Throughout the 20th century, theories of consciousness and the unconscious have influenced our understanding of cinema, television, video games, and the internet. And in turn these media have influenced how we understand the mind and human behavior. This class looks at the ways that psychoanalysis, cybernetics, and cognitive science have imagined media and the ways in which the media have represented these forms of knowing. We will look at depictions of robots, avatars, aliens, mothers and fathers, teens and youth culture, race and gender, psychologists and scientists, trash culture and high culture across the past 100 years of media and the mind. And we will make a movie, or, perhaps, two.
“If the plastic arts were put under psychoanalysis, the practice of embalming the dead might turn out to be a fundamental factor in their creation. The process might reveal that at the origin of painting and sculpture there lies a mummy complex. The religion of ancient Egypt, aimed against death, saw survival as depending on the continued existence of the corporeal body. Thus, by providing a defense against the passage of time it satisfied a basic psychological need in man, for death is but the victory of time. To preserve, artificially, his bodily appearance is to snatch it from the flow of time, to stow it away neatly, so to speak, in the hold of life.”
–André Bazin, “The Ontology of the Photographic Image,” 1960
“Man has, as it were, become a kind of prosthetic God. When he puts on all of his auxiliary organs he is truly magnificent; but those organs have not grown on to him and they still give him much trouble at times.”
-Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, 1930
“All media are extensions of some human faculty – psychic or physical. The wheel is an extension of the foot. The book is an extension of the eye. Clothing, an extension of the skin. Electric circuitry, an extension of the central nervous system. Media, by altering the environment, evoke in us unique ratios of sense perceptions. The extension of any one sense alters the way we think and act – the way we perceive the world. When these ratios change, men change.”
-Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage, 1967