Friday, 24 September 2010

Imaginary media -- on chapter 2 of the book

I am at the moment writing chapter 2 for the new Media Archaeology book (the first one, already finished, that we co-edited with Erkki Huhtamo and that features a range of excitign articles from such top writers as Thomas Elsaesser, Wendy Chun, Wolfgang Ernst, Machiko Kusahara, Claus Pias, Jeffrey Sconce, lots of others, and afterword from Vivian Sobchak is now promised to be out in Spring 2011 -- see the University of California Press page for the book.)

Chapter 2 focuses on "imaginary media research" and its idea can be summed up here as follows:

Imaginary media research (so well summed up by Eric Kluitenberg's edited book Book of Imaginary Media in 2006) has to a large extent focused on a) media imagined, non-existent, but worthy of exploration in terms of how it can reinvigorate current media cultural design and debates or b) the dreamworlds surrounding media and tech, the way they get invested with weird desires, social constructions, articulations with human worlds of politics and meanings (Zoe Beloff's media archaeological art being one of the best examples of such) but also, and this is the insight I aim to bring in: it is c) a shorthand for what could be addressed as the non-human side of technical media; the fact that technical media non-solid (or summons non-solid worlds), non-phenomenological (electromagnetic fields, high level mathematics, speeds beyond human comprehension, etc) and because of that ephemeral nature it is often described with language of the fabulous, spectacular. Hence, imaginary media is tightly interlinked with non-human technical media especially since early 19th-century, and this materialist notion of imaginary media also detaches from e.g. Zielinski's more poetic vision. It does not mean a valorization in one direction or the other, but points towards how imaginary media research can extend to new directions, to thinking "imaginary" as less Lacanian (providing dreamworlds of unified bodies, as in reference to Lacan's tripartite functioning of the psyche as Real, Imaginary, and Symbolic) but as an affordance for the new --- to think media anew, and in weird places, in weird bodies.

Was my Insect Media already a work of imaginary media in this sense?

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Nam June Paik's television - back and forth

Admired today Nam June Paik's funny Robot K456 at the Hamburger Bahnhof museum in Berlin, and took these two pictures of his early television work --- the one front, and the one more media archaeologically the back. Diagrammatics.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Sonic Archaeology in the Creative Technologies Review

The most recent episode of our Creative Technologies Review podcast with Julio D'Escrivan features among other themes the sonic archaeology work by Shintaro Miyazaki and the Berlin placed project at the Institute for Algorhythmics - an artist collective interested in sound, technology and the electromagnetic sphere...

Listen to podcast here and read more on Sonic Archaeology.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Voice analysis and visualisation circa 1900

At times haunted by a spirit of curiosity ("just because it is interesting"), media archaeological work has not always succeeded in justifying its relevance to wider questions concerning the "why" question of historical inquiry. Yet, I myself will post something...interesting -- just for the sake of curiosity.
Found today, "the tonograph", a small, mobile instrument for analysis and visualisation of sound. The horn-like instrument both produces the sound and also "paints" the voice on the membrane at the end of the horn, which then can be photographed. As is described in La Science curieuse et amusante (by Faideau, published in Paris, 1902 - also the source of the images, pp. 79 and 80), not only the voice but the inscription is beautiful... naturally, there was much analysis and graphical representation of such phenomena as sounds as well as movements during that time and much earlier, but still, an interesting mobile object that links to later avant-garde fascination with sounds that can be seen.

Monday, 6 September 2010

A crowd sourcing request

The current book I am writing on media archaeology is supposed to fit into MA and PhD related course curricula -- hence I am juggling between trying to give a sense of key debates and directions as well as offering new insights to how media archaeology is developing -- and should develop. I am of course myself fixed to my own thoughts, which include that media archaeology should develop a stronger, more explicit notion of the archive and the change in regimes of memory (an area Wolfgang Ernst has been active in), take into account current emphasis on software cultures as well as distributed cognition and work one's way backwards from these "not-solely-optical" regimes, write a more materialist theoretical base for media archaeology --- and inspired by Garnet Hertz and our recent exchanges, articulate a solid practice-oriented base for media archaeological art methods.

Yet, in addition I would be keen to hear your opinions --- hence this crowd sourcing request:

- what do you think media archaeology has been missing, and what should be included when mapping future directions for media archaeology?
- what do you consider as key sources, books, resources for media archaeology?