Robert Freedman: Noise Wars: Compulsory Media and Our Loss of Autonomy (2009)

31 January 2010, pht

“Let me place on your radar screen an issue that for most people goes by unnoticed. Every day it is there for all of us to see and hear— — but it’s drowned out by the noise, so to speak. This is the rising use of media, the use of media in abusive, penetrating ways. Our freedom to choose whether or not we consume that media is taken away from us.”
In this book Robert Freedman shows how media companies, with their business model coming under pressure from shrinking audiences, seek to regain their footing by forcing people to consume TV and other digital content outside the home by turning public and private settings into captive-audience platforms. He looks at how consumers are putting up resistance to being held captive to TV on buses, trains, elevators, taxis, subways, office lobbies, schools, stores, and street corners.

Freedman looks at the role of media in society in a unique way— by focusing exclusively on the emerging trend of audience captivity: the relocation of TV and other intrusive electronic media from our home, where we have personal control over it, to all the settings outside the home in which we don’t have control: buses, subways, taxis, elevators, retail stores, hotel and office lobbies, street corners, street furniture, and gas station pumps, among others.
Although the book comes down squarely against audience captivity as a media business model, it takes a conversational, even-handed approach that lets the facts speak for themselves. It does this by showing on the one hand the growth of captive-audience platforms and on the other the rise in people’s resentment—even anger—at being made captive to electronic media they haven’t asked for and from which they can’t escape without personal cost.
By approaching the topic in this way, the book makes a compelling case that the media industry’s growing reliance on audience captivity as a business model is setting up a values war not unlike the war between smokers and opponents of second-hand smoke. As the first systematic look at audience captivity from a social perspective, the book makes a crucial and timely contribution to research on and discussions about media and society.

Perfect Paperback: 220 pages
Publisher: Algora Publishing (August 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0875867146
ISBN-13: 978-0875867144

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Gholam Khiabany: Iranian Media: The Paradox of Modernity (2009)

30 January 2010, pht

The post-revolutionary state in Iran has tried to amalgamate “Sharia with electricity” and modernity with what it considers as “Islam”. This process has been anything but smooth and has witnessed intensive forms of political and social contestation. This paper examines key aspects of the contradictions and tensions in the Iranian media market, social stratification and competing forms of “Islamism”/nationalism by looking at the context of production and consumption of the media in Iran. It provides an overview of the expansion of the Iranian communication system. By examining the role of the state in this process and the economic realities of the media in Iran, it challenges the one-dimensional liberal focus on the repressive role of the state and argues against the misguided view that sees a political economy view of the centrality of capital, class and the state to media as irrelevant in the global South. It suggests that the Iranian case also demonstrates a peculiar feature of the Iranian communication industry where liberalization and privatization are the order of the day, but where the state is still reluctant to give up its ideological control over the media. And this is another contradiction (or limit) of an overtly ideological state keen on “development” and “modernization” caught between the web of pragmatism and the imperative of the market, and the straightjacket of “Islamism”.

Publisher    Routledge, 2009
ISBN    0415962897, 9780415962896
Length    258 pages

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Bernadette Wegenstein: Getting Under the Skin: The Body and Media Theory (2006)

29 January 2010, pht

The body as an object of critical study dominates disciplines across the humanities to such an extent that a new discipline has emerged: body criticism. In Getting Under the Skin, Bernadette Wegenstein traces contemporary body discourse in philosophy and cultural studies to its roots in twentieth-century thought—showing how psychoanalysis, phenomenology, cognitive science, and feminist theory contributed to a new body concept—and studies the millennial body in performance art, popular culture, new media arts, and architecture.

Wegenstein shows how the concept of bodily fragmentation has been in circulation since the sixteenth century’s investigation of anatomy. The history of the body-in-pieces, she argues, is a history of a struggling relationship between two concepts of the body—as fragmented and as holistic. Wegenstein shows that by the twentieth century these two apparently contradictory movements were integrated; both fragmentation and holism, she argues, are indispensable modes of imagining and configuring the body. The history of the body, therefore, is a history of mediation; but it was not until the turn of the twenty-first century and the digital revolution that the body was best able to show its mediality.

After examining key concepts in body criticism, Wegenstein looks at the body as “raw material” in twentieth-century performance art, medical techniques for visualizing the human body, and strategies in popular culture for “getting under the skin” with images of freely floating body parts. Her analysis of current trends in architecture and new media art demonstrates the deep connection of body criticism to media criticism. In this approach to body criticism, the body no longer stands in for something else—the medium has become the body.

Publisher    MIT Press, 2006
ISBN    0262232472, 9780262232470
211 pages

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Kodwo Eshun: More Brilliant Than The Sun: Adventures In Sonic Fiction (1998)

28 January 2010, pht

“Less a critical survey than a manifesto for the neuron-altering powers of “breakbeat science,” this ingenious book traces the development of sampladelia from the “jazz fission” era of ’68-’75 (with excellent analyses of George Russell’s and Herbie Hancock’s sonic experiments), through the Parliament/Funkadelic groovescapes of the late ’70s (including close scrutiny of Pedro Bell’s subversive cover art), through Electro (early ’80s synth oriented hip hop) and Detroit Techno, to the present Jungle milieu of time stretching and spatio-acoustics. Eschewing a traditional music-crit vocabulary in favor of a riffing, neologistic verbal poetics, Eshun perfectly captures the sci-fi convolutions of the music he describes, and makes an infectious case for the birth of a new audio-paradigm.”

Publisher    Quartet Books, 1998
ISBN    0704380250, 9780704380257
239 pages

Interview with Kodwo Eshun by Geert Lovink, 2000.

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