Life After New Media

Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska are both influential members of the Goldsmiths university, and were recommended to me to research in relation to my Final Major Project as they discuss ideas such as mediation and the impact of mediation on society. I sourced the book Life After New Media from the library as it it co-authored by these individuals meaning I could gain perspective of the same issue but with both of their input. My notes and the reflection can be seen below:


 Chapter One – Mediation and the Vitality of Media

  • There is a dualism/binary opposition of “old media” vs. “new media” – media instead can be perceived as a sequence/progression of specific technology
  • Has media affected us socially/biologically or is technology just an effect of social/political change?
  • Opposition between Raymond Williams (constructionism) and Marshall McLuhan (determinism) – about hypermedia and the body
  • Concept of remediation to consider a new concept/item in relation to its history
  • “a photograph can be regarded as a perfect Albertian window” (Bolter and Grusin)
  • Media forms are meant to satisfy our “obsession with realism” and “our culture’s desire for immediacy”
  • Carolyn Marvin, tracks the status of technology when it was regarded as “new”
  • Gitelman Always Already New, “human users” are made by the technology we as humans create
  • Katherine Hayles proposes the concept intermediation – examines the boundary between biological and technological, concept of intra-action not interaction
  • Technology isn’t a means to an ends because it’s now a part of us, it uses us
  • Mediation has multiple definitions can mean thought process and can mean transmitting using media
  • Biological and Technical evolution comes hand in hand now – interdependence
  • Media may be lifelike but can it actually live?

Chapter Two – Catastrophe “Live”

  • Comparison between credit crunch and The Large Hadron Collidor
  • Past the point of no return, total annihilation
  • Credit crunch was bad for neoliberalism
  • Both events were upstaged relationships between the event and its mediation
  • Events (and media events) are narrated by media, technology has become history, tradition, seasonal
  • Media events are becoming possibly more reluctant in terms of technological development and globalisation
  • Although great conquests for mankind are suitable (?) for narration – especially by digital technology where it is accessible to the masses and can be shared
  • Is there a retreat in the narration of media events and increase in coverage of conflict/disaster/terror
  • Media is a form of mediation not a form of representation – Dyan and Katz have this ideology because media is highly performative
  • Media fragments the world
  • Rise of traumatic events is coupled with “obsessive coverage” and “disaster marathon” – in the context of terrorism mediation is the key as it is image control
  • News event = hegemonic power, transparency, immediacy and innocence
  • Couldry describes media as a form of constructionism – media events are “constructions” not expressions of a social ‘centre’ – conflicts with the idea of reality (in terms of conflict)
  • Joost Van Loon – media are more transformative rather than in/misinformative, the events don’t exist outside of their mediation
  • Baudrilliard’s theory of media events as nonevents, they are substituted by signs and symbols, closed circuit of hyper reality
  • War and money are now ‘hyper-realised’
  • Simulations aims to reduce the distance between the real and virtual
  • Media is a process that connects humans and technology, in all mediation “we” have a part
  • In disaster/catastrophe the chosen media is television – to equate TV with “real life” is misjudged
  • Guy Debord’s “the spectacle”
  • Performance in news events can cause a narration that is interpreted as fact
  • Fact is a social construction – Robert Peston, did he cause the recession
  • Relationship between performance and linear model of cause and effect – Callon thinks causation is nonlinear
  • Does accepting the notion of performance liberate conceptualism and representation?
  • In performance media there can’t be objectivity
  • There can be tensions between performative and representational media – but there isn’t a division
  • Mediation is a process rather than a spatial object – it is temporal
  • LHC project was something that had massive effect and a mass coverage but there wasn’t anything specific to see
  • Mediation incorporates representation and spatial despite being temporal

