Notes on Video Revolutions
I recently finished Michael Z. Neuman’s short book Video Revolutions: On the History of a Medium. It’s a quick read (excluding notes, bibliography, and index, it’s just over 100 pages), but the content is an encompassing look at public reception towards the nebulous medium that is video. Neuman takes a cultural approach to his analysis, noting how reception of video changes as the medium and its cohorts (television, cinema) evolve. It’s a brisk, accessible historical overview of how the cultural force changed over time, and reveals the limitations of our own conceptions of media. Is video a tangible thing, like a VHS tape? What about streaming video? As Neuman illustrates, media is a combination of its physical properties and their surrounding cultural scripts.
Neuman’s book serves a general overview to the medium, and illustrates many places where scholarship could and does flourish, such as the democratization and politicization of the medium in the 21st century. It thus serves not only as a good overview text, but could as a launching point for others to explore.