Assessment 3: Final Essay Question What is the relationship between technology, science and the visual? Analyse a text of your choice (Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon) in a way that demonstrates your understanding of the connections between bodies, technologies and visual reproduction. Josephine Polutea, Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon (2011) The relationship between technology, science and the visual I believe is that they all interconnect with each other. The technological invention of the lithographic device for example enabled numerous visual reproductions for magazines and newspapers.
This then opened up the door to the revolutionary technological shift in visual reproduction from lithography to photography that enabled replications to cater for the masses. This ability to produce multiple copies of any one image came about with the revolutionary development of the ‘negative’. (Lecture 5 / Technologies of the Visual Reproduction, 2011) This is evident in the movie Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon where the use of the images and footage from the Apollo 11, Lunar Landing are used to encapsulate the viewer to identify and empathise with the historical event that is used as a “spectacle” in the movie.
Science wise this was a breakthrough in all history of mankind although there is speculation and scepticism that the event in fact never took place (Lecture 5 / Visuality, History, Event Spectacle, 2011) in an effort to gain capital for funding of the NASA space program approximately estimated at thirty billion dollars. (Lecture 14 / Visuality, History, Event Spectacle, 2011). On the contrary this is problematic in any evidence documented in history for history although makes for a good story line in a movie about technology, science and the “bodies” involved in this visual reproduction of the “historical event”.
As this event spectacle was used in the movie as the basis of the visual narrative which was what I gathered to be that the American government discovered an unidentified object that crashed on the moon’s surface and the Presidents reaction to send the astronauts to the moon as he quotes in the movie “You get there before the Russians” and “Well you tell NASA to move heaven and earth. ” Gives the impression that Mr President is very patriotic and based on “actions speak louder than words”?
There is a sense of urgency where one would assume that there was a conspiracy to cover up a “top secret mission” to discover if there really were any alien life forms present on the moon or to cover up discoveries of such encounters. A reason of state would account for the manipulation of such evidence to enforce the protecting public morality, educating the population, looking after national interests and promoting community values. (Schirato, Webb 2007, p 174).
The news media’s job is to report the facts clearly, with as much accuracy as possible. Unfortunately this isn’t the case. Science and reason are a good arsenal to have in the battle against pseudoscience, but in most cases they take a back seat to history and tradition. Plait (2002) These technological experiments and discoveries speak from the investigations of science and other certain unexplained issues for example extra-terrestrial, the supernatural or the unexplained “other” unidentified flying objects or mechanical beings.
The images of an “alien” life form are visual reproduction of a circulated urban myth ‘so to speak’ rather there are no actual scientific evidentiary to substantiate claims from victims of the so called alien abductions or alien encounters. The descriptions given are used to form this visual that an alien has a big coned head, with big black oddly shaped eyes, a mouth and no nose but seem to be smaller in height then an average person.
The greatest influence over visual practices in the contemporary Western world are what we call normalisation, which is associated with the fields of science, bureaucracy and government, and capitalism. (Schirato and Webb 2004) So why is it, that in the movies they look familiarly tall and strong and awfully unattractive? Or those in Transformers that are referred to as aliens? The “other” bodies I will refer to the ‘transforming robots’ in the movie Transformers and the government “bodies” that are directly involved in this highly classified special operations task and the power role they play in the movie.
According to Schirato and Webb (2004) scientific categories of truth and reality are circulated throughout popular culture, particularly in the media. This is the main reason why we have used the term “normalising” rather than ‘scientific’ to designate this particular visual regime. The movie begins with the notion of a race soon to be extinct by war. In an opening statement that says, “We were once a peaceful race of intelligent mechanical beings, but then came the war. ” A war between the Autobots and Dicepticons on their planet called ‘Cybertron’.
