2017, May 23 to 26: COURSE: Media Archaeology summer course

Lai-Tze Fan edited this page Jun 1, 2017 · 26 revisions

LF = side note by Lai-Tze Fan

J = Jussi Parikka

D = Darren Wershler

L = Lori Emerson

Media Archaeology summer course

Concordia University, Montréal, Canada



May 23, 2017: DAY 1

Opening Notes

  • introductions around the table

  • Jussi introduces Southampton University's AMT (Archaeologies of Media and Technology) research group

  • Darren notes that this course is part of an ongoing research network between Darren, Lori, and Jussi

  • D: media archaeology in response to neoloberalism of the university, particularly the push for funding under the label of humanities

    • LF: media archaeology as a response to, as Latour describes it, critique "running out of steam"??
  • J: talking about oneself in terms of a lab -research is often conditioned by the site, the conditions

    • towards ideas such as action-oriented theory; D: "archive in motion"
  • D: spaces make arguments; archaeology already has a split to it in its literal material sense vs. the underpinning importance of Foucauldian discourse

    • discourse methodologies and assumptions are different than if you start with a room full of stuff
    • offers a background story about thinking about video games studies being so presentist
    • he built the Residual Media Depot in reaction to the idea of research collections, "rooms full of stuff to teach and research with"
    • in the room, "you can see arguments start to emerge," "connections and affinities that would not have occurred to you otherwise"

Arcade Project discussion

  • conducted with Dr. Ann-Louise Davidson from the Communities and Differential Mobilities research cluster
  • moving towards technology as more than a set of convenient metaphors, something you actually have to do
  • using material objects to ask questions about cultural property, in relation to the yolk between object and law

[going on a tour of TAG and the Depot]


Jussi's discussion of MA

  • in this week, we will move towards ideas of cultural techniques, which build on MA, and then towards conceptions of the lab, then infrastructure
    • theoretical "abstractions" and concrete spaces in which we practice things
  • MA is difficult to give an intro to; seems to be too eclectic, but it never claimed to be one theory
    • it exists in some disciplinary boundaries, so it is similar to other fields that emerges in the 70s and 80s
    • built in response as critiques of the blindspots of existing disciplines
    • e.g. MA asking: what are the medial conditions of literature?

Historical and theoretical background

  • Friedrich Kittler offering input into what is not yet media studies at his time

    • reading 19th C German lit in their medial conditions
    • LF: also famous reading of Dracula
  • post-structuralism enters Germany through people who want to turn it towards media theoretical vocabulary

  • Kittler didn't really consider himself a MAist, but "K effect" still holds

  • consideration of different conditions of existence for technologies

  • film history starts to think in this way, esp through Thomas Elsaesser

  • Erkki Huhtamo on topoi and what comes back in relation to media cultural discourses

  • approach to media used as tools, but tools with contexts that we seek to understand

  • for Jussi, MA is born out of "how to write it as part of narratives, these neglected histories ... these accidents, their undiscovered pasts that problematize problems of press ... complexify what technological change is"

  • combo of theoretical practice, hands-on practice, alternative histories that are still present, alternative temporalities

    • alternative times of media that are not merely written as this neat, tidy historical narrative, but much more of a messy temporal scheme or diagram
    • different solutions to the problem of time, how we narrativize, count, or diagram time
  • MA is not media history bc it doesn't write narratives of media in the same way, esp in relation to the other notion of technical time

    • e.g. MAist Zielinski's deep time

Darren on MA

  • Harold Innis' bias is problematized; any medium and culture is a tension between how culture imagines its relation to spatiality and temporality

    • same for media: will a webpage be here five months from now, for example
    • vs. stuff you want to get rid of: eWaste will be there forever, circulating in other ways
  • Wanda Strauven's reading omits a lot of media history research and alternative approaches to MA:

    • McLuhan and Innis cited in German media history; Innis having a bit of a renaissance
    • feminist media history: Carolyn Marvin, Susan Douglas, maybe Janice Radway on romance novels
    • Jonathan Sterne and Lisa Gitelman interested in format
  • German media history decides it can talk about culture again

    • James Carey (ritual modes of comm), everyday practice (De Certeau, maybe Bourdieu)
    • starts to look compatible with cultural technique
    • has everything to do with cultural and temporal specificities

J: MA as a "traveling discipline"

  • never institutionalized in one place, even though it has this German story

  • Innis pops up more in Wolfgang Ernst -- esp time-specificity applied to really technical circumstances

    • Eigenzeit, time specificity of technical constitution
    • we narrate radio or the computer, but there is a specificity of time as it operates in that machine: e.g. hard drive's speeds
    • these are the not-historical times that help to make these tech function
  • alternative histories of media that may be imaginary, things we forgot about (key since 1980s and 1990s)

