Editor: Charles R. Acland
Publisher: Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2007
Review Published: November 2007
Contemporary media objects formerly known as songs, movies and writing are often considered to be both ephemeral and ethereal since their now digital composition lends them a quality of immateriality. Existing as strings of data easily transportable, accessible, and presentable on shiny, well-designed, ultra-thin, and miniaturized devices, they seem to have lost touch with the grittiness, graininess, and physicality of their once analog production. This perceived lack of physical substance and the sanitized, clean room style practices associated with their production help to characterize the ease with which these digital media objects become unhoused from their own mediality -- that is, from their presence as objects in time and space.
The essays gathered together in Charles R. Acland's edited volume Residual Media analyze these assumptions about clean technologies and the digital manufacture and consumer purchase of immaterial goods, in order to unsettle the market rhetoric of novelty and innovation and to examine the cultural, economic, and environmental residuals left by the plethora of artifacts that accompany emerging and already emerged media. At stake in the volume are the types of cultural change produced by what Acland, a professor of communications at Concordia University, refers to in his introduction as a dynamic of accumulation and accommodation:
The logic of Acland's volume lies with the inconsistencies with which new media is approached as a field of study, interrogating the types of imprecision and uncritical analysis that the term has been met with from many scholars who may have failed to look behind the marketing hype and glossy veneer of the 1990s new information economy. As Acland notes:
What is so intriguing about Residual Media is to discover the levels of interarticulation that exist between the individual essays, the disciplinary methods respective to each contributor, and the ways in which the essays approach common themes like collection and the mediation of communities or engage with the work of common theorists like Raymond Williams or Walter Benjamin. Yet, while Residual Media thrives on the interdisciplinary and multi-perspectival approach that an edited volume provides, it would benefit from an editorial conclusion, if only to reiterate and comment further on the connections drawn across the individual contributions and across Acland's strong introduction. This minor consideration aside, the volume will find a ready readership among scholars in film and media studies, museum studies, and those interested in material culture, while also providing cyberculture studies scholars an engaging example of how to move their field beyond discussions of innovation and convergence and illustrate for them how examples from the history of emergent media can inform their approach to "new" media.
Daniel Gilfillan (Ph.D., University of Oregon, 2000) is Assistant Professor of German Studies and Information Literacy at Arizona State University. His research focuses on 20th-century literature, film, and media studies in the German-speaking sphere, with particular interests in avant-garde/experimental approaches to new forms of media in the past (radio, film) and the influence of these earlier instances of new media on contemporary artistic and cultural practices with digital and telecommunications media. His first book, Transgressive Radio: The Experimental Turn in German Cultural Broadcasting, 1923-2003, is forthcoming with the University of Minnesota Press. Gilfillan has reviewed The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction and Scripts, Grooves, and Writing Machines: Representing Technology in the Edison Era for RCCS. <email@example.com>
|HOME INTRO REVIEWS COURSES EVENTS LINKS ABOUT|
|©1996-2007 RCCS ONLINE SINCE: 1996 SITE LAST UPDATED: 12.10.2009|