The panels of perception: A phenomenological archaeology of the comic book medium
Peter J. Roccia, MacEwan University
What kind of perceiving subject is constituted by the sequential panelling of the comic book medium as its perceived object? This paper conducts a media archaeology of the comic book through three historical strata to determine how the different systems of eye movement, encoded at each level, condition the reading experience of a perceiving subject. The first stratum locates the modern comic book’s precursor in turn-of-the-century compilations of serialized newspaper strips, where three-by-three panel layouts discipline the eye into what McLuhan would characterize as the “typographical trance of the West.” The next stratum, in the twentieth century, transforms this regimented eye into one that “flows” across panels of varying sizes and configuration, with “sight lines” acting as guides to its movement across the page. At the last stratum, we examine the phenomenological effects of recent “e-reader” comic book applications, such as the ComiXology platform, which paralyze the eye and then move the panels before it. Through this media excavation, we will trace the comic book eye’s phenomenological reconfiguration of the perceiving subject, first, as a “disembodied” eye, then, as an “embodied” agent, and finally, in a disembodied digital “return,” as a virtual witness before a perceived, yet animate, object.
Enunciation vs. destination: how a phenomenological point of view on media audiences is a political one
Christine Servais, University of Liège
This paper is based on Derrida’s deconstruction of significance, and focuses on how media discourses organize the audience in a public space. In audience studies, the text/reader relationship remains a difficult point because it remains unclear how to account for the fact that the media structure perception although they do not determine it. To solve this contradiction, we need to link together facts and possibilities (empirical and transcendental levels) in a way that keeps alive this relationship between a text and a reader. This is what Jacques Derrida’s work makes possible. We’ll mainly use his “address” and “destination” concepts. The “address” might be considered as an attempt to translate the linguistic “enunciation” into phenomenological words: the address modifies reference and thus inscribes the reader in a “world”. As for the “destination”, it refers to a model where communication is indeterminate (“incalculable”). This model gives readers the opportunity to create previously unseen kinds of worlds, or communities of “common sense”. In this way, this model is political. Our analysis allows us to account for both representations of the world and places given to readers in this word, so that we can describe, with this “sensible sharing”, the mediated experience as political.
(Re)imagining the author’s role in interpretation: A perspective from philosophical hermeneutics
Tereza Pavlíčková, Charles University in Prague
This paper offers a theoretical discussion of mediation using the text-reader metaphor of reception and audience studies, into which the concept of the author is re-introduced. In the current media environment, media audiences are faced with a broad diversity of sources. How do media audiences perceive authorial presence in the text, and how do they use it in their interpretation of the text? Employing philosophical hermeneutics as a theoretical framework I argue that interpretation is co-determined by the imagined author, a construct that results from a fusion of horizons between the text and the reader. While text brings an author into the encounter in the form of its paratext, the reader has her pre-existing understanding of the author that is actualized within the interpretation in the form of an imagined author, which subsequently co-determines the reader’s interpretation as such. Each and every encounter between a text and a reader contributes to the forming of the reader’s horizon – the interpretation of the text and their perception of the author. The paper thus suggests that meaning is never fixed and results from a constant re-interpretation, and change is ontologically given.
In the mood for Oscar: the first televised broadcast of the Academy Awards and the management of liveness
Dimitrios Pavlounis, University of Michigan
This paper re-imagines the history of the Academy Awards as part of a broader history of creating mood and experience on and through television. Although much has been written about the awards as a mechanism of the culture industry or as a social ritual, scholars have paid little attention to the first live broadcast of the ceremony (1953) or to the production of the ceremony as an event in its own right. Using Heidegger’s discussion of the phenomenology of mood in as well as Paddy Scannell’s concept of care-structures as theoretical starting points, this paper combines textual analysis and primary source research in order to investigate the complex technical and narrative structures that went into trying to produce a broadcast that would be, at once, memorable for viewers at home and protective of an anxious and television-phobic film industry. Applying phenomenological thinking to this broadcast, I argue, allows us to rethink the cultural value and meaningfulness of awards ceremonies in general. Furthermore, it allows us to understand the first Oscars telecast as a benchmark for historical comparison that can help us map the ever-changing definition of what it means to manage liveness on television.
Digital technologies as conditions of mediation: the everyday making of individuals’ ‘digital habitus’ in the context of Santiago’s indie music scene
Arturo Arriagada, London School of Economics and Political Science
What is the relation between digital technologies and processes of cultural mediation? To what extent do technological practices and inherited dispositions towards them configure individuals’ mediated action? This paper aims to understand how processes of cultural mediation are performed and experienced in a particular creative industry in contemporary Chile. Its focus is a group of mediators that create websites about Santiago’s indie music scene. It will focus in particular on the material practices around the qualification and organisation of flows of goods (local and global) and the role of digital technologies –websites and social networking sites- as devices through which culture and markets are connected, mediated, and also constructed. Mediation is broadly understood as meaning and value assignment of global and local cultural flows whereby they are transformed into something valuable in market conditions. This understanding draws together Bourdieu’s ‘cultural intermediaries’, cultural economy, and Latour’s ANT, as theoretical frameworks for exploring the material practices and social relations of mediators. By tracing the “intimate histories” (Morley, 2005) of 10 mediators in regards to their technological uses, it is possible to understand the making of a “digital habitus”, which is central to convert mediators’ “digital capital” into something valorised by market agents.