  • lack of politics or awareness in social issues in MA perhaps owing to cultural discord

    • Zoe Bello (sp?): how to use artistic, cinematic, audiovisual media to think about alternative histories, of gender, for instance, to address blindspots
  • pedagogy out of Kittler: taught literature, but also programming (Linux)

    • not merely history and aesthetics of media
    • his work on operational systems and hardware is housed at Marlburgh (sp?) Collection

D: Expansion of research questions: beyond canon, as part of network

  • kinds of spatial changes and opportunities that arise from MA, suddenly thinking of books as media

  • a room full of books becomes a different place, can ask different questions of them

    • no longer exclusively about content and interpretation
    • see: Gumbrecht's "Farewell to Interpretation"
    • enough hermeneutics, let's do something in addition, to reapproach arch-canonical texts
  • can use MA talk about art, everyday life, material specificities, capacities of media as objects in a network (discourses, people, bodies, institutions), infrastructural questions thus start to expand

  • J: MA doesn't explain anything unless you give it context; have to do the work of explaining it


PROBES (class presentations)

  • talk about what you've been thinking about; springboard for conversation

Alex Custodio

  • see Custodio's original post

  • read Wolfgang Ernst's "Media Archaeography" (2013)

  • Custodio draws upon Ernst's idea of "generative set of rules and material that produce the musical impression"

    • focuses on algorithmic visual art and writing
  • fractals: recursive, iterative, and infinitely complex

    • is a shape, but contains the shape on and on zoomed out or in
    • occur in nature, music, the body, architecture, art, even trends in the stock market
  • fractals can be understood to have a place in MA bc they are non-narrative

    • re: Ernst's description of MA against narratives of history
  • looks at Microsoft Windows and Media Player that use fractals in their visualizations of music

    • but can think of these visualizations in terms of the visual and auditory output that human senses recognize as different as opposed to cause-and-effect of playing an mp3
    • see quote on pg 66: "Digital memory ignores the aesthetic differences ... between data formats."
  • looks at fractal art in Apothesis software

    • take in more human input, but fractals made through mathematically rendered aesthetics
    • have to be read differently than watercolour painting or a book
  • looks at games and consoles: will be softmodding the Nintendo Wii this week

    • use Wiimote to change iterations of patterns
  • looks at glitches; found a lot for the N64

    • glitches in texture, physics, graphics, sound
      • many in Skyrim in particular
    • not often game breaking, but little blips
    • glitches interfere with the playthrough of games; from a non-narrative perspective, can be useful to offer insight into composition, hidden textures and models and banks of sound
    • "noncultural dimensions of the technological regime" (Ernst 61)
  • fractal output created from a media subject that is inaccessible to the human senses

Yilenia Olibet

  • see Olibet's original post

  • read Jussi Parikka's "Media Theory and New Materialism" (2012)

  • legacy of Kittler's influence in MA

  • has difficulty accepting the posthuman agency that Kittler suggests; agency of machine?

    • Olibet appears to read Kittler as potentially determinist, which is a common idea
  • agency attributed to machine may be a way of extending Foucault's notion of biopolitics

    • expands to consider the technologies of media
  • chose to focus on the e-book reader because it's an object that demonstrates, for Olibet, a "transcendence of materiality"

    • argues that through the e-book, tactical experience of the book is lost, the nostaglic characteristics of the physical book
      • notes the disappearance of the book and broader book culture, network of social interactions
  • LF: I am wary of nostalgia in a revered way. The e-book as a digital reproduction of originally printed text possesses a specific kind of materiality that Parikka notes through his note of the signifiance of medium specificity for media archaeology; this not a question of loss as Olibet frames it so much as it is a question of difference - see: Lisa Gitelman on Paper Knowledge (2014)

  • EDIT: Olibet notes for clarification:

    • "... the ebook reader (as many other devices that allows the storage of contents) is material itself and we should think about it as a material object, even though some rhetorical discourses say that it leads to the 'transcendence of materiality'. Moreover, I was not endorsing nostalgia about the paper book, but just reporting the major arguments that nostalgic people do."
    • LF: thank you for clarifying these important points, Yilenia.

