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70 archive & memory (3)

Nowadays media archaeology is often related to media ecological research. Sometimes people refer to Marshall McLuhan’s research agenda, but I think recent developments are interesting too. Media archaeology is more of a historical way of describing and analysing the material entangled into our cultural concerns. Media ecology in the wake of Matthew Fuller has grown again to an interesting conceptualisation, which enables us to understand cultural formations as forces. Fuller’s take is inspiring, as it evades the usual hermeneutic and interpretational emphasis of cultural analysis, and looks at the non-discursive. This is to me something that media archaeology – in some of its forms – can develop as well. But it’s definitely the historical focus that distinguishes media archaeology from other related theories. How will a media archaeological approach help to deal with digital information that is process based, distributed and rapidly becoming obsolete – think of the many net art projects or experiments, on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr? Could you perhaps give an example of how such an approach would work? Media archaeology has always been interested in futures, but through the past. The two questions are intertwined: any question of archivability is a question set in the future tense; what will be preserved, what are the protocols and guidelines of preservation that will document the current moment? But, there are various media archaeologies out there. At times the only thing they share in common is a name, and a certain ethos: to investigate the new through the old, and the past as a resource for the new. A lot of earlier media archaeology stemmed from film studies and visual culture analysis, although, for instance, Lev Manovich’s The Language of the New Media (2001) could be said to have incorporated elements that were media archaeol­ogical. Anyway, focusing on software cultures was not overly present in many key theories, even if they did incorporate implicit ideas of how to approach preservation: any cultural heritage object or document can be seen as medial, and its preservation processes as mediatic.

Speculative Scenarios — Edited by Annet Dekker  

There is a growing understanding of the use of technological tools for dissemination or mediation in the museum, but artistic experiences th...

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