21
Oct
08

Kittler’s Gramophone, Film, Typewriter

Friedrich Kittler
Gramophone, Film, Typewriter
Area: Digital Media
Translator’s Intro

•    Media determine our situation
•    Media of the present influence how we think about the media of the past or future
•    “Media Science” will remain mere “media history”
o    Study of media should concern itself primarily with mediality and not resort to the usual suspects (history, sociology, anthropology, lit and cultural studies) to explain how and why media so what they do
•    Media are not coefficients but effects of ideology (Baudrillard)
o    Media do no mediate; they are anti-mediatory and intransitive
•    Kittler: merger of Foucault, Lacan, McLuhan
o    Discourse analysis, structuralist psychoanalysis, and first generation media theory
o    “Media discourse analysis”
•    Lacan: human consciousness is a camera that captures and stores imagtes even when no one is around
•    Ulmer: grammatological works of Derrida “already reflect an internalization of the electronic media”
•    Hypertext and hypermedia : poststructuralism :: cybernetics : structuralism/semiotics
•    Hermeneutic “master plan” can only work if people are trained to work with language in standardized ways that downplay its changing materiality
•    People have been trained to disregard the change from handwriting to print
•    When a camera (Lacan) does all the registering, storing, and developing on its own, there is on need for an intervening subject and is celebrated consciousness
o    When the phonograph stores everything on might say there might be an unconscious, but no mediating Soul
•    Use of military combat illustrations
Xii: “Such framing, however, implies that the (re)discovery of a past orality will affect the perception of our present literacy, since every exploration of the dynamics of orality is a renegotiation of the limits and boundaries of literacy and its associated media networks.”
Xv: “technologies such as the transistor radio recognize no contradiction between transmitter and receiver.  Rather, these technical distinctions reflect the social division of labor into producers and consumers and therefore are ultimately predicated on the contradiction between the ruling and ruled classes.  If passive consumers were to become active citizens and producers, they would have to take charge of this untapped technological potential, install themselves as producers, and thereby ‘bring the communications media, which up to now have not deserved the name, into their own.”
Xx: “Step 1: We recognize that we are spoken by language.  Step 2: we understand that language is not some nebulous entity but appears in the shape of historically limited discursive practices.  Step 3: We finally perceived that these practices depend on media. In short, structuralism begot discourse analysis, and discourse analysis begot media theory.”
Xx: “Whereas Foucault’s archives are based on the hegemony of written language, on the silent assumption that print is the primary (if not the only) carrier of signification, Kittler’s archeology of the present seeks to include the technological storage and communication media of the post-print age(s).  ‘Even writing itself, before it ends up in libraries, is a communication medium, the technology of which the archeologist [Foucault] simply forgot.  It is for this reason that all his analyses end immediately before that point in time at which other media penetrated the library’s stacks. Discourse analysis cannot be applied to sound archives and towers of film rolls.’”
Xxv: “While the typewriter did away with either’s sex’s need for a writing stylus ( and in the process giving women control over a writing machine-qua-phallus), it reinscribed women’s subordination to men: women not only became writers but also became secretaries taking dictation on typewriters, frequently without comprehending what was being dictated.”
Intro
•    McLuhan: One media’s content is always other media
•    Media are always already beyond aesthetics
•    “If the film called history rewinds itself, it turns into an endless loop”
o    History if Foucault’s “wave like succession of words”
•    Writing merely stores the fact of its authorization
o    Writing celebrates the storage monopoly of the God who invented it
•    Hegel: the alphabetized individual had his ‘appearance and externality’ in this continuous flow of ink and letters
•    “Once memories and dreams, the dead and ghosts become technically reproducible, readers and writers no longer need the powers of hallucination”
•    Reproductions don’t simply resemble, but guarantee this resemblance by being a product of the object in question
•    Media are always flight apparatuses to the great beyond (specter)
•    Typewriters don’t store individuals
•    No computer has ever or will ever be built that can do more than the Turing machine
10: “Once storage media can accommodate optical and acoustic data, human memory capacity is bound to dwindle.  Its liberation is its end.  As long as the book was responsible for all serial data flows, words quivered with sensuality and memory.”
11: “If (according to Balzacz) the human body consists of many infinitely thin layers of ‘specters,’ and if the human spirit cannot be created from nothingness, then the daguerreotype must be a sinister trick: it fixes, that is steals, one layer after the other, until nothing remains of the specters and the photographed body.”
14: “The beginning of our age was marked by separation or differentation.  On the one hand, we have two technological media that, for the first time, fix unwritable data flows; on the other, an ‘intermediate’ thing between a tool and a machine, as Heidegger wrote so precisely about the typewriter.  On the one hand, we have the entertainment industry with its new sensualities; on the other, a writing that already separated paper and body during textual production, not first during reproduction (as Gutenberg’s movable types had done).”

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