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robertogreco : mediatheory   6

"The Observational Practices Lab, Parsons, (co-directed by Pascal Glissmann and Selena Kimball) launches a multi-phase project and investigation, OBJECT AMERICA, to explore the idea of “America” through everyday objects. The aim is to use comparative research and observational methods—which may range from the scientific to the absurd—to expose unseen histories and speculate about the future of the country as a concept. The contemporary global media landscape is fast-moving and undercut by “fake news” and “alternative facts” which demands that students and researchers build a repertoire of strategies to assess and respond to sources of information. For the first phase of OBJECT AMERICA launching in the fall of 2017, we invited Ellen Lupton, Senior Curator of Contemporary Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, to choose an object for this investigation which she believed would represent “America” into the future (she chose the Model 500 Telephone by Henry Dreyfuss designed in 1953). Researchers will investigate this object through different disciplinary lenses — including art, climate science, cultural geography, data visualization, economics, history of mathematics, medicine, media theory, material science, music, poetry, and politics — in order to posit alternative ways of seeing."

[via: ]
objects  pascalglissmann  selenakimball  ellenlupton  art  climate  science  culturalgeography  datavisualization  economics  mathematics  math  medicine  mediatheory  materialscience  music  poetry  politics  seeing  waysofseeing  geography  culture  history  climatescience  dataviz  infoviz 
october 2017 by robertogreco
The Anthropoid Condition - The Los Angeles Review of Books
[via: "Great interview w/ John D. Peters at @LAReviewofBooks: . A lot of people think they’re smart; Peters is really smart."

"Peters’s new book, “The Marvelous Clouds,” is easiest the smartest thing I’ve read in a ages, btw. " ]

"BRÍAN HANRAHAN: What distinguishes your understanding of 'media' in The Marvelous Clouds from other, maybe better-known uses of the term?

JOHN DURHAM PETERS: 'Media' is one of those terms whose meaning is as imprecise as a plate of spaghetti. And like 'spaghetti,' few can tell if it is a plural or singular noun. My academic preference is to say “media are” with a plural verb in order to underline the diversity of media forms and formats, but most people are happy to talk about media as a mass noun and use the term to refer to everything from journalists and publicity to furnace filters and hard drives. In the field of media studies, media typically are more clearly defined as a cluster of institutions, audiences, and programs (e.g., Disney, BBC, or Google), but there is a minority tradition I favor that sees media more broadly as staples, environments, and data processors of all kinds — as elements in the middle. Some of my critics say this view stretches the concept beyond its breaking point, but I believe ubiquitous computing has already stretched media more than our concepts have: thanks to digital transformations, media are so environmentally pervasive that we need an encompassing definition to match. Theory is usually playing catch-up.

BRÍAN HANRAHAN: The book delves into innumerable subjects, skipping through dozens of disciplines: anthropology, zoology, theology, astronomy, the history of technology, cultural history of many kinds, philosophy and literature and more. But if there is one term that you seem to identify with, it is 'media theory.' On the face of it, that might seem a modest label for such a broad vision. So what is “media theory,” as you understand it, and what can be learned from it?

JOHN DURHAM PETERS: Glad that you think it is a matter of skipping rather than skidding! The book presupposes a view of knowledge and research that it doesn’t spell out at any length. What would the university look like if we took seriously the mortality of the human knower and the responsibility to speak to the species rather than only to one’s peers? I believe it would be a less turfy, more humble, and more interdisciplinary place, one less focused on the newest thing and more open to long stretches of time.[i] Labeling fields of study often amounts to little more than a branding exercise, so my unpretentious choice of “media theory” is, among other things, an indirect comment on academic tribalism. Media theory has almost no barriers to entry — you’d be amazed at how readily some people opine on media without any sense of the field’s traditions or concepts — and almost anyone can call themselves a media theorist; as beings who live in the middle, in medias res, I think that every human being is potentially such a creature. Media theory, at its best, is a means of seeking greater awareness of the basic conditions in which we live.

