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Photography Off the Scale is out

January 31, 2021 Leave a comment

Our book Photography Off the Scale is out and available! Edited by myself and my FAMU colleague Tomáš Dvořák it offers an interdisciplinary perspective on the scale and quantity of images in contemporary visual culture. From the mass-image to post-photography, AI to online visual culture, planetary diagrams to LIDAR, the breadth of topics is wide. The book emerges from our Operational Images and Visual Culture project (FAMU, Prague – and funded by the Czech Science Foundation, 2019-2023).

Here are the really nice blurbs from Lev Manovich, Lisa Parks, and Peter Szendy:

“Among the many fundamental changes taking place in contemporary photography and media culture, probably the most important are changes in scale. The new magnitude of image production, the instant global dissemination of billions of new images, and the adoption of AI that turns these images into big data are only some examples of how the visual has been “scaled up” in the 21st century. Now we finally have a first book that rethinks the history and theory of photography through the lens of scale – and connects this concept to a range of others including measure, politics, gender, subjectivity, and aesthetics.”
– Lev Manovich, Presidential Professor, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

“Someone takes a picture somewhere in the world. Such a trivial action is multiplied by a trillion. Or much more, since the majority of pictures today are produced by machines for machines. This collection of essays brilliantly explores the unheard-of effects of scale on the ontology of photography and it touches upon the sublime of the infinity of digital images.”
– Peter Szendy, Brown University

“This book’s refreshing and much needed take on photography cuts through the infoglut and explores the apparatus, infrastructure, and operations of contemporary pictures. Addressing everything from snapshots to machine vision, Photography Off the Scale unfurls a vital field of technology, politics and aesthetics reshaping the world.”
– Lisa Parks, Distinguished Professor of Film & Media Studies, University of California-Santa Barbara

With Tomáš, we wrote a substantial introduction outlining the stakes of the approach – how it relates to scholarship in photography and links it to key questions of digital culture – and we are really pleased with the whole lineup of the book:

Introduction: On the Scale, Quantity and Measure of Images
Jussi Parikka & Tomáš Dvořák

Part I: Scale, Measure, Experience

1. The Mass Image, the Anthropocene Image, the Image Commons
Sean Cubitt
2. Beyond Human Measure: Eccentric Metrics in Visual Culture
Tomáš Dvořák
3. Living with the Excessive Scale of Contemporary Photography
Andrew Fisher
4. Feeling Photos: Photography, Picture Language and Mood Capture
Michelle Henning
5. Online Weak and Poor Images: On Contemporary Feminist Visual Politics
Tereza Stejskalová

Part II: Metapictures and Remediations

6. Photography’s Mise en Abyme: Metapictures of Scale in Repurposed Slide Libraries
Annebella Pollen
7. The Failed Photographs of Photography: On the Analogue and Slow Photography Movement
Michal Šimůnek
8. Strangely Unique: Pictorial Aesthetics in the Age of Image Abundance
Josef Ledvina

Part III: Models, Scans and AI

9. On Seeing Where There’s Nothing to See: Practices of Light Beyond Photography
Jussi Parikka
10. Planetary Diagrams: Towards an Autographic Theory of Climate Emergency
Lukáš Likavčan & Paul Heinicker
11. Undigital Photography: Image-Making Beyond Computation and AI
Joanna Zylinska
12. Coda: Photography in the Age of Massification
Joan Fontcuberta & Geoffrey Batchen

The book is published by Edinburgh University Press and is part of their Technicities book series. A special thanks to Elise Hunchuck for her outstanding expertise in helping us to fine-tune the writing and to Abelardo Gil-Fournier for the cover image that comes from his project Bildung.

For any inquiries about the book, review copy requests, etc, please contact me or Tomáš.

Premio Limina 2020 // book award

November 4, 2020 Leave a comment

I am extremely happy to learn that we won! The Italian translation of What is Media Archaeology? Archeologia dei media – was awarded the XVIII Premio Limina in the category of “Best Italian Translation of an Important Contribution to Film Studies” (Miglior traduzione italiana di un importante contributo agli studi cinematografici). The translators Enrico Campo and Simone Dotto, and the editors and writers of Preface and Postface Simone Venturini and Ruggero Eugeni are the ones to thank and to congratulate for their work.

The book came out last year Autumn just when I was starting my visiting Professorship, Chair of Media Archaeology, at University of Udine; students and colleagues (including at the Gorizia’s La Camera Ottica) provided such a friendly and exciting academic environment in cinema studies where the book’s idea of “traveling media archaeology” was (again) realized in multiple ways: institutional and practice-based contexts, including practice of theory, where media archaeology travels.

