1.2 Mediating The Real
The ‘collapse’ of memory I use as a metaphor for the collapse of the certainties of the past by a media that can paradoxically create and recreate an apparently certain past through their command of visual images, which are both part of the landscape of modern life and the very essence of human memory. (A. Hoskins)*
Have Gun – Will Travel (1957-1963) TV series starring Richard Boone as Paladin
The Televised Real
Though as a child I shared in my family’s communal television experiences, I also came to experience my own personal interpretations (memories) of such events, which I came to call the televised real. Andrew Hoskins points out in his essay Mediating Time: The Temporal Mix of Television. Time and Society, that:
“… although the individual remains (or appears as) the real, authentic or original holder of memory, there can be no doubt that remembering is a process that today is increasingly media-afflicted”. (A. Hoskins)*
An example of this televised real which I experienced as a child, happened one night when I snuck downstairs from my bedroom, as I often did, to greet my father’s late night arrival from work, usually around ten at night.
Have Gun Will Travel
A favourite program that my father and I would watch in these clandestine moments was a Western entitled, ‘Have Gun – Will Travel (1957- 1963)’ (see Image 02 above) starring Richard Boone as the character Paladin.
I vividly recall the first time Paladin was shot in a gunfight. I had turned to my father and asked why Paladin’s blood was black. He tried to explain that it just looked black because we were watching a black and white TV set, but I just could not fathom this – how could this be?
The flickering images emitting from the cleverly disguised piece of furniture was as real to me as anything else I was experiencing at the time. Though I later came to realize that Paladin’s blood was in fact not black, I could never shake off this notion that what I had experienced at that time was real.
The Chimerical Experience
I would go on to define this televised real event as my first technological chimerical experience. Here was this character Paladin, existing as part human and part ghost; part truth and part fiction; part real and part electronic; a hybrid of socio-cultural ideologies presented in black and white and constructed from contradictory realities.
These realities co-existed within my own personal space, and time, but were also out of reach – something virtual, something which, was being mediated by the electronic medium of television.
* Hoskins. A. (2001). Mediating Time: The Temporal Mix of Television. Time and Society, 10(2/3), 212-233. PDF, accessed 2010, 2018
Below are links to texts related to The Skinning of Memory (VP2) Installation that were published as part of my MFA Thesis, 2010. Specific segments have been revised and updated for this post. John Naccarato, 2022