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O que é a arqueologia das mídias?

October 17, 2021 Leave a comment

The Portuguese (Brazilian) edition of What is Media Archaeology? came out as a translation published by Eduerj (Rio de Janeiro). O que é a arqueologia das mídias? includes both the translation (thanks to coordinator Maria Alice G. Antunes) and two new texts accompanying the original; one by Erick Felinto, another by Adriana Amaral. A big thanks to everyone involved.

(image by Camila de Ávila)

For those interested in recent Brazilian discussions on media archaeology, see here a recent interview we did with Alex Martire and Camila de Ávila. Includes Portuguese subtitles.

Categories: media archaeology

The Lab and the Field, the Image and the Instrument

October 8, 2021 Leave a comment

I was kindly commissioned this short text about Su Yu Hsin’s frame of reference video installation at the Alexander Levy gallery (Berlin). Originally published by the gallery, here’s the text below as well alongside links to the work.

See here for the Online viewing gallery.

See here for a video sample.

The Lab and the Field, the Image and the Instrument

Su Yu Hsin’s frame of reference (I and II) consists of images about images. The recursive story of environmental data offers a literal frame of reference about images that are captured in multiple windows. These moving images are nested inside other moving images. This assembly of views – scientists in action, rivers in flow, aerial views, simulations, and graphs – comes out of a patchwork of instruments of sensing that also have be nested somewhere on the field in order to transport data somewhere else. Not that the field, the lab, and data are considered separate. Any situated knowledge does not imply stand-point stability but the existence of relations, vectors of movement, and the painstaking work of trying to think what scales, what does not.  Questions of proximity and distance become reversed so that any objective set of views cannot start as uninvolved distance. Instead, they have to share a terrain and be somewhere, sometime, and for some duration. The intimacy of scientific practice can be breath-taking.

These are some of the visual dilemmas of the Anthropocene landscapes that are not modelled anymore based on the genre of the landscape painting but abstract art: intensities of color, variation, and pattern that become epistemically meaningful for specialist analysis.

The composition of carefully crafted scenes is cinema about instruments. The scenes could be narrated as featuring scientific practice but there’s more at play as you can imagine. It is not that frame of reference is only about scientific practice of measurement and the critical zone of life that covers the planet but that the images become instruments that start to compose the space they are in. They are involved. They are based on but also feed forward observations.

These involved observations are, as Su Yu Hsin tells us, on the ground as the surface layer of life, but they are also off the ground; these spaces are seen through the capacity of the instruments which allow the space to lift from a specific place onto a (data) server across the planetary surface. Instruments that specify place, images that are composed in that space, and yet data that is circulating much beyond those locations. Planetary sensing, and planetary circulation of data are tightly interlinked.

frame of reference is a story of patchy images: particular views in particular time, composed and stitched together after being captured. At this particular time a certain strength wind was passing through this landscape. This patchiness is not mere limitation, but a condition of their own existence as partial views to any site and sight. It is only through the dynamic patchiness of any landscape, field, and observation that a pattern can be spotted; a systemic property determined by a heterogeneous ground.

Gradually, live shots make way for data-views; lidar imaging, simulations, satellite sensing and more. Any view taken is taken twice: first as moving images, then as moving data; first as recording of light and other signals, then as model and simulation composed of those signals. The proliferation of patchy images also makes us realise the change in what sort of images we are watching.

Change and flow are one example of the patches in motion, concretely visible on the image surfaces in Su Yu Hsin’s work. The centrality of flowing water as well as submerged views is one indication of circulation too. Any location of a patch is not necessarily contained by its site of observation and the hydropoetic moving images in frame of reference make a point about this aspect of knowing through means of aesthetics. None of this is about a stable thing but a process of composition: a river flow, atmospheric chemistry, soil composition, landscape migration. Only the scales of composition and change vary.

On the ground, in the air, and under water; the images are involved in the elemental mix. The environment is one of material capacity to be sensed as well as already sensing. Su Yu Hsin captures the double-aspect why we are drawn to it: the epistemic and the aesthetic as the two sides why a surface measurement of the Earth can become both data and sensation, measurement and affect. As such, the videos exhibited could easily be seen as perfect illustrations of the past years of art and science work with a special attention being paid to the posthumanities of environmental scales, the material agency of not only the scientists but also the landscapes, and the intensive site of the field that is immanent to the lab also the voice-over speaks of.

But more than illustration, frame of reference becomes a collaborator in all of those endeavours; alongside the field, the lab, and the database, also the image and the studio, the frame and its aesthetic references as a site of participation.

Further reading:

Horton, Zachary (2021) The Cosmic Zoom. Scale, Knowledge, and Mediation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lowenhaupt Tsing, Anna; Mathews, Andrew S., and Bubandt Nils (2019) “Patchy Anthropocene: Landscape Structure, Multispecies History, and the Retooling of Anthropology” Current Anthropology Volume 60, Number S20, https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/703391

Weather Engines in progress

September 29, 2021 Leave a comment

Here’s the first public, online glimpse to our work-in-progress curatorial project Weather Engines. Commissioned by Onassis Stegi (Athens), Daphne Dragona and myself are curating an exhibition as well as a range of activities of public talks, workshops, and more on the theme that is not merely about the technicalities of weather – such as weather modification/geoengineering – but about a wider sense of embodiment and environments of weather as techniques, affects, and politics.

