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Both have developed due to the fact that the well-established BBC produces it, that it is set in modern day London and that the series uses nostalgic objects and involves famous actors. This raises the question as to whether the series as a medium is actually there , if its ability to transmit a message is not activated.

In other words, how much of a cake is already there when the cake mixture exists in its physical materiality? Hence, one could argue that performativity and a medium only exist when perceived as such.

Media Borders, Multimodality and Intermediality

This concept is true for film in general, but it is particularly strong for Sherlock , expressed by its high interactivity. Sherlock activates its viewers to use their cultural knowledge and backgrounds, and it positions their perspectives and self-orientations actively and through very expressive modalities, for example, the tempo, or the suspense in the plot or filming angles. In order to work with a concept of performativity, an awareness of the structuralistic categories that are arbitrarily imposed on reality helps to define, frame and describe the series, e.

Making the navigation of reality easier through categories is a function that results in a static perception of the world, which it itself is not. However, the relativity that is inherent in this idea of materialization is not endless, as objects can only emerge through interactions that are actually taking place. Not everything just happens randomly, and it is possible to steer this emergence in certain respects, for example, through the use of intentionally chosen intermedial relations.

These can be, as taken up in some of the previous examples: i content related transmediation, ii structural transmediation, or iii the hybridity of genre and cultural conventions in one media product. Here the producers can act out a certain influence. Viewers recognizing traits and details of and fulfilling expectations about the character, as well as any other aspect of the series, will value it more highly and will more likely disseminate and therefore reproduce it in their daily lives.

This is something the producers can facilitate, by consciously choosing potential transmediations. This shows the performative construction of the series identity in a compositional and dynamic manner, based on recognition of narratives and cultural traits made by the recipients. The word recognition here emphasizes the integrated and active position the viewer is taking.

Recognition is not just seeing, it is drawing on prior knowledge, taking in new information and combining all context into an interactive mental activity.

It is therefore interwoven with daily life more than a film would be. Language in the sense of cultural codes is used to put meaning into a different language so that it can be decoded and a similar meaning conveyed. In the case of Sherlock , these shared codes contain ideas about the principle of sending texts, the way detectives usually work, or about the walks of life one is confronted with in a big city. In applied qualitative and empirical social research, one has to deal with transmediation quite often, and the issues being discussed in intermedia studies are quite similar to those that one encounters in cultural analysis.

Transmediation is one method that is constantly applied in cultural analysis.

Essentially it is cultural analysis, as the most obvious and essential transmediation in this research form is gathering data in the field and turning it into information that is understandable and useful for the client. As a researcher of the series Sherlock , one interprets how social reality is represented in the media products, just as one would interpret actual social reality on behalf of a client as a cultural analyst.

Qualitative ethnographic research supports the idea of a performative creation of meaning and communication, because interviews, focus groups or observations are never a medium in themselves that produce data. Interviews, for example, are always highly context-related, involving representations and interactive productions.


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One example would be the time-consuming classic method of transcription. It actually involves a lot of decisions on how to transform the audio track into a written text, 34 which is why a transcriber, to a certain degree, becomes visible though not always recognizable in the transcribed words.

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Media Borders, Multimodality and Intermediality

The key insight here is that one can never be objective, as the own interpretation and the choices that are made are always influencing the message that is being conveyed, 35 be it in cultural analytical projects or when watching an entertainment show. Walter Benjamin essentially says that translators can use different tools to build up meaning, creating the same end product. Nevertheless, meaning never lies in the text, and everyone always understands things individually and a bit differently.

There is no absolute, true meaning; it is always performative. This can be reinforced by returning to my notion of how emotions are involved in the formation of meaning. One good example is the phenomenon of interpreting pictures, which cannot always be put into words and which is a highly emotional process.

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Kappelhoff agrees, defining movement as the materiality of audio visual images and the by different modalities constituted rhythm, or atmosphere, as the key to understanding the film or series. Targeting similar ideas, the use of sensory multimodality in ethnographic fieldwork is being facilitated partly due to the technological and digital developments of recent decades, and it is encouraging major changes in the way ethnography is carried out. Watching a film is highly emotional, but how that works on an intermedial level is not very clear.

