I’ll admit I was not thrilled about reading Kress. But I’ll also admit that I was pleasantly surprised with his unique outlook on changing mediums.
Kress begins by talking about the changes in media and the gradual loss of written literature, which put me under the impression that he was anti-image early on. I understood what I thought was his disappointment though. It’s always a shame to lose part of something that was once considered timeless. But as the case is with all mediums of communication, there is always room for improvement, or at least advancement. A world that never changed would be a very dull world, but I’m not positive Kress is against change. There was one element of Kress’ chapter that I found to be highly thought-provoking, and that was the parallel between the world told & the world shown and time & space.
Upon reading this concept the first time around, I felt like Kress was making some strange connection between media literacy and weird Donnie Darko time travel junk. What the heck did literacy have to do with time and space? But after a few more trials of close reading, I realized what he is trying to say. Kress put into words a concept that I had never even thought of. Where images fail to breed imagination of meaning, words succeed; and where words fail to allow for imagination of order, images succeed. It was a whole new way of thinking, but I understood.
And with this epiphany, I realized that Kress is not condemning new media at all. Yes, he feels a sense of loss upon the weakening of books as the the primary medium for text, but I think his feeling is more bittersweet than strictly bitter. See, Kress acknowledges the benefits of books and screen. He knows they both have different things to offer, and he embraces those things. Does he perhaps prefer books over screen? It’s likely, but that’s besides the point. With change in media come certain trade offs. Kress never says that the consequences outweigh the benefits of images as a communicative medium, but he does mention the concept of trade offs. But that is to be expected, trade offs come with any change.
The point is, Kress is not against images as the new primary medium. Perhaps it isn’t his favorite idea, but he still recognizes all it has to bring to the table. Though he does say that images decrease room for imagination, he is talking about a specific kind of imagination. Words allow you to make your own meanings, but images don’t. When Kress said images require no imagination, he is talking about the personalized application of meaning to words. Images still allow for imagination of time line, and there is even room for interpretation. Kress’ point is not that books are good and images are bad. It is simply that mediums are changing, and images are taking over. It isn’t good or bad, it’s just a change worth mentioning.