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RE PRESENTATION in the Media #1The Map is not the Territory

Understanding something about Representation will reveal something about the Media itself. 

FROM THE TEXT:  ‘To represent something is to describe it,

to call it up in the mind by description, portrayal or imagination.

To represent it also means to symbolize, to stand for,

to be a specimen of or to substitute for.’

Everything that comes to use through media channels is going to be a 2nd hand reality, a Re Presentation of what happened or is happening. Even live TV is not THE reality it is a representation in real time of reality.

This is Re Production of the Mona Lisa,

not Mona the woman but the painting by Leonardo da Vinci.

It is a photographic image of the painting, which in turn was

Leonardo’s representation of Mona. 

Art has always been about representing reality 

no matter the accuracy of the degree of simulation it remains a representation. Even a realistic photograph is still a photograph not the thing itself. 

Even the most conceptual of painters the surrealist

Rene Magritte warns us that

¨This is not a pipe¨

3 things here:

1 . We as consumers of media content have to be careful not to mistake the REPRESENTATION of REALTY as the reality itself.

2. We as producers of media content have to realize that we are RE presenting an event in our own way. 

3. The common factor with both is INTERPRETATION.An artist interprets the world, the media interprets the world. 

REALITY cannot be reproduced , it happens to those who experience it then as i have mentioned before a STORY is told about it.

Before we move on, a good way of looking at this is by understanding that the ‘Map is not the Territory

a statement made by philosopher Alfred Korzybski originator of General Semantics  

Briefly a few points on General Semantics as it is in part what this posting is about.

What Korzybski was getting at was understanding the limits of language to represent reality. His thesis was anti Aristotelian in that he thought that something’s Essence could be only be thought of as a description of it at best. eg A Rose is Red, only describes it, it does relate the essence of its redness as a reality.

He thought of language as only a map used to represent reality and was not reality itself. Of course the bind we are all in is that we think in words and images about reality, making what we think as real. 

The single verb we have that illustrates this most powerfully is the verb TO BE . When ever we say something IS …. it is at best only a description. As an exercise try to drop the verb to be and see how difficult it is to stop making sweeping generalisations using is

So you could say that that flower appears to be red not the flower is red. 

If we go back to the map quote 

1. A map is not the territory it is a representation

2. A map re presents the territory as a piece of information

3. A map tells you more about the map maker than the territory

4. We exchange maps of reality for reality itself

5. We get lost in maps and miss the real

What all this has to do with the media is that unless we are able to understand the way the media maps out the world and its events, we will get lost in this representation ourselves and miss what is really going on.


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