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TV, Emotion, and Spatial Memory
Transcript of TV, Emotion, and Spatial Memory
In the Beginning...
The TVs back then were only able to display picture in black and white.
The TV has undergone a startling transformation. The original TV – the now dumpy and hefty parent – has been succeeded by its slim and fashionable child, the digital TV.
They were discarded, abandoned, as TV signals for the analogue system were cut off (Seniors 2007, p. 346).
Although, people did not have to abandon their old television’s, as they could purchase converter boxes for cable or satellite subscription so these endearing behemoths could continue on working (Seniors 2007, p. 346). But most simply replaced them, as the digital TV was available at an affordable price.
Another factor that played into people simply replacing their TV's was the fact that buying a new TV was often cheaper than repairing the older one (Renteria et al 2011, p. 789).
But what happened to these old loveable TVs?
They became e-waste (electronic waste), waiting at the bus stop known as the dump before traveling to their final resting place – or site of torture – the recycling centre. It is at these centres where the TV – along with other e-waste – is dismantled to salvage metals, polymers, and ceramics for re-use in newer technologies whose destiny is to meet the same fate (Zhang 2011, p. 13).
However, because technology is designed with obsolescence in mind, the scale and rate of production for technology has been ramped up, resulting in a situation where recycling systems are too inundated with tech to salvage parts from every piece of e-waste (Lobos & Babbitt 2013, p. 19, p. 22). Because of this flood of e-waste, the tech that should be recycled instead makes its way to landfills, where it is tossed with its brethren to be hidden from an advanced world (Lobos & Babbitt 2013, p. 22).
But then what happened to the discarded TVs?
Because I feel sorry for tech that I see sitting by the edge of the road, waiting to die. Thus, comes my research into how seeing TVs in certain spaces can evoke emotion and memory that is spatial in nature.
A study by Bannerman et al. (2012) looks at whether manipulated emotional stimuli had an effect on spatial STM (short term memory).
In this instance, I am also interested in emotional stimuli – in our case, seeing old TVs in spaces of abandonment – but in the context of how it is able to illicit emotion and call up spatial memory from LTM (long term memory) about previously owned TVs.
So why does any of this matter?
For this kind of event to occur, it is likely that some form of emotional attachment to the old TV would had to have taken place. An article by Paul Hiebert (2015) looks at various forms of emotional attachment to objects and includes examples of how some people think about objects, for example, one person said,
"Sometimes, when I grab a cup from my cabinet, I will grab one that's in the back and never gets used because I think the cup feels depressed that it isn't fulfilling it's life of holding liquids."
Another example that this article puts forth is the Japanese Hari-Kuyo, the Festival of Broken Needles, where Japanese people hold a memorial service for their exhausted needles, laying them to rest in gratitude after their long years of service.
So why does any of this matter? Cont.
These two examples, I believe, highlight two ideas that inform emotional attachment to objects. The first being that we feel a certain way about an object because of the functions that it does or does not perform. The second being that we hold feelings about an object because of it's presence in our memory.
While keeping these two thoughts in mind, along with our interest in how TVs in space act as emotional stimuli for eliciting emotion and spatial memory, I have conducted two interviews to attempt to gain some insight in this area.
So why does any of this matter? Cont.
At the beginning of each interview, both participants were shown the image below, and were asked to answer questions about the image.
Image by Jacob Foster
Interview: Jean Foster
Interview: Tim Foster
Both participants had mixed feelings about the TV. While Jean felt it sad that it wound up in a pile of junk, Tim merely felt old. In terms of feeling emotion for the TV itself, Jean felt sad, as she believed that such a possession would have an element of sentimentality attached to it when being considered for the trash pile. On the other hand, Tim was glad to see the back of the TV in the picture, as it brought back, for him, memories of poor reception.
Other memories that the shown picture elicited were of significant television events. Jean remembers being 15 when her family first got a TV, as it was on the day of the soccer grand cup final a week before Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. Jean remembers this being a time of great excitement, filled with wonderment at the thought of having a TV in the home. Tim was also able to remember significant TV events, providing two examples with the first being Neil Armstrong taking the first steps on the moon and the second being the JFK assassination, which he believed was a sad day for many.
Moving into the area of spatial memory, Jean and Tim both remember different particulars about the spaces the TVs in their memories inhabited. While Jean remembers a myriad of general detail about the house she lived in at the age of 15, Tim remembers only some detail about the bedroom that he and his brother shared, along with the TV they also shared. But for Tim, his memories about the space he shared was more about the interactions that happened in the room and the actions that were limited in that space, for example, not being able to escape through the bedroom window due to it being high off the ground.
Based on the interviews conducted, it appears that TVs do act as stimuli for eliciting emotion and calling up spatial memory when seen in spaces of abandonment. Both interviewees responded differently to the questions asked, which is to be expected, as not everybody is the same in heart or mind. In these interviews, we also observed that the participants felt a certain way about the functions the TV did or did not perform. Another observation we were looking for was whether we held feelings about the TV because of it being embedded in our memory. Instead, it might be better to say that what we observed instead was that TV’s become embedded in our memories when they are surrounded by significant television events, although this is more than self-evident. Altogether, I would say that this research project went well, it discovered information that the project was looking for, and that it would benefit greatly from further investigation.
Bannerman, R.L., Temminck, E.V., Sahraie, A 2012,
Emotional Stimuli Capture Attention But Do Not Modulate Spatial Memory
, Vision Research, vol. 65, pp. 12-20.
Hiebert, P 2015,
A History of Humans Loving Inanimate Objects
, Pacific Standard, viewed 26 October 2015, http://www.psmag.com/health-and-behavior/history-humans-loving-inanimate-objects-75192
Lobos, A, Babbitt, C.W. 2013,
Integrating Emotional Attachment and Sustainability in Electronic Product Design
, Challenges, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 19-33.
Renteria, A, Alvarez, E, Perez, J, Pozo, D 2011,
A Methodology to Optimize the Recycling Process of WEEE: Case of Television Sets and Monitors
, International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, vol. 54, no. 5-8, pp. 789-800.
Seniors, K 2007,
End of Analog TV to Create Disposal Crisis?
, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, vol. 5, no. 7, pg. 346.
Zhang, L 2011,
Recycling of Electronic Wastes: Current Perspectives
, JOM, vol. 63, no. 8, pg. 13.
Yet Another Shot of the Old TV in Chinook Motel
, Image, Flickr, viewed 01 November 2015, https://www.flickr.com/photos/zagrobot/2687905423/
Electrician Stephen Klineburger Mounting a Flat Screen TV on the Wall
, Image, Flickr, viewed 01 November 2015, https://goo.gl/xQb0F9
King, D 2011,
National Geographic Wild’s Biggest (or Perhaps Smallest) Fan
, Image, Flickr, viewed 01 November 2015, https://www.flickr.com/photos/david55king/6194952458/
Ramroth, J 2006,
, Image, Flickr, viewed 01 November 2015, https://www.flickr.com/photos/janramroth/1298370325/
Schmilblick 2006, Old Broken TV, Image, Flickr, viewed 01 November 2015, https://www.flickr.com/photos/schmilblick/252772357/
豊瀬源一 2011, 針供養, Image, Wikipedia Commons, viewed 01 November 2015, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3A%E9%87%9D%E4%BE%9B%E9%A4%8A.jpg
NYR99 2014, Cups Have Feelings, Too., Image, Reddit, viewed 01 November 2015, https://www.reddit.com/r/AdviceAnimals/comments/1xmz89/cups_have_feelings_too/