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Listen to “Media After Kittler”

Posted: Saturday 12 Oct 2013
by LGS 0 comments
Media determine our situation.

F. A. Kittler (1999)

Two years after Kittler’s death, at a time when subjects like media studies are under fire by neo-liberal governments across the West and seen as ‘luxury’ disciplines not worth investing in, there is an urgency to rethink, re-imagine and review media and what it/ they can do. In Kittler’s words, we are the subjects of media not the masters. This one day event examines the implications of this statement, his work and the potentiality of approaching media as a thought experiment.


The one day event, “Media After Kittler” was held on Wednesday, 9th October 2013.

A recording of this event, including all the papers presented as well as the roundtable discussion that followed can be found here:

Media After Kittler Event – Abstracts and Bios:

Bernhard Siegert – Media After Media
What was media analysis according to Friedrich Kittler? What have
become of the media after they have been ontologically degraded to
source code? What then are Media after the Media? And what are the
possible futures of Media Studies in the Kittlerian sense beyond the
cult of Aphrodite?

Bernhard Siegert is the Professor for Theory and History of Cultural Techniques at the department for Media Studies at the Bauhaus University Weimar, and since 2008 one of the two directors of the International Research Center for Cultural Techniques and Media Philosophy at Weimar. He has been Visiting Professor in Vienna and at the University of California at Santa Barbara (twice). His current research focusses on the cultural history and theory of the ship and the ocean, the genesis of representation, and operative
ontologies. His recent books are: Passage des Digitalen. Zeichenpraktiken der neuzeitlichen Wissenschaften 1500 – 1900 (Berlin: Brinkmann&Bose, 2003); Passagiere und Papiere. Schreibakte auf der Schwelle zwischen Spanien und Amerika (Munich-Zurich: Fink & NZZlibro 2006). A collection of 10 essays on Cultural Techniques is forthcoming from Fordham University Press (The Bronx, New York) (in English). He is also the coeditor of the journal Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kulturforschung and of the year-book Archiv für Mediengeschichte.

Mai Wegener – The Humming of Machines. To the End of History and Back.
Friedrich Kittler used Lacan’s phrase “The symbolic world is the world of the machine” as the title of one of his essays. Starting from here this lecture questions the relationship of ‘machine’ and ‘subject’ to both Kittler and Lacan, as well as the status of ‘writing’ in Kittler. It will also reveal a certain drive found in his Technical Writings what brings Kittler via Lacan, Hegel and Kojève to a special interpretation (or vision) of the end of history.

Mai Wegener (Dr. phil.) works as a psychoanalyst in Berlin and is co-organiser of the Psychoanalytic Salon Berlin which opened in 1998. She is also an active scholar of Cultural Studies and the History of Science and lectures in Literature at the Technical University of Berlin. She has worked at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (2009/10), as guest professor in Cologne at the Academy of Media Arts (Summer semester 2008), and for the Centre for Literature and Cultural Research, Berlin (2001-2005). In 2001 she obtained her PhD under the supervision of Friedrich Kittler at Humboldt University, Berlin, writing on Freud and Lacan. Prior to that she undertook a research residency in Paris and studied Psychology and Philosophy at the Free University, Berlin.

Sam Weber – The Calculable and the Incalculable: Kittler After Hölderlin
One of the hallmarks of the digital age, also insisted on by Friedrich Kittler, is the extension of calculability to all walks of life and beyond. This raises the question of the limits of such extension, if there are any. What of the incalculable? A backwards glance at Hölderlin’s Remarks on Oedipus and Antigone, written in connection with his translation of those plays, allows us to explore the question, if not come up with definitive answers.

Samuel Weber teaches literature and critical theory at Northwestern University, whose Paris Program in Critical Theory he also directs. He studied with Paul de Man and Theodor Adorno, taught first in Germany, then in the US, France and the UK. He is currently completing a book-length project tentatively titled “Toward A Politics and Poetics of Singularity”. A French volume of his essays will appear in November under the title, “Inquiétantes singularités” (Editions Hermann).

Olga Goriunova – Meaninglessness and the question of the subject
This paper explores some of the computationally mediated aesthetic practices of the digital era – such as reaction videos and ‘watch me watching’, and other genres originating from Youtube, as well as projects such as CuratingYoutube – as sites of production of subjectificatory processes. When the subject is abandonned, subjectivities multiply as they are produced through performative aesthetic acts and propagate in computational networks. Meaninglessness here equals neither nonsense nor noise. Taking Kittlerian’s theoretical devices onboard, this paper attempts to take them further to look into the forms of aesthetic generic, and the conceptual figures emerging through practicing aesthetic work with the Turing machine.

Olga Goriunova is Assistant Professor at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick. She is author of “Art Platforms and Cultural Production on the Internet” (Routledge, 2012) and editor of “Fun and Software: on Pleasure, Pain and Paradox in Computing” (forthcoming in 2014, Bloomsbury Academic).

Matthew Fuller – The Forbidden Pleasures of Media Desterminism
Friedrich Kittler’s inspiringly provocative development of a ‘determinist’ theory of media deployed a sophisticated reading of the development and significance of technical standards. How might we think such standards and the interplay amongst them and with wider material ensembles of media systems including the computational? What in turn can we map across from this to wider arrays of media theory and invention?

Matthew Fuller is author of various books including ‘Media Ecologies, materialist energies in art and technoculture’, (MIT) ‘Behind the Blip, essays on the culture of software’ and ‘Elephant & Castle’. (both Autonomedia) With Usman Haque, he is co-author of ‘Urban Versioning System v1.0′ (ALNY) and with Andrew Goffey, of ‘Evil Media’. (MIT) Editor of ‘Software Studies, a lexicon’, (MIT) and co-editor of the journal Computational Culture, (http://www.computationalculture.net/) he is Professor of Cultural Studies at the Digital Culture Unit, Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London. His work with YoHa, ‘Endless War’ a durational data-processing of the Wikileaks Afghan War Diaries files is shortly on show at Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark and the YoHa-curated ‘Evil Media Distribution Centre’ exhibition, responding to the book ‘Evil Media’ is currently at Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam. http://www.spc.org/fuller/

Stefan Heidenreich – Media Materialism and the Logic of Links
When Friedrich Kittler said, “media determine our situation,” the term “situation” (or Lage, in German) refers to a type of military briefing that provides an overview of different positions on the battlefield and the accordant actions to be taken. The epoch of media in the traditional sense is over. If we still want to claim that media determine our situation, then the term “medium” must continue to include concepts of the “middle” or “connection,” such that one might also describe the internet — with its multitude of links — as a mediating network. Certainly, the materiality of the internet can still be traced back to physical connections, but the architecture of the web unfolds by overloading these physical links with other data—first text, then images or sounds, and most recently, “friends.” The point where media and humans meet is no longer the body, but network-based modelled behaviour of all sorts, from profiles to consumption to political activities.

Stefan is Research Assistant at the Center for Digital Cultures, Lüneburg University.
His books include Was verspricht die Kunst? (btv, 1998/2009) and Mehr Geld (Merve, 2008)

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