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November 07, 2022

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Rob van Gerwen

Television as an Art. On Humiliation-TV


Television is challenged in ways to which the (representational) arts all seem to have found their answers. For good or bad reasons, the challenge is evaded by many tv programs, such as the news, talk shows (e.g. Jerry Springer) and so-called 'reality tv'. These programs depict persons but neglect the means to also represent their mental lives.
The challenge is this: on television, to depict a person is to reproduce his appearance. Since such reproduction does not automatically also reproduce the depicted person's phenomenal consciousness (which his appearance is naturally equipped to express), specific means of intimation should be developed for television, like they avail to all representational arts. Now, representationally motivated montage is amongst the most prominent means available to cinema to intimate the antagonists' experiences, but is atypical for television which is grounded in live broadcasting. Being on air in real-time, the television director is prevented from trying to find the means that make the audience empathise with the mental lives those who are shown are going through. I argue that by digitalising television has acquired the opportunity to develop the means to meet its self-inflicted challenge. It merely needs the motivation to do so.

© Rob van Gerwen