Roots Reloaded. Culture, Identity and Social Development in the Digital Age

©2016 Textbook 154 Pages


This edited volume is designed to explore different perspectives of culture, identity and social development using the impact of the digital age as a common thread, aiming at interdisciplinary audiences. Cases of communities and individuals using new technology as a tool to preserve and explore their cultural heritage alongside new media as a source for social orientation ranging from language acquisition to health-related issues will be covered. Therefore, aspects such as Art and Cultural Studies, Media and Communication, Behavioral Science, Psychology, Philosophy and innovative approaches used by creative individuals are included. From the Aboriginal tribes of Australia, to the Maoris of New Zealand, to the mystical teachings of Sufi brotherhoods, the significance of the oral and written traditions and their current relation to online activities shall be discussed in the opening article. The book continues with a closer look at obesity awareness support groups and their impact on social media, Facebook usage in language learning context, smartphone addiction and internet dependency, as well as online media reporting of controversial ethical issues.


Table Of Contents

List of Tables
Philip Effiom Ephraim
Nigerian Media in Transition ­ From Folk to Viral:
Comparative Analysis of Kwaghir Puppet Theater and Ogas at the top
Table 1: Showing results of online searches using major search engines (21/08/2015)
Table 2: Showing results of YouTube Search (21/08/2015)60
Nalan Linda Fraim
Facebook Support Groups: New Communication Systems in Health
Table 1: Bariatric Surgery Support Groups on Facebook in Turkish
Nana Firdausi Mohammed
How Facebook Facilitates Language Acquisition: A Case Study
of International Students in Canadian Universities
Table 1: Nationality and Number of Students
Table 2: Nationality and First Language
Table 3: Proficiency Level in English
Table 4: R1 ­ Relationship between Facebook usage and willingness of
respondents to interact or communicate
Table 5: R2 ­ Benefits of Facebook usage
Table 6: R3 ­ Facebook's facilitation of language learning in the Canadian Community 115
Table 7: R4 ­ Reactions to the effect of FB in Grammar, Reading and Writing

Osman Can Yurtolu
Smartphones and Symptoms of Behavioral Addiction
Table 1: Gender Details of Participants
Table 2: General Means of Likert Type Questions
Table 3: Female and Male Means of Each Likert Type Question
Table 4: Question 1: Experiencing difficulty on focusing on a task due to
smartphone use
Table 5: Question 2: Feeling pain in the wrists or at the back of the neck
while using a smartphone
Table 6: Question 3: Won't be able to stand not having a smartphone
Table 7: Question 4: Feeling impatient and fretful when I am not holding
my smartphone
Table 8: Question 5: Constantly checking my smartphone so as not to miss
conversations between people on Twitter or Facebook
Table 9: Question 6: Using my smartphone longer than I intended

About the Editors
Dr. Ayman Kole (born 1980, Sydney, Australia) completed an experience course at the
prestigious Australian, Film, TV and Radio school whilst still a student studying in High
School in 1996. He studied intensively at the University of Sydney, completing a BA in
Arts with triple majors: English, Performance Studies and Studies in Religion in 2002. He
also finished a scriptwriting course at the same University. He worked as a High School
English Teacher before completing his MA in English at the University of Sydney in 2006.
During his studies in the Masters Degree program, he wrote the short story `The Mirror'
which was selected as the Phoenix Journal finalist and published by Sydney University
Press. He later was successfully accepted as a PhD student at Charles Sturt University to
commence work on his thesis encompassing Literature, History and Creative Writing. His
objective was to explore the historical, cultural and social landscape of Eastern Europe and
the Middle East with a focus on the 17
century and he spent time in Turkey and Cyprus
conducting thorough historical research. In his work, Ayman investigated how people can
be manipulated and just how quickly firmly held beliefs can be either modified or replaced
in light of effectively staged performances. Furthermore, his thesis aimed to alert
inquisitive minds to the cons and trickery of harmful or pretentious movements and this
message can be applied to the realm of religion and politics today. One of Ayman's
strengths in writing is his richly detailed research and his ability to create a fascinating
narrative not from only one cultural perspective, but from many competing social groups of
the selected era. Indeed, his profound insightfulness of the 17
century, illustrating the
differences and commonalities between the major religions of the area are just as relevant
today as they were in the past. His novel `Mark of the Crescent' was published in Australia.
He currently holds the position as Head of Social Media Department at Girne American
University, Faculty of Communication. He primarily lectures in Literature, Creative
Writing, Film & TV Production, History of Communication, Film Criticism & Analysis,
Scriptwriting, Advertising, World Cinema, Public Relations and Media Studies.

