Re: [-empyre-] discussion statement
On Sunday, January 4, 2004, at 08:07 PM, Jill Scott wrote:
This is a very good question - in part, I think that "Media Studies"
tends to be caught up in pretty old science. For example, the
sender-message-receiver model, variations upon which are still often at
the basis of even many of the complex formulations of 'communication'
(though not Chris or Alan's events of communication), is reasonably
positivist, and pretty chunky from the point of view of science. I'd
say what is usually said at this point - that it's very Newtonian or
something, except that Newtonian physics has proved pretty useful. In
fact, in many of its contemporary modes, media studies hasn't even got
this far. Try, for example, of thinking communications in differential
terms (philosophically as well as in terms of engineering)!
Currently I think the future of media art lies in the fact that our
perceptions of time, space, object, body and the represented
be more influenced by the discoveries and ethics of science, than by
advances in technology itself. How will Media Art be effected by these
influences? How might explorations into natural and cognitive sciences
serve to further shift our definitions of Media art and body, as well
our representations, audience roles and interactive responses?
As a discipline media studies sometimes tends, in defending itself, to
implicitly defend some pretty clunky science (in part, I think because
it was born into, and still embraces some extremely clunky, outmoded,
if well-funded, cog sci - but we've already been there on the list).
Media arts are a different matter entirely. They have always engaged
more with contemporary science (and interestingly, contemporary
scientists sometimes seen happy to engage with new media artists - is
there much engagement at all between science and media studies?).
I wonder if this is partly because media studies often tends to think
of media as (only secondary) facilitators of communications - and media
artists are more interested in the media themselves qua media.
Of course, there is no clear divide and both approaches are useful.
Moreover, in many settings both sides are talking to each. Indeed, this
is a feature of new media events and institutions in general - even of
new media theorists. 'New media' forces what we could call the mutual
supplementarity - the productive difference or simply, differentials -
between media and communications, to become the very axis of what's
This has radical implications for disciplinarities, not only media
disciplines, but arts and sciences disciplines. I often think that
artists have the exciting task of bearing the burden of this breakdown
in disciplinarity - more than academics and scientists. Or, to try and
put this a little better, the frameworks and institutions for art are
much more open to the breakdown of disciplinarity (in all senses) than
the university or science establishments...
On top of this, one of the defining features of network (new
media-based) societies, according to those such as Castells, is
precisely that they flee such implications, even and especially as they
deploy the technologies of new media. Then the discussion about
disciplinarity gets really interesting. Disciplinarity becomes as form
of exaggerated neurosis.
For me, this means that new media studies - whatever they might be -
make a decisive break with media and communications disciplinarity.
They make this break, whether the individuals involved want then to or
not. So much so, that 'new media' - as necessary as the term might be -
are neither new (anymore) nor media (in any traditional sense). New
media make us think in transdisciplinary modes - more importantly, they
radically broaden the ecologies (in the Bateson, Guattari senses of the
word) through which we have to think/live media/communications events.
Enter art and science ... but there are similar challenges to both of
All of which means that new media is the fun place to be, even if it
"I thought I had reached port; but I seemed to be cast
back again into the open sea" (Deleuze and Guattari, after Leibniz)
Dr Andrew Murphie - Senior Lecturer
School of Media and Communications, University of New South Wales,
Sydney, Australia, 2052
fax:612 93856812 tlf:612 93855548 email: email@example.com
room 311H, Webster Building
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