Imagining Media Change — Photos from the Symposium

Here are some images from our symposium “Imagining Media Change,” which took place on June 13, 2013:

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Above, Ruth Mayer opening the symposium with some nice words of welcome.

1-Jussi_ParikkaJussi Parikka talking about “Cultural Techniques of Cognitive Capitalism: On Change and Recurrence” in his wonderful opening keynote.

2-Florian_GrossFlorian Groß delivering his talk “The Only Constant is Change: American Television and Media Change Revisited” — with examples from Mad Men.

3-Bettina_SollerBettina Soller on hypertext and fanfic in her talk “How We Imagined Electronic Literature and Who Died: Looking at Fan Fiction to See What Became of the Future of Writing”.

4-Shane_DensonMe, Shane Denson, on escalators and “On NOT Imagining Media Change”.

5-Wanda_StrauvenWanda Strauven delivering the second keynote, “Pretend (&) Play: Children as Media Archaeologists” — a lively talk with great examples!

6-Christina_MeyerChristina Meyer talking about the Yellow Kid and “Technology – Economy – Mediality: Nineteenth Century American Newspaper Comics”.

7-Ilka_BraschIlka Brasch talking about early film serials and “Facilitating Media Change: The Operational Aesthetic as a Receptive Mode”.

8-Alexander_StarreAlexander Starre wrapping up the symposium with an excellent talk on “Evolving Technologies, Enduring Media: Material Irony in Octave Uzanne’s ‘The End of Books’”.

And finally, here are a few more random pictures:

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Symposium Program: “Imagining Media Change”

Imagining_Media_Change_Program Imagining_Media_Change_Program-2

Here is the final program for our symposium “Imagining Media Change” (print version above, and links to each speaker’s abstract below):

Imagining Media Change — June 13, 2013, Leibniz Universität Hannover

9:30 — Welcome, Ruth Mayer (Chair of American Studies, Hannover)

9:45 – 11:15 — Keynote I, Jussi Parikka (Southampton): “Cultural Techniques of Cognitive Capitalism: On Change and Recurrence”

11:15 – 11:45 — coffee break

11:45 – 13:15 — Panel I:

11:45 — Florian Groß (Hannover): “The Only Constant is Change: American Television and Media Change Revisited”

12:15 — Bettina Soller (Göttingen): “How We Imagined Electronic Literature and Who Died: Looking at Fan Fiction to See What Became of the Future of Writing”

12:45 — Shane Denson (Hannover): “On NOT Imagining Media Change”

13:15 – 15:00 — lunch break

15:00 – 16:30 — Keynote II, Wanda Strauven (Amsterdam): “Pretend (&) Play: Children as Media Archaeologists”

16:30 – 17:00 — coffee break

17:00 – 18:30 — Panel II:

17:00 — Christina Meyer (Hannover): “Technology – Economy – Mediality: Nineteenth Century American Newspaper Comics”

17:30 — Ilka Brasch (Hannover): “Facilitating Media Change: The Operational Aesthetic as a Receptive Mode”

18:00 — Alexander Starre (Berlin): “Evolving Technologies, Enduring Media: Material Irony in Octave Uzanne’s ‘The End of Books'”

19:30 — symposium dinner

Jussi Parikka, “Cultural Techniques of Cognitive Capitalism”

software_interface_labor

Abstract for Jussi Parikka’s keynote talk at the symposium “Imagining Media Change” (June 13, 2013, Leibniz Universität Hannover):

Cultural Techniques of Cognitive Capitalism: On Change and Recurrence

Jussi Parikka

This talk has primarily two functions and aims. Firstly, it discusses the concept of cognitive capitalism from the perspective of its constituent cultural techniques. It proposes the ever so slightly unholy wedding together of post-fordist political theory with some currents in German media theory. This is done in order to discuss some of the mediatic aspects of the notion of cognitive capitalism (Yann Moulier Boutang). Secondly, the talk discusses media cultural change and the temporalities in which such notions like cognitive capitalism are distributed. By discussing software culture it argues for the various temporalities of change that are always at play in media cultural perspective.

Florian Groß, “The Only Constant is Change”

tv_s

Abstract for Florian Groß’s talk at the symposium “Imagining Media Change” (June 13, 2013, Leibniz Universität Hannover):

The Only Constant is Change: American Television and Media Change Revisited

Florian Groß

“This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. Goes backwards, forwards. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again.” This is how 1960s adman Don Draper describes a slide projector in the historical television series Mad Men, and his pitch is also a potent way of describing the medium itself. From its development out of radio and film to its present convergence with digital media, television’s interaction with other media and processes of media change was often linked to its negotiation of the future and the past, progress and retrospection, and innovation and nostalgia.

