This week’s reading was Bill Viola’s Will there be condominiums in data space? As with each week’s reading, I was struck by how much Viola got right: the continual recording of information, the information overload that comes with saving everything rather than preselecting what to save, the discussion of the whole vs. the sum of its parts. It was another idea-rich piece that I suspect will continue to resonate with the readings we’ll do throughout the rest of the semester.
I’m particularly excited about this week’s session. We’re covering the Viola section, but juxtapositioning it with the new book S, created by JJ Abrams and written by Doug Dorst:
I could not be more excited about this book (as those who I’m friends with on Facebook undoubtedly know). There’s a huge amount online about this ambitious project, from a nice overview of the project in the NY Times, a collection of photos, to an appropriately geeky review in Wired. Already, websites are popping up to augment the book as well as to help people decode it.
I wasn’t exactly sure, when I brought the book to seminar last week, that this was really appropriate to “new media.” There’s no computer to it (except for the online content that enhances the experience). The ebook is decidedly less of an experience–in most ways but one. The iBooks store has a version in which you can turn on and off the marginalia, which fundamentally changes the experience of reading the book. And maybe that technology enhanced experience is enough to classify the book as a new media project.
However, and this is perhaps a professional liability, I can’t help but see the codex as a type of technology unto itself–just one we’re all very familiar with. And when I look at it that way, this is a story that couldn’t be told using any other technology. The technology, itself, enabled the story that it tells. And that seems pretty new media to me.
And as Amy points out, there’s some interesting overlap between Viola’s discussion of video and what Abrams has done with this text. I look forward to the seminar, and the opportunity to watch this TED talk again: