Shame and the Politics of Punk Fiction Brian James Schill Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory, Volume 69, Number 4, Winter 2013, pp. 133-156 (Article) Published by University of Arizona DOI: 10.1353/arq.2013.0029For additional information about this article Access provided by University of Florida Libraries (22 Jan 2014 14:22 GMT http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/arq/summary/v069/69.4.schill.html
Shame and the Politics of Punk FictionWhere was the soul that had hung back from her destiny, to brood alone upon the shame of her wounds and in her house of squalor and subterfuge to queen it in faded cerements and in wreaths that withered at the touch? Or where was he? James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man In an episode from the final season of a certain Reagan-era crime drama, Dr. R. Quincy, medical examiner, investi gates the murder of a male teen killed inside a Los Angeles nightclub during a performance by punk band Mayhem.1 The victims punkette sweetheart, while not the actual assailant, is charged with the homicide primarily due to the testimony of her progressively mortied mother, who has told investigators feverishly that she had of late been coming home to nd her daughter burning cigarette holes in her arms, shred ding her clothes to bits, taking pills, and locking herself in her room listening to that violence-oriented punk rock music that does nothing but reinforce all those bad feelings. Awash in such histrionics, the pro gramtoday a cult favorite among punks, spawning the band Quincy Punx and the song Quincy Punk Episode by the postpunk group Spooninsists that the parent of such an embarrassing child heed the signiers punk subculture aunts and act with quick aplomb to expunge its degrading inuence. Many years following the demise of Quincy, M.E., Aaron Cometbus and his self-deprecating cohorts Sluggo and Little Suicide attempt to escape their innerSan Francisco punk squat by taking up residence at a low-rent bungalow in Berkeley they affectionately christen Double Arizona Quarterly Volume 69, Number 4, Winter 2013 Copyright 2013 by Arizona Board of Regents issn 0004-1610brian james schill
134 Brian James Schill Duce. Translating the affair into a serial novel, Cometbus, having wit nessed months of depraved apathy by his housemates, nds himself aggravated by his fellow punks chronic inability to create something productive from the self-loathing they have formalized through their adopted names. What other culture is so critical of itself? the narrator lectures his colleagues one evening: What other culture strives to build up traditions and costumes, only to shun them? . we are punks and we jump through hoops to deny the very culture from which our daily life revolves . . Let us remember who we are, and the fact that our failure and misery is but a tribute to our culture, the lifestyle of the true believer. (61) For Shame! ( 61) Cometbus scolds nally, demanding that his collec tive recognize the power embedded in its lthy, embarrassed response to its late capitalist milieu. Sadly, the speech is for naught; over the novels remaining pages a chagrined Cometbus can only document his mates self-conscious, escalating degeneracyand their inability to exploit such feelings as useful means to any ends. Selected for their contrasting points of view and nonmusical con text, these scenes reify the generalized and well-documented atmosphere of embarrassed self-hate embedded within punk rock subculture. Police, parents, and even punks agree: punk, in all senses of the term, is a disgrace, and this air of shame has stood rm for punks across time and placein spite of the genres evolving aesthetic. Noting how punks have always seemed emotionally if not outright physically crippled you see speech impediments, hunchbacks, limps ( 273), rock critic Lester Bangs saw in punk a self-hate well established by the mid1970s and observed how most punk music merely amounts to saying I suck (225). Countless examples from subsequent punk scenes on both sides of the Atlantic suggest such shame is representative; recounting his days singing for early 1980s hardcore group Black Flag, Henry Rollins, in an overstated tour diary eventually published as Get in the Van (1994), mopes from his shed that he often wondered, why [do] I go out on stages in front of people[?] Maybe its because its the most alien ating, humiliating, emptying thing I have found (175). Around the
