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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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French Interview: “Écrire autrement l’histoire des médias “

April 21, 2018 Leave a comment

A new interview with me in French is out now in the (exciting) online magazine AOC. With the writer, journalist Sylvain Bourmeau we had a pleasant conversation about media archaeology, contemporary culture and theory, my earlier books and the new French translation of What is Media Archaeology – Qu’est-ce que l’archéologie des médias?

Encore mystérieux pour beaucoup, l’archéologie des médias s’avère un nouveau champ de recherche passionnant, au croisement de nombreuses disciplines et méthodes, qui vise à écrire une histoire alternative des medias au sens le plus large du terme. Alors qu’il est enfin traduit en français, Jussi Parikka, l’un de ses représentants les plus éminents, a accordé un entretien à AOC.
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Né et formé d’abord en Finlande, professeur de culture technologique et d’esthétique à la Winchester School of Art de l’Université de Southampton, Jussi Parikka est l’un des principaux chercheurs d’un courant transdisciplinaire relativement récent des sciences humaines et sociales : l’archéologie des médias. Parmi son œuvre, riche de plusieurs livres marquants, Qu’est-ce que l’archéologie des médias ? qui vient de paraître en français, nous offre l’occasion d’un entretien.

Read the full interview hereAOC is free but requires to create an account (which is easy).

Surface Prediction

April 14, 2018 1 comment

I am giving a talk in Paris at the École Normale Supérieure and using it as an opportunity to present some new work. This writing stems from some collaborative work with artist Abelardo Gil-Fournier with whom we ran a collective workshop at transmediale on Surface Value . The practice-led workshop was set in the context of our larger discussion on surfaces, media and forms of valuation that pertain both to military and civilian spheres of images (such as aerial imaging) and continuing it in relation to contemporary forms of machine learning and neural networks that take their data from geographical datasets. Hence we are working on this question of prediction as it pertains to geographical and geological surfaces and how these forms of images (from time-lapse to prediction) present a special case for both financial uses of such predictive services and also their experimental angle as forms of moving image – experimental “video” art on a large scale.

Here’s a further excerpt from the talk that also draws on work by Giuliana Bruno, Lisa Parks, Caren Kaplan, Ryan Bishop and many others:

What I want to extract from this research platform that Gil-Fournier’s work offers are some speculative thoughts. At the basis of this is the idea that we can experiment with the correlation of an “imaged” past (the satellite time-lapses) with a machine generated “imaged” future and to test how futures work; how do predicted images compare against the historical datasets and time-lapses and present their own sort of a video of temporal landscapes meant to run just a bit ahead of its time. Naturally would easily risk naturalising things that are radically contingent: mining operations, capital investments, urban growth and financial valuations, geopolitical events, and such. But instead of proposing this as naturalisation, it works to expose some of the techniques through which landscapes are flattened into such a surface of not only inscription of data, but also images in movement. Here,  the speculative is not some sort of a radically distinguished practice that stands out as unique aberration but increasingly the modus operandi and the new normal of things  (Bratton 2016, 2017). What’s interesting is that it spreads out to a variety of fields: the image becomes a speculative one, with interesting implications how we start to think of video; it is also a financial one, as such data-feed mechanisms are also part of what Cubitt describes as one of the forms of geomedia; and it is about landscapes, as they are part of the longer lineage of how we read them as informational signs.

It’s here that the expanded image of a landscape is also embedded in a machine learning environment which also feed as part of financial environments. There are multiple ways how the ecology of images in machine learning works with time – the form of moving image that is the timelapse is also faced with the temporal image of predictions. The technical basis of digital video becomes one reference point for where to start unfolding the other sides of AI as machine learning: this is post-digital culture also in this sense, where not only images of earth surfaces change in view of the data analytics, but the aesthetic contexts of analysis – namely, moving image and video that feed forward (cf. Hansen).

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[Image from Abelardo Gil-Fournier’s workshop materials].

Reframing Media: Objects, Sites, Histories in Prague

We are doing this symposium in Prague just before the ICA takes place there the same week. I am in town as a visiting fellow at FAMU for some collaborative work with Tomas Dvorak and others during this visit and some forthcoming ones.

The event is organised in collaboration with the Communication +1 journal.

