Saturday, 9 May 2009

It has come to this…edit

I recently started an exercise in recording my media interaction. Initially I limited this to my consumption of published media, such as TV, websites, newspapers and magazines. I have since broadened this out to include media, medium and tools etc that I use on a daily basis, be that computer hardware and software, notepads, pens, recording devices, listening devices etc. Outside of one or two that I am forced to use in order to earn a living, these are items that I do not need to physically function on a day to day basis but are choices that have become habits and are taken for granted most of the time. Adbusters bought to my attention the phrase 'mental environment' in regards to the daily visual bombardment we all consciously and subconsciously absorb from the side of busses, billboards and adverts in magazines etc. Well, this is my own personal 'mental environment' that I have constructed around my life. I have utilised pretty much everything in this list within the last 7 days:

Creative Review
Tate Etc
Adbusters magazine
Wire magazine
The Guardian
Design Observer
CR Blog
Eye Blog
Noisy Decent Graphics
Graphic Journey Blog
Johnson Banks Blog
Uncarved Blog
Design Assembly
BBC 1,2,3 & 4
ITV 3 & 4
Channel 4
Film 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC 6music
iTunes store
Address Book
Internet Explorer
QuickTime Pro
Font Book
Image Capture
Snap N Drag
Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Illustrator
Adobe InDesign
Adobe Acrobat Professional
CS Premier
CS Bridge
Dreamweaver MX
Apple various
Dell PC
DAB Radio
Toshiba hard drive
iOmega hard drive
Cruzer memory stick
HP printer/scanner
Sony Ericsson camera phone
Olympus camera
Panasonic headphones
Cambridge Audio stereo
Pilot pen
Moleskin notebook
Verbatim CDs
Samsung DVDs
Xerox paper
Canon photocopier
Staedtler pencil
Swann Morton scalpel
Harmon/Kardon speakers

I have found this process both interesting and banal in equal measures and am still thinking about what it means to consume/use so much with so little active consideration. Taking these items for granted and purely on face value without considering how any of this stuff actually works, was produced, its psychological, social or environmental cost could be considered as crass, arrogant, decadent and selfish. I would not contest any of these descriptors. But this is what my life is made up of at this moment in time. Right here, right now, it has come to this. I'm not talking content. You can read much into my reading habits and probably make a fair assumption about my character and have a broad stab at some of my opinions. I am much more interested in what my lack of consideration of the utilities I use daily say about me, other than the fact that I need to get out more?

This post has been edited in the light of a comment posted discussing semantics. NB


Steven Ball said...

Interesting choice of what constitutes 'media'. I mean arguably Photoshop, Firefox, IE, etc aren't media but applications, is an application a medium? Or is it a tool? Indeed YouTube, Vimeo, etc, are also applications, perhaps, I don't know. Is a pen not a tool? I would argue that when used to take notes it is indeed a tool, as would be the notebook, but if used for communication, then they become media. Individual magazines are not media, they are subsets of print media, so you could lump all those magazines together as one medium. No?

Agreed though for McLuhan life must have been so much simpler, you had TV and Radio, cool media and hot media, these days they run a whole spectra of temperatures.

Anyway, if we take your list as being bona fide media, then I think we have to include your clothes, you shoes, your haircut, your bag, perhaps even your toothbrush, choice of shower gel, your Lynx after shave, this way madness lies, get out more!

Dubdog said...

OK, the pen and notebook are used in the first instance of things that end up being published, for example this list was compiled in my Moleskin before being typed up in TextEdit and then pasted to Blogger. So I stretched the definition of media somewhat but my main aim was to list those things I interact with that are outside my necessary survival and emotional day to day functions. Semantics is not what this is about and I'm happy to admit media is probably not the right word but that was the starting point.

All these items listed happen around me. I know not how they work and some of them I know not why I bother using them other than using up time in what is ultimately a pointless existence. I take lots of things for granted and feel guilty about it despite the fact that the guilt serves no function because it makes no difference to me taking things for granted. I find this interesting. And banal. Which in itself can be interesting.

Steven Ball said...

Have you read Nausea by Jean Paul Sartre? You could be almost be writing an update of it for the 21st century here!

Dubdog said...

I'll take a look when time permits.

Steven Ball said...

Well it occurred to me that digital technology has blurred the distinction between media, tools, applications, etc, etc, and that we can revise definitions to include analogue things like pens, notebooks, clothes, shoes, etc. I've certainly heard of things like clothes being described as an 'interface', which in a sense they are. Your linking them to a "pointless existence" made me wonder whether there is some kind of existential crisis caused by the redefinition of everyday life as and through media objects. The flipside of the public nature of life on line, perhaps. The erasure of the notion of the private and individual self. The sense that if you're not online interacting in social networks, you almost cease to exist... the kind of crisis that Sartre describe way back then.

anthony wooding said...

Don't worry, real life always reasserts itself in the end. Although that's not quite right: do worry when it does in a bad way, such as the terrible case of the German student who became infatuated within the internet game and came over here to commit murder.

Art should always immitate life, not vice versa. So I should say use all these amazing media to affirm the good things in life.