Out Now: Network Ecologies

NetworkEcologies

Network Ecologies is a great new open-access collection edited by Amanda Starling Gould and Florian Wiencek and published by the Duke Franklin Humanities Institute. The collection takes advantage of the Scalar publishing platform to include a variety of media alongside scholarly texts. Among other things, it includes a collection of artworks by Karin Denson and myself, which we developed for an exhibit at Duke in 2015 (also organized by Amanda Starling Gould) and which grew out of a collaboration with the Duke S-1: Speculative Sensation Lab. There is also an archive of videos from a 2013 symposium, including contributions from Jussi Parikka, Mark Hansen, Stephanie Boluk, Patrick LeMieux, and many others. Lots of great things to discover here–check it out!

 

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”

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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.

Imagining Media Archaeology

Parikka_What-is-media-archaeology

On Wednesday, June 5, 2013 (at 6:00 pm in room 608 in the Conti-Hochhaus), the Film & TV Reading Group will meet to discuss two texts relevant to the larger theme of “Imagining Media Archaeology” (part of a semester-long series of events detailed here). The texts are:

1) Jussi Parikka, “Imaginary Media: Mapping Weird Objects.” In:What Is Media Archaeology? Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. 41-62.

2) Wanda Strauven, “The Observer’s Dilemma: To Touch or Not to Touch?” In: Media Archaeology: Approaches, Applications, and Implications. Eds. Erkki Huhtamo and Jussi Parikka. Berkeley: U of California P, 2011. 148-163.

In case you missed it: both Jussi Parikka and Wanda Strauven will be keynote speakers at our symposium “Imagining Media Change,” which will be held on June 13, 2013 — for more info, check here and here.

As for the Film & TV Reading Group: we are always happy to welcome new participants to our informal discussion group! For more information, please contact Felix Brinker.

Imagining Media Change — Symposium Poster

Symposium - Imagining Media Change - poster

[UPDATE: See here for the complete symposium program and abstracts.]

Recently, I posted the description for the symposium on “Imagining Media Change” that we’re organizing this June, with keynote speakers Jussi Parikka and Wanda Strauven — part of this semester’s larger series of events. Now I am proud to present the poster for the symposium (designed by Ilka Brasch and Svenja Fehlhaber), which includes an overview of the schedule and speakers. A more detailed schedule, including the titles of talks, will be made available soon.

Symposium: Imagining Media Change

imagining_media_change

[UPDATE: See here for the complete symposium program and abstracts.]

Imagining Media Change

Symposium of the Initiative for Interdisciplinary Media Research and the American Studies department at the Leibniz University of Hannover, 13 June 2013 (Niedersachsensaal, Conti-Campus)

In the midst of the ongoing digitalization of our contemporary media environment, recent media and cultural studies have developed a renewed interest in the production and staging of technological innovation, in the occurrence and impact of media change, and in the ways these transformations inform the production, circulation, reception, and aesthetics of popular texts and media forms. The emergence of ‘new media’ in particular, it would seem, prompts us to rethink the role of mediating technologies within social and cultural spheres, and to explore how our everyday lives are transformed by a newly digitalized technical infrastructure. Such explorations are necessarily reflexive, however, as our attempts to imagine media change are themselves mediated by cultural texts and technologies in the grip of change. Dynamics of medial self-historicization guide our very thinking about media history: commercial logics, in particular, emphasize the superiority of the new, attest to the inevitability of the past’s obsolescence, and seek to captivate our imaginations with branded visions of the media-technological future. Seeking to look beyond these pressures, a reflexive engagement with recent media change is therefore called upon to reevaluate the impact of previous transitions and transformations throughout media history, and to excavate, if possible, discontinuities and ruptures in the development of modern media as they relate to broader social, cultural, and material processes of change. From a media-archaeological perspective, the history of media emerges not as a straightforward, linear process of technological innovation and implementation, but rather as a discontinuous series of media crises and negotiations of change. Understanding the uneven historical emergence and transformation of different types of media thus promises a renewed understanding not only of historical media, but also of contemporary media change and our present (in)ability to imagine its scope and impact. Crucial to this enterprise is an appreciation of reflexivity itself – a recognition of the fact that when media change, they also change our imaginations, including our imagination of media change. In the face of corporate and other interests that seek to capitalize on this logic and to steer our imaginations of the digital transition for their own benefit, what’s ultimately at stake in a media-archaeological excavation of our medial past and present is therefore nothing less than a political question: Will we be the subjects or merely the objects of “imagining media change”?

The symposium “Imagining Media Change” takes a broad view of media-historical and counter-historical developments and transformations since the nineteenth century, focusing in particular on the reflexive interactions between media undergoing change and media being used to imagine the parameters, effects, and significance of media-technological transformations. We are interested in historical and contemporary visions of change as they are articulated in or pertain to a wide range of media (including film, television, literature, and other visual, aural, textual, or computational media). The one-day symposium aims to bring together a variety of disciplinary perspectives and interests and to facilitate discussion of the material, political, aesthetic, and speculative dimensions of media change. Keynote lectures will be held by Jussi Parikka (University of Southampton, UK) and Wanda Strauven (University of Amsterdam, NL).

For more information about the symposium “Imagining Media Change,” please contact felix.brinker@engsem.uni-hannover.de or refer to the events page (https://medieninitiative.wordpress.com/events/).

