ENG 329 1.2: Remediation Project

Today’s Plan:

  • Watch some introductions
  • Introduce Project 1: Remediation
  • Play with Photoshop
  • Homework

What is Remediation?

In their now classic work on digital textuality, Remediation, Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin build on the work of canonical media theorist Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan famously wrote that “the medium is the message”–that the mode of communication used to shape a message has just as much effect on us the message itself. For instance, television is a passive medium, one that demands the user’s attention without offering her any means of response. Mediums help structure our social and political relations.

Bolter and Grusin work from McLuhan to distinguish 3 different “logics,” or relations, that we have toward media. The three tend to be at odds with each other. We either desire immediacy (in which we focus on content and want the form of mediation to disappear), hypermediacy (in which we are invested in the method/mode of presentation and what it affords us, what new possibilities it enables), or remediacy, remediation–which really only comes to the fore with the invention of digital composing technologies. Remediation. Allison Hilt offers a succinct explication of this third form or logic:

The final logic is remediation, and it appears to be the one that has been taken up most verbosely in scholarship and, arguably, has influenced recent focuses on remix. Remediation is an integral component of new media, and it manifests on a continuum of extremes. That is, remediation can be an older medium “that is highlighted and re-presented in digital form without apparent irony or critique”—eg. digital archives of photos and texts—and attempts to erase the digital medium itself (339).

Or, remediation can emphasize difference rather than erase it, which is pitched as an improvement of the old medium while still attempting to remain true to the original (340). I think of things like e-readers for this, which model the genre of a book but also highlight different features—increasing text size, changing font, offering tools for highlighting/underlining, allowing you to purchase new books through the e-reader itself.

Then again, remediation can be more aggressive, attempting to “refashion the older medium or media entirely, while still marking the presence of the older media and therefore maintaining a sense of multiplicity or, as we have called it, hypermediacy” (340). Bolter and Grusin talk about immersive virtual reality here, and I also think of work by scholars like Jody Shipka and Erin Anderson who use older media to create digital projects.

Finally, remediation can be the act of absorbing the original medium entirely, although remediation itself ensures that the new medium is always dependent on the older one, whether those similarities are minimized or not (341). An example here is the move from cinema to television to web, as these different media certainly influence and necessitate each other without acknowledging that dependence.

We might say that remediation is the most artistic of the three modes, and one that actually focuses on the message more than the medium. For our project I am interested in this third form of remediation. I think remediation calls attention to how transfering a “text” from one medium and genre introduces a number of inventional dynamics, opportunities to surprise, delight, amplify, the original text’s purpose and meaning. The value in remediating texts is that it gets us to pay attention to both particular genre conventions and technological affordances. That is, when you start to think of what a Victorian novel would look like as a Beyonce video, you ahve to start cataloguing the elements of a Victorian novel that have to be transformed and the dimensions of a Beyonce video that have to be enacted. You have to start making a series of complicated choices to make that work.

Project 1: Remediation

For your first project, I want you to remediate a print text into a short digital video. Because I want to provide you as much creative space as possible, it is difficult for me to provide you with more specific criteria.

I imagine one possibility for this could be to take an existing poem (whether historic, contemporary, or one you have written), and transform it into a music video. Another could be to take a movie or video game review you have written and turn that into a video. You might be more ambitious and act out a scene from a novel or a play. Perhaps you want to re-film a scene from a movie. If you are a musician, then you might make a music video for a song. I think you could also make a music video for an existing song.

In terms of content, the project is open to you. I do have a few technical requirements:

  • Because the purpose of the first project is to get more experience with video, I want you to use video rather than still images. It is ok to integrate both, but at least 2/3’s of the project should be video
  • I’m *not* going to assess audio quality for this first project, although I do recommend using an external mic if possible.
  • I expect your first project will use multiple camera shots and follow Stockman’s guidelines
  • I expect your first project will adhere to Schroeppel’s guidelines for composition in Bare Bones
  • I would like your project to do something with text. In your reflection, I’ll ask you to tell me about something that you didn’t know how to do, how you tried to learn it, and how you might do something differently next time

The Fundamentals of Photoshop

Ok, today we’ll cover a few basics. How to:

  • Open a .zip file
  • Crop an image [Crop tool or Select box > Image > Crop]
  • Adjust the Color of an image [Image > Adjustments]
  • Clone Stamp tool
  • Use the Magic Healing Brush
  • Insert Text
  • Select/lasso part of an image and move it into another image
  • File types


Read Schroeppel, Bare Bones, chapter on “Composition.” Prepare a list of 3 things from the chapter than you can pay attention to as you shoot project one. For each, take a picture that serves as an example (and, if possible, take a still picture that is a good example and a still picture that is a bad example). Post the pictures to the Canvas discussion forum.

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