Motion Medium

Before we were analyzing the book Aramis. My major take from the book was that translation wasn’t possible -that the imaginations of the creators were far from real, far from adaptable. Applying that same concept of translation- where humans use their imaginations to project ideas onto the real word, ultimately creating non-human “machines”. This camera is the perfect technology to explain translation, and the connection between human and non-human elements in technology. Even us students in this summer English class are translating our ideas into videos. Bringing ideas onto a new medium, a revolutionary medium that is greatly influencing and impacting the lives of humans today. Motion on the screen is everywhere. It is used for entertainment, advertising, education, and business. To me, it is people using their innate agential capacity to express their imaginations in another medium, and to in turn have those mediums reach other human actors. This medium of motion picture we speak of has nothing short of revolutionized the way our world works.  The chapter of “Agency” introduces the ANT (Actor Network Theory) and how human actors play a role in the assemblage of technology networks. The main critique is that “variations in the availability of agency or the role of power in the construction and stabilization of networks” (123) aren’t able to be maintained, in terms of conceptualizing non-human frames and their durability of networks. To this I add that to have that durability and consistency, innovation of non-human frames (i.e.-motion pictures, Netflix, and supporting technologies like video platforms such as TVs) is crucial to their survival; in order for the network of motion pictures to evolve with a progressing and evolving human population. So far, the motion picture assemblage is doing just that, innovating and become a more integral part of human life.

 

Since assemblage has become a key theme in our class and we are attempting to understand this – lets use Netflix – an assemblage of all types of motion pictures: documentaries, sitcoms, thrillers, action, comedies, etc. These are all so different but innately are conveying the same thing and very interdependent – a producer using a group of human actors to project his or her imagination onto a motion medium, and to in turn create a repayable technology that can convey the imagination of one human actor to millions of other human actors at the blink of an eye. The catalyst is the imagination, desire to express, and of course for self-prosperity. The assemblage of Netflix is decentralized model, where all the videos need each other to make it work. An assemblage has many singularities that can’t “live” on their own, that are all interdependent. There couldn’t be one video living on its own, its need others to create an assemblage and have that assemblage be exploited by human actors. Are these videos living? Do they impact the same way that people do, if not more?

I think a big argument can be made for the life of motion pictures, because for the short time you are engaged into one, it is alive and you a part of technology. During that engagement, humans and machines live together. This idea I have been struggling with, whether they are separate entities in society today and who controls its counterpart. In motion picture, they come together – the technology of video editing, the ability of human actors, and the ability of a producer to put it all together to make a medium where people and technology can live as one. Even for just a short period of time.

 

Advertisement

Shelley’s Archaic Dichotomy

As noted in several previous blog-posts, one of the many dichotomies consistent throughout “Frankenstein” is that of Nature vs. Science. Shelley makes it clear which to her is superior; she condemns Frankenstein to a miserable fate as punishment for his pursuit of scientific progress, while Clerval stands as a shining beacon of happiness through his appreciation of all things “natural.” Throughout his wretched wanderings, Frankenstein continually ventures to places of magnificent natural beauty — alpine lakes and winding rivers — in search of temporary solace from his all-consuming anguish.

Throughout the reading, this theme becomes clearer and clearer. Throughout the reading, I found myself more and more displeased with her message, and the existence of this dichotomy in the first place. Science is not something unnatural, not some brand of sorcery, but simply the systematic study and application of nature itself. When a monkey uses a stick to catch bugs, or an otter a rock to crack sea urchins, it is not unnatural. Just so, neither are more complex human innovations. In creating life, Frankenstein did not disrupt nature, but instead explored one of its many previously unexplored capabilities.

To defy nature is, in fact, impossible; anything that takes place in the natural world must be inherently natural. The dichotomy presented supports a purely dogmatic worldview — that certain actions are locked within the realm of the “supernatural,” and for a mortal to attempt and succeed at taking part is the ultimate sin, bound to inflict irreparable damage and suffering on the human-race. Using the monster as her mouthpiece, Shelley urges her audience to “seek happiness in tranquility and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries” (208).

Her lesson is to squelch the desire to overstep the boundaries which contain men and impede greater understanding. Had Frankenstein not pursued such a lofty innovation, he would have spent his days cradled in his family’s warm embrace, instead doomed to perish among strangers in a frozen wasteland.

In breaking apart Shelley’s dichotomy, however, I do not wish to establish an inverted one of my own. Just as “disruptive” human innovation is not evil, nor is it intrinsically positive in consequence. Scientific progress itself is neutral, and must be judged based on its application. When Einstein helped invent the atomic bomb, he created an instrument capable of destructive power previously reserved to the gods — and destroy it did. However, most would posit that its use caused less destruction than had it not been created.

By refusing the genesis of a second monster, Frankenstein turned away from building his own atomic bomb — a scientific creation that could have either put an end to impending suffering, or multiplied it tenfold. “I did right in refusing, to create a companion for the first creature” (207), he declares on his death bed. In the end, he is content with his decision to cease playing-god, and Shelley places an exclamation point on her case against “gambling” with nature.

While Frankenstein should have been more comprehensive in his foresight, I think that Shelley goes too far in her condemnation of his actions. Do you think that, as stated in Connected, “growth for growth’s sake is cancer,” or is this a mischaracterization?

Disclaimer — I would  like to admit a personal bias: I am an entrepreneur, always trying to think up better, more innovative ways of doing things. Even if it “ain’t broke,” I still want to fix it. In my circles, “disruption” is a golden word, and, like Frankenstein, I know I’m not the most responsible of innovators, usually preferring to take the “jump-right-in” approach, rather than cautiously testing the waters. Don’t worry though, my “little monsters” aren’t going to be eating you anytime soon…hopefully. I just wanted to better frame the post with regards to it’s author.