Dr. Martin Abdel Matin Gansinger (born 1979 in Austria) studied Communication Science
and Political Science at the University of Vienna and passed both with distinction. His
Master's thesis discusses recursive patterns of cultural, social, and political resistance in
various forms of Black American musical expression and the potential of HipHop as an
alternative communication-structure for the compensation of dysfunctional representation
through mainstream-media and has been published in 2008. He furthermore analyzed the
conditions of communication and interaction in regard to the practice of collective
improvisation as a musical method and its correspondence to the concept of the Ideal
Speech Situation as introduced by Habermas ­ as well as its efficiency in the context of
Intercultural Communication ­ to attain a Doctor's degree in Communication Science
(published 2010).
Next to being an editor and journalist for jazzzeit-magazine and Vienna-based radio station
orange 94.0 from 2005-2009 he has been working as a PR-coordinator for the
internationally awarded, independent label JazzWerkstatt Records. Martin Abdel Matin
Gansinger conducted several long-term field studies abroad and received financial funding
through the University of Vienna's research scholarship. He spent a year in Ghana in
coordination with the Vienna Institue for Development and Cooperation and Prof. John
Collins from the University of Ghana/Accra, researching Intercultural Communication
processes in the context of transfusional West African music styles - including an extended
stay at the local compound of the Jamaica-based Bobo Shanti-Mansion, one of the strictest
subdivisions of the Rastafari-movement, and allowance to their communal Nyahbinghi-
ceremonies. Further field research aiming at extemporaneous communication techniques
and its use in traditional knowledge- and recognition-systems has been done in
Fez/Morocco and the convent of the Naqshbandi Sufi order in Lefke/Cyprus where he is
working and residing since 2009. He is currently holding the position of an Assistant
Professor at the Faculty of Communication at Girne American University, teaching
Undergraduate-, Master-, and Ph.D.-classes as well as appointed Head of Department of
Radio, TV & Cinema.

Tatiana Pentes
Independent Australian/British Artist ­ Doctor of Creative Arts (UTS)
Strange Cities Productions: E:Tatiana@strangecities.net
Naila Linda Fraim
Assist. Prof. Dr., Cyprus International University, Department of Psychology, currently
working on her second Ph.D. in Communications & Media Management at Girne American
Philip Effiom Ephraim
Ph.D., Girne American University
Osman Can Yurtolu
Ph.D. Candidate at the Faculty of Communication at Girne American University
Nana Firdausi Mohammed
MA Candidate at the Faculty of Communication at Girne American University, Award of
Excellence for Best Undergraduate Student of the University

No road traveled is free of obstacles. Yet, already, the 21
century is set to be dominated by
the Digital Era. The path of e-learning is fast developing an infrastructure integral to training
in a comprehensive manner, utilizing technological tools to instigate effective communication.
The boundless avenues of wireless communication have led to an explosion in business and
educational efficiency. Social media has transcended all known perimeters of yesterday to
access and distribute instant information, thereby producing a society of eager networkers.
Without a doubt, these online platforms will continue to expand. The digital revolution will
construct more activities, refine existing applications, create more like-minded communities
through social groups, voice the hopes and agonies of crisis-affected peoples, share regular
news or alarming updates, challenge or promote political persuasions, and provide means to
express various opinions from left to right and those in the middle.
Therefore, it is at such a period that we allow promising young academics ­ alongside
experienced scholars ­ to contribute their opinions, findings and overall efforts to this dynamic
new field that widens its sphere each day.
From the Aboriginal tribes of Australia, to the Maoris of New Zealand, and then the Sufi-
teachings of mystical Islam, the significance of the oral and written traditions and their current
relation to online activities will be explored in the opening article.
Our various extensions into the Digital Era will continue with a closer look at weight loss
support groups and their widening sphere on Facebook, Facebook usage in language learning
interactions, smartphone addiction and internet dependency issues as well as online
perspectives of controversial ethical issues.
As mentioned earlier, the Digital progress has already left its dominating mark as the world
entered the 21
century. Without a doubt, as technology continues its ascent, society will be
faced with new and altering values in an effort to catch-up with this extraordinary Digitization,
adapt satisfactorily in order to utilize these strong developments in everyday life.
Dr. Ayman Kole & Dr. Martin A. M. Gansinger

