Month: May 2017

ghosts ; replicants ; parasites — Excavating the Spectravideo CompuMate

These are the notes I used for my final presentation in the summer Media Archaeology Class, alongside images I used as slides. As such, they’re quite provisional, and once I have some time to hammer them into more coherent thoughts, I’ll update this post accordingly! So this presentation is about articulating and beginning the work of theorizing what I’m provisionally calling “computational parasites.” This is provisional because I don’t particularly like the term myself but I figured it would be good to give it a shorthand so I don’t have to be overvague or verbose about these objects and practices throughout this presentation. As most of you know, I came to this class with a set of research questions about...

/ May 29, 2017

Flooding notes_ Winthrop-Young

I’m going to present Winthrop-Young’s paper, and in particular, I will address the three different meanings that the notion of cultural techniques has received during its history. The probe I’ll use to highlight this evolution of the uses of the concept of cultural techniques will be an agricultural case. This way I will play during the presentation with an idea that is present in Winthrop-Young’s paper: that although the differences between the stages of this evolution are clear, there are liminal situations that inform us about the richness and the variety of possibilities of the cultural techniques approach. I’ll start then with the first use of the word Kulturtechniken, linked to agriculture. It designated the large-scaled procedures aimed to transform...

/ May 26, 2017

Remake as an object of history – Thoughts on Jentery Sayers’ writings

For the probe, I chose to discuss the writings from Jentery Sayers, especially his thoughts on The Relevance of Remaking which is close to my own research interests. I will, of course, make some notions on the other two writings as well but the main focus lies in the practice of remaking and remakes. The key question Sayers claims he has to answer every time regarding remaking is, how is remaking scholarship. The definition of remaking according to Sayers is as follows: need not to be an exact replication of artifacts (appeals to authentic not required) remake doesn’t necessarily lack something the original doesn’t what isn’t at hand, or what we don’t know, or what we are willing to conjecture...

/ May 25, 2017

Anxieties of Scale and Infrastructure Aesthetics

While we discussed briefly during Wednesday’s seminar some of the epistemological distinctions between media archaeology and the digital humanities, our work in the afternoon seems to suggest to me a shared methodological concern: the need (real or imagined or both) for dedicated spaces, resources, and labor practices that enable and foster particular kinds of technological and imaginative work. The Residual Media Depot and the Milieux Institute more generally, both as physical space and institutional configurations, are our most immediate and tangible examples of this; Patrik Svensson’s chapter also gives us a glimpse into the HUMLab at Umeå University as yet another. Svensson offers a substantial and considered response to a very straightforward question, though one that he wants us to think...

/ May 24, 2017

Deform, Destroy, Erase: On the Residue of Cultural Techniques

I find myself pondering over probing as an analytical exercise in which things–here, ideas, texts, media objects, to name a few–are handled and investigated, gently quite gently, in hopes that they offer something back in substance, whether it’s answers or questions. And I can’t help but turn to a book of probes for an example of how to structure this: Marshall McLuhan’s Book of Probes (2003), in fact–a text that could belong in any media classroom as well as on top of any coffee table for its probey photographs (often featuring pointy probe-like items like cactuses that look like fingers) and single, grandiose aphorisms-per-page. His observations about media, literacy, and culture probe and puncture, not at all gently, but like...

/ May 24, 2017

Working Notes on Sterne’s reformulation of Bourdieu

Sterne, Jonathan. “Bourdieu, Technique and Technology.” _Cultural Studies_ 17.3/4 (2003): 367–89. Sterne begins his article by framing the critical study of technology within the humanities and then responding to what he viewed as a critical lack of nuance and specificity about technology in critical study.1“For instance,  consider the use and non-use of the word ‘digital’  as a modifier to the word  ‘technology’  in academic discourse.  Academic job descriptions, grant announcements and journal articles joyfully collapse the historically specific instance of digital technology with the category of ‘technology’  itself.  In this logic,  if you are to care about technology,  then your work is supposed to be driven by  an interest in that which is new and digital. Alternatively,  take the example...

/ May 23, 2017

Comparative Study of Early Home Computers/Game Consoles

For the afternoon project, I propose to work on a comparative study of educational computers/game consoles of the 1980s. It started with my interest in the history of home computers in Mainaland China. The first real home computers that entered into the lives of Chinese families in the 1980s, it turns out, was not computers proper but the so-called Educational Computers or Learning Machines (学习机). They were not computers proper but clones of various models of contemporary home computers in Japan and the U.S., such as the Nintendo NES systems, the Microsoft MSX home computers, and Apple-II series. This, however, does not mean they were derivatives either. Rather, they were redesigned in ways significantly different from the original models in order...

/ May 22, 2017

Gesturing Towards Writing: Reflecting upon Inscription using Terrible Keyboards

I write about writing. My interest in writing interfaces made me hone in on the Residual Media Depot’s Aquarius home computer (came out in 1983), Atari 500 (1979), and the Commodore VIC-20 (1980; currently doesn’t work). I tested out the Aquarius in the Depot by typing out some of the code programs, and I noted how difficult the keyboard was to use: it has a kind of gummy material that offers little in terms of tactile “give,” and the placement of keys is unlike that of modern QWERTY keyboards. Later, I spoke to Darren Wershler about this keyboard: might its shittiness have anything to do with why the Aquarius was so quickly discontinued (4 — 5 months after it was...

/ May 22, 2017

Thinking Materialist Media Archaeology through the E-book Reader

Introduction The strand of media archaeology that looks at the concrete technology supporting the complex media infrastructure and identifies a meaningful agency to nonhuman elements is particularly influenced by the work of F. Kittler. In the 4th chapter of What is Media Archaeology?, Parikka examines Kittler’s major theorizations to establish a link between what is usually referred to as German Media Theory and the most recent threads in media studies. In this probe, I will highlight how a media archaeology that gives primary importance to the engineering of media machines is particularly relevant in the deconstruction of the rhetorical discourse on the immateriality of digital culture. Moreover, I will highlight the major problematic nodes that emerge from Parikka’s critique and...

/ May 22, 2017

Grinding out desire through media

I am interested in the ramifications of digital technology and online new media in social and personal constructions of gay identity. My research explores how gay men perform their identities in online domains, and studies the materials gay men create and share online to communicate and express themselves, including pictures, profiles, text messages and avatars. A chapter of my dissertation focuses on the use of dating apps, Grindr especially, as technologically constructed sites of erotic engagement, and articulates how users negotiate and construct identities on these apps. This chapter considers the determinative roles of digital media in social attitudes and identities of homosexual men in Canada. The aim is to investigate how the interrogative nature of social media profiles allows...

/ May 22, 2017