Global Infrastructure and Media
The development of media has always been inseparable from the infrastructural components that ensure its proper functioning. However, the role of the latter is often overlooked, even despite the fact that the former has become one of the most significant co-constructs of the contemporary reality. Thus, understanding of the connection between infrastructure and media, namely on the basis of the example of China Remixed Video Art Exhibition, becomes quite important in the realities of modern world.
The screen chosen as an object of observation was located at the IMU. It displayed a river flowing in the valley, with the picture being rich in bright colors, from the white ice and clouds to the blue sky. On the other hand, the room it was located in primarily featured dark colors (black, brown, mahogany, etc.), as well as the elements of refined, old-style design (portraits on the walls, candelabra-shaped lights, etc.). As a result, the screen, with its black rectangular shape and vivid landscape it showed, stood out in the exhibition hall. Thus, one can speak about the presence of a stark contrast between the observed object and its environment, i.e. the infrastructure and media. However, there was no conflict between those two, which resulted in unique experience.
In this regard, one can refer to the concept of infrastructure, namely its connection with modernity and, therefore, the media, which was analyzed by numerous authors. In particular, Brian Larkin claims that infrastructure is a matter that ensures the movement of another matter, including the media (Larkin, 2013). This point of view is complemented by Paul Edwards, who states that any infrastructure is in bilateral relationship with its environment, i.e. it is shaped by the latter while also being its co-construct (Edwards, 2002). With the former being a set of interrelated objects that provide the basis for the system functioning, it is possible to state that without the latter, it will lose its meaning. Thus, the primary implications of this concept are related to the inseparable nature of infrastructure and its environment, including media, as well as their complementary nature.
In combination with the observations made in the course of China Remixed Video Art Exhibition, the described connection between infrastructure and media has obtained new sense. On the one hand, the works by the reviewed authors allowed answering the question related to the feasibility of the stark contrast between the screen and its environment (the infrastructure ensures the dynamics of everything it interacts with). Indeed, the dark-toned room magnifies the effect created by the former, with it becoming the primary center of visitors’ attention. On the other hand, personal experience provided for deeper understanding of Paul Edwards’ statement regarding the bilateral nature of relationship between the infrastructure and modernity. Being positioned in a room decorated in a strict, classical style, a high-technology screen displaying a bright, vivid picture does not only stand out. A refined design of the exhibition hall serves as a reflection of past and potentially reminds the viewers of the way technology and media have to come to provide them with such an experience.
Thus, the relationship between the reviewed infrastructure and media can be described as synergy, despite the mismatching nature of the exhibition hall and the screen, they complement each other in a unique way. In turn, an observant visitor may point out many interesting details by analyzing such contrast, including those described above. As a result, the artistic effect of the events, such as China Remixed Video Art Exhibition, becomes even more significant.
Edwards, Paul N. Infrastructure and Modernity: Scales of Force, Time, and Social Organization in the History of Sociotechnical Systems. University of Michigan, 2002.
Larkin, Brian. “The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure.” Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 42, 2013, pp. 327-343.