Reframing Media: Objects, Sites, Histories
May 21, 2018 2PM-530PM
FAMU in Prague
Media studies has opened up new avenues of research across fields, helping to reframe the objects, sites, and histories of scholarly inquiry, providing a way to challenge accepted historical layers of social and technical arrangements. This symposium draws together critical intersections with media, applying postcolonial and feminist theories to contextualize and frame the mediated landscape, both past and present. Drawing from a variety of entangled theories and methodologies, authors engage with a variety of approaches, providing new insights for scholars from an array of backgrounds. This symposium also engages media itself through a media archaeological approach, reframing and interrogating our media so as to shed new understanding to our hyper-mediated world.

Please join us for an engaging symposium.

Reframing Media and Communication
Zachary McDowell, University of Illinois at Chicago

Media Archaeology from Labs to Landscapes
Jussi Parikka, University of Southampton, Winchester School of Art

Hello Machine – Hello Human
Rachel Hanlon, Deakin University, Australia

The Best Sleep of My Life
Laura Forlano, Illinois Institute of Technology

Filmmakers of the World, Unite! Forgotten Internationalism, Czechoslovak Film and the Third World
Tereza Stejskalová, Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague

Schedule

13:30 Arrive
14:00 Zachary McDowell, Introduction – Reframing Media
14:20 Jussi Parikka, Media Archaeology from Labs to Landscapes
15:00 Short Break
15:15 Rachel Hanlon, Hello Machine – Hello Human
15:40 Laura Forlano, The Best Sleep of My Life
16:05 Tereza Stejskalová, Filmmakers of the World, Unite! Forgotten Internationalism, Czechoslovak Film and the Third World
16:30 Discussion
17:30 Adjourn

A Surface Keynote

December 9, 2017 Leave a comment

In talk news, I will be delivering a keynote at the Apparition: The (Im)Materiality of Modern Surface-conference in March. The CfP is still open until December 16.

Right after the Leicester event, I will be giving some talks at UPenn in Philadelphia, including on the current Lab Book-project. More information online here.

Besides some other near future talks in Helsinki and Geneva, I will be in Istanbul in January for the Istanbul-launch of the Turkish translation of What is Media Archaeology?, Medya Arkeolojisi Nedir?

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The Anthrobscene in Portuguese

November 14, 2017 Leave a comment

The short booklet the Anthrobscene has been translated into Portuguese in Brazil. The essay that  was a sort of a single release of the later A Geology of Media now features as part of the Open Access collection Configurações do pós-digital: arte e cultura tecnológicas, edited by​ Pablo Gobira & Tadeus Mucelli. The book’s foreword is written by Lucia Santaella.

With the new translation, I was also again left thinking  the title, the neologism it carries. Besides the obvious Baudrillard-connotation that was not supposed to be the main thrust of the term, an alternative link that I was reminded about today comes through Ian Sinclair’s discussion of the fringes of London as obscenery instead of scenery. In Esther Leslie’s description, Sinclair’s obscenery is somewhat rather apt concerning also the Anthrobscene picking up on the wastelandscape imageries: “..contained in that word [obscenery] is the sense of being off-scene, off the stage, out of sight and out of mind. Sinclair describes places of no memory, forgotten places, places where memory is expunged in waves of rebuilding, re-destroying, places of transit, places, such as the London Orbital motorway, the M25, designed to pass through and keep moving.” (Leslie, in Synthetic Worlds.)

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You can download the book here.

Recently another Brazilian collection included some of my writing (as well as other translations and texts by Brazilian colleagues) on media archaeology. You can find more information about A(na)rqueologias das Mídias online.

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What is Media Archaeology? in Turkish

October 2, 2017 Leave a comment

The Turkish translation of What is Media Archaeology? is out this week! Koc University Press are publishing the translation Medya Arkeolojisi Nedir? by Ebru Kılıç and you can  order the book and find more information in Turkish online.

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I am extremely happy about the translation as well as the fact that it coincides with my Bilkent University visit in Ankara where I am part of the Play/Pause, FF/Rewind-week of events on “Shared Practices & Archaeologies of Media.” The event is part of the launch of the new media archaeological space that colleagues at Bilkent have been working on. The lab will be the first of its kind in Turkey. The week of talks and activities will finish on Friday with a launch of Medya Arkeolojisi Nedir? in Ankara at the Erimtan Arkeoloji ve Sanat Müzesi at 6 pm.