BRÍAN HANRAHAN: Clouds, unlike fire, sky, and sea, don’t get chapters to themselves in the book, but they are in the title, and they are a recurring motif. What is so interesting about clouds for a media theorist and historian?

JOHN DURHAM PETERS: Clouds are interesting because they bring together so many great questions. It’s hard to boil down something I’ve thought so much about, but here goes.[ii]

First, clouds raise very fundamental questions of where significance lies. Clouds are often thought to be blank and meaningless, the playthings of whimsy. Hardly. Few things are so packed with meaning. Once you start looking at clouds, you see them everywhere in art, literature, religion, and popular culture, and of course in the sky. The question of what clouds mean is a deep one; reading clouds is the paradigm case of how to interpret nature and how not to. Clouds tell us about the weather and the future, and reading the sky is a basic human task; in Iowa, where I live, like many places, clouds are among the most spectacular forms of natural beauty. Of course, there is a long tradition of scorn starting from at least Aristophanes aimed at anyone who finds meaning in clouds, but it is just as foolish to say clouds have no meaning (ask a sailor, pilot, or farmer if clouds mean nothing). The meaning that remains once you subtract human intention turns out to be rich, and I argue that media theory should take this abundant zone of meaning seriously.

Second, from the poison gas clouds of World War I to the mushroom cloud of World War II to the data cloud today, clouds are telling historical markers. While writing the book, I would tell people I was writing about clouds, and they’d sometimes respond, Oh, I work in IT too! (The cloud metaphor, with its hints of benign oversight and calm flow, richly serves the ideological interests of the IT industry.) That the default meaning of “cloud” has become “server-based data storage” is a symptom of nature being absorbed by technology and technology becoming second nature. It is remarkable how casually we accept this monstrous hybrid of atmospheric aerosols and computing infrastructure without a second thought. Clouds are thus a symptom of what it is fashionable to call the anthropocene, the geological epoch in which human agency alters nature radically.

Third, clouds are an elemental background that surrounds us — and unnoticed environments are prime territory for media theory. A central point of the book is that if we define media as carriers of significance then media should include natural elements; studying aerosol clouds and data clouds side by side gives me a way to make this point.

Fourth, clouds raise two fundamental problems in media theory: how to record phenomena that exist in time and how to represent ones that do not conform to a symbolic system.

Regarding recording, the book is a meditation on how media capture and fail to capture time, and clouds are a good example of entities whose nature is to vanish. Clouds illustrate media ontology. Like sounds and music, clouds exist by disappearing. They exist in time. Clouds are highly material — just this morning so much rain dumped on southeastern Iowa as to trigger flashflood warnings again — and their dynamic materiality is suggestive for media under volatile digital conditions (probably one reason the cloud metaphor took hold so readily).

Regarding representing, clouds bear significance, but without any code to clarify what they mean. Their meanings are essentially vague. The history of cloud media, in painting and photography, is the struggle to capture sensuous objects that are also abstract. (The sky was painting abstract impressionist images long before humans did!) Clouds are the original white noise. Well before analog media such as film and sound recording broke the stranglehold of the symbolic in the late nineteenth century, painters struggled to depict cloud colors and forms, often with stunning results. The ability to represent the indefinite is one of the great achievements of modern mathematics and media, and clouds were at the vanguard here too. If you want to understand how meaning works, you have to understand vagueness, and clouds are a chief example.

Finally, clouds have long been associated with thinking, philosophizing and ultimate things, so they fit my atmospheric interests well. I know the title opens me up to wisecracks about academic loftiness. But in a world run by data-analytics Luftmenschen, it is good to get reacquainted with clouds and other kinds of sky media.

BRÍAN HANRAHAN: Why does the media culture of cetaceans, as you imagine it, play such a large role in your history of planetary technics? And what distinguishes your approach from previous thinking about the cetacean world? As you point out, dolphins and whales have long been subjects of utopian fantasy, as well as scientific communications research.

