Siegfried ZielinskiEdit

Audiovisions: Cinema and Television as Entr'actes in HistoryEdit

Zielinkski broadly understands his work as part of the "ongoing experiemnt to bring art, sicence and technology into a relationship." Zielinski positions the book in opposition to prevailing chronological and event-based media histories, "a shift from analysing hegemonial relations and conditions to the archaeology, or, rather, to anarchaeology of audiovisions" (9). He divides his book into 4 major sections, each one circulating around a dispositif (here consider The Archaeology of Knowledge and "What is an Apparatus?") of audiovisions: production of illusions, emerging and formalizing conventions of television, television proper and advanced audiovisions.

In regard to these arrangements, Zielinski states, "To understand them as historically distinguishable dispositifs means, first and foremost, to characterize the socio- and techno-culturally dominant arrangement of a particular time and, at the same time, to bring out the social and private relations which led to this type of hegemony, including how it came to establish itself" (19-20). The materiality of media is of primary concern, existencing in a triad relationship between technology, subjects and culture. Zielinski rejects purely causal explanations, that they are invented and then produce effects. But neither, as Kittler offers, do they pre-determine our psychological conditions. Rather, there is a reciprical relationship between technology and the existence of the subject.

Zielinski identifies three major influences: the cultural studies approach of Marxist-oriented British cultural studies (Raymond Williams) which emphasizes culture as an expression of a way of life and the quality of a relationship between life activity, living conditions and actual individual development; the historiography of technology and systems-theoretical (Gunter Ropohl); and meta-psychological of media discourse--the work of Baudry, Metz and Stephen Heath (20). He distinguishes himself from Kittler, arguing that his work is not in opposition to, but alongside. However, later on he subtlely disagrees with the connections Kittler makes between the camera and the gun, linking them up instead with a far more common 19th century gear-based device: the clock (72).

In exploring the history of illusions, Zielinski refutes the tendancy to see them as simply a "pre-history of cinema," which suggests that all efforts at recording movement prior to 1895 are prior to and precursors to the event of cinema. This perspective is only possible if "cinematographics is the superstructure that dominates everything audiovisual." Rather, Zielinski uses the dispositif to look at a condensation of technical arrangements, rather than chronological assortment.Additionally, cinema and television cannot be so easily seperated and socio-technological projects. While cinema enable us to store images and show them later, there was great effort given over to creating instantaneous image relay. Their origins were linked, not descending, in genealogy (33).

Zielinski pays close attention to the relationship between cinema and the working class. As industrialization and Taylorism spend up life (moving faster and expecting us to move faster) there was a strong desire for dreamlike illusions that were fast and cheap, and could fit into the work day, as well as provide shelter and anonymity to an increasingly crowded urban public. He notes, smartly, that department stores and cinema both rely on montage principles. In regards to the dispositif of cinema, Zielinski writes: "For historiography with a perspective that aims the integrate technology and culture, what matters in: cinema, as a historically special form of audiovisual praxis, did not begin suddenly in the mid-1890s with the demonstrations of Lumiere's cinematograph [...] It was not the invention of the film, nor of the cinematographic devices, but in the origination process of cinema that the rise and growth of the class of factory workers and the new lower classes in the urban agglomerations was reflcted. Their 'rest-time' needs, their gradually increasing share in society's wealth, their specific forms of collective culture from the street, public spaces and places, were at once the preconditions and the projection screens for the emergence of the new, commercial mass culture of cinema and, at the same time, were closely lined to the peaking of other processes of industrialization in advanced capitalism, particularly with regard to people's changing perception of time and of things" (90-91).

Dispositif of cinema: pg 92

bourgeoisification of film: pg 100

change in theater: pg 101

In constrast to the cinema, the dispositif of television is one that priviledges sound, as well as "near-seeing"--one these small, fuzzed screens, long shots give way to close-ups (187). Advanced audiovisions, then, are marked by increased reception and playback possibilities (222). With the widdening difference between limited raw materials/creative investments and unlimited demand, the culture industry manages this by recycling material and repackaging and re-deploying products in new formats for distribution. Rather than the horizontal integration of cinema and broadcasting, advanced audiovisions require vertical integration. Digitality becomes the new uniform standard for audiovisions, rendering them into formats infinately copyable on numerous dvices. HDTV was developed as the "formula for an audiovisual master product" (225) that would allow any image to be viewable on any device. Advanced audiovisions comrpise the "technological heart through which the streams of data, with a uniform standard, carrying the most varied information, flow" (226). The monitor, then fuses work time and rest time.

video games: pg. 228

Advanced audiovisions mark an interest in "the single" the go anywhere, do anything device" (230). Rather than the car radios and ghettoblasters that create subculture unification by announcing to the outside world, Walkmans are "an electro-industrial icon of a specific type of solitude (230) [...] a bizarre ambivalence of mental absence and physical presence" (232). Entertainment becomes fragmentary, best exemplified in MTV--the channel with no beginning and no end. Users must be able to fit bits of media into their everyday lives without being expected to offer total attention. Thus, "a never-ending invitation to a hypnotic trance, in which the wiewer was held in a state of unsatified desires but was, at the same time, supplied with the illusion that these would be satisfied by the electronic stream of sounds and images" (234).

"The speed of time passing, being pressed for time, having no time... reproduced illusions of motion as a reflection of states of mind, but also as compensation for deficits that the speed-up of everyday life had brough with it: in principle, history has clung to this functional connection since the dispositif of cinema emerged" (236). Video recorders restored dedicated viewing but also created an aesthetic of use and throw away commodities.

Zielinski sees his writing as participating in an end goal--a "hope for a media reality that is organized not vertically but horizontally, and characterized by a lively alongside-of and in-one-another of distinctly different praxes" (291). His conclusion covers these concerns, largely by looking at video art.

unimedia vs. multimedia (291) -- an event of reducation.