Shame & the Politics of Punk Fiction 135 same time in Manchester, Joy Divisions Ian Curtis lamented in Isolation from his bands posthumous album Closer (1980): Im ashamed of the things Ive been put through / Im ashamed of the person I am. Curtiss dirge followed postpunk pioneers Public Image Limiteds Metal Box (1979) album, which included the energetic Memories, John Lydons indictment of punk generally, if not Sex Pistols manager Mal colm McLaren specically. You make me feel ashamed, Lydon yodels before his new band, It should be clear by now / Your words are useless / Full of excuses / False condence / Someone has used you well. Back in the States, Minnesota group Hsker Ds punk opera Zen Arcade (1984) detailed the disgrace of a teenage, likely homosex ual, narrator who laments his sense of failureMom and Dad . Im not the son you wanted, but what could you expect (Whatever)a tragedy of late capitalism (Newest Industry). In the early 1990s Kurt Cobain, leader of the Hsker-inuenced Seattle group Nirvana, likewise laid bare his low self-image throughout his bands career, particularly on Nirvanas nal studio album In Utero (1993) where Cobain admits, in three separate songs, I think Im dumb (Dumb), I have very bad posture (Pennyroyal Tea), and Ill take all the blame / Aqua sea-foam shame (All Apologies).2 Finally, consider Portland, Ore gon-based, indie-punk group Modest Mouse; in its 1998 single, Never Ending Math Equation, Isaac Brock wails: Im the same as I was when I was six years old / . Oh my God, Ive got to, got to, got to, got to move on / Where do you move when what youre moving from is your self? (emphasis added). As representative of many others, each of these examples suggests that punk shame can usually be attributed to its subjects inability to outpace either the selves to which they are bound or the alienating soci ety they feel has generated in them both restlessness and self-hate. Punk progenitor Richard Hell long ago crystallized punks anxiety over such a generalized binding, explaining to Punk magazine co-founder Legs McNeil: Basically I have one feeling . the desire to get out of here. And any other feelings I have come from trying to analyse, you know, why I want to go away . . See, I always feel uncomfort able and I just want to . walk out of the room. Its not going
136 Brian James Schill to any other place or any other sensation, or anything like that, its just to get out of here. (Holmstrom 62) An avid reader of poetry and philosophy, Hell was at the time of this statement anticipating Emmanuel Levinass essay On Escape (1982), which articulates the distress of being forever riveted to oneself . the unalterably binding presence of the I to itself ( 64). Joan Copjec later observed in reference to Levinas: The sentiment of being riveted to being is one of being in the forced company of our own being, whose brutality consists in the fact that it is impossible either to assume or to disown it ( 100). This riveting, if Hells experience is symptomatic, ini tiates punks desire for mobilizationLevinass termin all its forms from anti-capitalism to self-hate to their infamous afnity for offensive signiers: pierced faces, torn and threadbare clothing, swastikas, bondage gear. This desire can be traced to the earliest punk groups and continues today. As Hell and so many other punks have come to realize, however, the sustained articulation of such embarrassments in punk music sug gests a pathology not well doctored by song, for as Hegel long ago remarked in his lectures on ne art (1835), Mere bugle-blowing and drum-beating does not produce cour age, and it would take a lot of trumpets before a fortress would tumble at their sound as the walls of Jericho did. It is enthusi astic ideas . which achieve this . and not music, for music can only count as a support for those powers which in other ways have already . captured the mind. (909) Commiserating with Hegel, and realizing that a eeting and intangible punk sound is simply unable to provoke a triumph over, as McNeil put it, everything embarrassing, awful, and stupid in your life ( 334), punksHell among theminitiated a shift toward narrative literature rather early in their history, developing, over the course of thirty years, an extensive body of punk ction, the subject of this essay. Cometbus notwithstanding, the bulk of self-identied punk novels too display an obsession with what Lord Alfred Douglas praised as the loveliest of passions and its consummate triumph over the sub ject. Take, for instance, Jamie S. Richs Cut My Hair (2000), whose
