Screen Technologies Of Broadcating Symbolic Capital Of The Urals, Russia’s Median Region

Abstract

The development of screen technologies has the most significant impact on the evolution of modern media, the expansion and improvement of the quality of communication practices. The organization of a broadcast of the symbolic capital of the Urals can be released through the use of technologies that allow the screen language to be reproduced as a complex sign system. The authors attempt to identify a symbolic capital of the Urals territory by analyzing its coding in particular video materials. In addition, the study shows the results of young Russians (the “digital” generation) and mature (the “analogue” generation) identifying significant places, people and events based on the method of mental maps. The results show that the short videos perception of the “digital” generation of Russians is holistic and stable, in contrast to the “long format” of a documentary. This reduces the possibility of comprehending the message. The symbolic capital of the territories, which is constructed using traditional television technologies, is understood only by the “analogue” generation. New screen technologies (Time-lapse, aerial photography, video graphics) affect the symbolic capital assignment of the “digital” generation. The place identification codes of the “analogue” and the “digital” generations in Russia are different. The attachment to the territory is formed in the minds of young Russians, but not as a “land of severe culture”. The members of the regional “digital community” share identification codes of the development scale, production power in the Soviet era, and participation in the achievements of culture and art nowadays.

Keywords: Symbolic capitalthe “digital” generationRussia

Introduction

A screen of a cinema, a TV, a computer, a tablet, a phone remain a kind of a window into the world for the audience of the globe. Modern information and communication technologies are the basis of the modern media-development, and screen technologies are extensions and improvements of communication practices for many generations. However, researchers are increasingly interested in the “digital” generation born in the late 1990s - early 2000s. It can be identified as a new type of youth, since the process of socialization is fully realized in a mediated digital society, and the screen as a visual environment has become their main way of perception, production and gaining experience.

Modern digital video landscape is distinguished by its originality, which absorbed the traditions of national culture and trends of global processes; therefore, modern media communications, which have no borders at all, actualize the problem of broadcasting “symbolic capital” which marks specific territories and cultures. This seems to be significant both for the younger generation of the Russians, who are in search of self-identification, and for the mature, who are in need of confirming the significance of territorial attachment.

Problem Statement

At present, there is a clearly expressed public need to broadcast a symbolic capital, which is used by the older (“analogue”) generation, to the digital environment. This broadcasting makes it possible for it to be perceived by the “digital” generation in the process of its socialization and awareness of cultural identity. The ever-pressing problem of effective intergenerational communications in the present digital era is of particular importance, because for the first time in the history of civilization (in particular, in the history of Russia), a special intergenerational gap has arisen due to differences in the usual communication practices that occur in different media spaces. There is a risk of insufficiently productive communications with “digital” young people, especially if it is not only about informing, but rather about forming a territorial / regional identity which is vital in the era of globalization.

The symbolic capital of a place can be useful for forming a unique regional identity, understanding the territorial identity of an individual, based on the unity of the territory of residence, history, culture and certain social experience. We believe this study is relevant for a specific territory - the Ural Federal District, which culture is traditionally considered as “severe”. From our point of view, the Ural identity has unique features and broadcasting these features based on the service-technological environment, can help young Russians create the attachment to the territory. This is especially important since the scientists from Perm Scientific Center of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences headed by Nazukina (2014) proved that nowadays a macroregional identity in the region, a gradual departure from the Ural identification, cultural and historical identity, a change of attitudes in shaping the identity of young people towards a civilizational trend occur. We suppose that the use of screen technologies can help solve the problem and ensure the broadcast of the symbolic capital of the territories.

Research Questions

New screen technologies are becoming one of the central areas of the development of the audiovisual industry. “Whether a screen is dynamic, real-time, or interactive, it still remains the screen. Like centuries ago, people still look at the flat rectangular surface that exists in the space of their bodies <...> We still have not left the era of the screen” (Manovich, 2018, p. 157).

Traditional forms of screen culture are cinematography and television. These forms of artistic activity cannot avoid the influence of new technologies, including computer technologies, being transformed under their influence. Trends in the development of new screen technologies have the most significant impact on the possibility of forming the meanings of screen content that is necessary for social development in digital time. It seems that the scientific community has yet to rethink and possibly re-categorize the rapidly changing screen technologies. In our study, we frame the boundaries of this concept - a set of methods and tools that allow the screen language to be reproduced as a complex sign system.

