Archive for the ‘Media Studies’ Category

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THATcamp – the OA genre in conferencing

October 26, 2012

As mentioned in an earlier blog, I attended my first THATcamp at Brown University last weekend. It was productive, relaxed, entirely ego- and hierarchy-free (as far as I could tell), and a welcome new experience in how to exchange information. I also second Roger’s call for open access, as that was among the discussions pursued with a number of colleagues. Having served as the co-editor of an open access journal (Flusser Studies) since 2005, it is refreshing to realize how much support OAPublishing receives now. The session on OAJournals, in particular, pointed to a number of models, mostly produced on wordpress these days (including DH Quarterly; JHNA; or the entire directory), and The Public Knowledge Project. So time to upgrade, update, integrate, and think about how interactive an online journal can and should be. After all, social media may facilitate scholarly dialogue right on the site. If you need collaborators, look to DH Commons. If you seek a multi-media platform, check out SCALAR (for those in media and interarts studies, this one is fascinating). And check out this neat project on visualizing Jazz networks. For more information, go to the THATcamp summary. For next year’s THATcamp New England, join us on the UConn campus.

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Small Imaginations, Voracious Computers, and Less Fun

October 10, 2012

After several conversations this week on the human-computer interface that is gaining greater currency as Digital (fill-in-field-as-necessary), Wired Mag’s musings feel… slightly 90s. The end of theory. Really? It makes me recall that cartoon we so revered as grad students, with the mice and the cereal box, when postmodernism was all the rage.

Breakfast as text! Foucault flakes. But I am digressing. And maybe 2012 isn’t 2008, as declaring the end of theory, accompanied by the end of methodology, whether scientific or otherwise, represents rather circular reasoning. For now, I, at least, am still grappling with context and variation, not models or theory or methods. Big data to detect correlations and define patters, perhaps. But what kind of data? Let’s take this excerpt from the article:

“Google’s founding philosophy is that we don’t know why this page is better than that one: If the statistics of incoming links say it is, that’s good enough. No semantic or causal analysis is required. That’s why Google can translate languages without actually “knowing” them (given equal corpus data, Google can translate Klingon into Farsi as easily as it can translate French into German). And why it can match ads to content without any knowledge or assumptions about the ads or the content.”

One may feel flummoxed by the announcement that “no semantic or causal analysis is required.” I pursued the fun factor, however, and stuck some Nietzsche into Google translator. For some semantic and syntactic clarity (yes, it does exist) I chose his “Why I am so clever” from Ecce Homo (just a bit of postmodern irony), translated the German into English and then copy-and-pasted an English translation to be re-translated into German. The results were hilarious – truly, even Nietzsche would have been amused. Especially when “pangs of conscience” were re-translated as certain anatomical elements that point to the posterior.

Granted, this is a cheap shot – and it may not have much to do with the science mentioned in the article. Patterns and correlations do not fill in for context and variation, though. Dare I mention the “human element”? If “science can advance even without coherent models, unified theories, or really any mechanistic explanation at all,” as claimed in the article, why do it? Or am I over-analyzing here…

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Barthes and networks, not to speak of hypertext…

September 19, 2012

One of the fun things about writing a blog is that you get to look at Roger’s (and many others’) blog entries and just follow your proverbial nose. You click on one link, then on another, and then go back or keep going and just lose yourself in the maze or network or meanderings of the blogosphere. Happily, searchingly, intrigued and on occasion enchanted or provoked. And you realize how much stuff there is that makes your brain stay awake way beyond its bed time. And you keep going…

Of course Barthes designed Wikipedia (just like Marcel Duchamp is still alive, but that’s my own private joke). Barthes envisioned it in S/Z, as George Landow (who really should know) reminds us:

the networks [réseaux ] are many and interact, without any one of them being able to surpass the rest; this text is a galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signifieds; it has no beginning; it is reversible; we gain access to it by several entrances, none of which can be authoritatively declared to be the main one; the codes it mobilizes extend as far as the eye can reach, they are indeterminable . . . ; the systems of meaning can take over this absolutely plural text, but their number is never closed, based as it is on the infinity of language” (emphasis in original; 5-6 [English translation]; 11-12 [French]).

But then, how far back do we want to take that connection between text and network? Which text ISN’T a network? Florian Cramer, for instance, begins his blog entry with Borges and ends with creativity. Then again, Cramer’s work becomes much more interesting if we rephrase the question: how deep do we want that connection to go? You may find one answer in his intriguing Words Made Flesh – not a blog entry. And he has yet entirely different ideas about Wikipedia.

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Mimesis is dead, long live Mimesis (via Aisthesis)

September 12, 2012

The discussion on the “new aesthetic”, as it is referred to in the blogs cited by Roger below, is biting off a tad much: ontology, remediation, aesthetics (as in Kant on beauty), post-humanism, phenomenology, and the Dasein of pixels – to list a few of the terms thrown about. Why not add some Husserlian Lebenswelt and a Nietzschean “transvaluation of all values” to address the reversal of perspectives from human to post-human, between things and things? If so, I want to just close up my airbook and go to sleep. What’s the point?

“Bogost also claims that the New Aesthetic is about the ‘relationship between humans and computers’ and he argues that instead it should be concerned with ontology, in this case the object-oriented relationships between lots of different kinds of objects. For now we will put aside the slippage between ‘computers’ and what are clearly representations for, or of, the ‘digital’ (see Berry 2012a, 2012b) and the fact that many of these New Aesthetic objects may have been created as artworks without the mediation of digital technology at all.”

Thank you. Let’s not put it aside. If mimesis is representation (and not limited to imitation), and what is represented is the perceived world, then we should be talking about aisthesis within the context of media aesthetics – a well-established field (Zettl 2013, Munster 2011, a series at Continuum) on creation and perception in the (digital) arts. Not sure how all of the above fits into that – and whether post-human and material studies (lots of things…) necessarily applies. Do judge for yourselves: check out the upcoming ISEA conference on MACHINE WILDERNESS or, if Albuquerque is not exactly around the corner, the current exhibit at the New Britain Museum of American Art, Pixelated: The Art of Digital Illustration. And if you are yearning for some post-human engagement, Vilém Flusser’s Vampyrotheutis Infernalis just appeared in English translation – pixelate that.