Friday, September 28, 2007

Oct 12: Builder's Association, Continuous Cities

We'll be attending the Builder's Association "Continuous Cities" performance on October 12th at 8pm. Post a comment here indicating whether you'd like to attend with us, so we know how many tickets to purchase. Here is a link to information about the performance and the all day panels and discussions before and after the event:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

9/27 Anne Friedberg, The Virtual WIndow

For 9/27 we're discussing:
Below is a response and some discussion questions, just to get us started on Thursday. Please feel free to post your own responses and questions, both before and after we meet, as comments to this post.

A representative passage:
If we follow Panofsky's assertion that perspective was "symbolic form"—a way of apprehending the world through a mental apparatus—then the representational postulates of perspective have met their end on the computer screen. And, if we accept Panofsky's further argument that perception is conditioned by representational habits, then our new mode of perception is multiple and fractured. It's "postperspectival"—no longer framed in a single image with fixed centrality; "postcinematic"—no longer projected onto a screen surface as were the camera obscura or magic lantern; "post–televisual"—no longer unidirectional in the model of sender and receiver. (p.194)

Synopsis of the chapter:
In this chapter, Friedberg argues that the "dominant screen practice" consolidated by film—single screen, serial images—is being challenged by an alternative screen practice characterized by multiple, simultaneous, and adjacent images. She admits that this alternative practice is not "new," tracing examples from early film through television, video art, and contemporary media. But, she argues that these examples have, until now, been exceptions, experiments associated with new formats and technical standards. The aesthetic of the "multiple" emerges at what she calls "crossroads" in the history of moving image technology, visible in retrospect as a path repeatedly not taken when new technical possibilities were folded into established aesthetic and narrative modes. For Friedberg, the new centrality of this aesthetic marks a deeper shift that correlates with the rise of digital media, a change in "symbolic form" as a "way of apprehending the world through a mental apparatus."

Friedberg suggests that the aesthetic of the multiple may become dominant because it correlates with, and helps us respond to, an increasingly fractured experience of space and time. As Friedberg takes up the "symbolic form" of the MS "windows" interface, one could feel nostalgic for Crary's camera obscura. Throwing some Sherry Turkle in with her Panofsky, Friedberg claims that the "windows" computer interface splinters, multiplies, and dislocates not only perception but psychological identity, encouraging a multitasking and investment in "elsweheres" that verges on schizophrenia. She sketches a pattern in which technical possibilities and material conditions change faster than we can quite adapt, requiring the rise of a new symbolic form adequate to our altered perceptual experiences and ideological constructions. Quoting Julie Talen, she suggests that the format of the multiple meets this need, soliciting art produced for the "glimpse" rather than the gaze, and thereby advancing our ability to tell "stories" rather than just broadcast "stock tickers" in "a fractured post-Cartesian cyberspace, cybertime." (p219, 235) Recalling Walter Benjamin's distinction between story and information, as well as his notion of sensorial adaptation, this seems to view the role of art as recuperative. In other words, it seems to ask how, since we are already living in the era of microsoft windows, we can find ways to creatively reframe our experience rather than just being enframed by its mode of representation as well as everything it represents.

Questions for discussion:
On page 202 Friedberg quickly suggests that the aesthetic of the split screen offers an alternative to the theory of suture. How could we elaborate this and would it hold up if we tried? Would this point to reasons why the "multiple" remains a marginal practice? Could it suggest psychological or ideological implications that Friedberg doesn't quite get into (or which are de-emphasized by her focus on the economy of attention/distraction in her discussion of the computer-screen aesthetic)?

At the end of this chapter, Friedberg seems ambivalent about the notion of convergence, opposing the medium specificity implicit in McLuhan's "medium is the message" with Negroponte's argument that "the medium is not the message in the digital age." She notes evidence (as seen in her description of digital projection on p214) of the "inevitable convergence" that Negroponte and Kittler assume, but also asks whether all our media screens "have really lost their apparatical distinctions" and whether we inhabit, as Krauss claims, a "post-medium condition." This seems like a genuine question for her, as she is currently teaching a graduate course on the topic of convergence and medium specificity. Is this a compelling framework, and does it adequately orient the book's research and insights?

While Panofsky obviously inspires this chapter, McLuhan also emerges as a touchstone for Friedberg (see p210 ,236). She recalls his arguments that "the electric" media return us from optical perspectivalism to a "primitive" dimensionality, and that new media produce "new ratios" between our own multiple perceptual faculties and also between multiple media formats. She even dubs him the "first apparatus theorist." What can we make of this use or revival of McLuhan?

Friedberg seems to directly take up Lev Manovich's argument in The Language of New Media about "spatial montage" and to follow some of his references, most notably to Eisenstein. So, why is Manovich so notably absent from this chapter?

