The Face of Television

Paul Frosh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


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 box-like 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.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)87-102
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Container
  • Digital platforms
  • Face
  • Head shot
  • Humanity
  • Screen
  • Television


Dive into the research topics of 'The Face of Television'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this