JOHN DURHAM PETERS: Cetaceans, the family of whales, porpoises, and dolphins, are often considered among the most intelligent animals on earth (especially dolphins), but they lack the infrastructures that anchor human existence such as feet, hands, fire, clothing, writing, right angles, celestial orientation, and all other forms of technology. Cetaceans thus present a kind of thought experiment about what it might be like to live in a technology-free habitat. Cetaceans could have techniques — say, of dancing, fishing, or communicating — but they could not have technologies, i.e., made materials that shape other materials, including their environments and minds. They live in habitats immune to fabrication, and thus offer a stark contrast to the human “technosphere,” our domesticated bubble of carbon and silicon, GMO crops and insulation. Intelligent marine mammals offer a radical alternative, at least in thought, to our essentially and externally technical history, and show us how much of what we take to be human depends on our technical supports."

[too much to quote]
johnduhampeters  matthomas  2015  interviews  media  feminism  clouds  cloud  infrastructure  hubris  cetaceans  anthropocene  technology  technosphere  technosolutionism  siliconvalley  writing  history  inderdisciplinary  silos  whitenoise  time  meaning  online  internet  tribalism  academia  mediatheory  slow  zoominginandout  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  transdisciplinary 
july 2015 by robertogreco [Flusser Studies]
"Flusser Studies is an international e-journal for academic research dedicated to the thought of Vilém Flusser (1920-1991). In addition to publishing articles about Flusser’s work, the journal seeks to promote scholarship on different aspects of specifically interdisciplinary and multilingual approaches Flusser himself developed in the course of his career as a writer and philosopher. These approaches range from Communication Theory to Translation Studies, Cultural Anthropology to the New Media.

Flusser wrote his texts in different languages, translating himself over and over again, moving from English, to Portuguese, German, French and back again. Similarly he worked by juxtaposing and contaminating different discourses: philosophy, anthropology, communication theory, art and design, zoology to mention only a few.

Among his most original contributions in this context are his philosophical fictions - above all Vampyroteuthis infernalis - scientific fables on the borderline of literature, science and philosophy.

Flusser Studies is published twice a year. Publication languages include English, German, French, Portuguese, Czech, Spanish and Italian. Some issues will be dedicated to a specific area of research."
vilémflusser  mediatheory  philosophy 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Aesthetics of Dispersed Attention: Interview with German Media Theorist Petra Löffler :: net critique by Geert Lovink
"GL: You got a fascinating chapter in your habilitation about early cinema and the scattering of attention it would be responsible for. The figure of the nosy parker that gawks interests you and you contrast it to the street roaming flaneur.

PL: Yes, the gawker is a fascinating figure, because according to my research results it is the corporation of the modern spectator who is also a member of a mass audience––the flaneur never was part of it. The gawker or gazer, like the flaneur, appeared at first in the modern metropolis with its multi-sensorial sensations and attractions. According to Walter Benjamin the flaneur disappeared at the moment, when the famous passages were broken down. They had to make room for greater boulevards that were able to steer the advanced traffic in the French metropolis. Always being part of the mass of passers-by the gawker looks at the same time for diversions, for accidents and incidents in the streets. This is to say his attention is always distracted between an awareness of what happens on the streets and navigating between people and vehicles. No wonder movie theatres were often opened at locations with a high level of traffic inviting passers-by to go inside and, for a certain period of time, becoming part of an audience. Furthermore many films of the period of Early Cinema were actualities showing the modern city-life. In these films the movie-camera was positioned at busy streets or corners in order to record movements of human and non-human agents. Gawkers often went into the view of the camera gesticulating or grimacing in front of it. That’s why the gawker has become a very popular figure mirroring the modern mass audience on the screen.