What do we think about how the Vector's project "translates" the book? I'm particularly interested in the way the editorial intro describes the "playfulness" of the project as a perceived "threat" to scholarly modes of research, and thanks Friedberg for being so brave as to give up control. Is this format as "experiential, remixable and fluid" as they describe and is this really in opposition to an "intention" of the author/creator that otherwise dominates?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Proposed meeting schedule for Fall 2007

How about this line-up draft for the rest of the semester? Included are the topics people seemed to respond to most in our first meeting. Please note that meetings are tentatively scheduled for Wednesday or Thursday evenings, the days that seemed most agreeable to most people. Please chime in via comments or emails to Brooke and Irene (if you haven't already) if there's a day of the week/time that absolutely does not work for you.

Sept 27
Historicizing New Media:
Anne Friedberg, The Virtual Window: From Alberti to Microsoft

Oct 5, 6, or 7
Attend The Builders Association "Continuous City"

Oct 10 or 11
New Media and Performance:
discuss Continuous Cities
(Ryan and Kelley)

October 26th ParaSite New Media Symposium

Nov 1
Games: play some!
(Irene and ?)
Media Archeology:
discuss Wendy Chun's New Media Old Media

Nov 14 or 15
New Media and Film:
Presentation by Professor Kristen Whissel on digital special effects

Nov 28 or 29
Professionalization workshop:
writing syllabi

Dec 12 0r 13
Interactive Art:
OliverGrau's Media Art Histories (2007)

Th 9/27 5:30pm: Anne Friedberg's "The Virtual Window"

The New Media Working Group will hold its second meeting on Thursday, September 27th at 5:30pm in the Rhetoric and Film library, 7337 Dwinelle.

In addition to planning for the upcoming Oct. 26th ParaSite new media symposium, we will be discussing "Chapter 5: The Multiple" from Anne Friedberg's new book "The Virtual Window: From Alberti to Microsoft" (MIT 2006) and the accompanying, interactive project produced for "Vectors," an online journal.

The Multiple chapter (plus the Introduction for perusing) is available for photocopying from Brooke Belisle's box in the Rhetoric/Film office (7408 Dwinelle Hall, open M-F 9-5pm), and in pdf form (14 MB) here:

The online project can be viewed at the Vectors site:

Professor Friedberg teaches Critical Studies in the School of Cinema-Television at the University of Southern California. Her new book "The Virtual Window" traces the window as a conceptual metaphor and material interface that extends from at least the fifteenth century through today's digital media. She is also the author of "Window Shopping: Cinema and the Postmodern."

Friday, September 14, 2007

9/13: Fall 07 New Media Working Group Kick-Off Meeting

Thank you to everyone who attended the first new media working group meeting of the semester, and to all who expressed interest in participating but couldn't make the meeting. It's great to have such a diverse group of people interested in the contentious but exciting field of new media.

Below is a prospectus of potential readings and events around which to organize our meetings for the academic year. There is a list of different frameworks through which to interrogate new media paired with specific readings that we might be interested in working through together. And there is also a list of bay area exhibitions/events that we might be interested in collectively attending.

The idea is for each of us to take up the presentation and discussion of a reading/event that reflects our interests, practices, or disciplinary framework. So please review the prospectus for themes and readings for which you might want to lead a discussion. (We could have 1-2 seminar leaders per meeting.) And if you don't see anything that you could take up, please offer feedback and ideas for other frameworks, themes, readings, and events that should be represented. We can then work to schedule meetings organized around the readings/events that we are most interested in pursuing.


New Media and Visuality
discuss Anne Friedberg, The Virtual Window: From Alberti to Microsoft

New Media and Gaming
discuss Alexander Galloway, "Cinematic Origins of the First-Person Shooter" in Games: Essays on Algorithmic Culture

October 26 ParaSite New Media Symposium

Media Archeology
discuss Wendy Chun's New Media Old Media

Professionalization workshop
discuss developing new media syllabi

New Media and Cinema
discuss Kristen Whissel, "The New Verticality: Upward Mobility and Digital Special Effects"

Digital Interactivity and Interactive Media
discuss Claire Bishop's Participation

Literature and New Media
discuss Adelaide Morris's New Media Poetics

Digital Media and Post-Photography
discuss Geoffrey Batchen's Ectoplasm

Professionalization workshop
discuss the job market and strategies for getting hired to teach new media

New Media and Visual Studies
discuss Whitney Davis, "How to Make Analogies in a Digital Age"

New Media and Cultural Studies
discuss Mark Hansen, "Digitizing Race" from Bodies in Code

New Media and Philosophy/Cognitive Science
discuss Alva Noe's Action in Perception

New Media and Performance
discuss reading TBA

New Media and Music
discuss reading TBA


"Continuous City" by The Builders Association, Oct. 5, 6, 12, 13 at 8pm, Oct. 7, 14 at 2pm, Zellerbach Playhouse, UCB

"Dark Matters: Artists See the Impossible" group exhibition, including Listening Post by Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts through Sunday, Nov. 11, 2007

Jeff Wall retrospective, at SFMOMA Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007 - Sunday, Jan. 27, 2008

Olafur Eliasson, "Take Your Time" immersive installation, at SFMOMA through Sunday, Feb. 24th, 2008

Douglas Gordon retrospective, at SFMOMA Saturday, Oct. 11, 2007 - Sunday, Feb. 24, 2007