60% down the page: We aren’t really used to that exchange onscreen. “A hot medium is one that extends one single sense in ‘high definition,’ ” Marshall McLuhan wrote in his famous, meandering study of different media forms. “Hot media are, therefore, low in participation and cool media are high in participation or completion by the audience.” Slow TV is high-definition in its visual information, yet it gets its meaning from viewers’ imaginative consciousness. As entertainment, it is backward: it appears to do its job by casting viewers into their own minds.

To try to understand, I replaced consciousness with the linked definition 2: imaginative awareness/perception. Yet how does this differ from simply 'imagination'? I contend with these abstract terms/notions. What does the bolded mean here?


2 Answers 2


This is kind of unclear, but the best way to put it would be something like,

"yet it gets its meaning from viewers’ own thoughts."

The TV programs the article talks about have little in the way of what you could traditionally call plot, so it is up to the viewer to find some sort of meaning in the content of the show.

Here, 'imaginative consciousness' is a fancy way of saying 'the viewer's own thoughts'; the show's meaning depends on who is watching it and what they have to think about the whole thing. 'Consciousness' here means something more like 'state of mind'.


"Imaginative Consciousness", according to me is different from Imagination. Imagination is something like an idea or concept going on in your brain. You can think of this as a bit vague. But "Imaginative Consciousness" is more of you living that imagination. You put yourself as a character in that imagination and you live that character as your imagination goes on.

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