Media Archaeology and the Body

Monday, January 20th, 2014 by lola192

As I worked my way through the chapters of Jussi Parikka’s “What Is Media Archaeology?”, I began to wonder whether or not media archaeology concerns itself with the relationships between evolving media technologies and the human body, particularly with the hand – Parikka even mentions that the digital is “non-sensuous”. As technology rapidly advances, is the human hand becoming somewhat obsolete? Are we becoming increasingly physically alienated from the technologies so many of us strive to be involved with?

Even as our medium for communication evolved from handwritten letters and hand bound books, to manuscripts written on a typewriter to the efficiency of word processors to the first few generations of the smart phone, the human hand was vital to the success and imaginings of these changing media technologies. However, with the invent of smart watches, Google Glass, and even smart contact lenses designed to monitor blood sugar levels for diabetics, technology is becoming greatly removed from the human hand. Furthermore, as wearable technology focuses less on the hand it is strangely being integrated back into the body whilst simultaneously (and counter-intuitively) rendering it unnecessary. Even in the simple activity of listening to music, technology has gradually lessened the role of the human hand – we have gone from changing vinyl on a gramophone or record player to manually creating playlists on our mp3 players to software, such as Pandora or Spotify (even more so), that creates a playlist or radio station for us.

As the digital humanities come further to the fore, are we becoming more immersed in the digital and alarmingly less concerned with the human? As Freidrich Kittler argues, is the “ghostliness of media [an] index of how communication itself has fled from the human body”? If so, then how important, if at all, is the relationship between media archaelogy and the technologies it archives and the human body? In her post, Renee discusses the impact of smart technology on how human beings interact with the world. Whilst I wholeheartedly agree that the premise behind and our reliance on these technologies stems from a “human desire for connectedness or communication or expression”, and that it certainly “connect [us] with people, geographic locations, and knowledge”, I wonder if technological advances are beginning to overlook the human element integral to those desires and connections?

P.S. I think these ideas will be important to my presentation/our discussion on Jonathan Crary’s 24/7 next week J


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