Today to view one’s own face on a screen is an everyday experience. Not only CCTV-cameras at public spaces record passers-by, often without their notice. Also popular TV-shows that require life-participation such as casting shows once more offer members of the audience the opportunity to see themselves on a screen. At the same time many people post their portraits on websites of social networks. They want to be seen by others because they want to be part of a greater audience––the network community. This is what Jean Baudrillard has called connectivity. The alliance between the drive to see and to being seen establishes a new order of seeing which differs significantly from Foucault’s panoptical vision: Today no more the few see the many (panopticon) or the many see the few (popular stars)––today, because of the multiplication and connectivity of screens in public and private spaces, the many see the many. Insofar, one can conclude, the gawker or gazer is an overall-phenomenon, a non-specific subjectivity of a distributed publicity."

"GL: I can imagine that debates during the rise of mass education, the invention of film are different from ours. But is that the case? It is all pedagogy, so it seems. We never seem to leave the classroom.

PL: The question is, leaving where? Entering the other side (likewise amusement sites or absorbing fantasies)? Why not? Changing perspectives? Yes, that’s what we have to do. But for that purpose we don’t have to leave the classroom necessarily. Rather, we should rebuilt it as a room of testing modes of thinking in very concrete ways. I’m thinking of Jacques Rancière’s suggestions, in his essay Le partage du sensible, about the power relation between teachers and pupils. Maybe today teachers can learn more (for instance soft skills) from their pupils than the other way around. We need other regimes of distribution of power, also in the classroom, a differentiation of tasks, of velocities and singularities—in short: we need micropolitics.

More seriously, your question indicates a strong relationship between pedagogy and media. There’s a reason why media theorists like Friedrich Kittler had pointed to media’s affinity to propaganda and institutions of power. I think of his important book Discourse Networks, where he has revealed the relevance of mediated writing techniques for the formation of educational institutions and for subjectivation. That’s why the question is, what are the tasks we have to learn in order to exist in the world of electronic mass media? What means ‘Bildung’ for us nowadays?

GL: There is an ‘attention war’ going on, with debates across traditional print and broadcast media about the rise in distraction, in schools, at home. On the street we see people hooked on their smart phones, multitasking, everywhere they go. What do you make of this? This is just a heightened sensibility, a fashion, or is there really something at stake? Would you classify it as petit-bourgeois anxieties? Loss of attention as a metaphor for threatening poverty and status loss of the traditional middle class in the West? How do you read the use of brain research by Nicholas Carr, Frank Schirrmacher and more recently also the German psychiatrist Manfred Spitzer who came up with a few bold statement concerning the devastating consequences of computer use for the (young) human brain. Having read your study one could say: don’t worry, nothing new under the sun. But is this the right answer?

PL: Your description addresses severe debates. Nothing less than the future of our Western culture seems to be at stake. Institutions like the educational systems are under permanent critique, concerning all levels from primary schools to universities. That’s why the Pisa studies have revealed a lot of deficits and have provoked debates on what kind of education is necessary for our children. On the one hand it’s a debate on cultural values, but on the other it’s a struggle on power relations. We are living in a society of control, and how to become a subject and how this subject is related to other subjects in mediated environments are important questions.

