Dirt(y) Media

UiT Tromsø room E-0104 on Thursday May 7, 13:15 - 15:00

A video recording of the lecture is available here.

‘Crashing is the price to pay for booting straight from the earth.’ Martin Howse

Media (computers, iphones, tablets, Aduinos, Raspberry Pis) are imagined to be pristine and spotlessly clean. Physical media is clean in the sense that it comes to us empty and without content, innocent. The term media is itself partly responsible for a lack of awareness of the object, Jennifer Gabrys in her book Digital Rubbish describes electronics that, “often appear only as “media” or as interfaces, apparently lacking in material substance.” In opposition to our normal reaction, Jussi Parikka proclaims, “information technology is material”. What does he mean by this? While we may imagine that the unblemished surfaces of our shiny devices are free from the grime of the everyday – flawless and pure – we do not have to dig far below the surface to find that these technologies are anything but untainted and dirt-free. This realisation is at the heart of a shift towards materials based media art being produced internationally. While there have been a number of books and papers describing a materials-based media within the notion of ‘media ecologies’, there is more to be learnt from media art, an area that is both critiquing media and information, and developing practices that engage in issues around the materiality of media technologies. This paper will specifically address dirt through recent media ecologies on the way to looking at how media artists are dirtying up their work.

This paper will present a Media Archaeology of meditated art practices that are ingrained with dirt (digging up these works is more than simply a metaphor). Artists such as Milan Knížák, Nam June Paik and Yasunao Tone will be discussed alongside contemporary practitioners Joyce Hinterding and Martin Howse.

Dr. Caleb Kelly is Program Director of the Bachelor of Art Theory at the University of New South Wales, Australia (Art & Design).

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