This ‘mechanical being’ or what post-modernist film directors would call “aliens” freely roam the universe and eventually take refuge on planet Earth. This concept of machine life and human life co-existing and living in harmony is reinforced in the movie as a political opportunism point of view. For instance their alliance with the autobots to serve and protect America and the world from breach of national and international security. Optimus Prime quotes “In a year since our arrival, our new “home” Earth has seen much change. Energon’ detectors guard its cities now. Long range defense systems watch the skies. So now we assist our allies in solving human conflicts, to prevent mankind bringing harm to itself”. The normalisation of scientific revolution and bureaucratic power only serves a purpose that politically we as a society, a community we don’t really have a say in what happens but only that we are shaped and influenced to conform to what we should be expected to behave, believe or feel towards a certain situation.
This brings to surface the subjectivity that we are familiar with in our everyday lives. For example if we are pulled over by a policeman for a random breath test or for surpassing the speed limit we autonomously adjust our attitudes and stature to address the officer because we know that the ‘body’ or ‘other’ serves a purpose to the law and its people and therefore the power relationship is automatically referenced to the officer.
This power relationship between the bureaucracy and the people is displayed in the movie when Sam is attacked by laser beak, a side kick of Megatron and escapes in his efforts to assist the autobots before the decepticons take over the world. He is confronted by Director of National Intelligence Miriam who questions Coronel Lenick. “ I know his name, I wanna know who gave him clearance? ” and later argues “we cannot entrust national security to teenagers unless I missed the policy papers, are we doing that? I didn’t think so”.
As Schriato and Webb explains (2004) when a soldier saw something that signified a superior officer (a particular uniform, stripes), he was required to behave, quite automatically, in a submissive manner. Similarly, the idea was that when the population saw signs of state’s authority (buildings, functionaries in uniforms, titles, letter-heads) they would see, without questioning or hesitation, something that was greater, more powerful and more knowledgeable than themselves, and adjust their behaviour to comply with these manifest signs of the state.
In the movie these signs are visible especially in reference to the government bodies, President and the Pentagon – Bureaucratic and Political Division, NASA – Science Division, and the National Security Intelligence – Defence Division & Department of Health & Human Services which is signified as a body that serves a purpose to the people although take authority from the government, science, and defence divisions. As global cultural flow of images are circulated through the public media sphere and as such the Lunar Landing were celebrated through the United States and the world as a great historical accomplishment.
We are conformed to believe this is true because we generally believe that “seeing is believing” and that the images provided we take as ‘photographic truth’. The mechanical nature of image-producing systems such as photography and film, and the electronic nature of image-making systems such as television, computer graphics, and digital images, bear the legacy of ‘positivist’ concepts of science (Lecture 6 / Technologies of Visual Reproduction, 2001). Plait (2004) states that people confuse the far side with the dark side.
You almost never hear the phrase “far side of the moon”. It’s always “dark side of the moon”. This phrase isn’t really wrong but it is inaccurate. If movies were the only purveyors of scientific inaccuracies, there would hardly be a problem. After all it’s their job to peddle fantasy. In conclusion the connections between science and technology is a relationship between the global media sphere and the reason of state that governs all scientific, bureaucratic, political and capitalist fields that form and shape our views of how we perceive the world we live in.
Therefore my understanding is that science and technology have a strong relationship in the realm of the ‘visual regimes’ and there connections to our world views of government ‘bodies’, scientific technologies and the shift in technological visual reproductions. The reference list Plait, P C 2004, Bad Astronomy Misconceptions and Misuse Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing “Hoax” John Wiley & Sons Inc. , New York.
Schirato, T & Webb, J 2004, Reading the Visual, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest. CLT120, Vision, Visuality and Everyday Life, Lecture 5 – Technologies of the Visual Reproduction, Macquarie University, 2011. CLT120, Vision, Visuality and Everyday Life, Lecture 6 – The Myth of the Photographic Real, Macquarie University, 2011. CLT120, Vision, Visuality and Everyday Life, Lecture 14 – Visuality, History, Event Spectacle, Macquarie University, 2011