Jennifer defied this paradigm. Instead, she allowed anyone to see her, while she had no view of her viewers. For her viewers, they could see without being seen. This may be what makes screens just incredible windows. How often have you wanted to just look out the window and not worry that someone could see you? It is the ability to preserve autonomy and privacy, which windows sacrificed, that makes screens (TV, or any extensions into the internet) so attractive.

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