Materialities of Media: Elements, Infrastructures, Environments


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Course Content

Effortless, lossless, seamless. Instantaneous, immediate, immersive. High definition, high resolution, high connectivity. Buzzwords like these have always proliferated in marketing and popular discourses surrounding media technology. But they hide the profoundly material, messy realities of media: the global extraction of resources, the exploitation of labor, the reliance on life both human and non-human, the accumulation of waste and toxic pollutants in the environment, the infrastructural breakdowns and vagaries of global supply chains.

This course explores the material aspects of art and media culture and their interactions with the environment. We examine how the elements of media – chemicals, physical structures, and biological agents – shape media production and consumption, and how media infrastructures and energy systems are intertwined with environmental concerns. Examples from both popular culture and contemporary art will help us navigate these intricate global issues, consider alternative models of media production and consumption, and help us reflect upon the challenges of the relationship between media and the environment.

After completing this course, students will have a deep understanding of the material and infrastructural components of media culture and their interactions with the environment, as well as an appreciation for the potential of media art and technology to both address and exacerbate environmental crises. Equipped with a range of conceptual and methodological tools, they will have developed critical skills for analyzing the ways in which media and the environment shape one another, and be able to apply these skills to their own research. On a practical level, the course functions as a colloquium, advancing students' skills in key aspects of academic writing, research design and peer review.
Course period6/09/23 → …
Course level6.00 EC