Jonathan Rozenkrantz

  • see Rozenkrantz's original post

  • read Wanda Strauven's "Media Arch: Where Film History, Media Art, and Media (Can) Meet" (2013)

  • mapping of the field of MA implies two types of temporality

  • briefly covers Strauven's three branches of media arch that are connected by four common interests

  • briefly covers four approaches of temporality in MA

    • the old in the new
      • draws upon Bolter and Grusin's remediation
      • talking about remediation implies inherent linearity of time
    • the new in the old
      • Siegfried Zielinski on digging for singularities in the deep time of media
    • recurring topoi
      • Erkki Huhtamo (Jussi already covered this; see above)
    • ruptures and discontinuities
      • Thomas Elsaesser's skepticism towards cyclical understandings of history; Foucauldian study of historical ruptures and epistemic breaks
      • Rozenkrantz intrigued by how Elsaesser circumvents a critique of Zielinkski's review of the new; instead of the new, Elsaesser talks about the otherness of the past

Rozenkrantz's Qs

  • what are the promises and pitfalls of engaging in the study of historical recurrences?

  • what are the promises and pitfalls of celebrating "the new in the old" or of framing media history as a non-cyclical series of ruptures, in order to affirm "the astonishing otherness of the past" (Elsaesser)?

  • thinks its an update of Debord on spectacle and Simon Reynold (2011)'s "retromania"

    • Reynolds: "society so obsessed with cultural artifacts"

Case study: Kung Fury (2015)

  • Swedish Kickstarter project, directed by David Sandberg
  • pastiche of 80s action films ... with time travel, kung fu, and Hitler
  • time machine of a power glove: use of retrospection in the idea of time travel
  • LF: wowwwwwwwwww, the Orientalism of this "kung fury" kung fu. x_X

Discussion Time!

Time, Fractals, Linearity

  • J: post-digital as a way to think of media history

    • a concept that marks a place in relation to contemporary cultural production
    • Florian Kramer and Alessandro Vico discussions of print history
    • not what comes after digital, but thinking of the digital as a historical form of cultural production
    • the retro occupies a place of historicizing of what we otherwise too-broadly think of "the digital"
      • like 80s digital versus today's digital
  • D: fractals are an interesting allegory for what media studies does

    • fractal as something between a line and a 3D object (a fraction between 2D and 3D)
    • Pino curve: a single line can fill up a space and become a plane
    • the very thing you exclusive ends up being constitutive of all natural geometry
      • thinking of MA or British cultural studies in terms of disciplinary exclusion as well
  • J: the actual media history of fractals but there is also an element of camouflage in the military for which fractals would be used

    • non-entertainment history of fractals
    • makes Parikka return to fun questions: what would Kittler say or do, Werner Herzog?
  • Alex: submarine signals could also use them; could use fractal signals to find sunken submarines as well

  • Jeffrey Moro: fractal makes us think about space and time and its boundedness and unboundedness

    • in terms of scaling downwards, inwards, material constraints on the level of pixels
    • atoms become ostensibly discrete, measurable to certain structured principles
    • saving the fractal file fixes it so that it cannot be performed anymore
      • Alex: by saving it, fractal becomes unable to be infinitely small; when you turn it into a jpeg, becomes limited in a file format
  • J: strategic dualism between frozen and processual time that becomes a way to think about notions of cultural production

    • how do we mobilize in the form of objects/artifacts instead of narratives?
    • living archive idea
  • D: fractal generation as a kind of cultural technique

    • see Bernhard Siegert paper on the structures of the grid
    • Strauven doesn't talk about the residual
    • fetishism of discontinuity, and recurrence gets at this
  • we're getting into a conversation about temporality and linearity

  • LF: I made a comment about rhetorical forward-moving history in B&G's remediation: new media "fulfilling the wish" of "old" media

  • NAME: proposal of Indigenous time that is residual, always layered

    • time is less about before and after, and is instead about simultaneity
    • youths being treated with the same respect as the elders, bc they are the elders of the future
  • J: aren't we past the discussions of the old and the new

    • esp re: Foucauldian notions of historical trajectory and how we uses the rupture
    • why do we discuss things in terms of the old and obsolete?
    • epistemological function of talking about rupture is: through which lens are we looking at the past as past?
      • the function of the rupture
    • how do cultural themes mark temporalities for us, such that we start doing things separately
      • how do the afterlives of forgotten things make us start to encourage constant recursiveness that results in such ruptures?
  • non-documentability of the glitch; this encounter has a different timescale

    • this encounter blocks our tools
    • LF: what is the purpose of these tools that you're suggesting?
  • D: Yilenia: speak more to your resistance to Kittler's posthuman idea? Your aversion to this mode of inquiry, media history with an intact human subject

    • Yilenia: other approaches, like Latours, recuperate the social aspects, the human's way of engaging with machines
    • D: Foucault talking about "man": the Real, Imaginary, and Symbolic exist bc there is a real subject (not some 19th C one, a real one), but the one today doesn't believe that they're in control
  • J: approach of anti-humanism in the Deleuzean feminist tradition: way of thinking about posthuman as way of acknowledging postcolonial approach of what human never was, and in terms of radical nonhuman sense - but for Kittler, way of thinking what the human is in relation to existing formative capacity of the human - Deleuze might call this force, but Kittler it's more of a method of historicizing - this is the legacy being mobilized here

E-books & Tech

  • D: e-book is networked, you never read it alone; tracked by Google and stored in a database of analytics (most popular for you, for everyone, etc.)

