A subject called ‘Media, Audience, Place’ is, from the start, going to be pulled in many directions.
It draws on the history of media scholarship with a special focus on audience studies and decades of work in geography. It mixes together thinking about “how media devices, distribution systems and practices affect the way that we all experience space and place“. A key in that sentence is the word experience. Given that, work in the subject will also necessarily draw on the personal mediascapes and experiences of the several hundred staff and students involved.
I’m working on a PhD that largely tackles these same questions in relation to a specific selection of places. In that work, I’m arguing that media are technical objects which enhance our ability to perceive and make sense of the world – they are sensory prostheses. This line of thinking follows on from Marshall McLuhan’s suggestion media are extensions of ourselves, while Clay Shirky says they are “the connective tissue of society… how you know about anything more than ten yards away”. This position seems to be at odds with experiencing the places we live and see first hand, but in fact media seems to have a clear role in supplementing and extending what we see, hear, and taste everyday as we move about the world.
There is a feedback loop between what we know of the world around us ‘first hand’ and what we know of it through media. It goes both ways too – while media supplements experience of place, experience of place can supplement media. That feedback loop has also operated in the relationship between my own research and this subject as my first experience of BCM240 in 2014 significantly shaped and refined my work, which in turn will help refine and improve my teaching this session.
Welcome to all students in BCM240, and welcome especially to those in my two tutes – see you Wednesday morning!