Human Transitions, Global Change. People, images, forms, symbols and stories in global flows

CoSMo – Comparative Studies in Modernism
n. 10 – edited by Chiara Simonigh e Teresa Biondi
Deadline: 25 March 2019


Redazione CUC2Written by:

In the global era, the transformation of humanity is intrinsically connected to the intensification of transit of people on the surface of the earth — flows of migrants, tourists, professional and educational flows etc. — and simultaneously to transit of cultural elements — flows of images, forms, symbols, stories, codes, formats etc. — occurring in media culture. Transit can be considered one of the privileged keys to interpreting contemporary culture and, in particular, the mutual relationship between visual media and world-society. The multiple correlations and interrelationships among different forms of transit that are shaping the culture of the twenty-first century lend themselves to a broad and articulate reflection, especially on reciprocal transformations existing between the media ecosystem and global civilization, as they foster relations of unusual complexity.
The several forms of human movements on the surface of the earth — migration, tourism, training trips, business tourism and so on — define mobility as a common experience, even though individual purposes, objectives and destinations, as well as culture, social status and age are constantly different.
Various paradigms of fluidity (Bauman, Appadurai et al.), in fact, have illustrated not only the original manifestation of actual transit of people and groups (through notions like «vagabond», «tourist», «neo-flâneur», «human swarm» etc.), but also the cultural consequences of such transit, as much in terms of «liquefaction» of traditional concepts (“frontier”, “nation”, “foreigner”) as in terms of their resemanticization (“identity”, “community”, “society”); both in the sense of a fluid circulation of new concepts and in the transcultural re-definition of the world social organization, already innervated by hybridisations and syncretisms of different orders.
Similarly, the intermedial or transmedial turn have coincided with the appearance of paradigms of media and digital convergence, remediation, relocation and so on (Jenkins, Schröter, Bolter, Grusin, Casetti et al.), that, in their turn, have expressed a complex and dynamic media culture whose perpetual development is moulded by the articulations that in it include transit of images, symbols, stories, codes and formats in the constant crossing of both the mediascape (Aumont, Bellour, Didi-Huberman et al.) and the international landscape (visual anthropology, global studies, post-colonial studies etc.).
Even much time, by now, after the formulation of paradigms on the media ecosystem and the early studies on the Warburghian «migration of images» or on the transmedia storytelling, it is possible to observe, in the first place, how phenomena of flows and metamorphosis of the elements circulating in the media ecosystem contribute to the liquefaction and resemanticization of traditional notions, such as the concepts of device, medium, work, text, authoriality, spectatorship, production, consumption etc.
Secondly, today it is also possible to recognise how the flow and the metamorphosis of those elements circulating within the media ecosystem redefine necessarily forms, practices and concurrently contents, topics, and cultural issues in transit. This contributes — for instance through different phenomena of «disintermediation» and «reintermediation» — to the wider transformation of the global cultural ecosystem in an intercultural and transcultural direction, that subsists in syncretisms and hybridisations of contents and, of course simultaneously, in techniques and practices with significant anthropological, social, political etc. implications (Appadurai, Anderson et al.).

In this global landscape, where complex relations of reciprocity intersect, the primacy of transit or flows determines certainly a correlation between different human fields and spheres but, at the same time, also their intimate and genuine interrelation, namely an “inter-retro-action” of mutual influences.

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