In the study, we highlight the traditional television and new screen technology. In our opinion, it is vital to comprehend the shift of emphasis of modern screen technologies towards visualization, which is confirmed by the results of a Russian analytical project called “Monitoring global trends in digitalization in 2018”. Thus, one of the conclusions of this analysis is the confirmation of the special importance of the information visualization, which allows us to speed up the process of the information perception by the audience by building figurative associations (Monitoring global'nykh trendov tsifrovizatsii, 2018). In this regard, the work of Russian philologists “A Visual Turn in Mass Communications” (Simakova, Raspopova, & Vyrovtseva, 2017) is of great importance.

We believe that the use of the concept of codes by Fiske (1991), which has the potential of universality and is applicable to screen works, will reveal not only the constructed symbolic capital, but also the methods and tools for coding them.

Symbolic capital is defined by Bourdieu (2001) as the “capital of honor and prestige” (p. 231). “The symbolic capital of a territory is an objectified and structured concept of the values of elements organizing urban space, which are the basis for its recognition and sustainable identification” (Vandyshev, Veselkova, & Pryamikova, 2013, p. 103). We consider the latter definition to be true as it might be applied not only to urban space, but to any types of limited spaces. Following Fedotova (2018), we define territorial identity as “a set of territorial meanings, represented as associations that identify a person with a specific territory and people living on it <...>, which maintains a sense of belonging with a place”. We agree with Nazukina (2014) in the following interpretation of regional identity: “it is a complex of symbolic and ideological attitudes and meanings associated with the process of interpreting regional identity ...” (p. 138). Extremely useful for this research are the worksthat generalize the symbolic capital of regional territories, for example, “the city of Yaroslav the Wise” (about VelikyNovrogod), “the city of B. Yeltsin and the creative business class” (about Yekaterinburg), the city of “severe cultural practices” (about Chelyabinsk) (Bazikyan, 2017; Starostova, 2015; Zagidullina, 2011).

Appeal to symbolic capital is especially crucial because in the period of literary decentrism (according to Zagidullina (2011)), in the era of brands, “symbolic capital” can be constructed without having any material object as a basis (Simons, 2018a, 2018b). At the same time, national symbols, for example, the legacy of A.S. Pushkin is losing his sacred status and its functions of consolidating the nation and national identity, his name is used for any purpose and can be a symbol for any ideas and practices (as cited in Zagidullina, 2018). In our previous studies, we proved that the broadcasted meanings in the “messages” of the state-run Russian media correspond to the “character-oriented” mentality of the Russians (Sumskaya & Sumskoy, 2018). Thus, we assume the need to broadcast symbolic memory, confirming its importance, can and should be implemented by using screen technologies.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to identify the symbolic capital of the Urals territory, constructed via screen technologies, and the differences in its perception by the “analogue” and the “digital” generations of the Russians.

Research Methods

The study is based on the concepts of symbolic capital formulated by P. Bourdieu, the symbolic capital of the place formulated by N.D. Fedotova, screen codes formulated by J. Fiske. At the empirical stage of work, methods of sociological analysis were used (focus groups, structured interviews, the mental maps method), comparative analysis, which allows to compare the perception of video materials by the “analogue” and the “digital” generations.

A total of 104 representatives of the regional “digital youth”, 5 experts (representatives of the “analogue” generation) took part in the work.6 projects became the empirical base of the research: 5 short sketches − “Chelyabinsk, you are my capital of the world!”, “Chelyabinsk. Cities of Russia”, “Yekaterinburg. Cities of Russia. Interesting Facts”, “Yekaterinburg 2016 Hyperlapse”, “The Ural Mountains” and one “long story” called “Searching for the Russian dream. Iron Ridge”.

Findings

The on-screen technology of the “Chelyabinsk, you are my capital of the world!” video is an audiovisual traditional slide show. It implements an attempt to establish a regional symbolic capital at the global level, which is, in our opinion, a manifestation of the world perception that relates information about the world through a prism of one’s own small homeland. The combination of on-screen frames of the Coliseum, the monument of architecture of Ancient Rome, the most famous and one of the grandest buildings of the Ancient World with almost 2,000-year history and the stylized "remake" of Chelyabinsk, which remains in permanent reconstruction, is touching, but rather capable of putting a smile on one’s face. In this sequence, there is only a visual interchange of the Opera and Ballet Theater named after M. I. Glinka and a sample of Italian architecture, which can be attributed to the identification code of the place (by N. D. Fedotova). The quality of the on-screen implementation of the project is determined by the available material and cultural capabilities of the territory.

