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The Italian Job: Visiting Chair of Media Archaeology

September 20, 2019 Leave a 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. 

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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

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.

In Search of Media: Remain

April 26, 2019 Leave a comment

I am excited to announce that our co-authored booklet Remain is now out and available via University of Minnesota Press and Meson Press (Open Access PDF). Together with Rebecca Schneider, and Ioana Jucan who wrote the introduction, we were offered the term “remain” to respond to as part of the series of investigations as to “terms of media” in contemporary context. From the book’s description and with two blurbs from Joanna Zylinska and Steven Shaviro:

In a world undergoing constant media-driven change, the infrastructures, materialities, and temporalities of remains have become urgent. This book engages with the remains and remainders of media cultures through the lens both of theater and performance studies and of media archaeology. By taking “remain” as a verb, noun, state, and process of becoming, the authors explore the epistemological, social, and political implications.

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“What emerges in this short book is a theory of media as that which remains. Mediating deep time with temporarily fossilized moments in our cultural history, the book’s multivoice narrative raises important questions about human responsibility for matter and other matters.”

— Joanna Zylinska, Goldsmiths, University of London

“This book spells out the ways in which past media and past practices continue to haunt and inflect our present social and technical arrangements.”

— Steven Shaviro, Wayne State University

 

For paperback, see University of Minnesota Press page.

For Open Access, see Meson Press page.

Media Archaeology in Chinese

April 10, 2019 Leave a comment

Our co-edited volume, Media Archaeology: Approaches, Applications, and Implications has been translated into Chinese. The translation (媒介考古学:方法、路径与意涵 ) is published by Fudan University Press (earlier translations by the press has included e.g. Friedrich Kittler’s Gramophone, Film, Typewriter). Furthermore, the book will be launched in late April with a seminar on “Chinese communication research from the perspective of media archaeology” in Wuhan.

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