Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Projector's Trance

The proliferation of Powerpoint and other projection-based media in both the corporate world and academia has created a subtle but persistent phenomena. Think back to the last time you saw someone prepare a projector before a presentation. There is a moment, anywhere from an instant to dozens of minutes, where the unfamiliar device is connected and turned on. This moment is not sustained solely by the person preparing the projector; it emerges from the audience's collective gaze. In this situation, the audience finds themselves in a trance-like state: eyes darting from the projector, to the the cable, to the laptop, to the presenter. They are completely transfixed by the ritual — momentarily, being-in-itself. And then, without warning, the image provides some sort of affirmation that, indeed, all is in working order. The crowd recollects their freedom. They remember that they're watching a presentation, and that they can stop paying attention whenever they want.

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