In the “Chelyabinsk” and “Yekaterinburg” examples from the “Cities of Russia” series we encounter an attempt to isolate certain important characteristics of the two Ural cities based on the common pattern established by the authors. Unfortunately, except for the “more-less” characteristics, there is no valuable information that would be vital for a symbolic capital. Written text for a voiceover seems to be the most successful screen technology used. The visual component is clearly lagging behind, since it is represented on the screen in three sequences: from a quadrocopter, from a car, and from city sketches. The quality of camera work and editing indicate the randomness of the selection of material for the film, lack of thoughtful design, poor technical equipment of the project. Due to these circumstances, there is a slight feeling of a “home cooked” project. Therefore, its impact on the technologically advanced generation of young people may not be the most effective.

The “Yekaterinburg 2016 Hyperlapse” project is a vivid example of how the use of modern screen technologies together with a minimal dramatic line can attract and keep the attention of the audience. The manifestation of space, time and movement (both cameras and objects in the frame) reveal their potential, being shot in the UHD format with modern high-class technical facilities. One day of a big multi-colored European city looks lively and atmospheric on the screen. Within a few minutes of the video, a large and complexly organized shooting and long-term editing is very much felt. It seems that this is a good option and form of presentation of such elements of the symbolic capital of Yekaterinburg as its metropolitan image, dense rich rhythm of life, pulsating energy that shows itself in the quality and expressiveness of city landscapes, traffic flow organization, saturation with street lighting.

In “the Ural Mountains”, the wild and stunningly beautiful nature of the Polar and Subpolar Urals appears on the screen. Large-scale surveys were carried out at a good technical level, capable of displaying the symbolic capital of the natural landscapes of the region untouched by civilization. However, the author of the work as if feeling that one contemplation of beauty will not be enough uses the same creative method of camera movement, which seems rather monotonous –the camera zooms in the space of distant mountains and ravines over the edge of the foreground precipice. In combination with a rather aggressive English-language musical composition, such author's approach deprives us of the possibility of full-fledged familiarization with the perception of the ancient Ural Mountains. The author seems to be squeezing the potential viewer out of the zone of possible own assessments of screen reality, imposing his rigid construction on the audience, alienating the symbolic capital of the natural landscapes presented on the screen.

The most fascinating of the works analyzed is a film by A. Prokhanov “Searching for the Russian Dream. Iron Ridge”, a less than 22-minute on-screen version of the author's trip to the Urals in search of the "mysterious Ural dream." Prokhanov makes a rather quick trip through places of the Urals that are significant for him. Everywhere there are meetings and conversations with people, an assessment of the scale and quality of production.

All shooting is carried out by a single camera, so the frame duration is significant. The frames are rather laconic, with almost no use of the zoom lens and focus transfer. Shooting in motion is made without a steadicam. The video is rather stingy and is made of medium shots of the author. The style of the shooting is news like. The cameraman tries to shoot appropriately for editing, so that later it would be possible to use the footage in the most efficient way. Intersections of conversations are rarely used, the material is an additional survey in general terms. Snow, gloomy skies and production space in most frames create a rather dull mood. When filming conversations (Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region Yevgeny Kuyvashev, senior priest of the Church-On-Blood Maxim Minyaylo), it can be noticed by darkened faces that the shooting goes without additional sources of illumination. When there is a need to give an idea of the surrounding space, to show the scale of what is happening, borrowed footage is used. This is noticeable due to the inconsistency of the seasons and the different, more artistic character of the shooting. The work with sound was carried out without a technical defect, although it is seen as a more qualitative additional reading of some parts of the voice-over text. The main element of the sound design is the author's stand-ups (in the workshops, the author's voice is sometimes slightly muffled by production noise), guests interviews and backlash are used. In our opinion, musical arrangement is the least successful element of design. Rather rhythmically monotonous and dynamic melodies tend to have a rather sharp entry and exit, which is perceived as a break. The nature of the music, apparently, should support the high syllable and figurative structure of Prokhanov's speech, but does not correspond with the content and mood of his narration. The figurative metaphorical speech of A. Prokhanov, a writer and a charismatic ideologue of the Russian statehood, is a real “parade” of symbolic capital. The Ural range itself is presented as a “granite rocker” holding “two buckets of the great Russian statehood: Western and Eastern Russia”. This “stone beam”, a string of “factories, laboratories, space centers, nuclear power plants”, that go from the “Astrakhan deserts” to “brine polar waters of the Arctic Ocean”. Ural factories “breathe steel” and clang the tracks of the “holy weapon”, pour “fire-breathing metal jets”. The “precious turbines” of the nuclear power plant energize cities and enterprises. Workers and engineers are reviving the factories with hard, but creative work, forming the glory and power of the “great country”. The parade on the Red Square is a “religious mystery.” Above the tanks and self-propelled guns - the “glow and halos” of the “sacred weapon of Victory”. In the 90s, “predators” “killed the factories”. Workers and engineers "rescued them, hiding blueprints, precious machines and equipment, waiting for hard times to be over". NPP engineers are “the Ural miracle”. The head of the UMMC is a “long-awaited type of Russian entrepreneur” opposed to widespread “compradors”. The villagers are “the Ural Magi”. Provincial Verkhoturye is “a town of great mercy”. Ganina Yama is the burial place of the executed royal family - “a terrifying gap”, “the entrance to the underworld, where the entire 300-year history of the Romanovs collapsed, along with Peter I”. The settlement of Ust-Utka is “a place of planetary elements”, not far from which “the entrance to Belozerye, Russian Paradise” is hidden.

