In critiquing Mark Rodriguez’s final project, a prototype for radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag based music gig posters, I want to consider his work in a historical context. Despite the expansion of the music industry’s digital presence, handbills remain an effective way to grab a potential patron’s attention. Thus printing and posting gig posters has long been a both part of the promotional activities of a music venue and a hallmark of our visual culture (what dorm room or first apartment is complete without one of those iconic announcements of musical taste?) What is compelling about Mark’s project as a new media artifact is the way his concept remediates an analog experience and marketing tradition, as well as incorporates concert posters into convergence culture.

First, let’s break down Mark’s project. There are two main components to his concept: one, a poster which has embedded in it a RFID tag, and second, the website to which people who interact with the RFID tag are directed. Mark suggests that the tags can be attached to the back of the venue poster so that people passing by can swipe the tag with their mobile devices, an act that pulls up the website where the user can then gather more information, like videos of past performances, about upcoming acts, or even purchase a ticket to the event.

The synchronous nature of Mark’s project is one way to understand its position as a new media artifact. Synchronous communication occurs in real-time, and is found in “face-to-face conversations, phone calls and instant messages” and as a “temporal structure” acts as a key concept for identifying new media (Baym 7). The interactive way in which Mark prolongs the effectiveness of a concert poster’s data, through the synchronous communication of information about bands and events, reconstructs the temporality of band posters. If the access to a band or event is not immediately available, a user is forced to search out that information, say on the Internet, after seeing the poster. Mark imagines a system where users have access to that information as they see the poster. This idea shifts band posters from being asynchronous to synchronous tools for marketing, and this temporal aspect is essential for interpreting Mark’s project as a new media artifact.

Another feature of new media in Mark’s project is its remediation. Embedding RFID tags in concert posters reimagines a textual experience of posters as a static medium into an interactive one. Whereas before posters acted as purely visual objects, Mark’s project introduces sound, video and commodity as features.  Remediation, then, occurs in Mark’s artifact through “the representation of one medium in another” (Bolter and Grusin 45), as in the representation of the interactive audio-visual media of the website in the visual medium of the poster.

Further, the multiplicity of media in Mark’s project, the fact that not only can a user read about the band or see pictures on the poster, but they can also watch videos and buy tickets to the event, refashions the experience of looking at a gig poster entirely. This aggressive form of remediation is an example of hypermediacy (Bolter and Grusin 46), and also demonstrates how Mark’s project could be considered a part of convergence culture. Convergence can be understood as content that is distributed across multiple media (Meikel and Young 35).  This concept is capitalized on by many media industries, especially for its marketing potential (Meikel and Young 40). Diversifying the channels by which to reach people is a savvy business practice for maintaining reach in a multimedia marketplace. Mark’s project addresses the future of music venue promotions by diversifying the experience of marketing content that works in a very present sense.

I appreciate the depth of thought Mark’s project required, and in turn, how thought-provoking his work was for me. Not only did his prototype introduce me to new possibilities in technology and marketing, it made me reconsider how I view gig posters as an “old” media. I’m convinced that his idea has wings, and look forward to being able to interact with print media in this new fashion.

Works Cited

Baym, Nancy. Personal Connections in the Digital Age. 1st ed. Polity, 2010.

Bolter, Jay David, and Richard Grusin. Remediation: Understanding new media. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000.

Meikel, Graham, and Sherman Young. Media Convergence: Networked Digital Media in Everyday Life. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.