Media theory

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  • Walter Benjamin (1935) - The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (essay)
    Benjamin used the word "aura" to refer to the sense of awe and reverence one presumably experienced in the presence of unique works of art. According to Benjamin, this aura inheres not in the object itself but rather in external attributes such as its known line of ownership, its restricted exhibition, its publicized authenticity, or its cultural value. Aura is thus indicative of art's traditional association with primitive, feudal, or bourgeois structures of power and its further association with magic and (religious or secular) ritual. With the advent of art's mechanical reproducibility, and the development of forms of art (such as film) in which there is no actual original, the experience of art could be freed from place and ritual and instead brought under the gaze and control of a mass audience, leading to a shattering of the aura. "For the first time in world history," Benjamin wrote, "mechanical reproduction emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual." "Instead of being based on ritual, [art] begins to be based on another practice – politics." For Benjamin, the politicization of art should be the goal of Communism; in contrast to Fascism which aestheticized politics for the purpose of social control. [1]
  • Harold Innis (1950) - Empire and Communications (book)
  • Marshall McLuhan (1964) - Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (book)
  • Niklas Luhmann (1975) - "Systemtheorie, Evolutionstheorie und Kommunikationstheorie", in: Soziologische Gids 22 3. pp.154–168
  • Paul Virilio (1977) - Speed and Politics (book)
  • Vilém Flusser (1985) - "Ins Universum der Technischen Bilder" [2]
  • Friedrich Kittler (1986) - Grammophon Film Typewriter (book)
    Kittler's central project is to "prove to the human sciences [..] their technological-media a priori", or in his own words: "Driving the spirit out of the humanities", a title that he gave a work that he published in 1980. He sees an autonomy in technology and therefore disagrees with Marshall McLuhan's reading of the media as "extensions of man": "Media are not pseudopods for extending the human body. They follow the logic of escalation that leaves us and written history behind it. Consequently, he sees in writing literature, in writing programmes and in burning structures into silicon chips a complete continuum: "As we know and simply do not say, no human being writes anymore. [..] Today, human writing runs through inscriptions burnt into silicon by electronic lithography [..]. The last historic act of writing may thus have been in the late seventies when a team of Intel engineers [plotted] the hardware architecture of their first integrated microprocessor." [3]
  • Derrick de Kerckhove (1995) - The Skin of Culture (book)
  • Siegfried Zielinski (2005) - Deep Time of the Media (book)
  • Jonathan Beller (2006) - The Cinematic Mode of Production: Towards A Political Economy of the Society of the Spectacle (book)
  • Erkki Huhtamo - Archeology of Media Art
    Media archaeology is an emerging critical approach Professor Huhtamo has pioneered (together with a few other scholars) since the early 1990's. It excavates forgotten, neglected and suppressed media-cultural phenomena, helping us to penetrate beyond canonized accounts about media culture. Huhtamo pays particular attention to the "life" of topoi, or clichéd elements that emerge over and over again in media history and provide "molds" for experiences. What may seem new often proves to be just new packaging of ideas repeated during hundreds and even thousands of years.
  • Sean Cubitt (2009) [4], [5]