    • vs. 18th C gentleman reading a novel bc he has the time/money to read a novel
  • Jeffrey: might have to re-think about the linear trajectory of book and print culture in itself

  • D: longer history of the book: there is no book that isn't electromechanically reproduced

    • "thinking about the e-book means you have to think about the book differently"--and this applies to all considerations of media and their complex histories
    • its circulation, its afterlife--all visible once you start to think of the materiality
    • beyond imagery
  • Peter: limitations of feasibility of technology??; vs. "human desire" that recurs as a sort of adjacent possible

    • LF: this human desire doesn't hold ... it already assumes an idea of perfect representation that brings us back to B&G's remediation, as immediacy's ultimate aim is an "interfaceless" interface
    • D: re: institutional push of universities for innovation that is kind of modernist
      • LF: that is also really post-industrial neoliberal


May 24: DAY 2

Opening Notes

  • J: going back to yesterday in the theory

    • German Media Theory (GMT) in relation to Anglo-American tradition
  • Jussi addresses Darren's questions in e-mail:

  • What varieties of media-archaeological methods exist? Can we map them? Which ones are relevant to us? What methodologies from different disciplines? What under broad umbrella of media theory (esp re. Wolfgang Ernst)?

    • thinking of Aufschreibesystem, how are they also epistemological surfaces?
    • what is the work of machines as temporal systems, as interpretive (not human-interpretive) systems? Specific and various temporalities
  • What is the relative import of the material archive and the discursive archive (in Foucault’s sense) to media archaeology?

  • What is the relationship of media archeology as a scholarly discipline to creative practice?

    • media archaeology as creative practice
    • and the other ways in which they can be performed
  • What are media archaeology’s blind spots, i.e., what does it NOT allow us to think?

    • cultural technique as it emerges comes from people related to Kittler, who kind of think of him as a paternal scholarly figure and reference point

Hotspots of German media theory

  • the hotspot of German media theory, besides Berlin of 90s (Kittler's institute of aesthetics), but now the locations are Weimer (Institute for Cultural Techniques), Unenborg (sp??)

    • really around CTs that a lot of conversation has emerged, esp through translation
      • also see Kramer
    • key reference points are probably classic reference of Thomas Macho
      • ‘Symbolic work requires specific cultural techniques, such as speaking, translating and understanding, forming and representing, calculating and measuring, writing and reading, singing and making music’ (Macho, 2008: 99)
  • CT hovering between symbolic meaning systems and material systems: like doors (things that make anthropology work, constructing ideas of inside/outside)

    • e.g. the significance of a line (re: agriculture)
      • think about Karl Schmitz's ideas of normal through territorial lines, geopolitics--all about ploughing the line
  • always a lot of reference to Heidegger

    • techniques through which we have general concepts; helps to make sense of abstractions
    • ASK JUSSI: who wrote the untranslated text on graphical notation systems that are pre-digital?
  • Siegert has always been interested in spaces and how spaces work, especially ships

    • they create specific kinds of realities
    • other forms of writing and writing systems, like calculus; all about concrete practices of inscription
    • things like cataloguing

Questions?

  • D: national crossings of theory; students learn this stuff backwards

    • we tackle the thing in front of us and work backwards to provide context
    • this is a problem of grad school: arriving thinking that you're already supposed to know
    • advice: reading theory is a lot like water skiing; skim across surface, take a fall and get dragged over, and you will get back out again
      • you will figure out the trajectories that are relevant to you
      • so for this course, what can you take from it that you can use? What do you need to figure your problems or questions out?
    • think of this as a collaborative process of knowledge
    • think about the relationship between what you're doing and what you're reading
  • L: things come to you as if the field is already complete, stable, and transcendent

    • but Siegert accounts for how things have come together; e.g. Anglo-American posthuman (Carey Wolf and Kate Hayles)
  • D: Siegert in full polemic mode, there's a kind of performative element to it in order to make a point

  • L: "Weird sensation of being looked at by German eyes."

