Medium and Message
“For years, communication theory had been structured by the distinction between the how and the what: how information is transmitted on the one hand, and what constitutes that information on the other”(Lunenfeld, Peter,)
What is communication? Simply put it is the transfer of an idea, thought, theory, narrative or knowledge to another person or group. A transfer from point “A” to point “B”. This transfer, communication, can take many shapes. Art, theater, music, text, and speaking are all different mediums of transmitting a message.The configuration of communication we interact with traditionally and most often is text. Taking the structure of books and web-based media. We read books, scan news papers, send and receive text messages on are phones and are constantly bombard by billboards and print media. We are so comfortable with text we are clueless to how much we taken every single day. But is text the most effective way to communicated? Does it fit all messages that need that are being conveyed? No. The way things are communicated change how people perceive them. In an it way changes the message that is being transferred from point “A” to point “B”.
In Marshall McLuhan way of thinking “The medium is the message” . The way a transmission gets sent alters or adds to the original message. “McLuhan insists that the content of communication (the message) is determined more by the way it is sent (the medium) than by the intentions of the sender”(Lunenfeld, Peter,) If we take this theory into account it completely changes are perception of communication and how we go about it. It no longer is just about the information we are trying to send. But how it will be heard and understood that adds to that original information.
A good example of “medium being the message” is Kane Cunningham’s art structure titled “The Goodbye Project” It is a house teetering on the edge of a two hundred foot cliff ending into the sea. Every wave that crashes against the cliff eats away inch by inch what little earth is under the houses foundation. The house literally has life expectancy that is slow minute by minute ticking away. Is this just a house any more? Or has become a message being communicated by a new medium. Kane saw this message. After buying the house Kane start “The Goodbye Project”. His idea was to make the house a symbol of insecurity, the passage of time, freedom and most of all letting go and saying goodbye. When people heard of what he was doing they started sending letters to the house address. In these letters were written goodbyes to lost love ones, dreams, hurt, fears and so much more. These letters now line the walls of the house. “It is amazing how the falling cliffs can release are own fears and feelings”(The Goodbye Project letter) When the last wave crashes and the house fall and is gone, so are the letters. Kane’s house itself has become a medium sending a message of letting go. The medium truly has become the message for hundreds of people who have participated in “The Goodbye Project”.
Lunenfeld, Peter, ed. Digital Dialectic : New Essays on New Media. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press, 2000. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 31 October 2014.
Copyright © 2000. MIT Press. All rights reserved.