Shame & the Politics of Punk Fiction 137 young punk subject, Mason, constantly devalues himself, noting his weakness (58, 65, 108 ), foolishness ( 60), and self-resentment ( 116, 183), wondering if punk itself represents a banding together of the shamed (64). Or consider Punk Life, Mark Perrys inaugural entry in the punk short story anthology Gobbing Pogoing and Gratuitous Bad Language (1996), whose speaker bemoans the punk lifea sad life / the lure of the esh / something to take us out of the shit / coming home from work drunk / getting felt up by some sad old bar queen / crying of shame ( 5 ). Moreover, J. D. Glass, author of the coming-out novel Punk Like Me (2006), explores the shame of her heroines clos eted homosexuality and her shifting, if omnipresent, embarrassment in coming out. Confused, humiliated and alarmed after sharing an inti mate moment with her best friend following their visit to New York punk club GBGBs, Glasss budding lesbian narrator wonders: Was I still Nina? Was I still even a girl? Still human? (89). These examples all follow The Punk (1977), a closet punk novella by Gideon Sams. Subtitled the rst punk novel by its publisher, The Punk labors to show the humiliation spike-haired teenage protago nist Adolph Sphitz feels at every turn. Adolphs parents are violently ashamed of their only sonhis police ofcer father attempts to throw him out; his conversations and physical interactions with his girlfriend Thelma are awkward at best; he is under constant threat of assault by roving gangs of Teds; and the only work the punk can ndworking for the shmonger or cleaning lavatoriesleaves him marked with a repulsive odor that refuses to wash away. Its camp notwithstanding, The Punk paved the way for what has become an identiable, subgenre of ction in the English-speaking world: stories about punks by punks. This transition to ction functions in two concomitant ways for punk subculture. First, novelization allows punks to formalize, document, and even classify, their liturgy of shame, creating, along the way, a more cogent typology of punk desires: the anticapitalist travelogue, the punk bildungsroman, and the comingout novelall of which constitute the bulk of ction whose narrator/ subject afliates with punk subculture. Combined with punk music and its signiers, these novels form a more robust punk assemblage of enunciation[s], to quote Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari, who in their work on Kafka also addressed the subjects desire to identify lines
138 Brian James Schill of escape ( 46). Second, and more importantly, inscribing what a phonologically indistinct punk music merely makes implicit and eeting, the punk novel turns the masters Deleuzian machine against itself, better translating and subsequently dismantling the assemblages to which punks are penitently joined. In this way punk ction moves through the shrill spectacle of punk music, both too easily ignored and/ or recuperated by industry, more successfully reasserting punks hys teric subjectivity, as Jacque Lacan puts it in his Seminar XVII ( Other Side 129). The result of this shift, and this combination of theorists, is a punk corpus of always-already political minor literature that not only recalls Kafkas deterritorialization of language and mirrors his tran sition from short to long form, but ultimately highlights rather than hides both the origins and effects of its subjects piquant hontology, (Lacan, Other Side 000), which ultimately turns punk shame into a sort of triumph. lines of escape A further reading of Rollinss memoir makes clear that touring with a band of eccentric, anxious punks was often an isolating and madden ingly bureaucratic venture. In an interview following Black Flags bitter dissolution in 1987, Rollins describes guitarist Greg Ginns demeanor as reminiscent of Kafkas The Trial (1925), explaining how, He would come up to you and say, Stop it! I would say, Stop what? He would say, You know what youre doing, stop. Im not going to tell you again. I would say, Oh, okay. Welcome to the world of Kafka. (Sinker 88) Rollins aside, Kafka remains a common point of reference in punk scenes across the globe. Groups with an obvious Kafka bent include Brazilian group Kafka and Scottish punks Josef K. Furthermore, George Gimarc argues in his Punk Diary (2005) that Howard Devoto of the Buzzcocks and Magazine was attempting to set Kafka to music (85). As Rollins and his cohorts imply, then, Kafkas absurdist, mechani cal tone permeates much of punk culture and serves as a useful point of entry for exploring punk shame, and especially its eventual ctional ization. Deleuze and Guattari too demonstrate that while Kafka is not interested in music as such, he is committed to exploring sound, par -