Tatiana Pentes
blackBOX V3: Painting A Digital Picture of Documented
Abstract: BLACK BOX V3: Painting A Digital Picture of Documented Memory is a digital
art film where the protagonist Nina's discovery of symbolic objects, ethnic dance, &
musical forms (Hindustani, Rembetika, Chinese Jazz) reveal her cultural/ spiritual origins.
The digital film is a documentary archiving an interactive version for download & play.
LAUNCH: http://bit.ly/BLACKBOX_V3 (Shockwave Player)
Keywords: Interactive Media, Digital Art, Identity, Cultural Memory

Pandora's Box
It is inscribed, as on Pandora's Box...do not open...passions...escape in all directions from
a box that lies open... (Latour, 1987, p. 7)
This article is an examination and critical positioning of my current digital media project
blackBOX ­ Painting a Digital Picture of Documented Memory. blackBOX is an interactive
CD-ROM `game' and also an internet work. blackBOX seeks to exploit and enhance the
creative potentials of digitally produced music, sound, image and text relationships in an
interactive and online environment. This work seeks to reverse, obscure and distort the
dominating/colonialist gaze in a playful manner. blackBOX is produced through the hybrid
meeting of visual arts practice, digital film production and documentary dance
performance. It also interacts with the notion of `electronic' (image/sound/text) writing,
that was in fact prefigured in early Russian avant-garde practices. In the words of El
The new book demands the new writer. Inkstand and goose quill are dead...
The printed sheet transcends space and time. The printed sheet, the infinity
of the book, must be transcended... (El Lissitsky, 1923)
The protagonist of the blackBOX digital media work, Nina, undertakes a journey, a struggle
and search for virtual objects. The idea of mobilising a series of myths cross-culturally is at
play both in the inner workings of the game device and in the computer interface strategy.
The visual screens are composed of the virtual surface fragments of the archival materials
and objects. These spaces form an electronic stage where the narrative elements unfold as
part cinema, part computer arcade game.
blackBOX has been devised for gallery installation. The digital story first emerges from the
textile surface of heroine Nina's (a Russian/Greek girl) red velvet dress, adorned with
roses, through a bed of oriental cushions, where she writhes in her chrysalis. Sanskrit,
Greek and Russian text are projected across her body. Images of the girl move into

representations of a modern urban metropolis. The player/participant is invited to explore
this interactive metropolis, as filtered through the digital experiences and sensations of the
girl, and to discover three metaphorical `Chinese Boxes', which contain three symbolic
The key interface design metaphor at this stage is a Chinese ornamental window, and
interaction with this interface frames the central narrative. Inside this framework the girl
discovers performances from three `imagined' Australian diasporic communities;
Rembetika (the Greek blues); classical Indian dance and music (Odissi and Kuchipudi
traditions); and fragments of Australian jazz performed by musicians with Russian origins.
Interface design metaphor
The interface design metaphor for blackBOX is an electronic stage/screen surface where
performances appear as if conjured from the imagination, or a dream. The
participant/player moves around the digital surface of the stage, exploring through opening
boxes, musical and dramatic performances, interviews with the musicians and dancers,
documentary fragments of performances, statements by artists, text documents, newsprint
articles, archival radio fragments, televisual and other related material. The
action/performances appear within the immersive environment of a series of Byzantine
(Greek), Sanskrit (Indian) and 1930s' Russian jazz in Chinese diaspora.
Chinese-inspired screen frames combine electronic text and images in various assemblages
trigger embedded material, a visual/audio hypertext (Hockey, 2001). Traditional modes of
storytelling and music are challenged in this interface design, as the player/participant is
provoked to engage with the music and performances.
As the player interacts with the screen, they consider the ways in which (traditional)
musical and dance forms mix in various `compositions' to create a hybrid of different
cultural forms. This `game' also acts as a digital archive and documentation of the
metamorphosis of traditional cultural and musical forms, through the creative potentials