A great uncertainty is emerged. That’s why formulas that promise easy solutions are highly welcomed. Neurological concepts are often based on one-sided models concerning the relationship between body and mind, and they often leave out the role of social and environmental factors. From historians of science such as Canguilhem and Foucault one can learn that psychiatrist models of brain defects and mental anomalies not only mirror social anxieties, but also produce knowledge about what is defined as normal. And it is up to us as observers of such discourses to name those anxieties today. Nonetheless, I would not signify distraction as a metaphor. It is in fact a concrete phase of the body, a state of the mind. It’s real. You cannot deal with it when you call it a disability or a disease and just pop pills or switch off your electronic devices."
via:litherland  attention  distraction  2013  petralöffer  geertlovink  walterbenjamin  flaneur  gawkers  cities  internet  audience  diaphanesverlag  montaigne  albertkümmel  siegfriedkracauer  frankfurterschule  kant  tibot  psychology  daydreaming  media  mediaarchaeology  richardshusterman  film  micropolitics  friederichkittler  education  subjectivation  massmedia  bildung  nicholascarr  sherryturkle  frankschirrmacher  culture  values  culturalvalues  brain  bernardstiegler  socialmedia  marketing  entertainment  propaganda  deepreading  petersloterdijk  mindfulness  self-control  mediatheory  theory  theodoradorno  weimar  history  philosophy  reading  writing  data  perception  siegfriedzielinski  wolfgangernst  bernhardsiegert  erhardschüttpelz  francoberardi  andrewkeen  jaronlanier  howardrheingold  foucault  micheldemontaigne  michelfoucault 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Further Materials Toward a Theory of the Man-Child – The New Inquiry
"Tiqqun can insist, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that the Young-Girl is “obviously not a gendered concept” because it knows that we know that it knows this. Tiqqun uses works of Continental philosophy in the same way that schoolyard bullies use in-jokes: as passwords that grant access to a protected inner circle. Tiqqun assumes that readers will assume that writers so well versed in texts that have spoken truth to ­power could not really hate women. The prestige of the theoretical vocabulary that Tiqqun’s members have mastered bolsters their credibility...

Because Tiqqun’s collage does not attribute sources, we can read any given passage in disavowing quotation marks, as a lightning bolt of original insight, or as both. Publishing anonymously is only a backup measure for evading responsibility...

In each case, a speaker insists that he is not saying what he says. If we accept a standard definition of verbal irony as saying one thing while meaning another, the comedians and Tiqqun both appeal to their identities to control the contexts in which they are understood. Claiming that its mastery of the misogynist philosophical tradition entitles it to do this, Tiqqun steps into what looks a lot like an old-­fashioned patriarchal role.

Even when adopted by radical theory, this knowing posture is conservative. Knowingness is the attitude that allows sexism to persist in progressive institutions that you would expect to know better, precisely because you would. When casual sexism pervades leftist theory, one assumes it is ironic; when progressive institutions ignore gender politics, one assumes this is because struggles for equality have already been won, or must be deferred so we can attend to more pressing political needs. Intellectuals tend to show class allegiance, bracketing or ignoring casual sexism in their own circles. They project misogyny outward, onto Middle America megachurches and racialized others, or onto the powerful men that pander to those masses...

Tiqqun resembles the mainstream Man-Child to the extent that everything that it does is a delaying tactic, a way of putting off the future. The rhetorical strategy of Theory of the Young-Girl is to remain undecidable: Its self-ironizing speaker refuses to settle the question of whether the book is in fact ­sexist or just impersonating someone sexist in order to make its point. The trait that everyone has recognized as endemic among men, and many young women, of our generation is i­ndecision.

Both postures spring from a fearful refusal to take a position, to make a choice among alternatives that feel compromised. The bourgeois Man-Child who refuses to “grow up,” refuses to mate, and refuses domestic labor resembles the radical who wants to bide his time until capitalism collapses from within. "
theory  mediatheory  UMS  feminism  sexism  tiqqun  via:shannon_mattern 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Slow Media » The Slow Media Manifesto
"1. Slow Media are a contribution to sustainability. 2. Slow media promote Monotasking. 3. Slow Media aim at perfection. 4. Slow Media make quality palpable. 5. Slow Media advance Prosumers. 6. Slow Media are discursive and dialogic. 7. Slow Media are Social Media. 8. Slow Media respect their users. 9. Slow Media are distributed via recommendations not advertising. 10. Slow Media are timeless. 11. Slow Media are auratic. 12. Slow Media are progressive not reactionary. 13. Slow Media focus on quality. 14. Slow Media ask for confidence and take their time to be credible." [via:] [see also: ]
slow  psychology  networkculture  media  manifesto  sustainability  mediatheory  slowmedia  journalism  internet  cyberculture  culture  criticaltheory  community  lifestyle  alternative  online  social  manifestos 
june 2010 by robertogreco

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