Chapter Three – Cut! The Imperative of Photographic Medium

  • Chapter looks at mediation through photographic practice, the productive and performative aspect
  • Happens on different levels, perceptive, material, technical and conceptual
  • Studying ‘the cut’ concept – where the moment of photography, film and sound is shaped
  • What makes a good cut?
  • Photography is more than the perception of frozen “snapshots”
  • Paradoxically photography attempts to arrest/capture the flow of life
  • Richard Gaplin “Viewing Station” (2010) physical installation that mediates the viewers/engager’s viewing experience to perceive the landscape
  • Practice of cutting contextualises our relationship and place in the world – can frame a situation and pose a problem/solution
  • Separation and relationary dualism
  • Photography is involved with time
  • There is always photographic possibility and the moments in time that are captured
  • Photography is ubiquitous, we can’t travel without an image (passport) and we are likely to have seen an image of where we are going
  • Photography is replaced with the photograph, memory with the memory (Barthes on memory and photography)
  • Intuition/instinct – both are similar, biological process
  • Intellect cuts up photography into fragments (is then passed off as a truthful representation of reality)
  • Photography is a way of “moulding” (Bergson)
  • Photograph is perception, a film still is an image of memory – when we put them together neither is effective (Alexander Sekatiskiy)
  • Eadweard Muybridge worked with stoppage of time and made the cut into a temporal process
  • The photograph reduces movement into a series of “static” moments
  • Muybridge’s horse/Zeno’s arrow appear to be motionless despite the image depicting movement
  • Karen Barad – photography is about how we interact with the world
  • The use of apparatus, they are not “passive, observing instruments… they are productive of (and part of) the plethora” Bohr on physics
  • We want to suggest a ‘good cut’ is an ethical cut
  • Photography could be seen as producing life forms rather than just recording them
  • Photography can be described as having a lifeness
  • Stieglar’s proposition “the image in general does not exist” – the photograph/life is a form of perception
  • “The menial image” and “the image-object” are both post-perception, both products of the cut
  • There is no image or imagination without memory
  • Stiegler “Digitization… introduces manipulation even into the spectrum”, “Photons become pixels that in turn are reduced to zeros and ones”
  • Moving image is far more effective for memory than photography
  • We are less concerned with scientific accuracy
  • Photography is a safe zone in which one can take on the chaos of the world
  • We can explore the liquidity of culture without drowning in it
  • Nina Sellar’s ‘Oblique’ series hybrid space of performance and surgery in images – photograph as a window
  • The encounter with photography defines the interpretation/effect
  • Reference to the “cut” of the photographic process and the surgeon’s cuts in the image
  • Apple has made the “cut” more accessible through software
  • All cuts are not morally the same, the surgeon’s cut is not ethically similar to media
  • Levinas – violence is constitutive of society, concept of “good violence” is because the outcome is beneficial
  • Element of audience as the spectator in violence
  • Sellar’s project as a lesson for media age about the way image production has become more mechanical
  • Sellar’s images have a non-humansitic element
  • By perceiving/being exposed to violence the viewer participates in their own undoing
  • The pleasure in perceiving “the cut” in Oblique series provokes feelings of horror and desire



This book has been so influential in giving me an introduction into the concept of media and mediation and how this impacts the audience and indeed the artist when producing work. The idea of the ‘cut’ being this identifiable, almost tangible moment we can perceive and analyse is so interesting and definitely applicable in many discussions. It relates to David Campbell’s notion of context; where the photographer makes inclusions and exclusions to frame the image and can leave out some of the context which would make the viewer interpret the image in a different manner. ‘The cut’ is a concept that photographers and other artists working with other methods of image-making need to consider, previously it has been related to the notion of photography and truth, whether the image could be deemed truthful however now with David Campell’s input it is more about whether the image is responsible. This responsibility doesn’t just lie with the producer, it is increasingly encouraged in the audience, the viewer now has the task of seeking their own imagery and making sure they are viewing it in the right context to get the most accurate interpretation. The work ‘Viewing Station’ by Richard Gaplin is a really good example of mediation, as it shows something physically changing the viewers perspective of the subject, a concept that can then be easily imagined metaphorically, each and every image maker is creating their own viewing station through which the viewer perceives the subject content. This is a concept I really want to apply to my own work as it is very relevant to the dynamic of online communication and how identity is something that is constructed and mediated by the individuals involved. In an online conversation it is easier to control what information is known by the subject, to some extent if the participants are never going to actually physically meet or see each other, this mediation can become untruthful and corrupt with an individual completely fabricating their identity. It is really important to consider how identity has the capacity to and is often mediated in online spaces, no matter how subtle. Therefore I want to include a reference to the ideas from Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska, perhaps using the ideas demonstrated by Richard Gaplin in my image-making process. Ultimately what mediation suggests is that society is being subtly moulded into new forms of perception and communication, a concept that my Final Major Project builds on. It has become evident that digital technology is so embedded in our daily lives and that we now rely on it to operate in the world, therefore we must start recognising that our digital presence is an aspect of ourself that are accountable for. If we consider how active each individual is on the Internet then we have to consider that their digital self might be the one that more people use build their impression of identity and personality. My work will aim to build on this statement and depict how a the perception of a person can become distorted through this practice of mediation. Overall I am really glad I researched this book as it has given me many good points and approaches to consider when I come to create my own subject matter. The idea of mediation and ‘the cut’ are two aspects I will be taking forward in my project and considering throughout my creative process.



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