How does media fit into time, how does media disrupt time? In fact, time or a conception of time shapes how we think of media. Starting at Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others, we encounter the effect of photographs and media on perception in a contextualized way. Specifically, Sontag deals with who the photographic medium works in the context of war and atrocity. This sort of analysis already marks a break where emergent forms bring about a shift in how we understand media and media participation.
The problem lies in the way we discuss media in a linear temporality where we have “old” and “new,” when in fact the “great divide” is not that gaping at all. Linear time is what Laura Mulvey critiques, media has been understood as old or new, traditional or modern. Set on a timeline, old media is somewhere behind, and new media occupies a space that is at once the present, the now, and the future as in we are looking to new media as the future. This method, however, is inherently flawed because it ignores possible intersections, how can we come to new media without old media, perhaps they are not as different as we think. Sure, their forms are decidedly different, but the logic behind them bears some resemblance. We can think of some media as re-assemblages of other forms of media a la Hannah hoch’s kitchen knife.
Time is thought of as a dividing factor for media, but in fact, as Jerome McGann implies, the practices of media production have not shifted so much at all. Time may affect the iteration of media, but many times media is already hyperlinking, being hypertextual hypermedia. Critical editions point outward towards information that may not be found in the text itself, and hypertext allows us to do the same. McGann connects books with hypertexts. Books and the practice of critical editions is not an outdated mode of participation in media, but hypertext takes cues from this practice of critique and makes it into one that is media-rich in presentation.
Another conception of time. the time in which we live is the context in which media emerges. Our age, epoch, eon. Working from Susan Sontag, we encounter photos or media in contextualized ways. Whether it is in an art gallery or on the television on the 6 o’clock news, media presented in different ways, in different times effects our affect towards them. Here is also where media can break, it breaks the division of viewer and participants, a twist on Sontag: a democracy brought about by photographs. The viewer can be the participant.