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Themesicon: navigation pathOverview of Media Articon: navigation pathPerception

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I Media Possibilities

The development of technical media of reproduction like photography and film in the nineteenth century engenders entirely new methods of representation and formal languages. In film and later in video, the possibility of depicting space is supplemented with the capacity to represent processes and movement. Time is thus included as an additional element in the repertoire of the representational media and opens up new aesthetic possibilities that could not have developed without fundamental technological preconditions. Walter Benjamin already emphasized in his essay on «The Work of Art in the Age of Technical Reproduction»[1] the interlinking connections between new technologies and new art forms and the resultant formation of patterns of perception. He illustrates this by means of the example of film; in techniques like slow motion and the close-up and in studies of motion, film produces a new way of observing nature and the environment. In addition, by way of technologies like editing, i.e., the structuring and recombination of images and sequences, film offers previously unknown ways of seeing. In the 1960s, the


media scholar Marshall McLuhan described the increasing role of the media in our everyday life, seeing in it the foundation for an expansion of our possibilities of perception. McLuhan considers the use of media a cultural technique that links various areas of perception with one another. «The TV image has exerted a unifying synesthetic force on the sense-life of these intensely literate populations…. Radio and television…, these massive extensions of our central nervous systems[,] have enveloped Western man in a daily session of synthesia. The Western way of life attained centuries since by the rigorous separation and specialization of the senses, with the visual sense atop the hierarchy, is not able to withstand the radio and TV waves that wash about the great visual structure of abstract Individual Man.»[2]

Nevertheless, technology is not the only factor that influences perception or patterns of perception; the specific application or aesthetic use of a technology also leads to the reorganization of our sensory perception. In an article published in the catalogue for documenta 8, the art historian Vittorio Fagone writes about the mutual relationship between

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