Screen Practice

  1. In its most simplified form, screen practice is the display of images on a screen, typically accompanied by music, voice, and sound effects, according to Chalres Musser. Screen practice rose to prominence in the mid 1900s when observers viewed the extremely life-like images projected to them as life itself. Musser asserts that “screen practice always has a technological component, a repertoire of representation strategies and a cultural function,” all of with flux and adapt over time. A shift in the cultural view of these projected images was indicative of the beginning of screen practice. Before, onlookers saw these images as magic and almost fictitious. However, with the demystification of these images, spectators began to observe the images as art, signifying the start of screen practice. This unveiling set up a relationship with the producer, the images themselves, and the audience which has remained unchanged ever since and is fundamental to screen practice because it establishes a connection between all parties involved. 
  2. The most basic and prevalent “screen” in today’s scoiety would be the smartphone, which internally projects images in the form of pixels from behind its screen. Similar to the phone is the modern smart television, which also internally projects images onto its larger screen through the use of pixels. In contrast, the movie theater is a screen with an external projector that displays images on a very large surface for many to observe. We observe these three types of screens in different ways and the context with which we view them in is different as well (see third response).
  3. The personalized and portable nature of the smartphone has led to its predominance and implies a singular way of viewing. The small screen size makes it so only an individual can view, which has led to the independent, closed off, and largely distracted nature of our society.  Televisions, on the other hand, imply a more communal means of viewing. Due to their larger screens, televisions allow a group of people to come together and share a common experience. The act of coming together and sharing a movie or television show helps preserve the notion of community that is slowly being lost due to the advancement of screen practice. However, televisions are even becoming antiquated as phones now can stream movies and television shows, images that were once unique to televisions. Phones and the enhancement of their abilities are thereby leading to the overall individualization we are experiencing as a society. In contrast, movie theatres are working to hold a notion of community together, making this form of screen practice fundamentally different from the other two in today’s world. We always have our phones and take for granted the technology we hold at our fingertips; however, going to the movies still remains a special event. Friends and family gather and go out to the movies to observe images being projected in common, making an occasion out of it and preserving the “magic” of the screen. Today, this form of screen still functions as an outlet for social gatherings and sharing great experiences together. In all, our society’s reliance on screens makes it hard to escape screen practice. No matter where we go, we are bombarded by a variety of interactive screens and it is usually necessary for us to use these forms of technology in order to go through our day. This constant barrage of screens has unfortunately taken the magic out of the screen itself as we view it as so commonplace. 

In reading about Musser’s ideas on screen practice, I was still unsure what he meant about the “cultural influence” that is exerted on screen practice. I wonder what this entails and how it impacts screen practice as a whole because it did not go too in depth in his book. 

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