    • how to compare with Jonathan Sterne piece and his very different British-AngloAmerican tradition?
  • D: media historian and trained archival researcher, but also works with Marxist cultural studies

    • his frequent notion of the "crystallization of social relations" is from Marx
    • but draws from people not in German tradition
  • Jeffrey Moro: we talk a lot about training, what we're training in, and MA becomes space to extend or transform that training

    • our sites of training are hybrid spaces like the Residual Media Depot

LF's response to Jeffrey's note on DH training

  • towards DH offering certificates, diplomas and Jussi's note on co-determination of cultural technique:

  • UK DH is rooted in archival and questions of funding but not with tool making, rather, statistics, preservation, reference

  • German DH on textual analysis that seems to be stemming out of German media theory and the literature and media lens in a way that is still quite fixated on the text but also still, like UK DH, has a lot to do with the specificities of their academic and research structures

    • riffing on Siegert, there are culturally specific cultural techniques in play for DH and ideas of training and what needs to be known
    • and this goes back to Darren's note about the intention of comparative study but then his later point about the significance of translation as a cultural technique albeit with that temporal lag, not just comparative literature but also comparative media as a lens that has been popping up in comp lit conferences that is becoming quite fun
  • D: translation and temporality

    • work of translation as crucial but that there always will be a lag in temporality (of course)
  • J: see PhD of Kittler's assistant: Leibniz in China

    • re: interpretation of the "perfect inscription system"
  • L: MA has helped her think about discipline formation; this is a blindspot in DH

    • LF: value of comparative study in DH!!!!!!!!!! RETURN TO THIS
  • Jeffrey: there's this idea with D that these tools are portable across countries and disciplines

  • L: maybe its power relies on not talking about these things

  • D: it's aspirational and the claims are large

    • Ted Underwood: "we've kind of had peak DH." Maybe it's not going to become more than this is, and the discourse starts to shift
  • D: thinking of national discourse, was in Florence and saw a sign that says phone was created in Italy

    • "In Canada, not so much."
    • "Remember that translation is never symmetrical."
  • L: the cultural technique of the development of ideas

    • DH: 2008-2012 compressed history
    • cultural technique has had a life of about 20 years so far
  • J: what are CT in theory? Ad how we perform disciplines.

    • theory is not that thing where you go to books an read and think
    • it involves questions of writing, expanding thoughts, disciplinary formations
    • what is being written out (of a body, in a performance), in which ways are things written out or acknowledged
      • this is a part of a discpline as a cultural technique, leaves out certain things, and this is how it becomes political
      • think about in relation to different fields: object-oriented ontology is a thing that makes itself perform itself
  • Jeffrey Moro: is there a progressive idea with the idea of a technnology behind every cultural technique

  • D: mutually constitutive; this is why Siegert talks about chains of things

    • technique is preceding the object, but there is a subjectivation project there (we are also produced)
  • L: number of different notions of time being used in cultural techniques

    • it can be a cut up-and-down: layers of technology
    • linear arcs of time
  • Jonathan Rozenkrantz: J Sterne seems to suggest not to describe objects in their own terms

    • but he's trying to reconcile with his background in film studies: as precisely constructing our objects, with pre-constituted theories and materialities
    • a way of silencing cinema by reading everything through, say, psychoanalysis
    • what he wants to do is describe the material in its own terms instead of applying theory to it; tension of material and a precession of theory
  • D: Sterne is not doing MA, but Bourdieuan field theory

    • difference in how Sterne talks about technique and GMT
    • LF: compare with Jacques Ellul's technique
    • D: problem of hermeneutics: take a theory and plop it on as hermeneutics and look for the gaps of the theory
      • transition in the 60s from Derrida to Foucault: deconstruction and syntax --> an examination of discourse (symbolic relations, conditions under which it's possible to say something or not)
      • see: pharmacon from Derrida's famous translator (missed the name; it was a woman, not Spivak)
      • interpretive method can just offer lenses through which to re-legitimize the canon, so you never get to question your methods of thinking
    • LF: hrm...maybe not the case through critique of critique (Latour)

PROBES (class presentations)

Peter Zakrzewki

  • read Jonathan Sterne's "Bourdieu, Technique, and Technology" (2003)

  • discussion style of presentation

  • considers the idea of epistemological break

  • construct the object of study and then find the right lens to approach it for study

  • L: Sterne getting us to think about how we think we understand

    • Lori thinks concretely, so like a water bottle
    • common sense understanding is that it's just a water bottle, and then idea of construction: what bodies has this been designed for?
  • quote from Parikka: new software culture archaeologies as a doubled lens:

    1. genealogies in which media are always formed in intermedial relations, and as conditions for sensation
    2. archaeologies of media in the technical sense; digging under the screen in order to reveal the conditions of the present
  • Sterne: study of tech to think about "relationship between embodied experience, organized movement and the organization of society"

