February 10, 2004

the diffused audience


A post of Abe's (that refrence's other's posts that I am too lazy to make links to) looks briefly at FCC chairman Powell’s statement that the superbowl is a "sacred event" in america.

There seems to be some extrapolation from this statement that the superbowl is one of our last culturally shared events as though in the past as audiences and a culture we had shared events that we all took part in (a train of thought that seems, to me, to want to hearken back with rose colored lenses towards an era of bucolic villages that would gather together for births/deaths/marriages).

I would hold that these sacred/shared events & sacred spaces both temporal and ethereal never really existed in the way that they have been popularly mythologized and as we move into an era of diffused constantly active audiences, while there are times and places that we all come together in audiences of the same event or performance text, very rarely are we sharing the space in any sense of that word.

In the recent past, while as a mass audience we may have been watching/listening/attending events where in our spectatorship was a shared trait amongst a diverse and (all)encompassing spectrum of peoples, rarely if ever were we decoding these events in manners similar to that of our neighbor (this being true if the neighbor was next to us in church or across the country watching the same television broadcast). We each watched with our own needs, desires, wants, histories and personas, and as such we created, and co-authored the text of the event or spectacle in our own individual manner.

Now when we perform as an audience it is for texts that are "always-on", you cannot single out a single event in the "sequence /flow" that rushes between all mediums electronic and physical. The Superbowl runs into Entertainment Tonight runs into the Grammy’s, runs into a Family Guy episode, runs into graffiti over an advertisement on the bus, runs into the annoying street performer on the subway. They all relate to each other in our own particular time and space and we in turn relate them together depending on which flow is unique and personally ours. While we may swim in the same stream, watch the same program with millions of others the diffused (and constant) nature of the current media world makes it impossible to really _share_ an event in any way other than the most superficial. In the past while there may have been specific times where we were accutly aware of our need to act as the performers of an audience we are now always an audience, always in the mode of the audience performer.

This, to me, is not a bad thing. Just because we are all reading and writing different texts does not make it any more or less hard to relate. If anything it is this false memory of shared spaces that seems unhealthy to me. We seem to want to create a history that is not a part of us, that we can separate ourselves from and look back on with feelings of loss as opposed to looking forward.

from now on, three entries per week, thats 3 per 7 days. hold me to it

Posted by thickeye at February 10, 2004 03:14 AM