Shame & the Politics of Punk Fiction 139 ticularly sound connected to its own abolition (6), a phrase that is, perhaps, the best description of punk one will nd. If Deleuze and Guat tari are correct in arguing that the Czech authors prose is concise (or intentionally interminable), anti-metaphorical, self-defeating, cacophonous, and meaningless, is not punk music akin? Think Lou Reeds Metal Machine Music. As Hell and Cometbus suggest, punk culture evokes its subjects anxious, inchoate stab at escape from its evolving milieu, serving as the articulation of its authors immanent desire and attempted circumvention of the parent cultures bent-headed capitula tion to bureaucracy. Punk not only works to offend popular sensibilities but literally seeks to dismantle the governing cultural landscape as a way of escaping here, wherever here may be. Evidence of this restless outlook emerges in punks own penchant for the becoming-animal theme Kafka describes in, among other short stories, The Metamorphosis, Investigations of a Dog, and Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk. Each of these stories, Deleuze and Guat tari tell us, function as absolute deterritorializations that seek the dis solution of all signications, signiers, and signieds, to the benet of an unformed matter of deterritorialized ux; such lines of escape simultaneously serve to ee the director, the business, and the bureau crats, to reach that region where the voice no longer does anything but hum ( 13). So it is that punks musical texts (records, performances) function like Kafkas briefer tales in that they often turn on the con cept of becoming-animal, not only deterritorializing popular music and American culture broadly, but seeking severance from an exaggerated Oedipus (government, religion, family), both of which punks exploit in seeking an escape from their shame and its source. Over the course of several decades, an evocative pile of punk songs and performers that channel Kafkas becoming-animal theme has taken shape: The Stooges Search and Destroy, wherein Iggy Stooge claims to be a street-walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm (this from a man who performed wrapped in dog collars and tailpieces); the Germs Manimal; Wires I Am the Fly; the Cramps Human Fly, com posed primarily of guitarist Bryan Gregorys droning riff and lead singer Lux Interiors vocal buzz throughout; Nirvanas Very Ape; Candy Machines Animal Suit; and, more recently, Q and Not Us So Many Animal Calls, which wonders of the people and animals all waiting around, How do they make those sounds?
140 Brian James Schill One particularly illustrative example is the Dickies You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla). During performances of this song, suggestive of Kafkas A Report to an Academy, the band would don monkey masks as singer Leonard Phillips jumped around his mates pretending to pick and eat nits from their heads, singing: Swinging around from every town to town / I swing around and I never come down / City is a jungle now this is it / Every time I look at you I go ape-shit. Groping about the stage, cursing the increasingly automated civilization that produced his bestiality, Phillips draws clear allusions to the simian nar rator of Kafkas Report who explains, in anticipation of Richard Hell, No, freedom was not what I wanted. Only a way out; right or left, or in any direction; I made no other demand; even should the way out prove to be an illusion ( Complete Stories 253). Consider also The Stooges seminal Now I Wanna Be Your Dog, Lou Reeds bow-wow-meowed Animal Language, and the Dickies Poodle Party (Phillips barks throughout much of the track), all of which recall the conclusion of The Trial wherein K laments the circumstances of his deathLike a dog!and how his murderers gaze guarantees the shame of it must outlive him (229). Early on, Kafka realized that his more concise attempts at deterri torialization could not succeed because they had, according to Deleuze and Guattari, no room to develop. Lacking space, short stories are too easily re-Oedipalized by a paternal culture as a result of their nature still too formed, too signicative, too territorialized ( 15). This sce nario repeats itself in punk music culture; as punk was easily converted into New Wave by the market in the late 1970s, the accusation of sellout! was cast about among bands and fans and remains a common charge. According to artist Frank Kozik, punk was, rather effortlessly, taken over by the system and everythings punk rock now (Sinker 187), having been co-opted by the recording industry, mass media, and other mechanical Names-of-the-Father into another banal commod ity.3 Like Kafkas shorter stories, then, punk music and performance, with their short, often overwhelming, bursts of inarticulate sound, are too limiting and likewise fail to produce a sustained, tangible lifeline, requiring punks to either abandon the subculture, which many did (and do), or alter their medium to better convey and overcome their igno miny.