Taking the notion of performativity a step further, this means that when something is transmediated, the understanding of the researcher towards the source medium as well as the target medium are crucial influences on the transforming process. However, it is just one of many aspects contributing to the performativity of the series being shown, perceived and made sense of. Altogether, this is a unique and unrepeatable phenomenon. Combined with the highly performative character of the series leading to greater immersion and interpretative freedom, this lends weight to an argument for a more flexible concept of how a media products can convey messages.

In order to support these thoughts, the meaning-making processes in Sherlock can be compared to the ones that would take place if one were to read the original Sherlock Holmes novels and stories from a hundred years ago; the process is essentially not different, but more complex and both consciously and subconsciously heightened in its performative nature. Of course, the sociocultural background and individual perception and interpretation are just as crucial when understanding and imagining a story from a book.

However, the message drawn from Sherlock is more dependent on what the reader knows from other sources, making the meaning making process even more complex and indeterminable — which is expressed in a higher level of performativity.

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First of all, a book is tangible. There is of course a technical medium involved in both the novels — respectively the short stories and the series — but the relation between technical medium and narrative with a book is, at least in case of Sherlock Holmes, much more static in comparison to a digital series or even just a film. This is due to the great variety of sociocultural contexts and information exchanged between and about each other in our postmodern times. These arguments were developed with an interdisciplinary approach, which enhanced the understanding of performativity and the fluidity of how materiality is perceived.

On a metalevel, this paper even supports the thesis that reflexivity and an openness to interdisciplinary ideas can broaden our understanding of culture and its intermedial relationships.

IPS 2017: 2nd week Roundtable - Borders, boundaries, frontiers

It has explained that the series as a medium should be considered in its performative context, rather than as a media object. Thus, a performative approach to the production of meaning and understanding, regardless of the respective cultural context or specific media product, should be pursued for understanding modern literary texts. It is important to disentangle and link questions about where we get our messages and meanings from, and how they are being reinforced. An awareness of how information flows and shapes culture through the media products that surround humans today is crucial for reflecting on emerging and shifting cultural values.

In summary, the perception of transmediations between media products forms a crucial part of cultural processes, their meaning and their constant performance, just as the taste, the texture and the time put into the process of making a cake would largely be meaningless without someone being able to eat and enjoy it. In: Signs In: Steven Rendall trans. In: Kriminalliteratur, Paranoia, moderne Gesellschaft. In: Men and Masculinities 8. In: Journal of Pragmatics Steven Rendall trans.

Berkeley London In: Media Borders, Multimodality and Intermediality. London , p. Berlin In: Hans Lund ed. Ord, bild och ton i samspel. Lund , p. In: Daniel Miller ed. In: Senses and Society 8. In: Poetics Today TAN, Ed S. New York Direkt zum Inhalt. In: Textpraxis 14 3. Introduction The well-known Sherlock Holmes, the character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in , has — through an evolution of adaptations — developed into a media-convergent phenomenon.

Transmedial processes in Sherlock Applying this expanded concept of transmediation, this essay will show how the TV series creates tension between various basic and qualified media. Mental representation to film My third example of transmediation in Sherlock is the representation of modern metropolitan life and its conventions. Materiality of Sherlock At first sight, a TV series might not seem very material. Performativity According to Karen Barad, performativity is based on the significance of relations, transmedial relations being a specific form of such.

Picture 2: Example of Lava lamp Performativity applied to Sherlock Regarding the case of Sherlock , part of its performance is the popular status and myth surrounding the series itself. In: October 9 , p. Berlin , p. Therefore, to be material is not limited to tangible or watchable objects, but strongly connected to their significance to those who perceive these objects, as will be exemplified through Sherlock. Kappelhoff: Genre und Gemeinsinn ref. Luc Boltanski links the Sherlock Holmes stories to the rise of social sciences and paranoia and the search for reality at the start of the 19th century.

Tan: Emotion and the structure of narrative film: Film as an emotion machine. Ibid, p. Charlotte Aull Davies: Reflexive ethnography: A guide to researching selves and others. Michel De Certeau. The Practice of Everyday Life. My Wishlist Sign In Join. Be the first to write a review. Add to Wishlist.

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