The Mediated "Metropolitian" Shock

Although we frequently talk about the final arrival of McLuhan's "global village," especially in terms of the World Wide Web, it seems clear that the contemporary mediasphere is something much closer to a city than a village, with high-speed traffic, congested sidewalks, and the dull roar of commerce and entertainment. But the city, in architectural theory terms, is a difficult situation: it is hard to make architectural meaning out of mere difference, of mere separation; what is required is shock.

The second example in the handout is Takamatsu's Origins III. What's striking about this buidling--what's shocking, what makes us look--is the confusion of scale and context here: Takamatsu's building (like so much of his architecture) looks toy-like, an anime cartoon that demands our attention (if not understanding).

As with metropolitian spaces, shock remains one of the last tools we have for generating new meanings and social relationships.

Tactics and strategies for shock are numerous; they follow on approaches for defamiliarization, but take them to extreme.

The sheer media load of the World Wide Web urbanizes political and social debate in potentially damaging ways. While one way of thinking insists that this global information space gives everyone one a voice--and is therefore automatically liberating--in some cases, that space is so overshadowed by the millions of other voices (many of which have the funds to amplify their presence) that rather than create community or open discussion, the Web isolates people from each other, particularly those with unpopular points of view. Although we speak frequently of the ability of minorities to voice their opinions on the World Wide Web, it is probably more likely that the general public will see a minority viewpoint in the newspaper or on television than on the World Wide Web, where those voices fade easily into the noise of Internet. Audio is a good example here--how many of us have been in the midst of a class discussion, only to have the tinny strains of Metallica trickle out of the speakers on the computer in the back of the room, where a student has been keeping one eye on you and another eye on a metal-head website? Although we tend, unfortunately, to dismiss shock value as cheap and immature, it also is frequently the only way to capture attention, to get a conversation started.
Takamtsu, Origins III (from Venturi, Complexity, 82)

Takamatsu, Arc (from Venturi, Complexity)



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