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History and Philosophy of Media 1

History and Philosophy of Media 1

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  • 1. Venus of Willendorf c. 24,000-22,000 BCE, Oolitic limestone, 43/8 inches (11.1 cm) high 100-583 History and Philosophy of Media PART ONE: MEDIA HISTORIOGRAPHY ONE: Problems of periodisation 1: colour A: periodising
  • 2. Cubeiform script, Sumer, c.26th century BCE (2600) detail of tablet measuring 9.2×9.2×1.2 cm. Inscriptions on tomb in Yang he, Uixian County, Shan dong Province c.2500 BCE
  • 3. Manuscript of Archimedes, c.200 BCE Dead Sea Scroll, Ist centurey BCE
  • 4. Gutenberg 42-line Bible c. 1455
  • 5. The Great Eastern arriving in Heart’s Content, Newfoundland in 1866 with first successful transatlantic telegraph cable (after failures in 1858 and 1865)
  • 6. some basic periods: prehistory: rock art and carving, ritual and dance, cities and ar- chitecture . . . writing, the alphabet and mathe- matics; tablets, scrolls and books printing global telecommunications broadcast media network media
  • 7. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0f/Jan_van_Eyck_001.jpg Jan van Eyck, “The Arnolfini Double Protrait” (aka The Arnolfini Weddding), 1434 100-583 History and Philosophy of Media PART ONE: MEDIA HISTORIOGRAPHY ONE: Problems of periodisation 1 B: colour case study
  • 8. Isaac Newton, sketch of experiment with prism, 1672
  • 9. Colour Wheel from Goethe’s Colour Theory (Zur Farbenlehre), 1810
  • 10. 18-year-old William Perkin synthesises first aniline mauve dye in his bedroom in Shadwell in 1856 Arthur Hughes “AprilLove” 1856
  • 11. CIE LAB colour space 1931
  • 12. Typical colour gamuts mapped to the CIE LAB diagram
  • 13. The abyss of total freedom experienced as nightmare rather This is the context in which we must understand what has than liberation, a nightmare which is as irrefutable as the happened to colour, for colour, that most sensuous of opti- Bomb and in so many ways shares its derivation from that cal effects, once removed from its position in hierarchies of imbrication of economy and politics which was in those days meaning, is exiled to the realm of taste, which itself has be- described as the military-industrial complex: this is the situ- come increasingly individuated. Fundamentally, the direction ation of colour after digitisation. The general accident which of capital is inimical to the construction of meaning. Politics is Virilio sees implicit in every technology has not spared the a way of squaring the circle, making it possible to carry on as technologies of light. if meaning were still available. Ideology is only part of the pro- cess, the ideology of choice. The management of populations The mathematicisation of colour, which lies so close to the is equally significant. Meaning is the undergirding of the social, origins of modern science and industry, lies also near the the particular mode of mediation required to create sociality, heart of modern social order, and most of all to the challenge collectives, groups. Without it, other means have to be found, of meaning in a fragmented world. Fashion here is vitally sig- from sovereignty to discipline to control and now the reduc- nificant. The fashion for a specific colour or range of tones (as tion of mathematics to the enumeration of experiences, the in 'brown is the new black') can produce the sense of com- numbering of colours on the basis of a statistical norm of per- munity to the extent that it produces a statistically significant ception, averaged samples, the unit grid, privatised and increas- shift in behaviour, at the scale of populations. Independent of ingly monopolistic systems, and the shrinkage of the spectrum both individuals' idiosyncratic tastes and of a shared grammar to what can be shown on a screen or printed. from which colours might derive meanings, fashion in colours operates at the level of biopolitics, of shifts in behaviour but not shifts in meaning. Subjectively, such fashionable changes may be experienced with a sense of belonging to a community of taste, but it is a community tied together by the slenderest of threads, more a tribute to our longing for community than our ability to build one. The way each generation mocks the fashions of the one before and the one after it proves the fick- leness of drifts in the performance of taste, the randomness of arbitrary difference without the structuring rule of a syntax.