    • in comparison to Lisa Gitelman's social protocols and delivery systems
  • habitus as embodied social knowledge

    • LF: embedded in the way of cultural technique?
    • LF: compare with Vilém Flusser's habit of writing ... no longer thinking about the process of writing
  • brings in Andy Clark's idea of humans as "natural born cyborgs"

  • LF: but his description of the affinity of humans for technology does not acknowledge the move away from anti-human and the non-human

    • my repeated question about media archaeology and cultural technique: who do cultural techniques exclude or omit?
  • Jeffrey Moro: iconography and key names as cultural techniques; the non-human body of the computer has to be trained out of older ways of thinking and structuring

  • L: glass to give the illusion of transparency despite spatial exclusion

  • J: rituals as a parallel to cultural techniques

Abelardo G. Fournier

  • read Geoffrey Winthrop-Young's "Cultural Techniques: Preliminary Remarks" (2013)

  • will look at agriculture itself

  • water reservoirs and draining paths, to implement agriculture that is a part of environmental engineering

  • probe of one of these techniques: WATERING

  • GWY on the contrast between culture and nature

  • LF: I am suddenly reminded of Wallace Stevens: "I placed a jar in Tennessee, and round it was, upon a hill. It made the slovenly wilderness surround that hill.""

  • Fournier covers Spanish history of agriculture and space-making vis-à-vis a move towards technocratic social system (LF: see Neil Postman)

  • chains of operation starting with irrigation techniques connect land to water reservoirs, represented through the image

  • opening and closing flood gates linked to instrumental role of aerial photography had in the land-design of the system

  • GWY incites Eigenpraxis--a mix of agencies involved

    • no sort of master-slave relation, more of a dialogue or negotiation of possibilities opened by bodies of instructure (soil, human participation, "human glue" in the assemblage)
    • ends on the role of soil itself in relation to dust bowls

Lai-Tze Fan

Jason Lajoie

  • see Lajoie's original post

  • also read Jonathan Sterne's "Bourdieu, Technique, and Technology" (2003)

  • Eugene Sandow's Cabinet of Curiosities

  • interested in closeted practices in which technologies become associated with

  • Pillow Talk image playing footsies through the screen

    • idea of their being brought into proximity through the telephone
  • Grindr offer digital proximity via the interface of Grindr photos and all of the images

  • instead of decorporializing of the body, this is the male body that is within your grasp, that you're literally holding in yoru hand

  • interested in thinking of best methods, suitable practices, applicable theories

    • considering a Barthes-like reading of these images

Discussion Time!

  • D: stop thinking of symbolic content and start to think of form

    • Suspense as a film directed by a woman and one of the only ones that uses a triangular screen
    • as a woman runs away from a rapist, frantic race back to the house triangulated in sections of the screen
  • single screen of a post-card image to the kinethescope

  • getting past a semiotics of the image, past McLuhan's medium is the msg, have to think of chains of operation to understand what's going on

    • LF: one of the readings we did made this comment that revisits "extensions of man"
  • L: MA is good at looking at static images, could be good for Jason's look at postcards vs. the system of Grindr

    • LF: open source as a methodology?
  • for the digital, it is ephemeral (but also not ephemeral bc corporations have records) and the whole point of Grindr is that there is no record

  • L: re: looking at objects individually in a networked age, networked readings must be done with thorough qualifications

    • Friday reading on things at the bottom of the ocean, but bracketing out the network part of it is important
  • Alan Liu writes a paper from Network Archaeologies conference on how to construct an archaeology of networks

    • L: bc they're infrastructural, you can't do an archaeology of a network. Theoretically yes, pragmatically no.
    • LF: how about Bourdieuan metaphor of a field as an organizing structure
  • Sebastian Isman (sp?) has a book on archaeology of networks from nets and fishing

  • Sterne on "What was Media Archaeology" -- Darren has the clip



May 25: DAY 3

Opening Notes

  • L: relative to the Jentery Sayers reading on DIY, see Sterne quote on resisting technological WW:perfection

    • nostalgia works in strange ways in media labs
    • as we talk about MA, what does it actually look like to do a media archaeology project?
    • there's very little reading that walks people through this, so labs are crucial
    • stages of engagement with functionality and temporality with objects
  • labs as performative spaces in themselves

  • her own lab space is a basement of a house from the 1940s

    • used to be for family housing, so she explains the structure
  • Bruno Latour - Laboratory Life--on lab spaces and infrastructural thinking

  • Lori compares with the work of DH vis-à-vis institutional pressure

  • J: instituting as enabling a way to look at constructions of institutions without having to step outside of them (that is, as members of them already)