opened up for cultural producers in the digitally manipulated performance, sound, image
and text environment of interactive media.
These `compositions' provide perspectives on the emergence of a uniquely Australian
contemporary sound/culture that is an amalgamation and integration of three diasporic
genres of music achieved through the creation of `electronic writing', the assembling of an
ensemble of fragments into image/ sound/text `compositions'.
Through the looking glass
The heroine, Nina, is the character with which the player identifies and observes through
the unfolding of the digital media text. Screen events unfold through her eyes, revealing her
projected/imaginary dreams and creating a narrative. The areas of interactive program
content are mediated through Nina's voice (Lou-Lou Sy), the voice of an Indian woman
(Devleena Ghosh), fragments of a Chinese woman singing (Zhou Xuan recorded in the
1930s) and fragments of a Greek musician talking/singing (John Conomos and Rebetiki
These voices are integrated with archival documents, voice-over material and sound
atmospheres, which gives the stories a space for reflection. Visual and sonic devices form
signatures marking out the areas of program content. These sonic devices denote both the
present (time) and the recollection of previous events. Areas of program content map the
music/dance archive: a set of pathways; chineseBOX, which plays a form of jazz music that
migrated to Australia with Russian refugees from China; jewelBOX, the dance music
culture that has more recently emerged from Indian communities in Australia, people who
migrated from Indian diasporas in Fiji, Singapore and Malaysia as well as from the Indian
sub-continent; pandora's BOX, Greek economic migrants/refugees, playing Rembetika, a
politically engaged `blues'; and two conclusions, an electronic poetic reverie and a
visual/audio collage of the various music/dance genres that speak of mixed origins.

Once the player/participant has entered an interactive `composition', the program content is
divulged through a series of virtual artefacts. These artefacts become icons that trigger
areas of the program content, and through the exploration of these configurations, ideas
about the music/dance forms are revealed. Inside the jewelBOX story pathway, the
narrative is revealed through interaction with the virtual dance jewels, which become icons
representing the different levels of the narrative. Interaction with these dance jewels
triggers performative spaces, revealing a number of classical Indian dances and artefacts,
embedded into stylised electronic stages.
Diasporic dance music
The aristocratic pleasure of counting differences is savored. I cut my hair, he plaits his...
he uses chopsticks; I write with a goose quill, he draws characters with a paintbrush...
Jean-Paul Sartre (Landow, 1999, p. 151)
As a creative producer of digital media, I'm working to interrogate an implicit ideological
agenda of the colonial constructions of racial, cultural, and geographic difference ...
[examined] through the channels of photographic production and consumption (Sartre,
2001, p. 2).
The parallel discourse weaving its thread through this creative work and writing is to make
visible the construction of identity as a fragile relationship between observer and observed,
the colonising/dominant gaze and the marginalised ethnicity (the subject envisioned as both
`racial inferior' and object of fascination)... (High & Sampson, 2002, p.1)
In taking up new media to represent my own subjective ethno-cultural identity, I am
playfully disrupting the subject/object dichotomy, and articulating my own ethno-cultural
hybridity. I am attempting to reveal the social contract (collusion) of racial stereotypes as a
cultural, social and political fabrication (High & Sampson, 2002, p.1)

