Remediation - Media

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  • Topic: Electronic media, New media, Digital media
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  • Published : May 7, 2008
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Discuss how remediation can help the student/ practitioner understand and analyse the form of multimedia.


1.What is a medium and what is remediation?
2.Remediation: an evolution
3.Mediation, intermediation and transmediation.

What is a medium and what is remediation?

"We call the representation of one medium in another remediation, and we will argue that remediation is a defining characteristic of the new digital media. What might seem at first to be an esoteric practice is so widespread that we can identify a spectrum of different ways in which digital media remediate their predecessors, a spectrum depending on the degree of perceived competition or rivalry between the new media and the old. (p45 Bolter/Grusin)" ).

In Bolter and Grusin’s book Remediation: understanding new media, 5 arguments are put forward on the topic of remediation that explain how remediation works: •Earlier media such as painting, television, photography and film are the foundations on which the cultural importance of new media is attained. This importance is attained through competing with, paying homage to and reshaping this older type of media. •This process is not a modern trend. It can be seen in the evolution of painting to photography, stage production to film and magazine to web site. •Works of media nearly always draw from another type of media to create a new piece, for example; a movie based on a novel. Many pieces of media would not exist if it wasn’t for those that pre existed. •There are no pieces of new media in the real sense of the word. Even though we are seeing exciting new understandings and changes, these would not exist if it wasn’t for media already in circulation. •There are three simple senses to the term ‘Remediation’; All media build together and are always influencing one another. Mediation and reality cannot be detached from one another. Cultural predisposition will always exist in new media. These five simply put arguments can help a student such as myself, to grasp a better understanding of multimedia and how it works.

Although most meanings of medium (or media) stress that it is a middle term of transmitting device of some sort, Bolter and Grusin, authors of Remediation: understanding new media, argue that in our current state of media, one is always experienced and defined by its relation to other media. What is a medium? Simply explained, a medium is that which remediates. It is that which appropriates the practices, forms and social importance of other media and attempts to rival or modify them in the name of the real. A medium in our culture can never function on its own, because it needs to enter into relationships of respect and competition with other media. There may be or may have been cultures in which a single form of representation exists with little or no reference to other media. (Perhaps a work of art or music). Examples of such development include the evolution of painting to photography, magazine to web site, radio to television and stage production to film. Such seclusion does not seem possible for us today, when we cannot even recognise the representational power of a medium except with reference to other media. (Bolter and Grusin, p. 65; emphasis added) Bolter and Grusin distinguish two modes of remediation:

1.Immediacy, transparency, looking through media (invisibility of underlying media technology) 2.Hypermediacy, opacity, looking at media (explicit allusions, interfaces, and metaphorical borrowing from other media) These two types are not arranged in an ‘either or’ dichotomy – remediation is a process of stable variation between immediacy and hyper immediacy. The problem, as pointed out by Marianne van den Boomen on her PHD blog for multimedia ( is that immediacy and hyper immediacy refer to states of a medium or awareness. Bolter and Grusin call these modalities respectively epistemological and...
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