I usually like to begin my reading reflections with a speedy Margaret and Davidesque comment on how much I enjoyed the text. This one was a handy break from some of the abstract stuff we’ve come into contact with lately, setting out to define some key words in Media Theory like ‘Technology’, ‘Culture’ and ‘techniques’. However, as shady media academics so often do in an introduction (now that I’ve read a few tomes in my two years at uni), Murphy and Potts don’t offer alot of quaint, succinct definitions for us to sink our teeth into and whack on a cue card. It’s not because they are failing at the task they set out to do, they really are just trying to illustrate to the reader that these are concepts monumentally difficult to define in mere words. They are quite fluxical, their meaning dependent upon different historical and reception contexts among a myriad of other things the dudes will discuss later on in their book.
So sneaky, but so thought provoking.
Murphy and Potts are in favour of applying a wide range of theoretical perspectives to recent technological advancements. I quite like this eclectic approach to media theory, the guys aren’t participating in a process of academic ‘fetishization’, narrowing the rich tapestry of life down to a particular, idealised theory (probs of their own making)/fishnet stocking if you get my drift.
They analyse the cultural expression of technology in the sci fi genre, something we have more than sashayed into in Networked Media this semester. I’ve already discussed how interesting I find the genre commenting upon social and technological advancements, Blade Runner’s dystopian future over run by Eastern Culture stuns me each time I watch it in the full knowledge that our economic (at least) future is in the East and this piece of design fiction could easily exist when my Grand Kids are old enough to drink.
I can also think of another genre which loved to comment upon technology’s role in society. The reading brings up the Romantic artists definition of culture as the positive dimension of civilised societies, where the industrial revolutionary muck was seen as more dehumanising and uncouth. How funny though, this very industrial muck is technology itself. Here, the genre is seen to reject technology, labelling it the uncouth ‘man forged Manacles’ of Willliam Blake’s hallucinations/poems. However, Sci Fi appears to celebrate technology a bit more, glorifying it and using it as a source of a gazillion imaginative possibilities. I’m wondering if our current cultural expression of technology is a positive one?
Culture is a term so difficult to define that it’s conflicted nature revives continuous reincarnations of ‘subcultures’, who can be very interesting, entertaining if you are Rick Mayall and you decide to write a comedy series about 4 of them trying to live together and it is the early 80s (I was raised on the young ones) or hilarious (see furry fandom, one directioners or the bottom steps of flinders st station).