Inside this intertextual work, fascination with the `spectacle' of the Other, where the image
of the colonial Other becomes a trope of desire for the Western viewer... Through
repetitive, fetishistic dissemination of stereotypes (High & Sampson, 2002, p. 2) is
manipulated. Engagement with this artful game reveals the artifice of its own shiny surface,
projected onto the cave wall, like Platonic electric shadows.
My research methodology is based on participant observation, working with (beside) and
documenting (through film, video and sound) music/dance performances. The work I am
making and the creative research in which I am engaged focus on imaging (imagining) and
representing a number of different concepts through the production of a non-linear
interactive multimedia work.
The `box' is a symbolic reference to software aesthetics and what can be revealed/unfolded
in the interactive environment. Additionally, the box is understood as that which marks us
out from `others' as part of a distinct group or scientific catalogue. The concept of the
`song' is engaged with as a mode of cultural discourse/cultural expression, political
persuasion and propaganda, particularly in relation to ethnic minorities. `Dance forms' are
understood as a symbolic strategy for moving in-between theories and cultural practices.
The digital `journey' is used as a metaphor for discovery of this new media and the
different cultural forms. Image/sound/text assemblages, juxtapositions and arrangements
are used as analogous to musical/painterly and choreographic compositions. A self-
reflexive program articulating the `open', `ambivalent' and `fragmentary' formal qualities
of the non-sequential narrative is revealed (High & Sampson, 2002, p. 3). Finally, the
analogy between `migration' as migration of people, music, memories, and the migration of
the old media into the new media is explored (2002, p. 6).

Historical research
The objective of this creative research is to extend, complicate and sophisticate my earlier
experiments with the music of Russian jazz in China, in my production of an interactive
non-linear multimedia work entitled Strange Cities.
In my earlier work I focused on a vinyl recording, Strange Cities (Stranyie Garadnye),
recorded by my Russian grandfather Sergei Ermolaeff, which I stumbled upon after his
death. This record was a body of both original compositions and folk ballads from pre-
revolutionary Russia. Most songs, including the title track, were the laments of diasporic
peoples looking back to their `homeland' ­ in this instance, their `home-town/city', St
Petersburg ­ and nostalgically longing for `motherland', a place that was no more: an
imagined space.
The original songs were composed in exile by Sergei (a stateless person) in the treaty port
of Shanghai, China. Sergei went on to record and play these songs in his adopted home of
Sydney, Australia, as a foreigner once more. blackBOX extends this investigation by
incorporating the cultural expressions of Other diasporic experiences, as expressed through
the music of the displaced people. This creative work is informed by the multimedia design
I developed in collaboration with Professor Andrew Jakubowicz for the Menorah of Fang
Bang Lu interactive documentary Menorah of Fang Bang Lu (Online documentary, 25
Carnivale Multicultural Arts Festival.
This is an online project exploring the lives of seven families and is structured around
seven cultural and social themes, evoking the complex and multidimensional fabric of
Shanghai as a crossroads for the Jews of China as well as those who came to Australia
(Hall, 1996).

blackBOX is an intertextual non-linear narrative, and has its origins in modernist collage
and montage aesthetic practices. New-media theorist Lev Manovich traces the historical
lineage of the new media text to European and Russian modernist avant-garde aesthetics in
film, the visual arts, cinema, architecture, engineering, literature and music. He suggests
that there are a number of traditional media paths that can be traced and which are brought
together in this new form of electronic writing.
One can trace the modernist practice of visual montage to the film concepts espoused by
Sergei Eisenstein in the early twentieth century in Russia. Sequences in film utilising
editing strategies that juxtapose images, sounds and texts to create dramatic meaning within
the cinematic frame have now been synthesised in the virtual editing environment of
computer software's non-linear editing interfaces.
These interfaces: Simulate the multi-track environment codified and theorized by
Eisenstein in his early film work. The convergence of media into the software environment
has transformed the capabilities for digital media production. It is possible to shoot a digital
film/video and post-produce the media on the desktop of a multimedia computer (John
Conomos discusses notions of new media, an interview conducted at Sydney College of the
Arts, 2004). Simultaneously, writing practises have been transformed.
However, Tatiana Nicolova-Houston argues that the open-ended hypertext is in fact
significantly prefigured in Byzantine and medieval manuscripts. She attributes the
following characteristics to the hypertext (informed by the research of George Landow):
non-linearity, multi-vocality, intertextuality and decenteredness (Van Krieken, 2001).
Nicolova-Houston argues that medieval manuscripts: act as agents of historical and
spiritual illumination, possessing a human feel and touch, with each one being a unique
creation of a unique scribe and illuminator, a piece of art, and, frequently, its creator's
masterpiece (Jakubowicz, 2003, p. 8). She claims that these manuscripts: like hypertextual
websites or electronic books, consist of composite works of different layers of texts,
illustrations, marginal and interlinear glosses and annotations. Medieval bibles, chronicles,