This paper argues that in order to understand the future of television and the potential results of its increasing interaction with digital media, an understanding of the medium’s past as well as television’s own understandings of its past is instrumental. In this context, Mad Men’s historiography and its attempt to unearth and create historical material helps us to come to terms with the layers of television’s past whose residues always coexist with the medium in transition and continue to influence the shape of televisual things to come.

Bettina Soller, “How We Imagined Electronic Literature”

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Abstract for Bettina Soller’s talk at the symposium “Imagining Media Change” (June 13, 2013, Leibniz Universität Hannover):

How We Imagined Electronic Literature and Who Died: Looking at Fan Fiction to See What Became of the Future of Writing

Bettina Soller

Starting in the pre-Web era, the first emergence of electronic literature was accompanied by a wave of theoretical writings about literary hypertext. Theorists had visions of the escape from the book’s linearity and the far-reaching effects of hypertext on the future of reading and writing. Enthralled by the newness of the media, critics envisioned the death of the book, the author, the reader, and the editor in an effort to make sense of the changes awaiting literature, while at the same time establishing a canon of e-literature and the notion of a high culture of hypermedia practices.

Since then, the end of the golden age of hypertext literature has been announced. Literary studies degraded electronic and digital literature to one of its marginal subject matters. While the circus moved on, forms of writing that challenge established notions of text, work, author, and reader thrive online and extensively outnumber the canon of electronic literature established by first wave critics. This paper will examine fan fiction as one of the most proliferating digital and online writing phenomena. Fan fiction writing encompasses the practice of readers who become authors expanding, appropriating and transforming texts of popular culture. These fan texts are published in online archives and on personal sites in social journaling portals. Through an examination of this electronic literature phenomenon, some of the major theses of hypertext theory will be reexamined to see what became of the future of writing and who actually died.

Shane Denson, “On NOT Imagining Media Change”

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Abstract for Shane Denson’s talk at the symposium “Imagining Media Change” (June 13, 2013, Leibniz Universität Hannover):

On NOT Imagining Media Change

Shane Denson

There are many ways in which we imagine media change and technological transformation; foremost among them, in the modern era, are popular and commercial visions of the future – from science-fiction narratives to advertisements for the latest gadget guaranteed to change your life. However, if we suppose that human agencies are inextricably tied to, and in part enabled by, the material infrastructure of a media-technological environment, then our imaginations – as they are focused, reflected, or courted in representational media – must be seen to lag behind infrastructural shifts, which would sweep our imagining subjectivities along with them. If, that is, our capacity to imagine media change is itself mediated through a changing media-technological environment, then certain aspects of media change must be categorically immune to imagination.

In this presentation, I will focus on this phenomenon of NOT imagining media change. I will outline a theoretical model according to which media change pertains not only to empirically determinate transformations in media-technical apparatuses and systems, but more broadly to the environmental substrate of discursive and phenomenological subjectivities. I will argue that a pre-reflective “anthropotechnical interface,” based in proprioceptive and visceral sensibilities, constitutes the primary site of media change. Accordingly, the embodied parameters of our imaginative faculties are themselves subject to radical transformation, such that both spectacular and unobtrusive changes in the media environment can occasion deep changes in our experiential frameworks – changes that elude representation and imagination.

Wanda Strauven, “Children as Media Archaeologists”

kids_playing

Abstract for Wanda Strauven’s keynote talk at the symposium “Imagining Media Change” (June 13, 2013, Leibniz Universität Hannover):

Pretend (&) Play: Children as Media Archaeologists

Wanda Strauven

In this talk, I will present a series of concrete situations where children make, very intuitively, connections between the past, the present and the future of media. In their play, children often “imagine” future media applications by actually applying them. Their imagination is therefore more than just a fantasy or mental fabrication; it is instead a practice or “form of activity” (Tätigkeit), to use Siegfried Zielinski’s definition of media archaeology. Especially in their act of “repurposing” media and other devices, children become true media archaeologists. In other words, I will offer some thoughts about the child’s play as a media-archaeological laboratory. For this purpose, I will also take into account some general theories about play, game, object lesson, optical toys and language.