    • why a lab, why now a lab?
  • L: no one has a clear idea of what ahumanities art lab looks like

  • D: so much of this is based on a cultural imaginary (psychoanalytic sense of what we would desire/imagine a lab to be)

    • relative to our sense of what a lab is supposed to be
  • D: Stuart Hall's encoding-decoding, there are limits within which you can conceive something

    • relative to the idea of how we define things such as art: how do we assert it, where does that come from, and from what position of privilege allows us to say it
  • J: gives the example of Bauhaus

    • lab as entry of materials into the studio
    • what kind of materials enter the lab, the studio, what materials are part of artistic process
    • mix of heritage in tech labs and experiences of WWII and Cold War, among other influences
    • a re-telling of the avant-garde that keeps coming back
    • if you put Cold War studio lab descriptions in the contemporary circumstance, it could come across as another DH manifesto
    • certain places working in and as part of lineage of avant-garde--referring to Bauhaus, US New Bauhaus, and then the ways they become crystallized as they self-narratve
    • idea of MIT as the center of inventing future technologies
  • D: scientific practice gets picked up by artist

    • information genres--recipe cards, shopping lists, phone books--are forms of writing that are artifacts of modernity, necessary as part of modernity
    • but so much of avant-garde is about taking these boring things and using them from a critical aesthetic perspective
  • L: strangeness of importing scientificity, doing so in spaces that have nothing to do with labs

    • it would be useful to read a text on how economic structures influence art funding
    • Svensson reading has so much about what humanities labs should look like--but who has this kind of power and money?

Lori's presentation on the Boulder-Colorado Media Archaeology Lab

  • starts by talking about issues of accessibility

  • Lori discusses her interview with Wolfgang Ernst

    • also mentions Nick Montford's Trope Tank
  • in a discussion of her own lab, the Media Archaeology lab at Boulder-Colorado

    • originally called the Archaeological Media Lab in 2009
    • meant to look at electronic literature
    • had a look at bp Nicol's First Screening using the original Apple IIe
    • Q: what could it look like on different platforms?
  • 2012, was given the basement that it's currently in

  • "If it's a museum at all, it's an anti-museum museum"

    • but has been difficult to disrupt the museum aura and forbiddenness of the rows of machines
  • in Ernst's lab, he groups by functionality instead of type

  • interested in collecting computers not from North America, like from Sweden and East Germany

  • a lot of what happens in the lab occurs not through money but through people giving their time/effort, so she tries to make it a community endeavour

  • Printed Matter

  • has a lot of manuals about how to double click, how to use a mouse

  • and office manuals: lots of typewriter manuals, how to make photocopies

    • REVISIT: ARE THESE GENDERED IN RHETORIC? WHEN?
  • sometimes she takes the lab on the road

  • part of new PhD program on Intermedia Arts, Writing, and Performance

  • Jamie Allen's term "apocrypha media," where Apocrypha were not authenticated books of the bible

    • included but not officially; included but excluded

Further discussion

  • Jeffrey Moro mentions Food Lab cookbook; chef may have trained at MIT, but there's constant reference to his scientificity

    • but the feminized aspects of home economics is completely omitted
  • the real politic of running a lab: being on display, being visual, in order to attract donor money

    • weird salesforce for the university
  • D: re: elitism and exclusion of certain labs and academic circles (massive structural integrity), can we make a space, can we make arguments that argue otherwise?

    • re: massive structural integrity, begins at a very humble level: at the interface
    • blackbox aesthetic: not caring about the interface or design aspect of it, since "the only people that matter" are the ones who know what's going on inside the machine
  • L: how to set aside the human and just come to perceive the machine

  • J: Critical Engineering Manifesto

  • D: "technological folk knowledge": like blowing on cartridges, it's like giving chicken soup to sick people

  • L: have to keep bringing people into the space, new people, and end up kind of doing an ethnographic study

    • and see what kind of folk knowledge they have to bring (like people in their 50s)
    • can't just tell people to come; it takes years of building it into her courses, getting colleagues to put it into syllabi
    • in her lab, there is a docent to walk people through how to use machines
      • also useful to have little stickers on individual machines that say things like: How to turn on machine: one line; what does it do? one line; Try this!: one line.
  • Alex: in terms of people not coming, not using the space, is it bc they feel they don't belong in the space? Imposter of a space?