All the winning books here alongside justification statements for the awards.

You can find the Italian version on publishing house Carocci’s pages, and the original English on Polity pages.

For Italian speakers, here’s an interview/text in Artribute about the translation.

Touch, Click, and Motion: Archaeologies of Fashion Film After Digital Culture

September 19, 2020 Leave a comment

Submitted! The final version of our introduction article with Caroline Evans for the special issue “Archaeologies of Fashion Film” is now in with the journal. Forthcoming in Journal of Visual Culture, the text – and the issue – emerge from the AHRC project that I posted about earlier (the project ran 2017-2019) – here’s the original (not updated anymore) project website. Below the abstract of our article.

Caroline Evans and Jussi Parikka
Touch, Click, and Motion: Archaeologies of Fashion Film After Digital Culture

This article functions as the introduction to the theme issue on Archaeologies of Fashion Film. The text introduces fashion film as a genre and as a historically dynamic form of audiovisual expression that we approach through fashion history, media archaeology, and new film history. While introducing key concepts and approaches, we propose a form of ‘parallax historiography’, a term emerging from Thomas Elsaesser’s work, that links different time periods from early cinema to recent digital platforms, even ‘post-cinema’. The introduction makes references to the contributions in this issue that address historical conditions of emergence, marginal voices in the historical record, and unexcavated archival materials; and the issue shows how they all contain feedback loops or recursive traits that resonate in contemporary practice where infrastructures of platforms and data frame the moving image. Fashion film is thus seen as both a historical and a constantly practiced audiovisual form of expression that is not contained in its own industry genre, although that industry should not be ignored either. This article then helps to set the stage for acknowledging the current accelerated change in contemporary fashion communications, and offers visual cultural insights in order to rethink new modalities of fashion, film and bodies in motion.

The issue also contains articles by Marketa Uhlirova, Nick Rees-Roberts, Marie-Aude Lous Baronian, Lucy Moyse-Ferreira, and Wanda Strauven.

Sensoria by McKenzie Wark

August 17, 2020 Leave a comment

McKenzie Wark’s new book Sensoria: Thinkers for the Twenty-first Century is out and I am chuffed (as the British say) to be included in the fabulous lineup of theorists and writers that she rolls out in this follow-up of the General Intellects volume.

“As we face the compounded crises of late capitalism, environmental catastrophe and technological transformation, who are the thinkers and the ideas who will allow us to understand the world we live in? McKenzie Wark surveys three areas at the cutting edge of current critical thinking: media ecologies, post-colonial ethnographies, and the design of technology, and introduces us to the thinking of seventeen major writers who, combined, contribute to the common task of knowing the world. Each chapter is a concise account of an individual thinker, providing useful context and connections to the work of the others.

The authors include: Sianne Ngai, Kodwo Eshun, Lisa Nakamura, Hito Steyerl, Yves Citton, Randy Martin, Jackie Wang, Wang Hui, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Achille Mbembe, Eyal Weizman, Cory Doctorow, Benjamin Bratton, Tiziana Terranova, Keller Easterling, Jussi Parikka, Deborah Danowich and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro

Wark argues that we are too often told that expertise is obtained by specialisation. Sensoria connects the themes and arguments across intellectual silos. The book is a vital and timely introduction to the future both as a warning but also as a roadmap for how we might find our way out of the current crisis.”

A Recursive Web of Models: Studio Tomás Saraceno’s Working Objects

My article on Studio Tomás Saraceno’s work is now out in the Configurations journal.

Screenshot 2020-07-23 at 14.39.37

The text follows up from the Palais de Tokyo show On Air (curated by Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel) and I’ve tried to articulate these points in the article in a couple of different contexts. While there is clearly lots (more) to be said about questions of artistic practices with animals (including multispecies ethnography), and what that implies for the field of environmental humanities, I am here a tad more focused on the question of the image, the model, and the exchange between art and science. Admittedly, “art and science” is a rather low res description of many of the actual workings of what happens in such practices, which is also why I have mobilised the term working objects (hat tip to Daston and Galison) in this context (while I acknowledge that so much more could be said). And keep your eyes open for Sasha Engelmann’s work on Studio Saraceno’s work btw.

In the meantime, see also the video “Studio Visit with Tomás Saraceno“.

Masks

We wrote with Yiğit Soncul a text on facial masks and masking. While masks are especially now such a hot topic, Yiğit’s PhD research on visual politics of masks from 2019 has become even more timely. Funnily enough, only recently, in mid March, Conversation publication platform responded to us that they found the topic of cultural politics of masks “a little bit niche for the broad general audience.”

