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Expert-Readable Images

November 8, 2019 Leave a comment

Welcome to our Operational Images project event on Expert-Readable Images at the end of November in Prague at FAMU part of the Academy for Performing Arts. Please find below a short description of the event and list of invited speakers. The event is organised by Dr Tomáš Dvořák (FAMU) and myself together with the project team.

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Expert-Readable Images
November 29, 2019 – FAMU in Prague

While machine-readable images have become a constant reference point for photographic theory and contemporary visual media studies, our event turns to the question: what are the specialised expert-readable image practices that cater to the technical specifics, institutional demands, and particular knowledge-roles of visual culture?

Recent discussions of operational images as well as technical media and visual cultures often invoke the distinction between human and machine vision. Automated visual systems are claimed to produce images by and for machines, pictures that are unreadable or even invisible to human eyes. Our conference seeks to complicate this dichotomy by addressing the field of professional perceptual skills, trained judgment, and expert practices of observation and instruction. Should we consider specific thought styles (to borrow a term from Ludwik Fleck)  and thought collectives that develop simultaneously with the technologies of instrumental imaging and visualizing? What does a doctor see in a CT scan? What does a drone operator see on a monitor? What does a statistician see in a graph? What does a forensic analyst see in a digital model? What does a content moderator see in our holiday memories? What are the particular cultural techniques of practice, of training, and operation that govern these relations to images?

The one day day conference gathers specialists from fields of media, visual culture, photography and science and technology studies (STS) to engage with the world of specialised technical images. We shift the focus from machines to the training and governance of humans who deal with those images.

For any queries, please get in touch via email at jussi.parikka@famu.cz.

Poster design: Abelardo Gil-Fournier.

 

Italian translation: Archeologia dei media

October 24, 2019 Leave a comment

The Italian translation of my What is Media Archaeology? is out next week. Published by Carocci, the lovely edition was made possible thanks to the labouring by the translator Enrico Campo, with help from Simone Dotto, and with the inclusion of additional texts (preface and postface) by Ruggero Eugeni and Simone Venturini. The Preface by Eugeni is titled “Media lontani, sempre presenti”, the postface by Venturini is titled ” L’archeologia dei media come “angolo cieco” delle scienze umane”, discussing media archaeology in the context of the humanities.

The translation follows the earlier ones in Turkish and French. It also nicely coincides with my Visiting Professorship in Udine!

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Archeologia dei media
Nuove prospettive per la storia e la teoria della comunicazione publisher’s webpage

Categories: Italy, media archaeology

The Italian Job: Visiting Chair of Media Archaeology

September 20, 2019 1 comment

I am happy to announce that I will be holding the visiting Chair in Media Archaeology at University of Udine in Italy for the academic year 2019-2020. The lovely people of Udine are also the ones organising the renowned Gorizia Film Forum and the Spring school in film and media with topics that often touch on media theory and technical media culture too.

At Udine, I will be teaching media archaeology for the International Master in Audiovisual and Cinema Studies (IMACS) cohort. I am excited about planning the syllabus that besides readings from Siegfried Zielinski to Giuliana Bruno, Wanda Strauven to Erkki Huhtamo, Thomas Elsaesser to Shannon Mattern and many others will also engage with the work by artists such as Aura Satz, Kelly Egan, Bill Morrison, Ebru Kurbak, Harun Farocki, and others. In this context, I am interested in asking what is media archaeology in the context of practices (art and labs, for example) and what is media archaeology in the context of current ecological and environmental issues – a good example would be a discussion of archives and cultural memory through energy infrastructures like Samir Bhowmik has done in his recent work echoing Nicole Starosielski’s opening on thermocultures of media.

We also plan further research collaborations including on the topic of Operational Images, which is the project I am involved in at FAMU in Prague.

The timing for the Italian visit is perfect as the translation of my What is Media Archaeology? is coming out with Carocci publisher as Archeologia dei media. As soon as the book is out, we will be planning some book launch talks in Italy.

Some of the local work also connects to our Lab Book project that we are currently writing up with Lori Emerson and Darren Wershler: the Gorizia film lab is part of the university setup. 

Malware as Operational Art

August 12, 2019 Leave a comment

I returned to some themes of Digital Contagions, on computer viruses and malware, in this short text commissioned for the Malware exhibition on at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam.

Malware as Operational Art: On the If/Then of Geopolitics and Tricksters

The history of malware is the history of inventing multiple forms of attack and defence, of borders and breaches, of evolutionary programmes, artificial life and system crashes (Parikka 2016). It is also an invention of different forms of artificiality that vary in scale from individual computers to entire infrastructures, with much in between. Malware such as computer viruses and worms are forms of speculative computing that have a long lineage of ideas about networking, connection, security and contagion. They are speculative software in the manner that Matthew Fuller defined as investigating the possibilities of programming – “Software as science fiction, as mutant epistemology.” (Fuller 2003, 30). As an art of the artificial, computer viruses have been likened to artificial life, but this artificiality also includes a parallel trajectory. Malware is about trickery in the same fundamental sense in which Vilem Flusser described art and design, suggesting that the word ‘artifice’ can trace its origins to the definition ‘trickster’ (Flusser: 1999, 18. See also Singleton 2015)

Malware is a bag of tricks for the designer – after infection things don’t look the same, scales are distorted, interfaces are taken over, maps are redrawn, routes are rerouted, connections are slowed down to a snail’s pace, much is stolen, and things are twisted to the perpetrator’s advantage. Of course, much of this could be said to pertain to any operation of power.

Perhaps, in short, malware is the truth about software.

…read the rest of the essay here.

In Conversation with Geocinema

The Digital Earth fellowship program enabled me to work with Solveig Suess and Asia Bazdyrieva from Geocinema over a half a year period, and here’s a podcast conversation we recorded (with a big hat tip to Jessika Khazrik) recently. We discuss Geocinema project and their work in China relating to the Digital Belt and Road, and their methodologies of (feminist) filmmaking, audiovisual aesthetics of infrastructure, geopolitics and more. Their work resonates strongly with what is the core of the Digital Earth program’s theme:

“Digital Earth’ refers to the materiality and immateriality of the digital reality we live in – from data centers to software interfaces, and rare minerals to financial derivatives. Earth is dug, excavated, and ripped apart to extract the fundamental materials that keep the computational machine running – oil, coltan, sand, rubber, lithium form the material basis on which digital reality is built. At the same time, digital technologies enable new modes of circulation and extraction, of information and data.”

For me, the fellowship scheme linked also nicely to the Operational Images project that has recently started. I also recently discussed their work in relation to questions of Farocki’s operational images/Sekula’s instrumental images, and what sort of resonances and dissonances there exists in these conceptualisations and methods of moving and still images that concern automation, remote sensing, infrastructure, and large-scale systems. My next plan is to write some of these thoughts up into an article.

Have a listen and share with others who might be interested!

Link to the podcast.

View at Medium.com

Models, Diagrams, and Working Objects: On Studio Tomas Saraceno

June 30, 2019 2 comments

Here’s a video recording of my IKKM lecture. It focuses on Studio Tomas Saraceno and in parts, contextualises some of the work in relation to environmental humanities and media.

Aesthetics/Politics/Technology – A Czech Interview

This video interview made with a Czech platform is now online and available. Recorded during Spring 2019, it was done also in the context of my FAMU visiting scholarship in Prague and discusses questions of aesthetics, politics, technology, deep times, anthrobscene, materiality and more.

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Click here for the full video interview.

My work with FAMU continues in the context of the Operational Images project until end of 2023.