Christina Meyer, “Technology – Economy – Mediality”

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Abstract for Christina Meyer’s talk at the symposium “Imagining Media Change” (June 13, 2013, Leibniz Universität Hannover):

Technology – Economy – Mediality: Nineteenth Century American Newspaper Comics

Christina Meyer

In my talk I will focus on one of the first serialized, colored comic figures of the late nineteenth century, which appeared in two competing New York newspapers (The World and the New York Journal): Mickey Dugan, better remembered as the Yellow Kid. This kid was one of the first successfully marketed, iconic comic figures to which the public was introduced, and whose adventures it encountered over a 5-year period (1893-1898). The Yellow Kid had not only a place, and served diverse functions, within the Sunday comic supplements – as a protagonist in the comic pages, as a want-ads promotional device, and as a front-page filler – but also ‘outside’ of them, in the form of all kinds of merchandise products, advertising, poster and billboard ‘sign,’ and as a name-giver for, or rather protagonist in, songs and theater plays (among other things). The Yellow Kid was a commodified ware to be purchased and collected in all kinds of forms. There were, among other things, Yellow Kid candy, chewing gum pets, Yellow Kid pin-back buttons (often giveaways distributed by tobacco companies that used the Yellow Kid to introduce and sell a new cigarette brand), wooden cigar boxes, numerous tins (in different sizes, and designed for all kinds of purposes), puzzles, dolls, and many more things. What interests me about the Yellow Kid, and what makes this comic figure a relevant research topic for this symposium, are precisely these ‘border-crossings’ or transitions, from one (carrier) medium to another and the effects these changes generate. One line of argumentation I wish to pursue in my talk is that the merchandising of the Yellow Kid is a narrative moment in itself, which is also, self-reflexively, commented upon in the Yellow Kid newspaper comic pages.

Ilka Brasch, “The Operational Aesthetic as a Receptive Mode”

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Abstract for Ilka Brasch’s talk at the symposium “Imagining Media Change” (June 13, 2013, Leibniz Universität Hannover):

Facilitating Media Change: The Operational Aesthetic as a Receptive Mode

Ilka Brasch

When the Scientific American published Eadweard Muybridge’s famous photographs of a horse in motion on October 19th, 1878, the magazine advised its readers to cut the images and mount them into the drum of a zoetrope. By means of this nineteenth-century optical toy, the readers could then prove whether Muybridge’s photographs really did depict the movement of a horse during gallop (Newhall 43). In addition to being one historical instance of media change, the example describes an engagement with media that exceeds a simple acknowledgment of mediated content. The tinkerer’s play with technology, I argue, relates back to what Neil Harris termed the operational aesthetic: a critical engagement with the nature and structure of an artifact, which then allows for the observer to judge about its truth value (Harris 79).

Tracing the history of a critical engagement with developing machines, or ‘new media’, since the 1840s, I will establish the operational aesthetic as a particular mode of engagement with media. That receptive mode then influenced the ways in which tinkerers, operators, or spectators experienced media change. Although media change itself impacts the operational aesthetic, that particular receptive mode also impacts the engagement with ‘new media’. As a final step, I will consider how the operational aesthetic influenced, and was changed itself, during the spectators’ engagement with silent film serials up to the 1920s. All in all, the presentation will serve to offer the operational aesthetic as one way of imagining media change.

Harris, Neil. Humbug: The art of P. T. Barnum. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1973.

Newhall, Beaumont. “Photography and the Development of Kinetic Visualization” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Insitutes, 7 (1944): 40-45.

Alexander Starre, “Evolving Technologies, Enduring Media”

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Abstract for Alexander Starre’s talk at the symposium “Imagining Media Change” (June 13, 2013, Leibniz Universität Hannover):

Evolving Technologies, Enduring Media: Material Irony in Octave Uzanne’s “The End of Books”

Alexander Starre

In the electric shockwaves sent through the United States by the World’s Columbian Exhibition of 1893, the French writer and publisher Octave Uzanne appeared to have lost his belief in the future of the book. As a reporter for Le Figaro, Uzanne spent three months touring the country, meeting President Grover Cleveland and inventor Thomas Edison, besides strolling the fairgrounds in Chicago. After his visit, he published the short story “The End of Books” in Scribner’s Magazine in 1894, which depicts a future in which books have been replaced by the phonograph. In the seminal volume Rethinking Media Change (ed. David Thorburn and Henry Jenkins), Priscilla Coit Murphy reads “The End of Books” as an exuberant embrace of new media. This paper aims to complicate Murphy’s analysis through a materialist perspective on Uzanne’s text as a historical artifact. “The End of Books” does not unfold its full complexity in the English text printed in Scribner’s. The French version “La fin des livres”, which forms part of the collection Contes pour les bibliophiles (1895), exposes the material irony embedded in the text. Octave Uzanne’s relationship to technology was strikingly ambivalent and manifested larger shifts in networks of communication and cultural distinction. While he was fascinated by new electro-mechanical inventions, his ultimate goal was to improve the quality of printed artifacts. From this peculiar case, my paper will extract several theoretical implications for current debates in media studies and book history.