CNN hologram reporters and the double logic of remediation

Posted: September 17, 2010 in New media tools, Uncategorized
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My presentation this week, covering McLuhan’s work The medium is the massage, let to an interesting discussion about how media is shaping us and society in general. Complementing the McLuhan reading was an extract of Bolter & Gruisin’s 1999 book Remediation: Understanding new media, that describes how societies’ contradictory desire for immediacy and hypermediacy demonstrates the double logic of remediation and leads our media environment to adopt to this demand. As Bolter & Gruisin put it, ‘our culture wants both to multiply its media and to erase all traces of mediation.’ Both concepts coexist in today’s digital media environment and are mutually dependent.

A good example of this is CNN’s use of the hologram technique, first used for the election night coverage of the 2008 presidential election in the US. Journalist Jessica Yellin appeared to be projected onto the floor as she was being interviewed in a news show. The technical discussion if this was actually a real hologram or not aside, the use of this technique drew a lot of attention to CNN and delivered an example of the latest form of remediation. As the concept of immediacy expresses, the viewer today does not expect to see a previously recorded message on the news, he wants to see the reporter speaking to the news anchor in real-time or ‘live’. Moreover, the viewer demands more and more hypermediacy. It is not sufficient anymore to have the reporter just filmed on location and being able to speak to the news anchor through a satelite connection. Through the hologram, the journalist or reporter is now virtually present in the studio with the news anchor. This represents the blending of two media types, media is multiplied. At the same time,  the ‘realness’ of the hologram erases the traces of mediation. The CNN hologram reporter is thus a perfect example of the double logic of remediation.

Here is the footage from the election night, using the hologram of Jessica Yellin:

Further Readings:

Bolter, JD & Gruisin, RA 1999, Remediation: Understanding new media, Mass, Cambride, MIT Press, London.


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