Shame & the Politics of Punk Fiction 141 In response, and mimicking Kafka, many punks have turned to the novel as a more effective tool for both articulating their shame and escaping the culture-self to which they are bound. Richs Cut My Hair is only the most obvious in this regard; Mason takes to following a punk group called Like A Dog (whose followers are dubbed dog gies) and relating Kafka to his own experience throughout. I could see why [band leader] Tristan had chosen Like A Dog as the bands name, Mason muses after reading The Trial. It was so powerful, said so many things. Perhaps that was why his lyrics dealt so much with fear and cowardice (64). What Mason fails to appreciate but Rich recognizes is that Tristan would be better served abolishing his band and writing ction. In articulating a less formed, less territorialized shame on paper, despite its inscription, punks sidestep the obstacles that emerge from (or are embedded within) punk music culture, and more effectively weaken the bindings that keep punks joined to both themselves and the society they refuseor at the very least better identify and animate lines of escape. Taking up Lacans challenge in The Other Side of Psychoanalysis (1970), they do so by embracing, embodying, and hystericizing the humiliation and anxiety produced by the increasingly shameless market economy that surrounds them. punks on the road Before punks literary hystericization can be explored in detail, punk ction must be dened more clearly. Like the tired debates over the term punk itself, identifying what is (and is not) a punk novel is admittedly tricky. There have long been novelsFinnegans Wake (1939), Naked Lunch (1959), Blood and Guts in High School (1978), The Kafka Chronicles (1993)that are punk stylistically in that they are loud, grammatically mischievous, nonlinear, rabidly vulgar, and cut-up. Likewise, there are countless examples of novels that while coherent stylistically or linguistically are punk in terms of their pru rient, violent, and unmarketable contentHenry Miller, (homo) erotic ction, or contemporary splatterpunk author Poppy Z. Brite, whose own entry in Gobbing Pogoing and Gratuitous Bad Language! has little to do with punk rock proper. While the punk nature of such writers is worth exploring, I must be clear that I am not thinking here of Kathy Acker or William Burroughs, who arguably composed ction in the same way many punk groups write/wrote and performed music:
142 Brian James Schill disjointed, violent, quick, calculatedly caustic, and informal. Neither is this essay about the genres to have emerged that have appropriated the term: steampunk, cyberpunk, and so on. The punk ction surveyed in this essay is much easier to classify in that it refers to a growing genre of contemporary literature that simply happens to feature punk protagonists (in much popular culture since the 1970s the punk represented the antagonist) who discover, inhabit, and remain in or abandon the punk music subculture. It also is typically penned by self-identied punks themselves. What ties each of these novels together thematically is not only the emphasis they place on their subjects disgrace and binding but also the fact that almost every punk novel tends to fall into one of three subtypes: the travelogue or tour diary, coming-of-age teen novel, or coming-out tale. Some punk novels even blend these types, generating the coming-of-age travelogue, as with Charles Romalottis Salad Days (2000), or the lesbian bildungsroman, epitomized by Kristyn Dunnions Mosh Pit (2004). In terms of the rst category specically, there are sev eral punk novels on the market that feature caution-to-the-wind sub jects who, disenchanted with the boring, repressive, consumer-based, and typically white lives, abandon their families, jobs, and other respon sibilities for the road, often with band in tow. Examples include Double Duce; Michael Turners Hard Core Logo (1993), an account of ctional Canadian punk band Hard Core Logos hasty, debasing reunion tour; and Steve Wishnias serial novel Exit 25 Utopia (1999), a collection of punk road stories Heckler magazine described as a cross-pollination between Henry Rollinss Get in the Van and Jack Kerouacs On the Road (back cover)the latter, an important reference for many punks. Take as exemplary in this regard Hells Go Now (1996). In Hells premier novel, punk-junkie-writer Billy Mud is charged with driving a 1957 DeSoto Adventurer convertible from Los Angeles to New York in order to reunite the car with its owner Jack, a publishing industry entrepreneur. Accompanying Billy on the journey is Chrissa, a French photojournalist and Billys former lover. Jack has commissioned the trip with the intent of developing a piece of creative nonction out of the adventure: Billys poetic interpretation of Big mongrel America ( 91) circa 1980 paired with Chrissas photographs of Americans both urban and rural. As the narrative evolves, Billy nds himself participating
