Conférence Transmediations!

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Communication across Media Borders

Linnæus University, campus Växjö, Suède, du 13 au 15 octobre 2016.

Space and Transmediality : The Transcanadian Highway as a mediating conjuncture Marcello Vitali-Rosati, Servanne Monjour (UdeM)

In our panel, we will analyze the space of the Trans-Canada Highway as an transmedial object or, to use a concept we’re developing, as a mediating conjuncture. The Transcanadian Highway is a mythical road that runs through Canada from east to west. It has been the subject of many representations in literature, visual medias, cinema, but also on maps, in historical texts and more recently on the web (digital maps, wikipedia, etc.). In May 2016, the team of the Theolinum Laboratory (attached to the Canadian research Chair on digital textualities) will travel from Montreal to Calgary on Transcanadian Highway in order to add to all those mediations our own traveling experience. Through this experience, we intend to address the following questions: what is the nature of the Transcanadian Highway space ? What does this space represent, and how can we understand it?

Using a representational paradigm, we could be inclined to distinguish between, on the one hand, the space of the Transcanadian highway itself (the physical space, often considered as the « real » space) and, on the other hand, the different forms of remediations representing this « real road ». If we adhere to this paradigm, transmediality would refer to the ability to represent an object using multiple mediating processes.

The paradigm we would like to propose is quite different. Using the concept of mediating conjuncture, we would like to show that the Transcanadian Highway is nothing but the sum of all these remediations, none of them being original or derived from another. The mediating conjuncture includes all the different mode of existence of the space mediated in multiple ways. Our journey has thus two main objectives : first, we want to experiment physically the space of the Transcanadian highway, revising by doing so part of its literary, cinematographic, iconographic, and historical mediations. Second, we will document our trip through blog postings. This unique experience will thus ultimately add also participate to the transmedial construction of the Transcanadian Hinghway.

1. Space as a mediating conjuncture (Marcello Vitali-Rosati)

Vitali-Rosati will the present the theoretical basis of our analyzis in this first paper. He will argue that space has to be considered only as the result of a mediation. The Transcanadian space, for instance, is nothing but the accumulation of roads, roadmaps, houses, images, literary and cinematographic stories, digital data, etc., which lead to a kind of unstable and dynamic conjuncture. To talk about the « Tanscanadian » means to talk about this conjuncture: it’s impossible to establish a distinction between those different layers of reality, and the idea of « one reality » that would be an original and non-mediated one. There is no « original » space in all these manifestations. The reality is the superimposition and the dynamic overlapping of these multiple conjunctures. And it is actually possible (or even probable) that these conjunctures are not coherent : one can contradict the other. Thus, space is always mediated by a multiplicity of mediations that we can interpret thanks to the concept of transmediation.

2. The Transcanadian Highway : an anamorphic construction (Servanne Monjour)

In this second paper, Monjour will illustrate the concept of mediating conjuncture through a set of literary and photographic mediations that constitute the imaginary of the Transcanadian. Because the concept of anamorphose aims to grasp the superposition between different layers – what traditionally comes under « reality » and what comes under representation of reality –, Monjour will use this concept to reconsider the articulation between the « real » Transcanadian and its « representations ». Etymologically, the term anamorphose means « formed again » or « formed back » : since antiquity, we know that an architectural construction must be slightly curved in order not to look distorted from a viewer's perspective. During the Renaissance, anamorphoses transgress the rules of the classical perspective, in order to hide images into other images. Based on those definitions, anamorphose appears to offer an interesting structure to understand transmediation as a distortion operation (of an object, a text, a picture... by other objects, texts or pictures), that can be read as an original and a meaningful distortion. Considering the Transcanadian landscape through an anamorphic point of view allows us to circulate through its different layers – the roads traveled on our journey, the stories those roads produced, its postcards, etc. – without establishing any ontological distinction.