Media Encoding/Decoding.

When we state to watch, read or play a piece of media, we have also used phrases such as ‘binge watching a T.V. series’, or to ‘devour a book’. Implying that we consume media in a similar manner to which we consume food, ingesting it into ourselves and absorbing the nutrients, or the message of the media.

“Reality exists outside language, but it is constantly mediated by and through language: And what we can know and say has to be produced in and through discourse.” [Hall, 1980:95] Can we ever truly explain or show exactly what we mean through any medium?

Unlike the consumption of food, once a media is ‘consumed’, it still exists.

The idea of consuming media, brings about the question regarding the type or subject of the media and its effect on the consumer, in the same way that a good or bad food diet effects your health. Are there forms of media that are bad for you? Is it unhealthy to consume a large quantity of media based around certain subjects (e.g. Violence, Sex, Language etc.)? Does this have any relation to how we view censorship and rating systems?

If you watch/read/play a piece of media and find that you have gained nothing from it, no new knowledge, than have you really consumed it? Is it possible to view/play/read a piece of media and gain nothing from it?

Due to the media we have consumed in our life, weather we are aware of it or not, any media we produce will be influenced, perhaps invisibly, by the previous works. Creating an ever evolving form of media that is continuing to attempt to explain our meaning. That a media is first encoded, to which we then decode it. This decoding, is the information we consume.

“It is this set of decoded meanings which ‘have an effect’, Influence, Entertain, Instruct, or Persuade, with very complex perceptual, cognitive, emotional, ideological or behavioral consequences.” [Hall. 1980]

“The codes of Encoding and Decoding may not be perfectly symmetrical.” [Hall. 1980]. The amount of information that is presented to us in a single piece of media, might not all be understood. Some information might get overlooked or misread.

When attempting to show something that is more of an abstract concept, it becomes far harder to encode your core meaning, as it can be subjective. Leading to misunderstandings by those attempting to decode it. This could become even more difficult if more than one person is creating the media, as their understanding of the desired concept may very well differ. Authorial intent, the death of the author?

Semiotics could come into play here. That every ‘sign’ or ‘object’ has denotation (what the sign actually is), connotation (what it suggests), and its mythology (the world-view of it, ideologically or political meaning). [Chandler. 2007]


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