Panel: Literature, Journalism, and the Telematic Society 3: Electrified Language
Presentation: Construct(s) and Même-ing: An Essay in Three Dimensions. Conceived and Designed by Stephen N. Matsuba, Edited by Mark J. Jones, Hosted by CyberStage Live
Construct(s) and Meme-ing is an essay in which its core arguments are presented not as text, but as a series of interactive visual images within five virtual spaces. Using VRML as its basic programming language, you as the “reader” explore the author’s argument by moving through the different virtual environments and interacting with their elements.The basic structure of the essay is comprised of five components: an introduction, three main points, and a conclusion. Each component is presented as a separate VRML world, and is downloaded as you progress through the essay. While the content of the essay itself examines the resistance to change and the fear of the unknown in new technologies, the chosen medium for the essay also plays a vitally important role in it, because it is the medium and the way in which we interact with it that challenges our notions of language and the construction of meaning within it. One of the ongoing points in discussions on culture and technology is that we are becoming a more visually sophisticated species. If one were to believe that argument to be true, one must also believe that our language therefore also becomes more visual. Certainly, whereas thirty years ago we put signs up on doors saying “Men’s Room” or “Ladies Room”; today we express those same ideas with generic icons. More and more of our language is becoming mediated through the use of icons, reticent perhaps of a culture whose language is moving back towards a system of hieroglyphics rather than simply linear text. The introduction of non-linear media into such a culture presents the possibility of extending the use of icons into the expression of complex concepts. Thoughts become images, images become arguments, and arguments themselves become a part of the sensorium. What was once, in McLuhan’s terms, a breakdown of the senses due to the introduction of text becomes a possible reunification of sensual communication, perhaps closer to what Jaron Lanier calles”post-symbolic communication” or what Mcluhan himself predicted when he wrote: “It is now possible to program ratios among the senses that approach the condition of consciousness”. Construct(s) and Même-ing was designed to push the notion of “visual vocabulary” to one possible extreme. Would there be a common vocabulary from which people could draw, one which would enable them to decode the author’s original arguments in the essay, and give reasons for its support or rebuttal? Perhaps the new media aren’t about convergence as much as it is about collision – nations collide into globalism; competition collides into partnership; the private collides into the public; and the roles of writer, editor and reader suddenly collide into the roles of architect, multimedia producer and actor respectively.
- Mark Jones (Canada), CYBERSTAGE PUBLISHING. Mark J. Jones is founder of CyberStage Communications, a Toronto-based company which facilitates issues relating to culture and technology. As a writer, editor and publisher holding a degree in theatre with a specialty in performance technology,Jones has become one of the first writers in Canada to specialize in issues related to electronic art. His views have been quoted in Maclean’s Magazine, Theatrum, World Art, The Hamilton Spectator; MediaTelevision, Vancouver Sun, and Bravo. His own publication, CyberStage Live, is an award-winning magazine which looks at the convergence between the artistic and technological communities. A new media content advisor, Jones is also coordinator of the Rafe International Toronto, a public speaking series on issues related to electronic culture. Recent Awards: The Geo Award for Quality Content on the World Wide Web; The Canada Online Best of the Web Award Education: Honors Bachelor of Arts, Theatre, with a specialty in Performance Technology. Recent conference participation: InterActive 96, Toronto (sponsor); Multimedia 97, Toronto (speaker). cyberstage.org