Saturday, June 12, 2010

Landscape: made of 0's and 1's?

This post follows up my new hub post in which I articulate 3 new areas of exploration, with this post focusing on how the analogy of landscape might be applicable in the digital context.

My classmate, Ben, and my professor, Dr. Burton, commented on my new hub post with the appropriateness of "landscape" as an analogy, and suggested another film term to consider: Mise-en-scene.

The appropriateness of "mise-en-scene"
"Mise-en-scene" has been called film's "grand undefined term," because of different opinions about its scope, but a quick, narrow definition of mise-en-scene follows: "everything that appears before the camera and its arrangement - set, props, actors, costumes, lighting." In other words, in its narrow definition, it refers to things that are arranged by the film-maker, to give a certain mood, tone, or look to a scene.

Dr. Burton suggested the appropriateness of "mise-en scene" for the digital realm because it is "artificially composed." I like that, but I have a few things to say about landscape that might still justify the comparison.

The appropriateness of "landscape"
According to Martin Lefebvre, "landscape" can be contrasted to "nature" in the sense that it is man's "interaction with nature and environment that produces the landscape." In other words, the "landscape view" is one that directs an intentional gaze at nature, transforming it at least in part by the very eyes that behold it.

So how could "landscape" still be more useful than "mise-en-scene" as an analogy? Mise-en-scene implies that a film-maker put things in the frame for a specific purpose, whereas having a "landscape view" considers a broad vista which is much larger than oneself, and transforms it by looking at it in a certain way. Despite the artificiality of the internet, for instance, it was certainly not created by Al Gore nor any other single person, or even by a finite group of people. For any individual considering the scope and complexity of the data streams coursing through servers and individual computers, the internet may as well be a thing as vast, sublime (see my classmates Andrew, Chris and Katherine's thoughts on the sublime in new media) and removed from a single individual's influence as "nature." But, a single individual can choose to consider the complexity of the internet in a certain way - to begin to organize it conceptually by applying the "landscape gaze" to it - which is what search engines and other data organizers do.

Another way of thinking about a way that the internet may be considered using the "landscape view" is that the internet, by definition, connects information that would otherwise sit isolated in a location somewhere. But by applying an intentional "view" of connectedness, the internet transformed all of that isolated information into a broad vista of information, and provided tools with which to craft it into forms useful for mankind, much as "landscape" does with "nature."

1 comment:

  1. I really like how here you make a very clear and logical connection between landscape and the internet. Anytime we use the internet, we see only a snapshot of the whole, just as landscape is a snapshot of nature - an impressive piece of a far greater whole. I like the connection to the sublime that you make here. I think the sublime comes more from what you cannot see but know is there, rather than what you do see. The internet is sublime because you realize how much information is there, though you can never see it all; landscape is sublime because you can recognize the part it plays in nature, and how it extends and connects far beyond your sight. I really enjoy reading your blog, especially with all the connections I can make from it to my own.