You can find our text on Paletten art magazine’s site.

To Media Study

April 26, 2020 Leave a comment

I was invited to contribute a short text for the inaugural issue of the new journal MAST – The Journal of Media Art Study and Theory. The whole issue is a great compilation of interesting and insightful texts that you can access as direct PDF here.

My text was a brief take on media studies – both media studies as a discipline and media study as an activity. Here’s the beginning of the text that can be accessed through the PDF link above.

To Media Study: Media Studies and Beyond

To study media is to study more than what we already recognize as media. The beauty of media study should involve the possibility of methodological and theoretical labor that investigates what even constitutes its object of knowledge and the process through which such objects of knowledge are stabilised as the thing that circulates as “media” in academia. It even includes the possibility of considering academia as an institution and its practices as “media,” a proposition made by Friedrich Kittler (2004). Indeed, universities consist of a changing set of practices and techniques programmed into students and future staff, hardware from libraries to mail systems and objects of knowledge that provide one operating system for a range of contemporary operations—mathematics to philosophy as well as computing. Not that we need to accept all the details and specifics of the story (and its European bias, as Kittler also stated) but the methodology of realising that media relates not to “communication,” but to material architectures, cultural techniques, and infrastructures from hardware to standards is the key takeaway. In short, even the academic study itself is, well, media.

To study media is to study what then even becomes media in the first place, and how mediation is much more than what counts as media as such. Hence, media study and its stabilized version in academia, Media Studies, can be in a privileged position to understand how the question of media shifts from the human scale of interface to large-scale networks, infrastructure, and logistics. Some of the greyest things are the most exciting when it comes to understanding the powers of media: administration, logistics, infrastructural arrangement and territorial governance. Media is placed in actual spatial, material, and institutional realities.

Not that the academia is the sole place of media study – media study also happens outside Media Studies. Indeed, to radicalize Kittler’s point about media at the university, we need to recognise the subtle – and sometimes not so subtle – mechanisms of economic power that enable and disable the possibilities of study. To study media is also to recognise, as Stefano Harney and Fred Moten (2013) importantly argue, that it happens in contemporary contexts of debt and governance that are, one might add, part of the “media” and cultural techniques of the university and of how it produces experience and habit. To study should not be about the reproduction of misery as part of the policy of the current academic institutional landscapes, or as Moten puts it: “I think that a huge part of it has to do simply with, let’s call it, a certain reduction of intellectual life – to reduce study into critique, and then at the same time, a really, really horrific, brutal reduction of critique to debunking, which operates under the general assumption that naturalised academic misery loves company in its isolation, like some kind of warped communal alienation in which people are tied together not by blood or a common language but by the bad feeling they compete over.” (Harney and Moten 120).

[…continues: here. PDF]

MediArXiv open archive launches

We are thrilled to announce that MediArXiv—the free, nonprofit, scholar-led digital archive for media, film and communication studies—is officially launching this week. MediArXiv is an open platform, hosted by the Center for Open Science, for media, film, and communication scholars to upload working papers, pre-prints, accepted manuscripts (post-prints), and published manuscripts. The service accepts articles, books, and book chapters, and we plan to support multimedia submissions in the future:

https://mediarxiv.org

FAQs are available on our companion site:

https://mediarxiv.com/faqs/

MediArXiv joins the growing movement started by the math/physics/computer science-oriented http://arXiv.org over 25 years ago, as one of the first full-fledged “preprint” servers conceived for humanities and social science scholars. Our aim is to promote open scholarship across media, film, and communication studies around the world. In addition to accepting and moderating submissions, we plan to advocate for policy changes at the major media, film, & communication studies professional societies around the world—to push for open-access friendly policies, in particular, for the journals that these associations sponsor.

Commenting on the launch of MediArxiv, professor Sean Cubitt (Goldsmiths) stated:

“MediArXiv offers an open access platform to share research run by and for researchers.  Its growing community of scholars and papers in media and communications opens international dialogues on scholars’ own terms. Our field is especially critical of the operations of power and money in cultural evolution: here is a practice that turns critique into an new actuality we can all learn from.”

