Wednesday, January 16, 2008

R(e)mediation and r(e)literacy

All this reading about "Remediation" has started me thinking about how many examples of clever, enriching cross-cultural and cross-media references I come across in everyday life . I would almost say that this is the element that makes so much of what I read and watch enjoyable. Whether it is an overt example (like the many versions and references to "A Christmas Carol") or something more subtle (The STNG episode where the alien race communicates entirely via metaphor and historic cultural references), the impulse to remediate (as B&G would use the term) is a powerful one.

The best way to make sense of this pattern of remediation is for all of us to push to become r(e)literate in the same way. We need to look for the deeper ideas and meanings that permeate all the mediated stories we tell each other. The Simpsons, Futurama, Othello, Arrested Development, The Ring Cycle, etc are all filled with important echoes of previous iterations: some trivial, some profound.

Some more on Mediation and Remediation


Al said...

Hey Gordon,
As long as you're up for some clever media commentary, check this Norwegian skit (English subs). (

Jodi said...

What you have nicely touched upon here is the notion of intertextuality, both in its more traditional sense first proposed by Julia Kristeva in the mid sixties to mean the various links in form and content (e.g. genre, a photo in the newspaper that has a caption) which bind texts to other texts and in a more contemporary, dialogic sense that challenges the idea of a text having boundaries. Wiki explains it as the "shaping of texts' meanings by other texts, such as the borrowing and transformation of a prior text or to a reader's referencing of one text in reading another." In an interesting twist, you've picked up on this as an example of remediation rather than intertextuality. I think you're on to something here! With intertextuality, each 'text' (meant here as a system of signs and broadly referring to anything that can be 'read' for meaning, including words, images, sounds, gestures, and so on) exists in relation to others, just as B&G claim there is a relation of mutual dependency between old and new media, between immediacy and hypermediacy in processes of re/mediation. The logics and content of one medium may be borrowed, appropriated, partially absorbed and/or aggressively refashioned by another medium, as we see in your examples, expressed as re/mediation, and when we think of examples of intertextuality. Hmm, some interesting thoughts...