The Interface is the Message

By Andrew Ventimiglia

Lori Emerson, Reading Writing Interfaces: From the Digital to the Bookbound. University of Minnesota Press, 2014. 222 pp.

In Reading Writing Interfaces, media theorist Lori Emerson demystifies the enchanted world of modern digital devices. As recent technological innovations, from the ubiquitous tablet to fully-networked smart appliances, proliferate in a seductive variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, Emerson exposes the ideological project at the heart of this digital transformation.
» Read the rest

Media Theory at the Limits of Communication

By Aleksandra Kaminska

Alexander R. Galloway, Eugene Thacker and McKenzie Wark. Excommunication: Three Inquiries in Media and Mediation. University of Chicago Press, 2014. 210 pp.

“By being off the radar, you move in a different space, a jubilee zone of exception.”

—John Durham Peters, “Speaking Into the iPhone”

Like all such rare and catastrophic events, the disappearance of flight MH370 during a routine flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing in March 2014 spurred a frenzy of media coverage and public fascination.
» Read the rest

After the Aftermath

By Rob Coley

Siegfried Zielinski. […After the Media] News from the Slow-Fading Twentieth Century. Trans. Gloria Custance. Univocal, 2013. 276 pp.

Media theory has a problem with the new. The new is an obstacle, it is obsolete, it is yesterday’s news. Of the many responses to a late 20th century obsession with “new media,” current attempts to rethink the dominant historical narrative of media culture best encapsulate the problem.
» Read the rest

Trauma and the Limits of Counter-Memory

By Kelli Moore

Dora Apel. War Culture and the Contest of Images. Rutgers University Press, 2012. 273 pp.

War Culture and the Contest of Images comes in the wake of the Bush administration’s corporatized media production, chiefly represented by Colin Powell’s testimony before the U.N. Security Council on the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the current extension of policies and practices of the Obama administration that continue to drive underground public knowledge and debate about secret detention camps.
» Read the rest

Under the Hood of Wolfgang Ernst’s Media Archaeology

By Liam Young

Wolfgang Ernst. Digital Memory and the Archive. Jussi Parikka, ed. University of Minnesota Press, 2013. 265 pp.

The allure of the archive as a concept, space, form, and metaphor has proven irresistible for continentally inflected media and cultural studies over the last two decades. The “archive fever” diagnosed by Derrida in 1995 has only become more acute as the ever-accelerating digitization of culture, memory, and history has fundamentally reconfigured archives, both real and imaginary.
» Read the rest

Low Theory

By Matt Applegate

McKenzie Wark. Telesthesia: Communication, Culture, and Class. Polity Press, 2012. 241 pp.

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is the new and enduring object of political and intellectual inquiry for the Left in the United States. Indeed, like the 1999 Seattle WTO protests before it, OWS is perhaps more momentous, more impactful, or even more ‘revolutionary’ in its after-effects and in its memorialization than it was in the time and space of its production.
» Read the rest

Rethinking Race and Digital Divides

By Lisa Patti

Lisa Nakamura and Peter A. Chow-White, eds. Race After the Internet. Routledge, 2012. 343 pp.

In their introduction to the edited collected Race After the Internet, Lisa Nakamura and Peter A. Chow-White trace the emergence of multiple digital divides in the wake of what they call at different moments the “biotechnical turn,” the “technobiological turn,” and the “techno-genetic turn”–a cultural, institutional, and scholarly transformation that “privileges the technological and specifically the digital over other forms of knowledge, mediation, and interaction”(4).
» Read the rest

Pattern Pre-Recognition

By Russell Kilbourn

Richard Grusin. Premediation: Affect and Mediality in America after 9/11. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. 208 pp.

While visiting Amsterdam recently, I asked a friend if he had heard the weather report for that afternoon. He responded by calling up a ‘real-time’ satellite weather tracking website on his laptop, which showed us in convincing graphics that it would rain at 1:00 pm that afternoon.
» Read the rest