MediArxiv is launching with a 17-member Steering Committee of scholars and open access advocates from around the world. The Committee includes members from five continents, every rank (including graduate students), and along gender and other lines of equity. We support submissions in English, Spanish, Chinese, French, Portugeuse, German, Dutch, Finnish, and Turkish:

https://mediarxiv.com

MediArXiv was initiated by the nonprofit Open Access in Media Studies:

https://oamediastudies.com/

As a free, nonprofit, community-led digital archive, MediArXiv is fully committed to the Fair Open Access principles:

https://www.fairopenaccess.org/

The Center for Open Science (our hosting partner) press release:

https://cos.io/about/news/center-open-science-mediarxiv-and-bodoarxiv-la…

Please consider submitting your manuscripts to MediArXiv, and thank you for your support.

The MediArXiv Steering Committee

* Jeff Pooley, Associate Professor of Media & Communication, Muhlenberg College (USA) [Coordinator]
* Jeroen Sondervan, open access expert & and co-founder of Open Access in Media Studies. Affiliated with Utrecht University (Netherlands) [Coordinator]
* Sarah-Mai Dang, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute of Media Studies, Philipps University Marburg (Germany)
* Lai-Tze Fan, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Digital Media, University of Waterloo (Canada)
* Catherine Grant, Professor of Digital Media and Screen Studies, Birkbeck, University of London (UK)
* Jonathan Gray, Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies, King’s College London (UK)
* Adelheid Heftberger, Head of Film Access, Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive) (Germany)
* Leah Lievrouw, Professor of Information Studies, UCLA (USA)
* Nyasha Mboti, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, University of Johannesburg (South Africa)
* Gabriel Menotti, Associate Professor of Communications, Federal University of Espírito Santo (Brazil)
* Ricardo Cedeño Montaña, Associate Professor of Communications, Universidad de Antioquia (Colombia)
* Maria O’Brien, PhD Candidate, School of Communications, Dublin City University (Ireland)
* Kate O’Riordan, Professor of Digital Culture & Head of School of Media, Film and Music, University of Sussex (UK)
* Jussi Parikka, Professor of Technological Culture & Aesthetics, University of Southampton (UK)
* Xiang Ren, Senior Lecturer in Chinese Media and Culture, Western Sydney University (Australia)
* Cheryll Ruth Soriano, Associate Professor of Communication, De La Salle University (Philippines)
* Ece Vitrinel, Assistant Professor of Communication, Galatasaray University (Turkey)

twitter: @mediarxiv
email: mediarxiv@mediarxiv.com
main site: mediarxiv.org
companion site: mediarxiv.com
rss: http://tiny.cc/zwzq4y
github: github.com/orgs/MediArXiv/dashboard

Operational Images project funding

March 21, 2019 Leave a comment

Some news: I am happy to announce that we have won a large grant for our proposal “Operational Images and Visual Culture” with colleagues at FAMU, photography department, part of the Academy of Performing Arts, Prague. Funded by the Czech Science Academy, our research team will engage with contemporary visual culture, photographic theory and the notion of operational images that stems from Harun Farocki’s work. The project is not solely focused on Farocki but the concept of the operational – sometimes translated as operative – image becomes one of the guiding lines of inquiry that facilitates useful, interesting and alternative ways to understand media archaeology of technical images (as patterns, as measurement, as instructions etc.) and contemporary practices of photography. Automated, instructive, algorithmic, measuring and non-representational images are here part of our focus that stems from some of the discussions of past year’s of media, film and visual theory.

FAMU has a great reputation, not least as a renowned film school and I have had the pleasure of collaborating especially with Dr.  Tomáš Dvořák over the past year on other projects already. Stay tuned for updates from our Operational Images project and please get in touch if you have any questions!

The Project’s FAMU website for further info.

Sacred Channels

November 1, 2018 Leave a comment

Editing our Recursions book series is fun – both for the sake of getting to work with Anna Tuschling and Geoffrey Winthrop-Young and because we are able to help in getting great books in media theory into the world.

The most recent one is the just published translation of Erich Hörl’s Sacred Channels: The Archaic Illusion of Communication. I believe the endorsement by Michael Wutz is a perfect summary of the book’s significance:

“Erich Hörl’s Sacred Channels is as original and innovative as they come. The book articulates an archaeology of modern notions of the sacred and the primitive and draws upon a wide-ranging theoretical framework that includes philosophy (phenomenology, Heidegger, and deconstruction), anthropology, media theory, and breakthrough developments in modern science. The substantial preface by Jean-Luc Nancy, and the excellent translation by Nils. F. Schott, make Sacred Channels(by now a classic in the German-speaking world) a groundbreaking book finally available to an English-speaking audience.” – Michael Wutz, Weber State University

The website includes also a free preview PDF of Nancy’s preface and the table of contents (link opens as PDF).

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