What Is and What Should Never Be...

A friend from class told me of a conference paper she recently heard. For over a year, a graduate student analyzed one week – seven consecutive days – of footage from CNN. Her research lead her to the observation that some very interesting conceptualizations of time and its framing are embedded within the programming of the 24 hour news station. Apparently between 3:00am and 3:15am EST, CNN stops reporting the previous day's news, and begins advertising the news "that's going to happen" later on in the day (after 3:15am). This fifteen-minute interval is a sort of dead zone, the conceptual equivalent of hole in the fabric of time; nothing happens here – the past is wiped away from the slate and the future is fabricated by its framing in the present.

What CNN is up to with its programming - not just with the news but concepts of time - is illuminated by Jean Baudrillard's discussion of time and history in The Illusion of the End. As he states, "the end is, in fact, only conceivable in a logical order of causality and continuity." CNN's programming certainly does follow a linear progression, though Baudrillard's next observation really lifts the skirt on what is at stake here with this seemingly innocent news programming technique, "Now, it is events themselves which, by their artificial production, their programmed occurrence or the anticipation of their effects – not to mention their transfiguration in the media – are suppressing the cause-effect relation and hence all historical continuity."

The relationship of time to the delivery of CNN's content is a painstakingly mutually invested operation. Time must be configured in its current fashion so that the systems of meaning-making and authoritative truth delivery, that upon which news is constructed and delivered, are successful in their persuasion of audiences. From a visual language-based perspective, the news is similar to advertising in the modality it necessarily assumes and asserts in the delivery of its message. Developed by Kress and van Leeuwen, modality:

"...does not express absolute truths or falsehoods; it produces shared truths, aligning readers or listeners with some statements and distancing them from others. It serves to create an imaginary 'we.' It says, as it were, these are the things 'we' consider true, and these are the things 'we' distance ourselves from."

Thus, it is the cultural understanding of these institutions of influence (news, advertising, etc.) that "do their work" by coercion and strategic positioning of their content within the cultural context of the intended audience. Some examples of linguistic modals include "might," "should," "would," and "could," all of which situate another's subjectivity within that space and time, forever influencing their history and illusion of its end.

…Like the geosemiotics of street signs and billboard that insert their advertising messages into the context of the morning commute, the agenda and schedule of another can powerfully influence our own reading of the day, our own framing of time, its end, and our place within it...

>>> A response to this: visit the intersection of the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Rt. 29 (Key Bridge, Rosslyn) to view this painting/installation completed on Friday May 7, 2004 at 3:00am <<<

"I can see why many visual artists dislike words in artworks. They feel that words dirty the clear water that has reflected the sky. It disturbs the pleasure of the silent image, the freedom from history, the beauty of nameless form. I want to name our pains. I want to keep our names. I know that neither images nor words can escape the drunknness and longing caused by the turning world. Words and images drink the same wine. There is no purity to protect." - Marlene Dumas.

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