Friday, 22 April 2011

A talk in Malmö on Media Archaeological art

I am giving next week (28th of April, 2011) a talk in Malmö (at MEDEA Collaborative Media Initiative , 15.15 pm) that draws on the chapter I am writing at the moment - on media archaeological art methods.

In the chapter I investigate media archaeological art from DeMarinis and Beloff on to more recent practitioners such as the Institute for Algorhythmics and for instance Rosa Menkmann's work. I try to offer both an overview of different ways of thinking media archaeology as an art method that ranges from thematically addressing media history in fresh ways that intertwine it with "new media" cultures to work with concrete archives, themes of obsolete media, rethinking and doing alternative media histories and concretely opening up technologies - a new twist to the idea of "descent" that we find in Foucault's genealogy.

Here is the short abstract for the talk:

Practicing Media Archaeology: Creative Methodologies for Remediation and Creation

This talk focuses on some ideas and examples from media archaeological art practice. By visiting projects by prominent artists from Zoe Beloff to Paul Demarinis, as well as some more recent names, it aims to elaborate some ideas of how such media archaeological art is able to address questions of the “material”, temporality and nature. As such, the projects are themselves excellent articulations of some of the challenges media archaeology faces in terms of developing itself as an innovative approach to digital culture – practically and theoretically.

Image credits: © Zoe Beloff, from her Charming Augustine 3D 16 mm film.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Hagen, Helmholtz, affect

Wolfgang Hagen is not the best known of German media theorists outside of Germany - despite his long career, and such huge books as on the history of radio. Hagen's way of thinking through media epistemologies - and hence related to media archaeologies - is however important in the way it ties into that concept material and phantasmatic dimensions of epistemological objects (instead of the slightly always more vague "episteme" of Foucault).

With a keen interest in the 19th century, Hagen is able to tap into the formative technicality of media cultures - and hence the prehistory of the contemporary "software unconscious". As such, this quote by Hermann von Helmholtz, requoted from Hagen (and his translation) is a good example of the German focus on Helmholtz as important figure as for instance Freud in thinking about the medial unconscious of our culture - and aesthetics. A lot of this you recognize from emphases of Kittler ("psychophysics" as the way to understand the emergence of the So-Called-Man of media cultures), but here in the own words of Helmholtz:

"Aesthetics seeks the essence of the artistically beautiful in its unconscious rationality. I have... sought to reveal the hidden law that determines the mellifluousness of harmonic tonal connections. Actually, this is something that happens unconsciously as far as the overtones are concerned, which are indeed perceived by the nerves but do not usually come forth into the domain of conscious ideation; nevertheless, their pleasantness or unpleasantness is felt without the listener knowing where the grounds for such feelings lie." (Helmholtz,Über die physiologischen Ursachen der musikalischen Harmonie, lecture from 1857, published in Vorträge und Reden in 1896 90).

Hagen's article - from which this quote comes from - is in the book Artists as Inventors, Inventors as Artists.

What's more, this quote points to the early formulations and scientific basis that relates to economies and politics of affect - such a crucial part of societies of spectacle and post-Fordism.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Intensive Space: McLuhan

What is better than Alice in Wonderland --- is Alice in a media archaeological context, as in this quote from Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan is able to put into one paragraph the intertwinings of new worlds that the 19th century new media and science worlds introduced, and the literary hallucinations of Lewis Carroll...the new intensive, dynamic material-spatialities... (part of my interest to extend media archaeologically "new materialist" debates as part of the 19th century birth of modern media cultures):

“There is no longer any tendency to speak of electricity as ‘contained’ in anything. Painters have long known that objects are not contained in space, but that they generate their own spaces. It was the dawning awareness of this in the mathematical world a century ago that enabled Lewis Carroll , the Oxford mathematician, to contrive Alice in Wonderland, in which times and spaces are neither uniform nor continuous, as they had seemed to be since the arrival of Renaissance perspective.” (McLuhan, Understanding Media, McGraw Hill book company, New York, 1964, p.348)

Monday, 11 April 2011

An interview with Aleks Kolkowski (and a bit of EVP)

In the context of my earlier short fellowship with The Science Museum, I did an interview with Aleks Kolkowski, musician, composer and specialist in obsolete media technologies of recording. The interview is now published here. I invited Aleks to talk about his artistic methods and relation to media archaeology (a term that he does not use but I find relevant of his work). It's a good read for anyone interested in creative music technologies, physicality of recording in the digital age, and media archaeological art methods!

Related to this, read here for more on a recent project where Aleks was involved - the EVP phenomena examined through the Edison wax cylinder format! He is not the only media archaeologically tuned practitioner who is interested in EVP...check out here another as exciting project by Martin Howse (Micro Research Lab) who mobilizes EVP into a wider media archaeological, cartographical method for mapping signals...