Huhtamo and Parikka 2011

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Huhtamo, Erkki and Jussi Parikka, eds. Media Archaeology: Approaches, Applications, and Implications. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011.

Media Archaeography: Method and Machine versus History and Narrative of Media, by Wolfgang Ernst (239-255)

"The media-archaeological method as proposed here is meant as an epistemologically alternative approach to the supremacy of media-historical narratives." -- close to disciplines that study material (hardware) culture and the archive (in the Foucauldean sense) (239)
"both a method and an aesthetics of practicing media criticism, a king of epistemological reverse engineering, and an awareness of moments when media themselves, not exclusivey humans anymore, become active 'archaeologists' of knowledge" (239)
"when media archaeology deals with prehistories of mass media, this 'pre-' is less about temporal antecedence than about the techno-epistemological configurations underlying the discursive surface (literally, the monitors and interfaces) of mass media." (239)

machines liberate us from telling history through narrative

"Rather than being a nostalgic collection of 'dead media' of the past, assembled in a curiosity cabinet, media archaeology is an analytical tool, a method of analyzing and presenting aspects of media that would otherwise escape the discourse of cultural history. As long as media are not mistaken for their mass-media content, they turn out to be non-discursive entities, belonging to a different temporal regime that, to be analyzed, requires an alternative means of description." (240)

Nazi radio that still picks up signals today: its "cultural life span" is different than its "operational life span"

  • "no 'historical' different in the function of the apparatus" but "a media-archaeological short circuit between otherwise historically clearly separated times" (240)
"Archaeology of media is not simply an alternative form of reconstructing beginnins of media on the macrohistorical scale; instead, it describes technological 'beginnings' (archai) of operativity on the microtechnological level. The real media archive is the arche of its source codes" (240) -- not origins but commandments
"Media archaeology is about rereading and rewriting epistemological (rather than simply temporal) momenta." (240)

older media objects are "radically present when they stil function, even if their outside world has vanished" (241) -- "the hard-edged resistance of material objects that undo historical distance simply by being present"

  • archaeological objects, though, "can be interpreted by simply being looked at", but a technical object like a computer "does not reveal its essence by monumentally being there but only when being processed" -- in operation (241) -- but what about technical objects like books?
  • "If a radio from a museum collection is reactivated to play broadcast channels of the present, it changes its status: it is not a historical object anymore but actively generates sensual and informational presence." (241) -- what about books?

media archaeography: "modes of writing that are not human textual products but rather expressions of the machines themselves, functions of their mediatic logic" (242)

technological media different -- don't just register and process semiotic signs "but physicall real signals" (242); technologies become archaeologists themselves, uncovering realities not accessible to human senses

  • "media archaeology accesses the subsemantic strata of culture" (242)

media archaeology directs "attention (perception, analysis) to noncultural dimensions of the technological regime" (244)

technologies as media archaeologists; "the measuring device, for a moment, suspends human perception from the limitations of its own subjectivity and culturality" (244)

not just dealing with techno-archaeological artifacts, but using them to perform media archaeology

"media-archaeological analysis opens culture to noncultural insights without sacrificing the specific wonders and beauties of culture itself" (245) -- no difference between noise that means and noise that doesn't
"A fundamental epistemological gap lies between symbolicaly coded writing (the alphabet) and the gramophonic recording, which can record as well the accompanying noise (i.e., the index) of the physically real within and outside the recorded voice" (246)

translating sound recordings to digital information: no distinction between audio/visual in digital data formats (248)

don't confuse cold/indifferent data streams with hermeneutic empathy or moments of live communication

"to listen media-archaeologically is to pay attention to the electronic message of the acoustic apparatus, not primarily to its musical content as cultural meaning" (250)

not communicating with the dead but "dealing with the past as a form of delayed presence, preserved in a technological memory" (250)

"'Digital retro-action' dramatically takes place, actually, by digitizing analogue source material in the archives and bringing it into a technomathematicized present, thereby translating an analogous world into a digital matrix. The microtemporality in the operativity of data processing (synchronization) replaces the traditional macro time of the 'historical' archive (governed by the semantics of historical discourse) -- a literal 'quantization.' Our relation not only to the past but to the present thus becomes truly 'archival'." (251)

enumerative rather than narrative

descriptive rather than discursive

infrastructural rather than sociological

"Media archaeology exposes the technicality of media not to reduce culture to technology but to reveal the techno epistemological momentum in culture itself." (253)