ARTS3091 Blog 6 – Framing Transversals

April 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

In the editorial of Fibreculture Journal found here, Andrew Murphie discusses transversals.  He explores what could be described as a ‘macro’ transversal: -new media, in all its broad forms, in relation to other industries. Murphy states that new media transverses more areas than ever before such as dance, city planning, celebrity, aesthetics and hacking.

While this explanation was helpful I struggled to clearly understand the concept due to the ‘macro’ nature of the topics being discussed. After the lecture I better understood the concept.

I believe a better way of explaining the idea of transversals & framing is through music.

A current genre of music can be seen as a frame. Music in this frame abides to particular rules, It is defined and simultaneously restricted by its frame. Take for example electro/house music; without getting too technical, we can safely say that electro/house is framed by electronically produced sound, strong emphasis on a 4:4 beat, a bpm of around 120 and usually a ‘drop’ (more on the transversal element of the ‘drop’ here).

In comparison swing  music is framed by woodwind and brass instruments, an emphasis on the 2nd  and 4th beat of a 4:4 bar and a strong rhythm component.

As murphie describes: “a transversal is a line that cuts other lines, perhaps across entire fields – bringing the fields together in a new way, recreating fields as something else.”

I would argue that a music transversal can be seen in the mixing of two music genres (frames); for example electroswing. Electroswing brings together  elements of separate frames in a new way.

I argue that transversals are only temporary, a transversal occurs when two frames are crossed, however as soon as meaning is created out of this new transversal, it becomes a frame itself.  By this I mean that electroswing is now a legitimate (if little known) genre, with its own framings. It is possible in the future that we will hear an electroswing/reggae transversal, which could then become its own frame. The way in which we see frames or transversalities is simply a matter of how we ‘frame’ them (oh the irony).

Transversals could be further explored in the area of thought and creativity. In a lecture on creativity John Cleese states ‘Creativity is like humor. In a joke, the laugh comes at a moment when you connect two different frameworks of reference in a new way’  and that ‘a new idea is connecting two separate ideas in a way that generates new meaning’. This would be interesting to consider, is there such a thing as original thought?

The lecture is long, but worth watching.


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