237.130_A2_Wk1_Task3A_Written Response

Chapter Four : “The World on Screen”, Mirzoeff

“The World on Screen” parts:

  • Scenes from train
  • Closed Worlds
  • The global village
  • Total noise on screen

Response to “The World on Screen”:

a.What is Mizoeff asking you to think about?

The train argues it’s part in the history of visual technologies, certainly the development of them. The use of the train metaphor allows the exploration of motion pictures, scenes and frames, and the motif of the train in cinema. The role of the train in cinema is further explored as the example of putting the camera on tracks forms a metaphor for the transition of technologies.

Leading into the next section, the train opens the world to the idea of being connected and accessable, hence the term global village. A key visual technology the evolved from this idea was the television.

The next idea to evolve is the demand for the immersion of visual technologies in the everyday. Examples of contemporary visual technologies given by Mirzoeff are google earth, H.E.A and the google glasses. Video games and virtual role play are also discussed as they show how people developed the need to be in control of the visual image or to participate.

b. Do you think it might be important we know about it, think about or consider it, or research it in more detail? Explain why?

It is important to apply these ideas that have been developed by visual technologies to the way we interact with historic, modern and contemporary visual technologies. This is because the visual culture we experience is the end product of all these developments. Understanding and being aware of the theories surrounding visual technologies history is the framework to create contemporary visual technologies. A historic approach allows the researcher to witness ideas in their initial context and with their initial intention. The parallels drawn between the historic world and the contemporary world are authentic.


c. Select a visual text from the chapter that best exemplifies your understanding of Mizoeffs ideas and explain why you have selected this in view of your understanding. Refer to the visual text to assist your explanation.


Page 140, The world on screen. Visual text is figure 41-still from Strangers on a train


Screen shot taken from Strangers on a train , directed by Alfred Hitchcock

The visual text is an still taken from Strangers on a Train. It is given as an example of the way the use of trains in cinema. The example shows the modern use of trains, and Mirzoeff considers the multi layered significance of the setting in this example of cinema. In this example, Hitchcock reflects the physiological state of his characters by the use of setting. Cinema developed the power to position the viewer in mundane, often familiar places, yet forcing complex ideas on these places. Whilst Mirzoeff uses the example of a train in this film to support the construction of his history of trains ect, he also gets at the way films are a key record history. I appreciate the way the visual text is unpacked by Mirzeoff and am reminded of the way I analyze visual texts.

Particually Mirzoeff describes the setting with the words:

“That space is a visual rhyme for cinema itself. When we are on en train de we are in the closed world created by the overlap between cinematic and railway networks”

Using an image rich in meaning and overlapping in context, Mirzoeff marries his ideas in this visual text.



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