Media change dynamic of Apostrophe

One pivotal aspect with regard to theatricality is that it manifests itself in a present, in the presence of the participants involved. Especially in terms of presence it may be the case that “Current technologies challenge this presence design by providing new possibilities to transcend time and place at a high speed and large scale” (Nevejan and Brazier, 2010).

As Nevejan and Brazier amply show, this in itself need not principally invalidate the possibility of witnessing. The problem remains that modern media have seriously altered the dynamic of apostrophe for its being rhetorical in a theatrical sense. The question is how such theatricality can work in deeply mediatized situations, which occur in what has been described as an age of convergence.[20] I agree with Henry Jenkins in his Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide that new media do not simply replace old media. Neither, however, do new and old converge without principally altering one another, as the term “collide” suggests. Theatre and spectacle, for instance, are surely related, but also principally different kinds of “media”. Witnessing can only appear and function properly, in an ethical sense, in a mode that has preserved essentially theatrical characteristics. If the theatrical mode is converging nowadays, through the operation of modern media, with the spectacle, this is not a matter of equal contribution. Currently, the model of the spectacle is dominant and there can be no ethically sensible way in which witnesses are able to function in the frame of spectacle. The predicament we are in, therefore, is not so much how to assess modes of media convergence, nor of stopping them converge or collide. The question may not even be, in general, how to preserve pivotal characteristics of certain “old” modes and media in their connection with “new” media. With regard to witnessing, however, the loss of theatricality proper would be more than damaging. It would be a loss, truly.

Note 20: Jenkins (2006).

Frans-Willem Korsten