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Creative Media Theory (1): Overview Comments

Submitted by on 25/07/2011 – 17:00

A fragment of Elena Stepanova’s essay, “Research Methods and Theoretical Perspectives” (2011), written for the theoretical part of her academic research.

Creative media theory is a relatively new discipline that is still in the process of formation. The nature of the subject itself is new, as most electronic media were developed during last 100 years, and the newest addition to it — Internet — has become widespread (and in active use of millions people only in the last 20 years).

The theoretical part of creative media is based on several key texts, some of which are based on the works of fantasy/science fiction writers and artists rather than strict scientific definitions. Donald Theall in his article “From the Cyberglobal Chaosmos to the Gutenberg Galaxy: The Prehistory of Cyberelectronic Language(s)” says that this practice is common: “In fact, many media ecologists, such as Walter Ong or McLuhan (even Eric Havelock) have obtained initial insights from the work of poets, and artists which fascinated them.” The diversity of ideas available for studies may overwhelm a novice researcher. The key concepts that form creative media theory include ideas of Marshal McLuhan, postmodern theory, history of multimedia, information arts, cyberspace, cyberculture, and cyberaestetics.

At the heart of modern reality is electronic media of all kinds that influence and define the world we live in. As M. Rex Miller writes in the article “The Digital Dynamic: How Communications Media Shape Our World”:

Television began entering homes less than 60 years ago and swiftly changed almost every aspect of human life — from business and education to politics and sports. Now, digital communications — computers, PDAs, the Internet, Blackberries, etc. — are bringing another communications revolution that is likely to produce an even more radical transformation of our lives. (The Futurist Magazine, 2005).

A communication revolution shaped the Internet as a social space, medium of distribution, and engine of social and commercial change; as a space of interrelated practices (Taylor et al. 2002, p. 222); a ‘knowledge-flux’ (Lévy) and a dialogic space (Lovejoy 2004). All these features can be accessed simultaneously. Margot Lovejoy writes:

Participatory systems such as the Internet replace conceptual systems founded upon ideas of center, margin, hierarchy, and linearity. The metaphor of a web replaces these systems with those of nodes, links, paths, networks. […] Access is through several entrances without any one being more important than another (much like television). It has no beginning. It is conceived of as a series of networks and links. It is never closed, and is based “in a system of references to other books, other texts, other sentences. It is a node within a network…[a] network of references.” (Lovejoy 2004, p. 227)

As a dialogic place, the Internet is particularly advantageous for arts as a subject and a means of intercommunication between people from all over the world. But it needs a direction, because without it, as Margot Lovejoy argues, “we are moving into uncharted territory which holds great promise but presents great challenges.” (Lovejoy 2004, p. 223).

The space of the Internet is as multifaceted as the multimedia that forms the structure of it. Defining the nature of multimedia, Packer and Jordan write in the introduction to «Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality»:

Many critics of today’s multimedia […] say that the subject is too various […]. In fact, there is a tendency among critics to celebrate the elusive nature of the subject. Multimedia, by its very nature, is open, democratic, non-hierarchical, fluid, varied, inclusive […]. Perhaps multimedia’s most consistent quality will be its relentlessly changing nature. (Packer and Jordan 2001, p. xxx — xxxi)

Bibliography:

1. Lévy, P. Cyberculture. — Paris: Editions Odile Jacob. — 1997.
2. Lovejoy, M. Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age. — New York: Routledge. — 2004.
3. Packer, R., Jordan, K. Multimedia: from Wagner to virtual reality. — Norton. — 2002.
4. Rex Miller , M. (2005) The Digital Dynamic: How Communications Media Shape Our World // The Futurist. — 2005. — Vol. 39, Issue 3. — P. 31–.
5. Taylor, B.C., Demont-Heinrich C., Broadfoot K.J., Dodge, J., Jian, G. New Media and the Circuit of Cyber-Culture: Conceptualizing Napster // Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. — 2002. — Vol. 46, Issue 4.
6. Theall, D. From the Cyberglobal Chaosmos to the Gutenberg Galaxy: The Prehistory of Cyberelectronic Language(s). — URL: http://www.media-ecology.org/publications/MEA_proceedings/v3/ (3.11.2010)

© Elena Stepanova, 2011

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Елена Степанова — звукорежиссер, музыкант, автор статей и учебных материалов по звукорежиссуре, музыкальной аранжировке и композиции, истории музыкальных технологий.

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Elena Stepanova is a sound producer, musician, author of articles on sound engineering, musical arrangement and composition, history of musical technology.

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