TransmissionS: In the WELL

Peter d’Agostino

TransmissionS is a metaphorical history of age the electronic age, moving back & forth in time through a series of impressions, tableaux, and monologues of informed commentary. Composed of fluid visual and aural montages, this project explores 20th-century communications while probing the cultural and personal implications of technology's power to effect change. It was produced as a broadcast videotape and touch screen interactive videodisc installation- TransmissionS: In the WELL.

The initial segment, "In the Beginning was the 'S'..." focuses on the ideas and imagery of the seminal figures of the electronic age: Edison, Tesla and Marconi. Through the use of analogy and metaphor, it charts the development of the camera obscura and motion pictures to Marconi's first trans-Atlantic wireless transmission in 1901 (merely an 'S'...three dots in Morse Code ) serving to mark a beginning of the electronic transmission. "Deus Ex Machina” follows, forming a commentary about the reception of radio waves, traces of photons emitted over 15 billion years ago during 'the big bang' at the origin of the universe.

TransmissionS continues with "PARABLE," an allegory composed of recurring images of transmission towers, multiple voices talking about communication, and an explosive splash which represents 'the fall of Icarus' the downside of technology. The commentary leads to “In the WELL”- a human drama illustrating television's omniscience and its limits. A small boy is trapped in a well in Italy, and the nation, transfixed at its television sets, follows the futile rescue attempt. It is a personal look at how technology encapsulates human experience, from birth to death, Drawing on d'Agostino's own home movie footage, “Generations” brings the work from the technological to the personal. This segment is a look at the collective images of the life cycle: a coming of age, maturity, and old age. It represents the passing of a generation and regeneration. The concluding segment, "ECLOGUES (The Selections)" presents a virtual index of the evolution of 20th-century communications technologies.

A fusion of allegory, documentary, science and autobiography, d'Agostino creates a trenchant, often poignant analysis of communications technology as both witness and catalyst to the history and evolution of 20th-century communications technologies.