TIMECODE Towards an Archaeological Media Archaeology


Towards an Archaeological Media Archaeology

Sara Perry and Colleen Morgan (University of York)

Wednesday 13 May, 6pm, D1 Richmond, University of Bradford

Rarely do archaeologists, or their colleagues in Heritage Studies, participate in media archaeological scholarship. Similarly, media archaeologists do not typically reach out to archaeologists for intellectual or methodological contributions. “Archaeology” remains the most abstract metaphor within the media archaeology literature, an academic legacy that demands disruption. Archaeologists and their antiquarian predecessors have been innovators, assemblers, critical interrogators, and remakers of media and media technologies for at least a half millennium. Their outputs have been drawn into broader programmes of social theorising about modes of engagement, and they are often pioneers in the application of emerging media. They are also – and primarily – experts in artefactual media: specialists in the flows and agencies of material cultures and their makers. By this reckoning, archaeologists are the prototypical media archaeologists—studying media (in its broad conception, as discursive and material means to a plurality of different ends/processes), inventing and tinkering with media to progress such studies, and skilfully deploying other media to circulate their work.

Here we discuss the crossovers between the fields of archaeology and media archaeology. We hypothesise about the tensions that lead to interdisciplinary divisions, and we make a case for an “archaeological media archaeology,” where the epistemological and procedural resources of both disciplines are strategically applied and given equal credence. Our argument is that such a stream of enquiry is the means towards a more comprehensive understanding of all those active processes in the world that shape and reshape people and technologies. It is simultaneously futuristic, historical and present-oriented, and as such it is well-poised to drive forward media theory and practice overall.

Photo: James Good, ‘Swamp TV’, Used under CC-BY-NC https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesgood/363013819/

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