Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Before TV, part II

The analysis, transmission, storage and modulation of light forms a firm basis for much of modern technical media. Hence, light itself - and the lighting up of public space - is an essential part of our media archaeological excavations.

This example from the London Illustrated News, 9 December 1848, "The Electric Light". Demonstrating the spectacle of light and streets illuminated at the Trafalgar Square the paper describes:

“ The light produced was of a most powerful character, but is, in our opinion, still but a costly experimental toy, whose practicability forms a whole subject for conjecture.”

Later broadcasting picks up from such dress rehearsals - the ray of light eminating from a centralized position, with the large following gazing their eyes on that spectacular attraction - which is itself, primarily, a social relationship - as Debord much later writes of the spectacle.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Winky Dink avantgarde at the Game Museum, Berlin

I visited the Computerspielmuseum in Berlin Friedrichshain on Sunday for the first time. On the Karl Marx allee, in the midst of the majestic 1950s houses, it was a nice way to spend over an hour. Besides the usual stuff of hardware and games (some of them you could play as well) of recent decades, a couple of media archaeologically interesting examples:

Winky Dink - a video of the mid 1950s kids' TV show, which included a special drawing screen that was attached on the television screen -- and the show's host was offering guidance on drawing on that, offering both an early interactive TV experience as well as a certain kind of tactility with the early medium (I am not sure but I think Huhtamo has somewhere referred to this tactility).
Another interesting example from their collections was the GDR educational computer, Piko Dat, from 1969. It was to teach the basics of programming (by creating circuits), and hence also programming games even - and can be seen emblematic of the wider role cybernetics was envisioned to play for the socialist reality.

The museum was aiming to be both entertaining as well as informative, even slightly self-reflective of the difficulties in preserving the cultural heritage of software based forms such as gaming - with even some sections dedicated to this question! In addition, some interesting corners concerning the global situation of game design, and some experimental projects made the museum a bit more interesting than "your usual" game museum, I would say.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The current (working) Table of Contents for the project

I am now working in Berlin, at Humboldt University Medienwissenschaft, and funded by the Humboldt Foundation until July. The institute is one of the places where to really start media archaeological excavations and theory, thanks to Wolfgang Ernst's persistent work that extends outside books: the media archaeological archive, or "fundus", is such an example of operationalizing the media archaeological concept in terms of machines that work - not just dead media, but media undead, has Ernst characterized it, and me and Hertz branded as "zombie media" (which btw. has just been accepted to be published in Leonardo-journal in 2012 with the title "Zombie Media: Circuit Bending Media Archaeology into an Art Method").

In the midst of writing, here a short summary of state of play of the book in terms of its projected table of contents:

Jussi Parikka
Media Archaeology and Digital Culture (contracted with Polity Press)

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Introduction: Old and New in Parallel Lines

Chapter 2 From Visual to Affective, or, Reappropriating the Past
Chapter 3 Imaginary Media: Mapping Weird Objects
Chapter 4 Media Theory and New Materialism
Chapter 5 Mapping Noise and Accidents: Media Studies goes Bad
Chapter 6 Archive Dynamics: Software Culture and Digital Heritage
Chapter 7 Practicing Media Archaeology: Creative Methodologies for Remediation and Creation

Conclusions: Media Archaeology in the Digital