Shame & the Politics of Punk Fiction 143 in one degrading scene after another: casual and dirty sex, the physi cal horrors of withdrawal, a shameful inability to kick his drug habit, waning self-condence, and the long-distance dissolution of his band. The punk comes to a realization about himselfparticularly his humili ated purposelessnessas the couples journey ends in Billys hometown when the Adventurer suffers an irreparable breakdown and Chrissa abandons Billy after he seduces his aunt. What has brought Billy to this point? America itself. The market. Oversized automobiles, postwar wealth, and an atomizing political cul ture. Jacks goal, he admits brazenly, is that Chrissa and Billy recapture, in the interest of selling nostalgia to aging baby boomers, the rocka billy America of the 1950s, the America of Elvis and Kerouac, espe cially in the pockets that are still practically like the nineteenth century electried ( 44). To inspire himself for the trip, which he regards as an occasion to escape both himself and any number of Names-of-theFather pressing down upon him, Billy purchases a wardrobes worth of vintage clothing. But instead of building a concrete antistyle around the intentionally American attire, in each city he stops Billy has to defend his citizenship and prove his being there, even getting asked, in Kerouacs San Francisco no less, What country are you from? ( 67). Although Billy echoes Sal Paradises pursuit of meaning from On the Road, Hells repetition is a calculated dig at the Beat touchstone. In a clear departure from Sal, Billy, the reluctant solipsist who dresses dis tinctly American, is fully estranged from everyone and everything, an alien in his own State, to which he is bound but from which he gets no recognition. And as the wardrobe episode suggests, the more Billy engages the market or sates his desiresthe more he consumes and fucksthe more isolated and ashamed he feels. This shame only intensies Billys desire to escape, to locate the source of his binding and possibly seek its destruction. So it is that Billys search leads him directly to Freuds Wo Es war, soll Ich werden ( 80)4 his hometown of Lexington, Kentucky, where the novel reaches its wretched conclusion at the home of Billys aunt. Wandering around the literal place of his birth Billy searches for his childhood home; nding the house, Billy describes the structure as a perfect representation of a childs idea of a house ( 153), and it is at this moment that Billy is con fronted by his impossible Lacanian Real: the line of escape he had been
144 Brian James Schill pursuing for thousands of miles was false all along, having only brought him to the Fathers door. Disoriented by this insight, Billy, with perhaps a nod to Kerouacs repeated references to aunts, stumbles over to his aunts home. Making one last effort at escape and taking the Name-of-the-Father for himself, Billy reinterprets Oedipus by making consensual love to his mothers sister in the town of his birth. Just as the scene is reaching a climax, Chrissa, who had been away taking photographs of the city, intrudes on the couple and obliterates Billys subjectivity by snapping several images of his act, immortalizing Billys blank, disgraced two-dimension ality. Thus is Billys humiliation objectied, riveted to the photograph. In the end, Hell replicates not only Kerouacs conclusions on having sought ones self on the road, but in a stark rebuke reduces the Beats mystical, and ultimately mercantile, elitism to dust. In so doing, Billy creates and conditions his own subjectivity and constructs for himself a viable, or at least symbolic, line of escapenot the journey but its inscription. As Hell puts it in the novels conclusion: Im on my knees before you. The words are on their knees . . All the words. All the words since the beginning of time. The ending is words. The person in a cloud of them, like a cloud of bugs. Step back, the person is emerging, elsewhere, emerging like a creature from a dead carapace or cocoon or a penis from a foreskin to resume his life outside our observation. The deformations he suffered for being inaccurately described are shufed off. (174) For a riveted being whose construction of self and binding have been subject to logos all along, it is the written word Billy exploits to escape. Through the written word, that is, Billy not only embarrasses the selfsatised Sal Paradise, but illustrates the failure of punk music culture, which, like Kerouacs expedition, is simply too Gnostic (as Greil Marcus long ago recognized) and disengaged to create the conditions for a genuine escape. He creates instead a concrete, deterritorializing, and ultimately anticapitalist metasubject, manufacturing a more stable and critical dialectic and giving himself a sense of unbound being that appears only alongside an inscribed, humiliating, narrative enunciation.
