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http://www.jstor.org Tue Feb 19 06:16:34 2008
Enclosed by Images: The Eameses' MultimediaArchitecture
We are surrounded today, everywhere, all the time, by arrays of multiple, simultaneous images. In the streets, airports, shopping centers, and gyms, but also on our computers and television sets. The idea of a single image commanding our attention has faded away. It seems as if we need to be distracted in order to concentrate. As if we-all of us living in this newkind of space, the space of information--could be diagnosed en masse with Attention Deficit Disorder. The state of distraction in the metropolis, described so eloquently by Walter Benjamin early in the twentieth century, seems to have been replaced by a new form of distraction, which is to say a new form of attention. Rather than wandering cinematically through the city, we now look in onedirection and see many juxtaposed moving images, more than we can possibly synthesize or reduce to a single impression. We sit in front of our computers on our ergonomically perfected chairs, staring with a fixed gaze at many simultaneously "open" windows through which different kinds of information stream toward us. We hardly even notice it. It seems natural, as if we were simply breathing in theinformation. How would one go about writing a history of this form of perception? Should one go back to the organization of television studios, with their walls of monitors from which the director chooses the camera angle that will be presented to the viewer; or should one go to Cape Canaveral and look at its Mission Control room; or should one even go back to World War 1 , when so-called Situation Roomswere 1 envisioned with multiple projections bringing information from all over the world and presenting it side by side for instant analysis of the situation by leaders and military commanders? But it is not simply the military, or war technology, that has defined this new form of perception. Designers, architects, and artists were involved from the beginning,
Grey Room 02, Winter 2001, pp.6-29. c 2001 Grey Room, Inc. and Massachusetts lnst~tute f Technology o
Audience watching Charles and Ray Eames, Glimpses of the USA, 1959, in the interior of the Moscow World's Fair auditorium.
Charles and Ray Eames. Glimpses of the USA, 1959. Showing in the interior of the Moscow World's Fair auditorium.
playing a crucial role in the evolution of the multiscreen and multimedia...