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Mediating Distance Instantly–Telecommunication (Villi Summary)

In Villi’s 2014 chapter Distance as the New Punctum, he points out the influence of digital networks, highlighting the new meaning of time and distance. He brings us back to Barthes’ “punctum” and extends his theory by suggesting distance as the new punctum. (48)

Villi notes Barthes work Rhetoric of the Image which I will link here (44) on “spatial immediacy” and “temporal anteriority”. (49) He has found that photography is about presence in space and absence in time; it is communication over time, not communication in time. Villi finds network connection mediating one’s presence, not through direct physical co-presence but the space of communicative connection tantamount to the phone. (50)

Villi brushes up our understanding on Barthes “punctum” and goes straight into the loss in time that connotes death evident in Winter Garden. (52) He then describes loss in space associated to distance. (53) Villi however asserts camera-phone photos as potentially transient (53), due to the evolution of technology. (54) He quotes Rantavuo 2007 that snapshot photography is a “transitory tool for transitory communication” and House 2007 that it is “ephemeral, throwaway; a stream not an archive”. In his own words “a fleeting act” and uses Snapchat as an example. (55)

In his interview study Villi finds people are often strongly linked to sharing a certain instant, rather than a following week, once again highlighting the essence of time; as well as distance and space for people in the army. He juxtaposes two pictures, one being two empty train chairs as “double absence” (58) and the other the sad soldier coming home as “presence in the moment of absence”. (59)

Villi concludes by reiterating camera-phones with a communication network enables easy connection of photographs over distances without delay, that they are transient, momentary, disposable images passing time. (60-1) They are communicative and gain value as “momentos”. Quoting Wilhelm et al. 2004 “power of now”, he highlights users are visually online all the time with continuous flows of tweets and updates. In the age of telecommunication, presence is about being in contact with one another over physical distance—being socially present while being physically absent. Villi punctuates his chapter with Kjell’s quote, his camera-phone is “to touch people”. (61)


One thought on “Mediating Distance Instantly–Telecommunication (Villi Summary)

  1. Although I can see Villi’s assertion to say digital snapshots are often transient, however to quote critics from 2007 and say digital snapshots are “throwaway and not an archive” seems a stretch, especially in his recent context of digital networks. I know personally and many of my connections view facebook and instagram as an archive of their photos, almost like a cloud.


    Posted by airlieheung | March 12, 2015, 1:29 am

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