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The Face of Television

Paul Frosh
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 625, The End of Television? Its Impact on the World (So Far) (Sep., 2009), pp. 87-102
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40375907
Page Count: 16
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The Face of Television
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Abstract

This article proposes some physiognomic speculations regarding three visual characteristics of television in its pre-digital-broadcasting form: (1) the importance of the head shot as a staple technique for representing the human figure and, hence, the primacy of the human face as a televisual image; (2) the mirrorlike reflective surface of the cathode-ray tube television screen, which makes the viewer s reflected image appear to emanate from the depths of the television set; and (3) the boxlike design of television sets that turns them into miniature containers of the pictures they show It argues that these three characteristics amounted to an integrated communicative structure that made television a key mechanism for the social construction of humanity in the second half of the twentieth century, a mechanism whose future is uncertain in the age of new digital platforms.

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