Berenice Martin 

Today, we are surrounded by new technologies, the most striking element of which is the introduction of the digital image - the screen. In our everyday life they have become continuously present - from home to the workplace they are unavoidable - in the street, on the bus or the tube, and often it is just as far as the smartphone you have in your pocket, this “everyday life companion” following you everywhere. 

The digital image changes our spatial understanding.

What is of particular interest is the increasing influence of these technologies as the amount of time one spends watching such screens constantly increases. As one spends more time gazing at screens, fictions and framed realities, than engaged in our surroundings, tangible reality, then how does it affects one’s perception? And, furthermore one’s behaviour? How does that affect the line between reality and fiction?

A result of these multiple moving images is that we experience a fragmentation of information and space. Paradoxically, while technology offers an infinite landscape of information (limitless, scaleless and fluid), at the same time, by fragmenting vision, the digital image leads to the shattering of space and information.

When looking at the screen, one is entering a new space: the digital landscape based within the concept of the green screen. In other words, the image is a fragmented view, a composition of elements, collage art.(figure 2: Mark Leckey’s work is showing what apparatus lies behind the image created) It is a framed environment, because it is always seen through a window.  Organized/framed in such a way that leads the spectator to draw some particular conclusion.[1]

‘The new technology of the image has shaken up everyone’s habits.  The passing years and new technologies have profoundly changed our methods of accessing information, our way of perceiving space, entertaining ourselves and engaging in exchanges with others. They also impact on our way of learning.’[2] One learns about their surroundings by checking the nearest screen instead of going to a book. The easy flow of information unfolding effortlessly before our eyes does not require any engagement with real research, investigation or even any activity. Jacques Rancière made us aware that the malady of the spectating man is that ‘the more he contemplates, the less he lives’.[3]  Therefore action is no longer in our activity but is embedded in the image itself.

The image is information.

Moreover these digital projections and animated screens are moving images. The proliferation of screens is as revolutionary as the passage from still image to moving image or the change from the silent movie to the talking motion picture. Previously people used to decide on when and what to watch, today cinema’s techniques have infiltrated every aspect of our everyday environment. We are now part of a new visual culture where vision is predominant. ‘The spectacle is the reign of vision’.[4]

The digital image now tells a story and conveys action. In that there is a similarity between seeing and reading, the image is information; what you see you assimilate. The moving image acts as a storyboard (a script for life). It is a serialization of information, an instructive process, and a playful method related to the field of ‘social education’ and culture. The screen presents fascinating images that attract the attention of the viewer. For that reason the use of videos during lectures usually creates a greatly enhanced learning experience.

The paradox of the moving image.

Paradoxically, whilst video stimulates the attention of the observer, it reduces physical activity, an essential part of how we learn.

Jacques Rancière, intended to improve our comprehension of art and deepen our grasp of the politics of perception in his book The Emancipated Spectator.[4] He explains, referring to Guy Debord’s anthropo-media centered theory  The Society of the Spectacle, that there is a dangerous aspect to vision which is contemplation of the appearance: he says that ‘what human beings contemplate in the spectacle is the activity they have been robbed of’. [5] By constantly ‘looking’, the spectator’s potential activity is stripped away by the image itself.

Nevertheless, Celine Alvarez demonstrated through her experiment in Gennevilliers that action remains the main element of learning.

Therefore we really learn when there is a combination of both vision and action. The ‘classe inversée’, (a flipping of the traditional classroom script) for instance combines and challenges these two elements.

In reality, we live in a world where we are spoon fed with information that dictates how things are and will be. The fast moving proliferation of images alongside the hypnotizing effects of the screen seems to prevent us from learning anything, and even having time to think. A subliminal information is presented to us by mixing Art (cinema) and politic (mass media).

The contemporary image is leading to a pedagogical revolution.

What is interesting is what the moving image brings to ‘education’.

Information technology has taken the ‘educational’ landscape by storm, increasing everybody’s  learning potential, changing the way we process information and the relationship between tutors and students. The learning framework now extends to the screen, it is not only at school or in universities, but anywhere and everywhere that you can be plugged in to the moving image network.  Institutions (Schools, universities, etc) are no longer the unique space for the acquisition of knowledge.

I wonder how the new educational system should be, regardless of whether this is a school, a higher education system, or even an immersive cinema, in response to this technological revolution. If the construction of knowledge is being modified by the introduction of internet, the same must apply to educational methods, and inevitably the built environment. The nature, scale and shape of the building itself should evolve.

There is no doubt that the face of modern teaching is undergoing significant changes, and with the newer generation as the main audience it is vital that the parameters of the learning environment move with the time and adopt more innovative/immersive techniques to keep people engaged, motivated and aware of this increasing phenomenon’s potential and limitation.[6]

This shift holds promise as a progressive model that will suit a wide range of learning abilities and will hold the attention of the observer from a fast-paced, digital generation.

Newer and more innovative learning methods need to be introduced to move away from the traditional  model of lecturing and passive learning – gearing these new spaces towards a greater focus on active learning, where individuals openly interact with one another and actively participate.


1.  Jacques Rancière, The emancipated spectator, trans. Gregory Elliott, London: Verso,2009, p13.
2.  New generation learning methods.
3.  Jacques Rancière, The emancipated spectator, trans. Gregory Elliott, London: Verso,2009, p6.
4.  Ibid., p. 7.
5.  Ibid., p. 7.
6.  Innovative teaching methods vs the traditional university lecture.

Image list  

1.      Berenice Martin    -    Green screen landscape trick (2016)
2.      Mark Leckey - See we assemble, Serpentine Gallery (2011)
3.      Berenice Martin    -    The Underground experience (2016)