An Istanbul launch of the book is in planning for a later date in the Autumn.

For review copy and other requests regarding the Turkish translation, please get in touch with me or directly with the Press (Berkan Simsek).

The publisher’s page for Medya Arkeolojisi Nedir?

Eski ven Yeninin Kartografileri – a sample from the translation online.

The Office Manual is out

September 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Our summer project, the AMT Office Manual is out. Consisting of short texts and practice-based expositions, the contributors consist of colleagues in Fine Art, Design, Media and Visual Culture as well as some of AMT research group‘s affiliated scholars such as Shannon Mattern and Darren Wershler. The manual opens up with our short intro: “The Office Manual.”

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Designed by Dr. Jane Birkin, the publication is a mix between a zine and a manual, but with a media archaeological, practice-based and indeed, grey bent.

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The texts address the imaginaries, technologies, techniques, pencils and furniture of the office – the key site of technological work and art.

Indeed, only what can be typed, tabulated, filed and stamped exists: before any narrative, there is a technology and a clerk performing the work of inscription.

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The Manual cannot be purchased and is available only through AMT field officers.

 

AMT: An Office Manual

June 5, 2017 2 comments

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Together with Ryan Bishop we wrote this short Office Manual as a short introduction to some of the work at AMT.

Ryan Bishop and Jussi Parikka:

AMT: An Office Manual

The abbreviation of Archaeologies of Media and Technology, our research group, is AMT. This is not accidental, but for those picking up the German connotations, it also becomes “office”: das Amt. But why an office? An office for media theory and speculative practice? What follows is a brief manual for the Office at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton.

Alongside the factory and the laboratory, the office is a place of modern media par excellence. Information travels through the office. Addresses are managed. Memos are written, passed on, transmitted, received, acted upon, archived. Some of this information is produced in the office; some comes from outside of it. Data becomes information in the office. Technologies of writing form the office as a site of media: the typewriter among the most central ones, as an office technology that transforms the inscription of meaning across the 20th century. The typewriter goes “click”, as Vilém Flusser reminded us, articulating it as the sound of mechanical operations. The typewriter, and the world it represents, leads to the centrality of calculation: “We are therefore forced to calculate rather than to write, and if we insist on writing, we have to go ‘click’”.

Besides typewriters, it’s the dictaphones, calculating machines, adding machines, telegraphs, printers, computers, filing cabinets, faxes, teletypes, telephones, photocopiers and other technologies – some more grey than others – that are the backbone of the administrative infrastructure of modern culture. Hence instead of asking “why office?” it is more apt to ask if you did not receive the memo: technical media was always centrally about the office anyway. At the beginnings of the entry of modern technologies of calculation, transmission and control stood the office and the office clerk, something that great documenter of modern bureaucracy Franz Kafka knew all too well.

Offices occupy the university too. The centrality university spaces revolve around the office, the seminar room, the lecture hall, the studio, the library and a couple of other places but in the administrative organisation of what goes where, the office is central. As one of the three institutions in the West that have survived since the Middle Ages (in addition to the Church and the Military), the university generates offices that in turn generate the university. To speak of media technologies through the office rather than the usual media vocabularies of mass media reminds of us of this other, extended definition of media: techniques and technologies of inscription, transmission, analysis and backbones of various imaginaries that situate contemporary culture in a broader historical context. The office is out of joint. Give me an office and I will raise a world.

Our Office, AMT, is a place of connections. It is a platform for that space where the studio meets the library, the archive meets the lab; these disciplinary spaces are in conversation in ways that underscore the ineluctable continuum of theory and practice. Our Office is interested in the practices of theory in technological culture as much as it is working through projects that are practice-led and feed conceptual work too. We are always interested in the inseparable relations between the material and the immaterial, the synchronic and the diachronic. Our Office is large. It contains multitudes.

