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Colloquium Archive

Richard Grusin

Name: Richard Grusin, Wayne State University

Presentation Title: "Premediation"

Date: November 20, 2003


In our 1999 book, Jay Bolter and I defined "remediation" as the double logic according to which media (particularly but not exclusively digital media) refashion prior media forms. Remediation takes Kathryne Bigelow's 1995 film Strange Days as exemplifying the often contradictory logic of mediation at work as the end of the twentieth century, tracing out what we describe as the double logic of remediation by which contemporary culture seeks simultaneously to proliferate and to erase mediation, to eliminate all signs of mediation in the very act of multiplying them. Although we were, I would argue, correct to single out Strange Days as an instance of remediation as a cultural dominant at the end of the twentieth century, we did not at that point recognize the way in whish this double logic--if not precisely nearing its end--was at least on the verge of being re-mediated according to another logic, a logic of premediation in which the future has always already been pre-mediated.

In the paper which I will present to the CWS Colloquium, I elaborate what I see as the threefold character of premediation at work at the beginning of the twenty-first century. First, where remeidation entialed the refashioning of prior media forms, I claim that premediation entials the desire to remediate future media forms and technologies. In addition, I argue that premediation entials the desire to remediate the future before it happens, the desire that the future be always already pre-mediated. Finally, I suggest that this desire to premediate the future before it happns is accomplanied by the desire to insure that the future is so fully mediated by new media forms and technologies that it is unable to emerge into the present without having laready been remediated in the past.

Please note that the talk is a shorter and earlier version of an article that will be published in Criticism, which is available as part of Project Muse.