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'''Media Archaeology'''
 
'''Media Archaeology'''
  
Over the last decade or so, scholars in several disciplines have embarked on a series of media-archaeological excavations, sifting through the layers of early and obsolete practices and technologies of communication. The archaeological metaphor evokes both the desire to recover material traces of the past and the imperative to situate those traces in their social, cultural, and political contexts--while always watching our steps. This graduate seminar will examine some of the most important contributions to the field of media archaeology.
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This course is devoted to media archaeology, that is, historical research into forgotten, obsolete, neglected or otherwise dead media technologies. Depending on our understanding of “media” — one of the questions we’ll discuss — these might include forms as diverse as typewriters, phonographs, Polaroid photography, prison tattoo codes and the Victorian language of floral bouquets, outmoded video game platforms, computing systems, and musical instruments, smoke signals, scent organs, shorthand notation, and rocket mail delivery. Our premise is that understanding these things can help us gain a better sense of the development, meaning and legacy of media technologies, now and in the future; our goal is to introduce students to the skills and resources necessary for producing rigorous research on such obsolete and obscure media. The course will include an exposure to scholarship in media archaeology; an intensive introduction to research methods; finding and exploring word, image, and sound archives; and the restoration of media artifacts to their deep social, cultural and personal context. The course stems from the premise that media archaeology is best undertaken, like any archaeological project, collaboratively: we will follow a hands-on research studio model commonly used in disciplines such as architecture or design.
 
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The course follows a research studio format in which students undertake archaeological projects of their own in the area of forgotten, obsolete, or otherwise "dead" media technologies. This might include papyrus, Athanasius Kircher's seventeenth-century magic lantern, or the common slide projector, discontinued by Kodak in 2004. Our goal is to introduce students to the skills and resources necessary for producing rigorous research on such obsolete and obscure media. It will include an exposure to scholarship in media archaeology; an intensive introduction to research methods; instruction on the localization and utilization of word, image, and sound archives; and an emphasis on restoring media artifacts to their proper social and cultural context. The course stems from the premise that media archaeology is best undertaken, like any archaeological project, collaboratively. Hence the course follows a research studio model commonly used in disciplines such as architecture or design.  
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[http://finnb.net/a/fall2010syllabus.pdf Fall 2010 syllabus]
 
[http://finnb.net/a/fall2010syllabus.pdf Fall 2010 syllabus]

Revision as of 09:27, 30 September 2010

Media Archaeology

This course is devoted to media archaeology, that is, historical research into forgotten, obsolete, neglected or otherwise dead media technologies. Depending on our understanding of “media” — one of the questions we’ll discuss — these might include forms as diverse as typewriters, phonographs, Polaroid photography, prison tattoo codes and the Victorian language of floral bouquets, outmoded video game platforms, computing systems, and musical instruments, smoke signals, scent organs, shorthand notation, and rocket mail delivery. Our premise is that understanding these things can help us gain a better sense of the development, meaning and legacy of media technologies, now and in the future; our goal is to introduce students to the skills and resources necessary for producing rigorous research on such obsolete and obscure media. The course will include an exposure to scholarship in media archaeology; an intensive introduction to research methods; finding and exploring word, image, and sound archives; and the restoration of media artifacts to their deep social, cultural and personal context. The course stems from the premise that media archaeology is best undertaken, like any archaeological project, collaboratively: we will follow a hands-on research studio model commonly used in disciplines such as architecture or design.

Fall 2010 syllabus

New Dossiers--Spring 2010


Browse the Archive


Start a New Dossier


Critical Techniques

As a group we are developing a series of Critical Techniques that help facilitate the analysis of dead media artifacts.


Background

Some entries in the archive are drawn from the Dead Media Project, an email list devoted to the topic started by Bruce Sterling and more recently moderated by Tom Jennings. The email list is now dead.


Links

Lost formats

Obsolete Skills

The Evolution of Classroom Technology

Special Pages

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