Media history is millions, even billions, of years old. That is the premise of this pioneering and provocative book, which argues that to adequately understand contemporary media culture we must set out from material realities that precede media themselves—Earth’s history, geological formations, minerals, and energy. And to do so, writes Jussi Parikka, is to confront the profound environmental and social implications of this ubiquitous, but hardly ephemeral, realm of modern-day life. Exploring the resource depletion and material resourcing required for us to use our devices to live networked lives, Parikka grounds his analysis in Siegfried Zielinski’s widely discussed notion of deep time—but takes it back millennia. Not only are rare earth minerals and many other materials needed to make our digital media machines work, he observes, but used and obsolete media technologies return to the earth as residue of digital culture, contributing to growing layers of toxic waste for future archaeologists to ponder. He shows that these materials must be considered alongside the often dangerous and exploitative labor processes that refine them into the devices underlying our seemingly virtual or immaterial practices. A Geology of Media demonstrates that the environment does not just surround our media cultural world—it runs through it, enables it, and hosts it in an era of unprecedented climate change. While looking backward to Earth’s distant past, it also looks forward to a more expansive media theory—and, implicitly, media activism—to come.
Playable Media and the Rise of English Commercial Theater
Author: Gina Bloom
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Category: Literary Criticism
Rich connections between gaming and theater stretch back to the 16th and 17th centuries, when England's first commercial theaters appeared right next door to gaming houses and blood-sport arenas. In the first book-length exploration of gaming in the early modern period, Gina Bloom shows that theaters succeeded in London's new entertainment marketplace largely because watching a play and playing a game were similar experiences. Audiences did not just see a play; they were encouraged to play the play, and knowledge of gaming helped them become better theatergoers. Examining dramas written for these theaters alongside evidence of analog games popular then and today, Bloom argues for games as theatrical media and theater as an interactive gaming technology. Gaming the Stage also introduces a new archive for game studies: scenes of onstage gaming, which appear at climactic moments in dramatic literature. Bloom reveals plays to be systems of information for theater spectators: games of withholding, divulging, speculating, and wagering on knowledge. Her book breaks new ground through examinations of plays such as The Tempest, Arden of Faversham, A Woman Killed with Kindness, and A Game at Chess; the histories of familiar games such as cards, backgammon, and chess; less familiar ones, like Game of the Goose; and even a mixed-reality theater videogame.
In the popular imagination, art history remains steeped in outmoded notions of tradition, material value and elitism. How can we awaken, define and orientate an ecological sensibility within the history of art? Building on the latest work in the discipline, this book provides the blueprint for an 'ecocritical art history', one that is prepared to meet the challenges of the Anthropocene, climate change and global warming. Without ignoring its own histories, the book looks beyond - at politics, posthumanism, new materialism, feminism, queer theory and critical animal studies - invigorating the art historical practices of the future.
Hugo Gernsback on Media, Tinkering, and Scientifiction
Author: Hugo Gernsback
Publisher: U of Minnesota Press
Category: Literary Criticism
In 1905, a young Jewish immigrant from Luxembourg founded an electrical supply shop in New York. This inventor, writer, and publisher Hugo Gernsback would later become famous for launching the first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, in 1926. But while science fiction’s annual Hugo Awards were named in his honor, there has been surprisingly little understanding of how the genre began among a community of tinkerers all drawn to Gernsback’s vision of comprehending the future of media through making. In The Perversity of Things, Grant Wythoff makes available texts by Hugo Gernsback that were foundational both for science fiction and the emergence of media studies. Wythoff argues that Gernsback developed a means of describing and assessing the cultural impact of emerging media long before media studies became an academic discipline. From editorials and blueprints to media histories, critical essays, and short fiction, Wythoff has collected a wide range of Gernsback’s writings that have been out of print since their magazine debut in the early 1900s. These articles cover such topics as television; the regulation of wireless/radio; war and technology; speculative futures; media-archaeological curiosities like the dynamophone and hypnobioscope; and more. All together, this collection shows how Gernsback’s publications evolved from an electrical parts catalog to a full-fledged literary genre. The Perversity of Things aims to reverse the widespread misunderstanding of Gernsback within the history of science fiction criticism. Through painstaking research and extensive annotations and commentary, Wythoff reintroduces us to Gernsback and the origins of science fiction.
Digital objects, in their simplest form, are data. They are also a new kind of industrial object that pervades every aspect of our life today—as online videos, images, text files, e-mails, blog posts, Facebook events.Yet, despite their ubiquity, the nature of digital objects remains unclear. On the Existence of Digital Objects conducts a philosophical examination of digital objects and their organizing schema by creating a dialogue between Martin Heidegger and Gilbert Simondon, which Yuk Hui contextualizes within the history of computing. How can digital objects be understood according to individualization and individuation? Hui pursues this question through the history of ontology and the study of markup languages and Web ontologies; he investigates the existential structure of digital objects within their systems and milieux. With this relational approach toward digital objects and technical systems, the book addresses alienation, described by Simondon as the consequence of mistakenly viewing technics in opposition to culture. Interdisciplinary in philosophical and technical insights, with close readings of Husserl, Heidegger, and Simondon as well as the history of computing and the Web, Hui’s work develops an original, productive way of thinking about the data and metadata that increasingly define our world.