Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The First Installment

To our readers and fans, this is the first of many installments focusing on visual culture and its effects and impacts on populations in the developing world. While I was in the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa in 2006 to 2008, I noticed that televisions were quickly becoming the wave of the future even in villages without electricity (the televisions are powered by rechargeable car batteries and/or small generators). Every night, billions of people in the developing world turn on their TVs and watch the one or two national channels available with programing ranging from sports and entertainment to news and public awareness bulletins. This is truly a new generation. A few years ago, to think that subsistence farmers miles off the grid would regularly watch and discuss TV shows would have been far fetched. Now however, we see that the developing world does have their foot in the door with digital media from Internet cafes where teenagers pay per hour to watch YouTube videos, to local NGOs providing "Moto-Movie Nights" where televisions and batteries are brought out on motorcycles to remote communities to screen relevant documentaries and informational videos. This is an incredible time for media artists from around the world to be able to help and contribute in every sector of development.

"Phenomenal progress in new communication techniques - the digitization of images, sound and data, the digital compression of data and the growing power of electronic components - is part of the technological upsurge that is set to overturn completely the existing conditions under which information and knowledge are produced and disseminated, according to the World Communication Report"
- The media and the challenge of the new technologies, authored by Professor Lotfi Maherzi of Algeria and published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).