03 October 2010

Kittler, Optical Media

Kittler writing about the difference between a focus on the medium, as opposed to the media content:

To put it plainly: in contrast to certain collegues in media studies, who first wrote about French novels before discovering French cinema and thus only see the task before them today as publishing one book after another about the theory and practice of literary adaptations – in contrast to such cheap modernizations of the philological craft, it is important to understand which historical forms of literature created the conditions that enabled their adaptation in the first place. Without such a concept, it remains inexplicable why certain novels by Alexandre Dumas, like The Three Musketeers, have been adapted for film hundreds of times, while old European literature, from Ovid's Metamorphoses to weighty baroque tomes, were simple non-starters for film... It is possible... to conclude from the visually hallucinatory ability that literature acquired around 1800 that a historically changed mode of perception had entered everyday life. As we know, after a preliminary shock Europeans and North Americans learned very quickly and easily how to decode film sequences. They realized that film edits did not represent breaks in the narrative and that close-ups did not represent heads severed from bodies. (Kittler, Optical Media, pp108)

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