Shame & the Politics of Punk Fiction 145 venus in furs Shame and escape are often the basis of the second of punk ctions three subgenres as well: the (often confessional) coming-out novel. Although less popular thematically than other variations on punk shame, homosexuality and androgyny have long been part of punk cul ture. The Velvet Undergroundwhose name is borrowed from Michael Leighs book describing Americas sexual undergroundrecorded and performed songs detailing homosexuality and sadomasochism, including Im Waiting for the Man. In the late 1970s and 1980s (an era that featured Patti Smiths lesbian elegy Redondo Beach and the Ramones ode to male prostitution 53rd and 3rd) punks sartorial androgyny was notorious, as was its attraction for those in the gay and lesbian community, as Dick Hebdige and Lucy OBrien argue. And in the 1990s patriarchy and heteronormativity were challenged outright by the Riot Grrrl and queercore punk factions, respectively. Such emphases by punk subjects not only authenticate one particular deni tion of punk but illustrate Lacans characterization, from The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, of the hysteric whose effeminate subjectivity is constructed in opposition to the masculine, patriarchal master signi er. As Lacan summarizes in his Seminar XVII, The subject himself, the hysteric, is alienated from the master signier as he whom this signier divides [into fading and meaning] . who refuses to make himself its body. [So] lets give him the gender under which this subject is most often embodied. She . goes on a kind of strike. (94) Like punks storied bondage fetish, Lacans characterization of hysterics allows us not only to see punk as castrated or non-masculinedomi nated by the Father through his Law and prohibition of jouissancebut as ashamed by and seeking a Kafkan/Deleuzian escape from his embar rassing machine. After all, even Deleuze and Guattari note Kafkas inuence on the homosexuality of punk style and subjectivity. Inter preting Kafkas fascination with tight clothingincluding the buckledand-belted policemen of The Trial who are in turn whipped by a ogger described as donning a dark leather garment which left his throat and a good deal of his chest and the whole of his arms bare ( 84)the two philosophers argue that Today still, these are the clothes of Ameri -
146 Brian James Schill can sado-masochists that signal in Kafka a Homosexual effusion and [reunite] all these points [of the assemblage, arrange] them in [a] spe cic machine which extends across the whole eld of immanence, and even anticipates it (68). Reading punks as a collection of Lacanian hysterics who update K (whose own romantic exploits in each of Kafkas novels imply Ks repeated dishonor), we see how such humiliated subjects seek to move past their emasculated subjectivity by procuring themselves through several mobilizations: protesting the masters bureaucratic discourse and seeking escape from it; subverting the masters modes of production and distribution, including his Deleuzian war machine; hystericizing their own disgraced discourse rather than repressing their anger, despair, and anomie; and committing ritual violence, principally against the self. Combining Deleuze and Lacan, then, are writers of punk coming-out ction. To J. D. Glasss lesbian punk shame (which certainly built upon Ackers punk project) we add Lorrie Sprecher, whose punk narra tor Melany describes, in Sister Safety Pin (1994), her embarrassment in browsing lesbian books at a womens bookstore ( 33), her shame in coming out (143), and her humiliated rage in even considering paying a nominal bail fee following her arrest at a Gay Rights rally, rather than remaining imprisoned for, as she interprets it, committing to her sexual orientation and punk subculture ( 203). Furthermore, Hells second novel, Godlike (2005), and Abram Himelstein and Jamie Schwesers Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing (1998) give voice to queer poets and les bian Riot Grrrls, respectively, and otherwise explore directly punk homosexuality. Or, as narrator Rockets Redglare, a fourteen-year-old runaway and disciple of Los Angeles punk bands Germs and X, describes the homoerotic secret he harbors from his foster home days in Thorn Hillsberys What We Do Is Secret (2005), I reckon the secrets the part you cant tell. Like I can put in words how scared Jake was that day, the physical signs I mean. His lower lip trembled and a twitch started winking one of his eyes and how the blood just drained from his face . . I cant tell you what it felt like, being there, touched by his fear, and shame too it must have been, sharing it. Or what passed between us, besides words. How for the rst and only time, after living in the same house for ten years, breaking bread and
