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Cables, cameras and other fossils: media pasts and media futures

This is a recording of my keynote address from ‘Mediating (Dis)Continuities: Contesting Pasts, Presents and Futures’: 6th European Communication Conference, organised under the auspices of European Communication Research and Education Association ECREA, Prague, 9-12.11.2016.



My talk adopts a media-ecological perspective to explore parallels between biological extinction and technical obsolescence. Its argument is anchored in the notion of “media fossils”: remnants of our media history that will continue long into a posthuman future as discarded techno-trash, materials decomposing in the air, soil and oceans, as well as cosmic debris. Through an exploration of various sites of media present and media past, I offer a mediation of, and a meditation on, our human relation to devices that we create and discard, on the desire for new products that fuels so-called innovation, and on the politics, ethics and aesthetics of waste. My method here is that of an amateur geologist-philosopher-artist, one whose process involves an affective-material excavation of the past mixed with a textual and visual speculation about the future. It differs therefore from the more brazen exploratory pursuits, in which (predominantly male) media archaeologists and geologists thrust their probes into deep time across cosmic scales, offering a God’s eye view of the universe’s geological, biological and art-historical strata. My project is much more modest in scope in that it will offer what Donna Haraway has called a “view from somewhere.” Tentatively described as “shallow media geology,” my excavatory quest leads me to several localized material and conceptual fossil sites in search of various media pasts – and media futures.

And here's a short interview about the keynote with with a student TV station at Charles University.

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