    • public space versus curator space
    • L: this is a gendered imposter syndrome, gendered space
  • L: slogans do nothing, have to actively work to bring people in

  • LF: museum aura and forbiddenness; the didacticism of curated spaces: the difference between an open space and directorial lines

  • D: see Tony Bennett on museum studies; museum creates a certain kind of reverence

  • J: lab and curatorial discourse; participatory element has emerged

    • see: Exhibition Research Lab
    • notion of the gallery as a space for experimentation?
    • attempt to work with parameters that aren't always grassroots either
    • top-lead as well; two-directional pull
  • WY pg 9: coalesce into entities--Lori thought he would then talk about objects, but no, spoke about subjects

  • Nicole Starosielski -- on heat media


PROBES (class presentations)

Jeffrey Moro

  • see Moro's original post

  • read Svensson's "Humanities Infrastructure" (2016)

  • Moro's question: who or what gets to be infrastructural?

  • putting pressure on: anything can be infrastructure

  • thinking infrastructurally to refine ways of looking at the humanities

    • puts pressure on the fact that the idea of what the humanities are gets to be this strategic empty space that infrastructural thinking gets to help us map out
  • Svensson proposes three foci: translucence, flexibility, intensity

Examples

  • first looks at Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities

  • aesthetic tropes in these spaces, the classroom we're in

    • kind of modular, tables and chairs on wheels, glass walls, dry-erase walls, saturated colours, tangle of cables, fridges, coffee machines, signs of recent catering, Sans Serif font, ample white space
    • from tech start-ups to yoga studios
  • makes Moro think of the humanities centre relative to emerging aesthetic languages

  • returning to Svensson's transluence, flexibility, intensity

    • when he says "big," not so much big data (but also big data); more big tent (welcome of DH into big tent of exclusivity and broadening of what the DH would/could be)
  • DH happens in public, interdisciplinary, requires DH to "merge in mutually non-threatening ways"

    • seems like big DH can't keep still: chairs are always moving, roaming-ness as epistemic anxiety?
  • Miriam Posner to DH community: fund people and not projects

    • difficulty of committing to a human being over time in such spaces
  • when we talk about objects of infrastructure, easy for people to fall out

    • easy to theorize archive, but trickier to talk about archivists
    • see: Robert Mcruer's Crypt Theory: compulsory able-bodiedness

Lilli Sihvonen

  • read Jentery Sayers' "Make, Not Brand: DIY after Big Data", "The Relevance of Remaking," and "The MLab: An Infrastructural Disposition"

  • remake (a new version) versus re-version

    • "an updated version of an individual cultural object or a product"
  • Sihvonen will consider how both remake and re-version apply to television series as well as other objects

    • specifically looks at BumtsiBum!, which she argues serves as an archive
  • remaking as a way to understand history

    • turns itself into an object of the past
  • re-version as a way to understand the history of an individual object

    • looking at success, one understands why some things failed
  • example: TV show BumtsiBum! (original from 1997-2005) and remake from 2017

  • considerations of maker remake, scholarly purposed-remake, and commercial remake

    • whereby watching the show in your living room turns the living room into a kind of lab

Discussion Time!

  • re-version and remake

  • Lilli: re-versions are about classics, but in order for something to be a classic, you have to give it time to rest

  • Jonathan R: death of cinema and rebirth of cinema in Be Kind, Rewind

    • D: look up low-budget cosplay
  • Alex: spaces ostensibly designed to be used, re-designing space

    • and putting up limitations to keep people from using it
    • discriminatory usability can point to how things are usually designed to be usable, what is usable--in order to understand the "niceness" of design
    • a kind of massive-scale infrastructural evilness is revealed
  • I mention grant forms and the difficulty to fill some of them out

    • D: SSHRC forms used to be green and you couldn't use whiteout; maybe to limit number of applications
    • J: difficulty and discrimination of filling out immigration forms as a kind of (Matthew Fuller's and SOMEONE's) evil media
      • systematics of infrastructural that are evil
  • essay on "Exclusive Surfaces"--by whom?

  • D: English method as the shiny thing that's lying around, like deconstruction

    • L: not convinced close reading is method
  • D: this is one reason DH is a problem for people outside of English; there's a dept of people over there that's been doing this for 80 years

  • Jeffrey: obsession with toolkits, different types of aural histories, configurations

    • vs. English: produce methodology in concert with the thing that is the object of your study
    • but that can become untenable at some point
  • D: one of the problems of interdisciplinarity is that "I can use your discipline but you can't use mine."

    • how scientists talk about the poetic
    • but poets don't get to talk about science?
  • Jeffrey: Timothy Morton using quantam physics in his writing, but there's the question of whether or not he's using the ideas correctly

  • D: that can be used against it; Nietzsche: "art is not a mirror, it is a hammer"

  • repeated idea over the past few days: the university as an institution creates certain kinds of subjects; disciplines and their discourses create certain kinds of knowledge

  • Renée Shar: "Develop your legitimate strangeness."

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