Visual Technology Changes Us
Saturday, 9:15 to 10:45
Sheraton Hall C, Lower Concourse
Sorin Nastasia, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville
Employing New Technologies for Improving Visual and Cultural Literacy
Kevin Moloney, Ball State University
Digital Disruption and Democratization in Visual Communication
Martin Smith-Rodden, Ball State University
New Possibilities in Engagement of Empathy
Paul Martin Lester, University of Texas at Dallas
The title of my bit comes from Ridley Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner.
Rutger Hauer plays a murderous replicant and gives a brilliant poetic end-of-life performance. After recounting significant events that his character, Roy Batty witnessed, it/he states,
“All these moments with be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”
It has been called “the most moving death soliloquy in cinematic history.”
Rutger Hauer died last month. Tears in rain.
Roy Batty is the ultimate Artificial Intelligence being—an organic-based machine that is self-aware. But not the first—my favorite: Jack Haley’s “Tin Man.”
Is the future of visual technology AI? Imagine, if you will, a scenario in which you
walk through the crowded streets of London and tell your eyeglass or implanted camera to take pictures in the style of Henri Cartier-Bresson or Ross Taylor. Anyone concerned?
History of Visual Communication is a History of Technology
What is technology? Learning to use a planet’s resources.
And how has visual technology utilized resources?
The Story of Visual Technology is Long and Relentless
Beetle Patterns on Wood: 150 million years ago.
Ochre Stone Carvings: 80,000 years ago.
Cave Walls: 40,000.
Clay Tablets: 5,000.
Papyrus Scrolls: 4,000.
Camera Obscura: 2,500 years ago.
Paper Substrates: 2,000.
Wood/Clay/Metal Type: 1,800 years ago.
Moveable Type: 600.
Metal/Paper Images: 180.
Computers: 80 years ago.
Electronic Camera: 45 years ago.
Consumer AR 10 years ago
Consumer VR: 5 years ago.
Consumer AI: 4 years ago.
My Theory of the Birth of Awarians
Early humans noticed and were inspired by
beetle patterns left in tree trunks behind the bark.
Interestingly, there are estimated to be 33 million species of beetles on Earth which is 40% of all insects and 25% of all known life forms. Noah was busy. There are eight mentions of beetles in the Bible. This is my favorite: Exodus 8:20, Jehovah said to Moses, “I am sending against thee, and against thy servants, and against thy people, and against thy houses, the beetle, and the houses of the Egyptians have been full of the beetle, and also the ground on which they are.” When biologist John Haldane was asked about god’s preference among his creations, he answered that the metaphorical being had “An inordinate fondness for beetles.” Use the keywords “Beetle Wood Markings” in Google.
Visual Technology’s Circle Dance
So, beetle spruce led our ancestors to rock and cave drawings and paintings and We Got Woke and awarians were led to symbolic images: pictograms, ideograms, and logograms and
Led us to writing systems and the alphabet and
Led us to narrative stories on pottery, papyrus, paper, tapestries, and books and
Led us to interchangeable letterforms in clay and metal and
Led us to lithography, illustrations, photography, and the halftone and
Led us to art movements and
Led us to motion pictures and
Led us to television and
Led us to computers and
Led us to smartphones and
Led us to VR, and AR and
Led us to AI and
Led us back to the beetles.
What is the Price of Technology?
Forgetfulness (Reduction of Generational and Inherent knowledge).
Isolation (Foods and goods delivery, Online classes, Texting, VR/AR/MR,
Pay channels, Gated communities, Class superiority, Intrenched opinions,
Threats (Lawlessness, Climate catastrophes, Natural disasters, WWIII radiation,
and Fascist roundups).
In the end, some of the only animals that will survive after humans are gone will be beetles (probably within the forests outside Puebla, Mexico). They will tell their stories, as always, under the bark of fallen trees. Will future awarians rediscover their drawings and start the cycle again?
For now, as educators, we must go beyond the obvious—the technical considerations of a medium. There are huge societal issues—climate change, renewable energy, immigration, gun control, abortion rights, death penalty, crumbling infrastructure, pay inequities, unequal educational opportunities, prison reform, drug abuse, poverty, health care, the end of newspapers, and misogyny, sexual assault, bullying, political and economic corruption, racism, fascism, Trump and his minions.
Students need to use technologies to explain at their local level these and other issues. However, the stories should be driven, not by the latest tool or technique, but by curiosity, critical thinking, passion, spontaneity, inspiration, tenacity, and perhaps most of all, empathy.
Teach students to observe, to record, to share, to care.
All these moments with be lost in time, like tears in rain.
Time to live.