Media Archaeology

With Matt Kirschenbaum and Wendy Hui-Kyong Chun

Friday, March 1st 2013 | 4:30-7:00pm | Great Room, 19 University Place | See Map

Too often we view “new” media technologies as though they exist outside the longer historical trajectory of technological development. The hype and enthusiasm surrounding the rise of the information society praises each new technology as a brilliant and dramatic innovation, when in fact there is often very little “new” in the “new media.” At the very least that “newness” has a rich historical context for analysis and critique, and at most it is in fact nothing new at all. Media archaeology is both an examination of the new and a focus on the material functionality of these “new” media technologies.


Matthew Kirschenbaum (University of Maryland, English)

In the past Matthew Kirschenbaum has introduced a new materialist methodology to the study of literature and new media, taking up the forensic imaginary and applying it to the magnetic media on which we store and encode digital information. His new project Track Changes is a literary history of word processing, and investigates the way in which technology has changed the way we write and produce literature.

Wendy Hui-Kyong Chun (Brown, Modern Culture and Media)

Wendy Chun has written extensively on the function of power and control in new media systems, combining her backgrounds in both Systems Design Engineering and English Literature. Her new book titled Programmed Visions: Software and Memory investigates the concept of “programmability” which functions in a predictive mode to shape and predict future behavior through technology. Yet these same technologies rely on the separation of interface and human engagement from algorithm and technical hardware in order to hide the functionality of technical systems, producing a highly manipulable technology that nonetheless conceals its functionality.