We have also edited a little glossary of a book Terms of Weather to go with the exhibition with contributions from so many exciting writers, theorists, artists, and architects addressing core terms for this expanded understanding of weather. The book will be out in late 2021 already both in English and Greek.

The exhibition takes place in Athens in Spring 2022.

Final volume of Recursions: Hardwired Temporalities

September 14, 2021 Leave a comment

We are happy to announce that the collection Media Infrastructures and the Politics of Digital Time: Essays on Hardwired Temporalities , edited by Axel Volmar and Kyle Stine is out in the Recursions series both as Open Access and as hardback (for libraries).

“In a crucial sense, all machines are time machines. The essays in Media Infrastructures and the Politics of Digital Time develop the central concept of hardwired temporalities to consider how technical networks hardwire and rewire patterns of time. Digital media introduce new temporal patterns in their features of instant communication, synchronous collaboration, intricate time management, and continually improved speed. They construct temporal infrastructures that affect the rhythms of lived experience and shape social relations and practices of cooperation. Interdisciplinary in method and international in scope, the volume draws together insights from media and communication studies, cultural studies, and science and technology studies while staging an important encounter between two distinct approaches to the temporal patterning of media infrastructures, a North American strain emphasizing the social and cultural experiences of lived time and a European tradition, prominent especially in Germany, focusing on technological time and time-critical processes.”

The book is also the last volume we (myself, Anna Tuschling, and Geoffrey Winthrop-Young) published as founding editors of Recursions (2014-2021). From Sybille Krämer’s Medium, Messenger, Transmission: An Approach to Media Philosophy to the two books out this year (Media Infrastructures and the Politics of Digital Time and Jane Birkin’s Archive, Photography and the Language of Administration) we managed to publish key works by both established senior philosophers and from emerging talented scholars in ways that we hope contributed to the international media theory discussions in a significant way. While we have expressed our wish to the publisher, Amsterdam University Press, to discontinue the series, we will continue to support the published books and their authors to ensure they get the attention they deserve.

As a reminder, have a look at the full list of Recursions volumes.

Grounding

September 10, 2021 Leave a comment

Our video piece Seed, Image, Ground is on display until October 18 at the Grounding exhibition in St Petersburg, at the Dokuchaev Soil Museum. For us, that institutional and narrative context is perfect, considering the book on Vegetal Images we are writing with Abelardo Gil-Fournier features occasional appearances of Dokuchaev, Vernadsky, and others.

Furthermore, the video is featured currently in an exhibition on air/atmosphere in Shenzen, in this one on soil/grounding in St. Petersburg, and next year in a context that adds another elemental twist to the contextualization of Seed, Image, Ground (that was originally commissioned by Fotomuseum Winterthur for their series “Strike/Situations”.)

Aarhus

August 17, 2021 Leave a comment

Some news:

I will be starting as professor in Digital Aesthetics & Culture at Aarhus University in January 2022. I am excited to join a group of fantastic colleagues & the department of Digital Design & Information Studies (which is part of the School of Communication and Culture). I am happy about all sorts of new opportunities, collaborations, and projects that this will mean, among them a project and a research (/teaching) focus on critical environmental data (more on that later).

Of course, I will continue with certain projects and work with my colleagues at Winchester School of Art (and other parts of the University of Southampton) as well as in my role as project leader for Operational Images and Visual Culture at FAMU in Prague.

This new affiliation will also trigger the important question if I need to shift teams from Arsenal to Aarhus GF.

Lost Islands at the Helsinki Biennial: a conversation with Samir Bhowmik

August 16, 2021 Leave a comment

I had the pleasure to be an advisor for Samir Bhowmik’s art and performance project Lost Islands (2021) that was commissioned by the Helsinki Biennial. Here’s a talk/conversation we did with Samir as part of the public talks program of the Biennial – we discussed the Anthropocene, performance arts, the island and infrastructure, and other themes stemming from the Lost Islands (as well as Samir’s own art-research work).

An interview on media archaeology with Brazilian colleagues

August 8, 2021 Leave a comment

Thanks to Alex Martire and Camila de Ávila of the Grupo de pesquisa (CNPq) Arqueologia Interativa e Simulações Eletrônicas (ARISE), do MAE-USP (a Brazilian research group focused on archaeology & archaeogaming) for this interview on media archaeology, my own route into these topics, etc.

The conversation comes with Portuguese subtitles.

The timing is fitting as the Brazilian edition of What is Media Archaeology? should be coming out soon (published by EDUERJ).

Academia Europaea

I am happy to share the news that I’ve been nominated and elected as Member of the Academia Europaea in the section of Film, Media & Visual Studies.

Here’s a short news item with some more details.

Categories: academic research

Lost Islands

Lost Islands, a performance project by Samir Bhowmik (and co-choreography by Esete Sutinen) is on now at the Helsinki Biennial. Book your place if in Helsinki, but have a look at the trailer video for a glimpse of the themes: anthropocene, infrastructure, architecture, etc.

Lost Islands is a series of expeditions tracing the route of an imaginary subterranean and underwater cable through the island of Vallisaari, with the artist serving as tour guide and narrator. The expeditions venture into the island’s topography, forested pathways, waterways, historical buildings, ruins and bunkers. Along the way, visitors are engaged and immersed in installations, film, theatre, contemporary dance, song, and experimental music. The expeditions will take place as a series of events staged on the island from June to August.”

For more info on the work and credits, see also https://helsinkibiennaali.fi/en/artist/samir-bhowmik/ .