Category Archives: Media archaeology

Voyage on the North Sea – 1. Rosalind Krauss and the medium

Have been reading Rosalind Krauss on the medium, especially the essay Voyage on the North Sea and her paper on William Kentridge.

Voyage on the North Sea is for me a starting point in how I think about my working process and its relationship to technology.

It is a complex essay but there are some essential points

A medium is complex, has a supporting structure which recursively defines a set of rules or conventions

This recursive structure is something made, not given.

These conventions open up a space for release for the artist within which improvisation can occur.

These conventions are somehow specific and recursively define their own necessity

Structuralist film is given as an example in which the film apparatus is interrogated to explore ‘a model of how the viewer is connected to the world’

Video is contrasted with film as occupying a kind of ‘discursive chaos’

The outmoded and the obsolescent is positioned via Benjamin, who notes that only in extinction is the true collector comprehended ie we need the distance of obsolescence to be able to engage and appreciate the (utopian) promise of a technology.

Broodthaers employs film in the context of its early promise rather than as a defiance of Hollywood. The approach is archaelogical and redemptive

Krauss specifically attacks the discursive chaos of intermedia while redeeming Broodthaers who employs a form of ‘differential specificity’.

Differential specificity is a kind of reinvention or rearticulation of the medium – while acknowledging the constraints that it may involve while at the same time reconfiguring them.




Marey and Janssen

I now realise that Marey got the idea for Chronophotography from Janssen who used the technique to photograph the transit of venus.

Here the problem was to capture the right moment rather than measure motion as such.

There is an animated sequence of the transit on Youtube which could be regarded as the first film – although was never seen as such.

Media theory – articles


Links between new materialist philosophy and media archaeology.


A book length philosophical treatment of media theory that develops a metaphysics of media. There is a section discussing trace in this context which could be very interesting – in theory- when I get hold of the full book.


Good article describing the phantasmagoria from the perspective of the dispositif.



Various perspectives on media


Links with concept of the trace at a philosophical level.


On Kittler.

The Aesthetics of Matter: Modernism, the Avant-Garde and Material Exchange

The Aesthetics of Matter [electronic resource] : Modernism, the Avant-Garde and Material Exchange 

Series: European Avant-Garde and Modernism StudiesPublisher: Berlin/Boston : De Gruyter, 2013.Description: 1 online resource (435 pages).ISBN: 9783110317534.Subject(s)


Introduction — Matter on the Move — Translations — Modernism Diffracted — Picture Postcards from The Sturm Gallery and Walden. Collection in Berlin — André Breton’s Autobiographical Cut-Ups — Collages, Photographs, and Cinema — Visual Music, a Missing Link? — From Abstract Film to Op Art and Kinetic Art? — Henryk Berlewi’s Mechano-Facture as a Transmedial Adaptation of Viking Eggeling’s Experimental Films — “hap-hap-hap-hap-happy clothes” — Avant-Garde Experiments in/with Material(s)
Deconstructive Readings of the Avant-Garde Tradition in Post-Socialist Retro-Avant-Garde Theatre — The Materiality of a Contemporary Avant-Garde? — Legacies of Surrealist Collage in Contemporary Art — Spaces and Places — Reproducing the Avant-Garde — The Art of Modernist Magazines — Bedeutungsveränderung und Kanonisierung des deutschen Expressionismus in den USA — Expressionism, Fiction and Intermediality in Nordic Modernism — Materiality and Dematerialization in Paul Neagu’s Work
Embodiment and Visuality in Post-1950 Music — Subjectivities — M/Paternal Meanings in the Neo-Avant-Garde — Raoul Hausmann et le montage de matériau textuel : Hylé I — Georges Hugnet’s Surrealist Monsters and Women — From Material Meaningless to Poetics of Potentiality — The Religious Dimension of Lettrist Visual Poetry — A “Dance of Gestures” — Hyperdialectic in Gertrude Stein’s Compositions — Conceptual Frames of Life — Passage du sujet dans la « matière mentale » surréaliste — List of Contributors — Index
La maison d’artiste en portrait, manifeste et sanctuaire — L’exemple de Fernand Khnopff — Liquid Modernity and the Concrete City — Ford Madox Ford and Virginia Woolf — Bodies and Sensoria — To “Feel Breathing” — Duchamp and the Immaterial Aesthetics of Scent — Synthesis Instead of Analysis — Avant-Garde Eat Art and the Cultural Dimensions of Taste — Lygia Clark, the Paris Years — The Body as Medium and Material — Les matérialités à l’oeuvre dans la « poésie élémentaire » de Julien Blaine — Corps, que me veux-tu?
The Poetic Materiality of Fascism on the British Stage — Dematerializing Verbal and Visual Matter — Wassily Kandinsky’s Bitextuality — Material Memory — Beyond Matter or Form — Invalidating Subliminal Contradictions in the Aesthetics of Matter — Upon Hearing James Joyce — The Anna Livia Plurabelle Gramophone Disc (1929) — Small Press Modernists — Collaboration, Experimentation and the Limited Edition Book — Plaster as a Matter of Memory — Auguste Rodin and George Segal


Summary: This volume proposes an in-depth exploration of the materiality of art and writing in modernism and the avant-garde. The essays explore how the avant-gardes and modernism attempted to establish the material specificity and hybridity of media and art forms. The collection sheds light on the full range and import of the aesthetics of matter in avant-garde and modernist practice across all art forms from the 19th century to the present day

The transparency society / Byung-Chul Han

The transparency society / Byung-Chul Han 

Publisher: Stanford, California : Stanford Briefs, an imprint of Stanford University Press, [2015]Description: viii, 58 pages ; 21 cm.ISBN: 9780804794602; 080479460X


The society of positivity — The society of exhibition — The society of evidence — The society of pornography — The society of acceleration — The society of intimacy — The society of information — The society of unveiling — The society of control.

Transparency is the order of the day. It is a term, a slogan, that dominates public discourse about corruption and freedom of information. Considered crucial to democracy, it touches our political and economic lives as well as our private lives. Anyone can obtain information about anything. Everything–and everyone–has become transparent: unveiled or exposed by the apparatuses that exert a kind of collective control over the post-capitalist world. Yet, transparency has a dark side that, ironically, has everything to do with a lack of mystery, shadow, and nuance. Behind the apparent accessibility of knowledge lies the disappearance of privacy, homogenization, and the collapse of trust. The anxiety to accumulate ever more information does not necessarily produce more knowledge or faith. Technology creates the illusion of total containment and the constant monitoring of information, but what we lack is adequate interpretation of the information. In this manifesto, Byung-Chul Han denounces transparency as a false ideal, the strongest and most pernicious of our contemporary mythologies.

The Shape of Spectatorship

The Shape of Spectatorship 

Scott Curtis

Columbia University Press 2015ISBN: 9780231134033

Scott Curtis draws our eye to the role of scientific, medical, educational, and aesthetic observation in shaping modern spectatorship. Focusing on the nontheatrical use of motion picture technology in Germany between the 1890s and World War I, he follows researchers, teachers, and intellectuals as they negotiated the fascinating, at times fraught relationship between technology, discipline, and expert vision. As these specialists struggled to come to terms with motion pictures, they advanced new ideas of mass spectatorship that continue to affect the way we make and experience film. Staging a brilliant collision between the moving image and scientific or medical observation, visual instruction, and aesthetic contemplation, The Shape of Spectatorship showcases early cinema’s revolutionary impact on society and culture and the challenges the new medium placed on ways of seeing and learning.