works of the Law, and textbooks present examples of a high level of hypertextuality
(Manovich, 2003).
Aesthetics of interactive media
Melanie Swalwell argues in Aesthetics and Hyper/aesthetics: Rethinking the Senses in
Contemporary Media Contexts that the `immersive sensory experience' of the interactive
environment of convergent media (mediated through the intelligent technological systems
of the computer) has produced new kinds of artificial (virtual) engagement.
These new modes of engagement include an `ability to provide a greater range of sensory
stimuli, all at once'. As a result, claims were made by promoters of various media ­ new
and old ­ that consumers were `driving' convergence by their demands for `more realistic
and "immersive" (multisensory) experiences' (Landow, 1999, p. 156). This implied that
immersion resulted from `stimulating all the senses, often to heretofore unimagined
degrees' (Nicolova-Houston, 2003).
The production of creative and experimental interactive art draws from a multitude of
disciplines ­ and has a number of various outcomes which include ­ cyber art, digital art,
web art, information art, interactive art, active art, reactive art and connective (networked)
art (Swalwell, 2002, p. 3).
However, these categories, under the rubric `digital artefact', and non-material (art) object
can be traced back to experiments in modernist avant-garde conceptual art, which
questions: the relationship between ideas and art... [and] de-emphasizes the value
traditionally accorded to the materiality of art objects. It focuses, rather, on examining the
preconditions for how meaning emerges in art, seen as a semiotic system (Swalwell,
2002, p. 3).
The experimental meeting of `software', `information technology' and `art' can be traced to
a number of sources, but was pioneered in the museum environment by Jack Burnham in
the late 1960s, specifically with his curation of the exhibition Software, Information

Technology: Its New Meaning For Art at the Jewish Museum in New York (1970). Here,
Burnham designed software to function as a testing ground for public interaction with
`information systems and their devices'.
He conceived `software' as being parallel to the aesthetic principles, concepts or programs
that underlie the formal embodiment of the actual art objects, that is, the `hardware'
(Bachfischer, 2002, p. 12).
Virtual archive of cultural memories
In blackBOX the subjective figure of the protagonist, Nina, through whom the
player/participant experiences and interacts with the virtual spaces and performances, has
been informed by psychologist Jean Piaget's educational theories on perception, learning
and development. Piaget argued that learning occurs as a direct result of interaction with
the environment...children learn from actions rather than passive observations, and so
construct knowledge and understanding themselves. (Shanken, 2001)
Piaget's theories have been widely debated, and his research has contributed to a
`taxonomical' understanding of cognitive learning, affective learning and psychomotor
development. This work has implications for the conceptualization of interactive media as
an educational, informational system for social interaction and learning. As the
player/participant navigates the blackBOX interface, they not only gather information but
also learn through exploring the way in which the program operates. It is this that allows
the player to move through and apprehend the narrative text. Through the participant's
direct interaction with the digital media text, meaning is produced. Knowledge of Nina's
cultural origins are discovered in a non-sequential manner and then ordered through the
imagination of the participant.

