Blog Option #1: Old/New

Old/New Media Object

Due: Sunday, February 1 (by 8pm)

In his essay “Re-Newing Old Technologies,” Tom Gunning calls for cultural critics and media scholars to be more attentive to the origins and history of emergent technologies.  In a 350-500 word blog post, you will take up Gunning’s call, picking a media technology (a device, a platform, or an app), and performing a “cultural history” of this object and the discourses that surrounded it when it was first released.  You can pick any media object (Friendster, VCR, iPad, Snapchat, Game Boy, Kickstarter, etc.) to research, but pick something specific (not, for example “video games” or “smart phones”).  If you are selecting something iterative (e.g. iPhones), choose the first version of that object.

Step 1: After selecting your media technology, research its origins and the discourses that accompanied its release (I’d advise searching google news and limiting your search parameters by date to the month surrounding its release).  Once you have a strong sense of the discourses surrounding the technology, and have pulled some quotes you want to engage/analyze, you should write up your “cultural history,” of the object’s moment of origin engaging with Gunning’s central argument and one of the following concepts (introducing and applying the term to your chosen object):

  • Onian’s 4 stages of amazement
  • Defamiliarization
  • The uncanny qualities of emergent technologies

Step 2: To accompany this post, you will create a retrofuturist poster of your chosen media technology in Photoshop, inspired by this series of posters by Moma Propagando. This poster should include:

  • At least one image of your technology (or an image representing what your technology does, in line with the examples linked above)
  • The title and year of release of you object
  • At least one quote from the time of the object’s release or announcement that you will be analyzing in your post.

Otherwise, you should get creative.  The primary function of this part of the post is to display your proficiency with various tools in photoshop you learned in week 2 lab, potentially including (but not limited to):

  • Selecting appropriate images to work with
    • Size
    • Surrounding content
  • Editing Images
    • Cropping
    • Resizing (Free Transforming)
  • Cleaning up images
    • Spot Healing Brush
    • Magic Wand
  • Working with multiple image layers
  • Creating and manipulating text
  • Adjustments and styles
    • Hue and saturation
    • Black & White
    • Styles and Textures

Here’s a quick example that I whipped up in photoshop in about 20 minutes, to give you a sense of what this might look like (starting with the following raw materials: background, image of object, additional image, and quote):


This is certainly not the most creative or aesthetically impressive example, but it does give a clear sense of the topic of the post (VR goggles broadly, the Oculus Rift specifically), the origins on the object (there will be some discussion of its Kickstarter campaign), and an example of the sort of discourses that surrounded its release (here, I’d probably use this quote from Fincher to launch a discussion of the “uncanny” qualities of the Rift, and the conversation around this at the time of its announcement).  Once you’ve completed your photoshopped image and saved it, you will embed this image in your post, as I’ve done here.

Remember, though this is a blog post, it’s a scholarly blog post, so make sure you’re citing correctly (endnotes and/or parenthetical citations in the body of your post with a works cited list at the bottom).  You will be graded according to the blog rubric.


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