The Office also operates as a speculative platform. The media-supported backbone of culture is also one of imaginaries and speculative practices that often look like an avant-garde arts version of a writing machine. Office projects engage with technologies of inscription but not merely traditional writing. The work of image sensors, for example, often operates as an important but less investigated element in digital visual culture. Similarly visual planetary remote sensing as an extension of non-human locations of seeing, processing and transmitting images outside the human operator or analyst is an exceptionally powerful, ubiquitous and complex set of technologies of inscription. Besides visual forms of knowledge in technological culture, we have examined what digital data does to cultural institutions; how infrastructures reinscribe forms of public and private; how the internet of things prescribes also the internet of cultural things. In other projects the archival image is investigated through art practices, forms of description that also expand to Situations of Writing, a project led by our colleagues in the Critical Practices group.

It’s all part of post-digital culture – a topic of investigation as well as a reality in which the Office is situated. Our Office also works with other institutions, such as our partner transmediale.

The Office, of course, does practice media archaeology: investigations into the historical conditions of existing technologies and their practices, uses, misuses, abuses, missed opportunities and potential speculation about art, science, technology, hyphenated together. The Office Manual consists of techniques of tactical misunderstanding and misuse, of wrong paths that produce much more interesting meeting agendas than the assumed routes. The linear narratives of many technological emergences, just as those for scientific discovery, often discount the accidents, blocked pathways and fortuitous combinations that often result in teleological triumphalism. The Office urges those complications to the heroic narrative to be accounted for and considered. Because, as we have to acknowledge, only what can be typed, tabulated and filed exists: before any narrative, there is a technology and a clerk performing the work of inscription.

AMT Logo // thank you to Dr Jane Birkin

The Residual Media Depot summer school

I had the pleasure of being one of the participants in the Media Archaeology summer school in Montreal at the Residual Media Depot (Concordia). Invited by Darren Wershler, and teaching alongside also Lori Emerson, we had a wonderful group of participants from Canada, Finland, USA, UK and Spain whose own projects and their work at the Depot during the week demonstrated a fantastically broad spectrum of what media archaeology can perform.

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I could not emphasise the word perform enough: while we engaged with the theoretical limits and limitations of theoretical work in and around media archaeology, including how it interfaces with for example infrastructure studies, the various probes the students presented and the hands-on work in the Depot investigated the idea of collections as part of the methodology. The performative aspect of media archaeology – and theory broadly speaking – allows to both see it as a situated practice that benefits from its access to institutions and collections as well as creates the space for such to exist: to imagine a media archaeology lab or a collection becomes also a projective way of engaging with the current themes of reshifting humanities infrastructure and institutional changes. As Wershler and Lori Emerson, the director of the Media Archaeology Lab at Boulder, Colorado, also underlined, it is through the particular materiality and access to collections that one can think differently in relation to what are often deemed objects of (media) cultural heritage.

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Relating the course’s themes to also his own research, Wershler explained how his interest in the cultural life of signals builds on work in the Depot too. To engage in the work of assembly through old but still functioning systems one is led to understand the various ways the life of signals is constantly constructed and re-constructed across multiple fields of agency from hobbyists to the mini-industry building the various technological tools for an afterlife of for example consoles.

Media archaeology embodies multiple temporalities. The different theoretical frameworks from Erkki Huhtamo to Siegfried Zielinski to Wolfgang Ernst are different solutions to the problem of time – how to approach time differently in methodological ways and in ways that understand technical temporality. For example, Ernst’s ways of approaching time criticality and temporal operationality are something that both offer a different ontological take on technology and also can act as interesting guides in how we work with collections such as the Depot.

In my view, the Residual Media Depot was a perfect platform for the workshop. Wershler had designed the week as a mix of theoretical investigations, student probes and practice-based work that functioned somewhere between maker methodologies, art practices and an archival interest in collections that are important for media theory too. The collection is focused on cultures and technologies of gaming with a special focus on consoles, but as Wershler emphasises, it is not a game archaeology depot. The consoles and the material around them is an entry point to media history and signal culture.

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In several ways, the Depot’s work aligns nicely with the Media Archaeology Lab but also with our AMT group: to establish a framework and an enabling situation for a research-teaching continuum that is interested as much in practice-based work as it is in explicating what practices of theory are. All of this feeds also as part of the Lab Book we are writing together.

You can find more information about the Depot on their website and on the same site you can find all the student probes from our week of Media Archaeology.

The Residual Media Depot (RMD) is a project of the Media History Research Centre in the Milieux Institute at Concordia University.

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