Out Now: Serial Figures and the Evolution of Media in NECSUS

Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 12.53.38 AM

The latest issue of NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies has just come out. As always, it is freely accessible as an open-access publication, and it is chock full of articles, reviews, audiovisual essays, and a special section on “Mapping.”

Among the feature articles is an article I co-authored with Ruth Mayer on “Border Crossings: Serial Figures and the Evolution of Media” — a text that outlines some of the topics we covered in our research project within the DFG Research Unit on “Popular Seriality” from 2010 – 2013. This is a slightly revised translation of a text that first appeared in German in Frank Kelleter’s edited collection Populäre Serialität: Narration – Evolution – Distinktion. Zum seriellen Erzählen seit dem 19. Jahrhundert. We are happy to see this text made available in English, and especially happy that it found a home at NECSUS, which is the perfect venue for this transatlantic and interdisciplinary kind of media studies work.

Check out the whole issue here!

Advertisements

Techno-Phenomenology, Medium as Interface, and the Metaphysics of Change

Reno_1902_escalator_patent

On June 17, 2013, I will be presenting a paper at the conference “Conditions of Mediation: Phenomenological Approaches to Media, Technology and Communication” at Birkbeck, University of London. There’s a diverse and interesting group of keynote speakers, including David Berry, Nick Couldry, Graham Harman, Shaun Moores, Lisa Parks, and Paddy Scannell, and a list of other presenters — among whom I am proud to be counted — has also gone online now.

Below is the abstract for my modest contribution:

Techno-Phenomenology, Medium as Interface, and the Metaphysics of Change

Shane Denson, Leibniz Universität Hannover

Walter Benjamin famously argued that the emergence of modern media of technical reproducibility (photography, film) corresponded to sweeping changes in the organization of what he calls the “medium” of sense perception. To a skeptic like film scholar David Bordwell, Benjamin’s “modernity thesis” (along with Tom Gunning’s related arguments about the “culture of shock”) is pure hyperbole, for cognitive structures are subject to the slow processes of biological evolution while impervious to rapid technological change. The debate has tended to reach impasses over questions of the causal agencies and effects of media change—e.g. whether they concern the broad cultural domain of discourse and signification or the “hard-wiring” of the brain itself. In this presentation, I argue that a “techno-phenomenological” approach—which (following cues from Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Don Ihde, among others) focuses on the embodied interfaces in which human intentionalities are variously mediated by technologies—enables us to see media change as involving experiential transformations that are at once robustly material, and hence not restricted to cultural or psycho-semiotic domains, while still compatible with the long durations of biological evolution. An “anthropotechnical interface,” based in proprioceptive and visceral sensibilities, will be shown to constitute the primary site of media change.

Imagining Cinematic Transformation

relocation_of_cinema_wordle

On Wednesday, May 8, 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 Cinematic Transformation” (part of a semester-long series of events detailed here). The texts are:

1) Francesco Casetti, “The Relocation of Cinema,” _NECSUS_ 2 (2012): online at http://www.necsus-ejms.org/the-relocation-of-cinema/

2) Thomas Elsaesser and Malte Hagener, “Conclusion: digital cinema — the body and the senses refigured?”, in: _Film Theory: An Introduction through the Senses_. New York and London: Routledge, 2010. 170-187.

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/).

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…