Film & TV Reading Group: Imagining Technological Innovation

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In the summer semester 2013, the meetings of the Film & TV Reading Group will be organized around thematic units related to this semester’s overarching theme of “Imagining Media Change.” The first meeting, coming up on April 10, is devoted to “Imagining Technological Innovation.” (It will be followed by “Imagining Cinematic Transformation” on May 8 and “Imagining Media Archaeology” on June 5).

The texts for the first session are:

Franco Piperno, “Technological Innovation and Sentimental Education” (in: Radical Thought in Italy. A Potential Politics. Eds. Paolo Virno and Michael Hardt. Minneapolis & London: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. 122-130.)

and

Jussi Parikka, “Introduction: Cartographies of the Old and New” (in: What Is Media Archaeology? Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. 1-18.)

We are always happy to welcome new participants to our informal discussion group! For more information, please contact Felix Brinker.

Imagining Media Change

imagining_media_change

This coming semester, the Initiative for Interdisciplinary Media Research is proud to present a series of events organized around the topic “Imagining Media Change.” The flyer above (click for a larger view) details these events, which include a series of film screenings, thematically focused discussion groups, and a symposium featuring keynotes by Jussi Parikka and Wanda Strauven!

More details to follow soon…

Happy Halloween, Or: Who’s Afraid of Media Theory?

What’s there to be afraid of anyway? The video above, which I repost here for Halloween, offers one sort of approach to this question by recontextualizing cinematic horror against a more diffuse sort of horror that emanates from a changing media environment.

The video is a screencast of a talk I gave at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Studies Association: “Media Crisis, Serial Chains, and the Mediation of Change: Frankenstein on Film.” Thematizing transitional phenomena of media change and transformation, the paper itself occupies a transitional place between my dissertation, Postnaturalism: Frankenstein, Film, and the Anthropotechnical Interface, and my current postdoctoral research on “Serial Figures and Media Change” (with Ruth Mayer, part of the DFG Research Unit “Popular Seriality–Aesthetics and Practice”).

The talk attempts to excavate a forgotten experiential dimension–an experience of crisis related to changes in the media landscape–that uncannily informs the iconic image of Frankenstein’s monster. The notion that media changes precipitate phenomenological crises, as I put forward here, is informed by Mark Hansen’s view that media define “the environment for life” (or, more generally, the environment for agency, as I propose in Postnaturalism). While media are embodied in discrete apparatic technologies, they are inseparable from the total milieu of agential capacities; media changes thus have both a local and a global dimension, and it is this global aspect (and the networked distribution of human and technical agencies that it signifies) that explains why media changes might occasion affective states of crisis, anxiety, the uncanny, or present themselves as just plain scary.

My talk is also informed by a variety of concerns that I share with people like Jussi Parikka, who along with Garnet Hertz has argued for a conception of “zombie media,” according to which media never simply die but continue to exert a haunting influence that can be appropriated for media-theoretical and artistic purposes. Their essay “Zombie Media: Circuit Bending Media Archaeology into an Art Method,” which Hertz and Parikka presented at the transmediale 2011 in Berlin, is introduced thus:

There is always a better camera, laptop, mobile phone on the horizon: new media always becomes old. We approach this phenomenon under the umbrella term of media archaeology and aim to extend the media archaeological interest of knowledge into an art methodology. Hence, media archaeology becomes not only a method for excavation of the repressed, the forgotten, the past, but extends itself into an artistic method close to Do-It-Yourself (DIY) culture, circuit bending, hardware hacking, and other exercises that are closely related to the political economy of information technology, as well as the environment. Media embodies memory, but not only human memory; memory of things, of objects, of chemicals, and circuits that are returned to nature, so to speak, after their cycle. But these can be resurrected. This embodiment of memory in things is what relates media archaeology to an ecosophic enterprise as well.

(Quoted from here at the transmediale website.) And here is a video of the complete talk:

Zombie Media Talk: Garnet Hertz (ca) and Jussi Parikka (fi) present their “Zombie Media” project from transmediale on Vimeo.

In his “manifesto for digital spectrology,” Parikka expands on the ghostly side of all this, bringing the notion of hauntology into close connection with the materiality of media-technologies and the ecology of media evolution:

Digital Spectrology is that dirty work of a cultural theorist who wants to understand how power works in the age of circuitry. Power circulates not only in human spaces of cities, organic bodies or just plain things and objects. Increasingly, our archaeologies of the contemporary need to turn inside the machine, in order to illuminate what is the condition of existence of how we think, see, hear, remember and hallucinate in the age of software. This includes things discarded, abandoned, obsolete as much as the obscure object of desire still worthy of daylight. As such, digital archaeology deals with spectres too; but these ghosts are not only hallucinations of afterlife reached through the media of mediums, or telegraphics, signals from Mars, the screen as a window to the otherwordly; but in the electromagnetic sphere, dynamics of software, ubiquitous computing, clouds so transparent we are mistaken to think of them as soft. Media Archaeology shares a temporality of the dead and zombies with Hauntology. Dead media is never actually dead. So what is the method of a media archaeologist of technological ghosts? She opens up the hood, looks inside, figures out what are the processual technics of our politics and aesthetics: The Aesthetico-Technical.

– inspired by the work of MicroResearchlab – Berlin/London, the short text was written for Julian Konczak/Telenesia.

Finally, it should not be forgotten that the media-ecological horror of media change is always embedded in (and itself provides a material and affective context for) a political landscape in which technologies are harnessed for oppression, for the maintenance of unequal power distributions, and, of course, for profit. Here, then, are some real-life zombies from #OccupyWallStreet: