Source: McLuhan New Yorker Cartoon
Following up on our discussion of Vertov’s “Kino-Eye”, I was curious about the development of our relationship to technology, and the ways in which we use technology to enact change. From our class discussion on the development of media, beginning from early cave paintings, to the emphasis on beauty and body in the renaissance, to impressionism, our relationship to image making is seen through the eye of the artist with the development of technology.
As Vertov describes, our current relationship to art in a cybernetic society is solely through how we experience it through a screen. As a result, this changes the relationship between digital media and cinema – the author or creator can influence how he/she wants the audience to interpret the message. I completely agree with Krystal’s post below on “A Man with a Movie Camera” in which Vertov transforms our understanding on how the camera is no longer a tool for entertainment, but instead a tool for enacting change.
Taking Vertov’s findings into account, I think his contemplation on the technological and cinematic medium directly relates to McLuhan’s findings on how the “medium is the message”. We will be reading this later on in the semester, but McLuhan’s points center on the fact that the way in which the message is communicated – whether through song, dance, visual art, cinema etc – is how it will shape our social interactions and our understanding of society. As we discussed in class, as the form of the medium changed, so did our society from agrarian, to industrial, and now in the technological age.
In activist media, both Vertov and McLuhan touch on how the medium is central to how certain movements were able to succeed, and others not. In Zeynep Tufekci’s Ted Talk, she explores the idea of Online social change: Easy to organize, hard to win. In her talk, she highlights our common tools of social media activism – Facebook, and Twitter – and how easy it can be to retweet #BlackLivesMatter or change our profile to the Paris flag and caption it “Je suis Paris”. It is so easy to get a large number of people involved in one issue for 24 hours, but how can be use the tools of media in order to create a movement and not a moment? I think this question will be central to each of our groups as we work on our projects to contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement.
From Week 3: Vertov Early Russion Film Collectives and the Self-Reflexive Film