Category: Media Archaeology

Reflections on the experience of building an arcade table

During my week at the Residual Media Depot, I participated in a group of two teams, with 2-3 members each, and transformed an IKEA coffee table into an arcade table using after-market arcade parts and a raspberry pi emulator. In this post, I discuss some of the ideas that emerged from the experience. Design is a collaborative process informed by phenomenology of play: One’s experience of play adapts and iterates over time. One’s experience of play is linked to one’s experience of control; one’s concept of play is informed by one’s conception of controller. Differences in these conceptualizations manifest when designers draw on their experiences to redesign or remake a familiar concept. In my group, for example, each of us seemed...

/ June 7, 2017

Re-versioning as a cultural technique of nostalgia? – Final Presentation

I decided not to use any digital device for my final presentation, but instead decided to go “analogue” and partly use the reading materials which we had become familiar with during the course. In my presentation I wrote and drew everything on a whiteboard which demonstrated, firstly, the ephemerality or obsolescence of things since everything was erased from the whiteboard after the presentation apart from my notes on my hand. John Durham Peters argued in his article that “The body and language themselves can – with the right viewfinder – be seen as media”. He also wrote that “Old media rarely die; they just recede into the background; they become more ontological”. [1] So, the second point was to convey...

/ June 2, 2017

Press START: Reflections on the Making of the Arcade Table

In the first class, we discussed media archaeology’s relationship relative to culturally-oriented and hardware-oriented academia. A project such as the construction of an arcade table or softmodding a Nintendo Wii are very much located between these two extremes, which I see as profoundly productive. During my probe on nonnarrative media, I argued that, just as it is problematic to focus solely on an object’s narrative history, it is equally problematic to read objects as entirely independent of their cultural contexts and the ways they have been narrativized. The arcade table project ultimately allows us to to think through both aspects of a cultural object simultaneously; constructing a fully operational model requires ideology, aesthetics, theory and materiality to work together, despite...

/ June 1, 2017

Action Max: Notes on a Deictic Dispositif

As a Cinema Studies scholar focusing on analogue video, I was excited to find an old Action Max gathering dust in the wonderful depot Darren Wershler has termed “research collection”. This peculiar 1987 console relies on a special, if not entirely unique technical condition: it uses VHS tapes as its storage medium for live action “gaming” sequences. This leads to a number of bizarre consequences from a gaming point of view, which also make it a fascinating media object to “archaeologise” in toto – that is to say trying to figure out the relation between its intended technical operations, implied discursive formations, and the aesthetic expressions found both on the “outside” (the boxes) and the “inside” (the “games” themselves). Understanding...

/ June 1, 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

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

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