What is the main symbolic capital of the Urals for Prokhanov? The author gives the answer, defining it as the work of the “Ural masters”. As “a black, hard, sometimes hopelessly pitchy, terrible work drenched in tears and blood,” leading people through “defeat, war, despondency” to “create a golden sparkling magic ingot out of our country”. On this path, the ruler of the Urals herself, the Mistress of the Copper Mountain, “is leading Russia through fire, water, and copper pipes”. It can be stated that the search for the “sacred Ural idea” allows Prokhanov to go beyond the uneasy Ural life, and to discover the invisible high sacral meaning of what is happening, emerging through the material reality.

As a result, we note that in this work due to the author's constant appeal to the invisible devine world, a completely different shooting technology and a different level of visual imagery are in demand, all because of the sacralization of the ordinary. The results of the work of focus groups and structured interviews with representatives of the “digital” generation showed that short stories hold attention much easier, unlike A. Prokhanov’s work, taken inexpressively, out of harmony with text-video sequences. However, the work of A. Prokhanov was noted by experts as a “treasury of meanings”. The use of the method of mental maps showed that the symbolic capital broadcasted from the screen in the sketches is understandable, partially coincides with the meaningful “places of memory” of young Russians, while the Ural identification code from A. Prokhanov is not supported at all. However, associations of groups of respondents do not reproduce the ideas of the “severity” of the Urals residents.

Experts of the “analogue” generation formulated a list of “places, events and persons” of memory, which may be relevant for determining the symbolic capital of the territories. In addition, a range of resources of information and communication environment and technologies, which are appropriate to use for the implementation of such projects at the regional level, is indicated.

Conclusion

Screen technologies provide a broadcast of symbolic capital, which is nothing new. However, the use of traditional television and modern television technologies (Time-lapse, aerial photography, video graphics) affects the perception of the broadcasted video, especially for the “digital” generation. The quality of technical coding matters for the appropriation of symbolic capital. “Homecooked” video texts satisfy the cognitive interest, but do not work for the recognition and appropriation of symbolic capital by the “digital” generation, in contrast to the “analogue” one. The adherence to the territory, the involvement of the place by the young Russians is formed, but not on the basis of accepting the meanings of the “land of severe culture”. The members of the regional “digital community” share the meanings of the scale of development, industrial power in the Soviet era, and participation in the achievements of culture and art at present. This is the basis of "honor and prestige" for young people of the Urals. Thus, these results are consistent with the conclusions of Nazukina (2014). The work of A. Prokhanov was marked by experts as a “treasure trove of meanings”, in their opinion, can be “repackaged” on the basis of modern screen technologies and again presented for perception to the “digital” generation.

The use of screen technologies in the broadcasting of the symbolic capital can be considered effective, but for different generations it is advisable to use appropriate, understandable and demanded by their time. In addition, it is important to take into account differences in the significance of the symbolic capital for different generations of Russia. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize the value of conceptual and technological solutions in the broadcasting of the “symbolic capital” that has a response from the audience.

Links to the mentioned projects:

Chelyabinsk, you are my capital of the world! https://www.chel.kp.ru/online/news/3319791/?utm_source=yxnews&utm_medium=desktop

Chelyabinsk. Cities of Russiahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Sl5s-YywKs

Yekaterinburg. Cities of Russia. Interesting Factshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixp2lN70V94,

Yekaterinburg 2016 Hyperlapsehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPZze4Cis8M

The Ural Mountainshttp://hyperlapse.ru/blog/zavershilsya-moy-proekt-pod-nazvaniem-uralskie-goryi/

Searching for the Russian Dream. Iron Ridgehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYogAP5zGX0

Acknowledgments

The study was conducted with the support of RNF (grant No. 19-18-00264)

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07 August 2019

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Solomeina, V., & Sumskaya*, A. (2019). Screen Technologies Of Broadcating Symbolic Capital Of The Urals, Russia’s Median Region. In & Z. Marina Viktorovna (Ed.), Journalistic Text in a New Technological Environment: Achievements and Problems, vol 66. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 416-423). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2019.08.02.48