Academic journal article Afterimage

While Frenzied Interest in New Media. (Voiceover)

Academic journal article Afterimage

While Frenzied Interest in New Media. (Voiceover)

Article excerpt

While frenzied interest in new media has led to a number of attempts to document and narrate the swift rise of networked technologies and various adjusted paradigms, the new media craze and its subsequent crash have for the most part constituted a singularly depressing time for social and cultural critiques of the technology field. For this segment of the Voiceover, I would like to stay with Lev Manovich's The Language of New Media, as the book outlines some important conceptual shifts, and I hope to offer two suggestive responses for Gloria Sutton and Matthew Fuller to consider.

1. One of the most fascinating histories in The Language of New Media is Manovich's description of the artistic and narrative possibilities of the emergence of the database paradigm, and the corollary interest in isolating, manipulating and displaying discrete units (of code, datum, etc.). These aesthetic and narrative histories are paralleled by the dynamics of industries like biotechnology, architecture, genomics, material and nano-technology--which are all increasingly focused on merging building blocks like industrial materials, genes and quantum dots. As our systems of innovation become more and more microbiological in structure, it seems to me to create a kind of amnesia around the arenas where these technologies are realized; economic, programmatic, artistic, urban, medical or otherwise.

What is really happening? Recent American and European commercial technological innovation has been focused on bourgeois domestication: the twenty-first century home network--a wired domicile with high-speed connectivity, digitized assets, surveillance capabilities, and enhanced access to media libraries, information and communication. Simultaneously, as American and European industries race to corner new markets like the home network and wireless devices, they have found themselves mired in recessions, and have been unable to continue research and production. Countries like India, Pakistan and Bulgaria have emerged as the great white hopes for these companies specifically, and for techno-progress more generally. More chaotic urban spaces like Delhi, Singapore and Lagos are hosting communities of technologists, artists, cyber-activists and workforces as hardware production, software development, product development and programming are being shipped more consistently out of the United States and Europe. …

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