blackBOXES: digital media as a journey of discovery
The key concern of blackBOX is to call attention to the iconic value of symbols in the
virtual environment of digital media. Symbols possess a universal imagery and thus address
themselves to the needs of specific individuals or cultures, but in a mythological and
psychological language (Burnham, 1970, p. 119). The mobilisation of a series of myths
cross-culturally is strategically at play in the inner workings of the game device. The fact
that the icons, signs and symbols from outside dominant western culture are legible inside
blackBOX, and can be interwoven into the storytelling and narrative process, suggests that
there may be a reservoir of symbolism that can be tapped into and which shapes many
societies' myths. For example, a central theme operating in blackBOX is the quest.
The quest has long motivated narrative progression within the trajectory of storytelling. In
particular, this project is influenced by Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, a film based on Philip
K Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Blade Runner's protagonist, the
`hardboiled' Deckard, searches for his origins (android or human) through the Los Angeles
of 2019. The film's mise-en-scène centres around an imagining of a futuristic `Chinatown'.
Similarly, Nina's quest is constructed in the work to unveil aspects of her self and her
cultural origins. The participant and the girl search together for virtual objects whose
meaning represent aspects of her outer world and reveal to her aspects of her inner self.
This search mirrors for the player/participant's own search through the text and for self-
In comprehending the text, the viewer is provoked to consider the cultural artefacts that
shape the individual and tap into a deeper reservoir of mythological ruins (Caulton, 1998, p.
18). Mapping a history of the term `blackbox' incorporates an investigation of the
technological implication of the notion `box'; a device, an instrument and an idea created as
a piece of equipment, a vessel for containing cultural artefacts, in the contemporary sense.
Lev Manovich argues in `Avant-garde as Software' (Hockey, 2001) that the software and
windows environment of the computer is indebted to techniques invented by Russian
avant-garde, left-wing artists in the 1920s. He traces basic computer operations, such as

drop-down windows and `cut and paste' commands, back to Lissitzky's use of movable
frames in his 1926 exhibition design for the International Art Exhibition in Dresden
(Hockey, 2001).
Manovich thus historically links the development of interface metaphors that we experience
today in computer environments to the visualisation of abstract data as compartmentalised
`windows' and `boxes'. But can we take this analogy back further to antiquity or across
cultures? These visual metaphors, the bases of operating systems worldwide, are legible
across cultures. Visual literacy and perception exceeds the boundaries of language.
The ability of the `icon' to convey meaning and narrative is comparable to the religious
icon and the contemporary digital icon (which is emptied of any spiritual connotation).
However, certain grammars of the visual are undeniably culturally specific, though it could
also be argued that a new global visual language is emerging through the internet. While
readable text inside the frame is expressed in the national language, the lingua franca of the
computer screen is clearly transnational. The framing structures of the Microsoft Windows
operating system is reminiscent of antique forms of representation. Nicolova-Houston's
exploration of Byzantine and medieval manuscripts, discussed earlier (Guerer, 1994, p. 17),
can be extended to the religious `icon' as a window into spiritual meaning, and the picture
space as a window into an imaginary landscape in modernist western abstract and figurative
painting (Manovich, 2003).
However, the new environment of digital media converges images, sounds and texts with a
different ability, an interactivity with the text. Interaction is extended beyond eyes and
hands to the creation of a new `book' where the hand electronically manipulates and
interrogates each new `composition'. Manovich proposes that the emergence of the term
`new media' in Europe was a reference to `European artists, designers, architects and
photographers', such as Le Corbusier's New Architecture (El Lissitzky, 1923).
Jan Tschichold's New Typography and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy's New Vision (Nicolova-
Houston, 2003): Manovich states: `Although nobody, as far as I know, published something
called New Cinema, all the manifestos written during this decade by French, German and

