The first technology I picked is a camera for photography. This technology is used a few times to document different things in the house, but I was more interested in times when it had more significance. The passage I looked at specifically was at the top of page 38, when describing the photograph on the wall in the office of Billy Reston. The photograph depicts “the mixture of fear and disbelief on Reston’s face as he suddenly finds himself running for his life” (38). This is the moment when Reston loses his legs and becomes bound to a wheelchair. While photography comes up quite a bit so far in the novel, I thought this was a particularly interesting passage because it shows the significance a photograph can have, in general, but particularly in this novel. Many of the other photos talked about are for documenting purposes and you do not read much detail about them, whereas for this photo, there is real significant description with a depth of emotion and sadness to it as Danielewski describes the fateful moment Reston almost dies.
The second technology I picked was the video recording device, which is mentioned as both 8MM, for the security recording device, and 16MM, for the documenting purposes as Navidson, and his brother Tom, use Billy Reston’s equipment to measure the house dimensions. The passage I picked for this technology is at the bottom of page 39 and partly reads: “Navidson captures these seconds in 16mm. His Arriflex, already pre-focused and left running, spools in 24 frames per second” (39). This is the beginning of the process of documenting their efforts to measure the exact dimensions of the house to find out if the interior of the house is defying the laws of physics. This description shows the age of the technology they are using by referring to recording using film in millimeters. During this first recording, they believe they have used more exacting level tools and found the discrepancy between interior and exterior measurements to have been resolved, but it will not stay that way.
The technology I chose to compare this to is a smartphone, but specifically the recording and photography capabilities of smart phones. Not too many years after this book came out, as well as the year the novel is set, the inundation of digital cameras and video recorders began. This change in technology removed the need for actual film, which shows the outdatedness, no matter how few years previously written, the video recording technology is in the book by using millimeter film. This is not the technology I want to focus on, because I believe that digital cameras and video cameras, with the exception of much higher quality cameras for more professional purposes, have even been made outdated for personal use by smart phone camera capabilities. More than just the level of quality image we can now get with a smartphone, we are able to quickly take as many photos and videos as we want and do whatever we want with them through the internet or a cell phone network. We have gotten to the point in our world where videos and pictures are rarely special anymore. The photos and videos in this part of the novel are regularly referred to and described about their beauty and their significance. Besides Ellen at the academy awards, or Nelson Mandela’s funeral, when was the last time a selfie was described as truly significant. I believe that there are a lot of good reasons for the expansion of this technology, especially for a person’s own use, but I do think there are also downsides in the inundation of media we now have, and so much of it being superfluous videos or pictures that people take, with the intention and hope of gaining “likes”, which are then looked at by almost no one. The striking difference to me between these technologies during the time of the book and today is the significance of each piece of media.