Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reflection: Chapters 7-9

The author stated, “Any digital artifact—a productivity tool, a Web site, or even a computer game—is meant to change something in the user’s relationship to her physical and cultural environment. Otherwise, there would be no reason to produce the artifact at all” (pg. 14). Terminal Time is about cultural contexts and how they define our history. “Like all other hypermediated digital pieces, Terminal Time oscillates between the modes of presentation and participation” (pg. 134). That explained it a bit better for me. The author again takes us back to the title of the book (windows and mirrors), suggesting that there are two roles that require two different ways of looking: through the screen or at it.

Interestingly enough, the author ties in the story of Plato’s cave to Terminal Time. This was one of my favorite stories in philosophy, so I was pleased to see it mentioned in this book. Both Plato’s cave and Terminal Time are meant to expose assumptions, however, the lesson of Plato’s allegory is the opposite of the lesson by Terminal Time. The author states, “For Plato, we are not defined by our cultural contexts; instead we can stand outside all contexts and understand a higher truth” (pg. 136). I am not sure how much I agree with this, because I am not sure that many of us are intelligent to understand a higher truth. We have become infatuated with participating in new technologies, and I truthfully do not see that changing in the near future.

Another point that Bolter makes that caught my eye was the fact that digital art is about performance. I agree with the author that technological, historical, cultural, and economic dimensions of the media always need to be taking into account by the designer. In my opinion, it is important for the designer to find the appropriate rhythm of transparency and reflectivity in order to please his audience.

Overall, I thought this book was pretty enlightening. It brought to my attention many aspects of new media and art that I have never really thought of. I definitely think that the author was witty to tie both art and new media into one another-- to show his audience a different perspective.


  1. Of course, the point is that Plato believed that there is a higher truth, so to speak, that most people are unaware of, but that can be understood with the proper education. In contemporary culture, we have become suspicious of such claims, however, and tend to relate the allegory of the cave to the sense that objective reality is unknowable, and may not even exist (an extreme I don't go along with).

    The point about performance is an important one, because all communication involves performance.

  2. We talk about artifacts in terms of companies in one of my other classes. I think that it is interesting that we talk about them here as digital artifacts.