Russian filmmakers in essence constitute such a book: a call for a new language of film,
whether it was to be montage, `Cinéma pur' (also known as `absolute film'), or
`photogénie.' Similarly, although not declared in a book, a true visual revolution also took
place in graphic design thus `making it new' as well (Aleksander Rodchenko, El Lissitzky,
Moholy-Nagy, etc.). (Tschichold, 1995)
Manovich explains the return of the word `new' in the 1990s as not being aligned with a
specific media type but, rather, as a generic media. This has now perhaps been replaced by
the term `digital media', referring to the potential neo-avantgarde practices and radical
cultural innovations inherent in these new cultural forms of electronic media (HTML5,
URL websites, computer software games, hypertext and hypermedia applications). (Le
Corbusier, 1963)
What once were cinematic, design, architectural, graphic and textual experiments, such as
Dziga Vertov's quick cutting techniques in The Man with a Movie Camera and his split-
screen experiments, and Sergei Eisenstein's montage film making techniques, are
reinterpreted. They coalesce and mingle in the televisual, video and internet spheres, due to
the availability of imaging programs (Adobe Photoshop) and moving image (compositing)
editing software programs such as Adobe After Effects (Manovich, 2003, p. 1). This is also
true of contemporary music making software.
Poetic reverie
In the creation (authoring) of non-sequential narratives for the interactive digital media
environment of the internet, and other digital work, my central concern has been to
reconfigure the gestures of both the parent media (cinema, painting, composition) and the
parent cultures. These are mingled alchemically to form the production of a new hybrid
text, a convergent media articulation, in the digital realm.
The software programs that produce the creative non-linear narrative metaphorically
unleash the `genie' from the `lamp' or the `magic' from the `box'. The `genie' is coded as

generically Other. Sanskrit, Greek, and Russian (Chinese) culture stand in for the orient, the
`foreign', as represented in orientalist styles of western music, film and literature. However,
the `lamp' becomes the `box' ­ the jewelBOX, the chineseBOX, the pandora'sBOX, and
the `blackbox' of the program that I am creating. Metaphorically, the player/participant
simulates the mobile agents moving through the electronic service frameworks, entities
consisting of code, data and control information (Hohl, 1998, p. 109), migrating between
different nodes in the system. This syncretic text weaves together the threads of diasporic
cultures; it is a virtual archive, a box of music and memories.

Zhang Jimou, Shanghai Triad, [videorecording] = Yao a yao, yao dao wai po qiao /
Shanghai Film Studio, Alpha-Films, UGC Images, and La Sept Cinema, [Culver City, CA]:
Columbia TriStar Home Video, c2000.
Josef Von Sternberg (Director), The Shanghai Gesture, Arnold Pressburger Film/
Productions Inc, USA, 1941.
Josef Von Sternberg (Director), Shanghai Express, Paramount Pictures, 1932.
Orson Welles (Screenplay and Production), The Lady from Shanghai, [videorecording] /
Imprint United States : RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video, 1985.
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Tom Mann Theatre, Surrey Hills, Sydney, Australia, 2003.
Untitled: A Play in Three Acts written & directed by John Hughes, Three Dances by
Nirmal Jena in Indian Odissi Style, Asian Music and Dance Festival 2002, The Studio,
Sydney Opera House, Australia, 2002.
Performance Text, SHANGHAI CABARET, Rose Tang, Electronic & Temporal Arts,
Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney, Australia, 1996.

Geoffrey Weary (Writer,Director,Producer), Scenes From A Shanghai Hotel, sound/music
Michael Bates, performance Tatiana Pentes, Rose, Tang, produced in association with the
Australian Film Commission, 2005.
Performance Text, KRISNA SHABDAM (Kuchipudi Dance) performed by Padma Raman,
Leichhardt Town Hall, Sydney, Australia, 1992.
Performance Text, KONARAK KANTHI (Odissi Dance) performed by Chitritta Mukerjee,
The Performance Space, 1993.
Performance Text, SERGE ERMOLL & HIS MUSIC MASTERS, Riverlights Club, live
recordings, Sans Souci, Sydney, 1978.
Performance Text, STRANIYE GARADNIYE (STRANGE CITIES), vinyl album,
recordings, featuring Sergei Ermoll (Ermolaeff) - composition, piano, Mickey Kaye -
Drums, and Sergei Korshoon - vocals, Sydney, 1982.
Performance Text, Old Shanghai Pop Tunes, various artists, Pathe Label, Shanghai, China,
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Type of Edition
ISBN (Softcover)
File size
4.9 MB
Publication date
2016 (July)
Culture Identity Social Development Internet Social Media Digital Media Spiritual Tradition Nigerian Media Facebook Behavioral Addiction Language Acquisition Euthanasia New Communication

Title: Roots Reloaded. Culture, Identity and Social Development in the Digital Age
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154 pages