Vern Creel


‘How can we be the message?’ – 2007

“I like the idea that given a new set of directions, what was once familiar can reveal an alternative narrative.”


[From raw notes for a short essay ‘The Technologists; between Here and There!’]

A brief examination of:-
“We are not interested in technology itself; only the effects on the medium it operates in.”
This leads me to ask; what surrounds technology? What carries or delivers it?
(A medium is shaped by the originator of the message. For example the source of a sound, ‘the originator’, creates ripples in the air. These ripples in the medium are perceived as sound.)

“If our lives are shaped by technology then our lives could be the medium!”
This deceptively simple statement suggests an interesting matrix constructed around the three basic elements; the originator, the message and the medium that cries it. Some variations are a bit abstract! Here are 3. (Actually there should be 6 combinations.)

Case 1-
The originator; us. – We build and use it.
The message; “technology is useful or sometimes can be dangerous.”
The medium; our lives. -Where we measure the effects. The ripples if you like.

Case 2-
The originator; technology.
The message; “our lives are more worthwhile with it.” (This is almost the same as the above.)
The medium; us. – How we are shaped by it and how we propagate it. The resonances.

Case 3-
The originator; our lives. – The way we live places demands on us and our surroundings.
The message; us? – How can we be the message? (This is interesting! I’ll consider this later.)
The medium; technology. How it responds to the daily demands. And thus introduces changes
in itself. (e.g. Upgrades or completely new products.)

How can one make use of this matrix?
The different permutations make new connections which can stimulate new ways of looking at familiar things, very ordinary things in fact. For example; the image of boats in the harbour.
(This seems very commonplace and bland perhaps but also something else could be going on…)

With the matrix in mind how can we read this familiar scene? Here is a fuller description.

“Boats are manoeuvring around in a harbour purposefully attending to many tasks. Their efforts are creating wakes behind them. These in turn gently nudge the other boats also busy creating their own disturbances in the water. The dance contributes to the dance as the boats try to continue with their journeys through the now rough water.”
The water is the medium, the boats are technology and the passengers are us.

These odd juxtapositions I find fascinating. The implications are quite subtle at first and not easy to read. But we should have noticed all the obvious stuff by now.

So to take note of slight and less important things and make something of aspects that have not been noticed before, we need to look ever harder in places not usually scrutinised. And also look in ways we are not familiar with. The scene just mentioned is very innocuous and appears to be a simple maritime picture. I like the idea that given a new set of directions, what was once familiar can reveal an alternative account. There must be many different takes on simple reality we see around us.

To some this may appear as trying to make something out of nothing. However I actually believe that there are many things that affect our lives, in quite profound ways, which are not always immediately visible. What are these invisible things?
Well of course I don’t yet know but it is our duty to keep looking.
To sum up therefore an image of boats in this position as described would be a Technologist take on events.
This is as ‘indirect’ as you can get I guess. – But maybe I’m wrong.