Shame & the Politics of Punk Fiction 147 breaking wind and breaking promises, we somehow connected. (169) More than any other punk novelist, Hillsbery achieves the tone and complexity of the best of gay literature, for instance James Bald wins Giovannis Room, which details its characters shame in their orientation and their inability to escape the cultural dominant that marginalizes them. Throughout Baldwins novel, narrator David paves the way for much of queercore ction, expressing a complicated shame about his sexuality and admitting his emigration to France was a ight from self. And as Jacques, one in a series of older gay men Baldwin char acterizes as undesirable, admits to David, Me, I want to escape . this dirty world, this dirty body (35). Upping the ante on Baldwin, Hillsbery includes in his novel a scene wherein Rockets is induced by his friend Blitzer to hustle for the rst time. Seeking the means to purchase the pairs drug of choice, Des oxyn, from a downtown dealer, Rockets and Blitzer solicit sex in The Spotlight on North Cahuenga in Los Angeles (the equivalent of Guil laumes Paris club in Giovannis Room) where they pick up Bill, Dog Groomer to the Stars (and English version of Guillaume) ( 74). At Bills uptown apartment, the groomer plays a Betamax cassette record ing of his late 1970s appearance on The Merv Grifn Show while Rock ets undresses, smokes a joint, and aggrandizes Bills wit and wisdom, playing his agreed-upon role as voyeur to Bills self-grooming. As Bill is nishing his task, Rockets nds himself nauseated by his apparently heroin-laced marijuana cigarette; unable to repress the reex, he vomits on the groomerRight at the magic moment. No! Punk rock! Oki Dog and fries! (82). Horried and ashamed, Rockets apologizes pro fusely, offering reparations for sullying Bills fantasy. Unscathed, Bill himself apologizes for spiking the joint, insisting the young punk played his part perfectly: He puts two bills in my hand, and a business card. He pats my shoulder. You said all the right things ( 82). This assurance, too, humiliates the young narrator profoundly, perhaps solidifying his decision to ee Los Angeles at the novels close. Like punks afnity for bondage gearpregnant with Hege lian implicationsthis scene crystallizes how the punk coming-out novel allows the analyst to read punk music culture, through Lacan and Deleuze, as a hysteric she who, overowing with surplus shame,
148 Brian James Schill struggles (unsuccessfully) against her loss of jouissance-knowledge. The guardian of this knowledge is the master-father, who speaks rst and articulates the punk subjects knowledge and joy for her by controlling her means of production and ultimately keeping her bound to this imbalanced state of being. The novels, in response, imply an escape, however, allowing the producer to circumvent the re-Oedipalization that punk music, Riot Grrrl for example, was never able to achieve Bikini Kills Revolution Girl Style Now, quickly becoming the Spice Girls Girl Power. a minor literature / a literature of minors The sprawling, staccato tone of What We Do Is Secret serves as a useful prelude to the examination of two nal, concomitant, points about punk ction, illustrated in Deleuze and Guattaris description of Kafkas minor literature as a new collection of statements that both insert themselves into old assemblages and break with them ( 83). Such a body of work is constructed by a minority group within a major ity language and retains three imperative features: it is highly deter ritorializing, political in nature, and collective. On this last point, the collectivity of minor literature is a result of the scarcity of talent within the collectivepalpable in punk ction. Ultimately, such a lack is benecial in that it allows the conception of something other than a literature of masters so far as the enunciation of each individual author constitutes a common action . even if others arent in agree ment, making literature itself a unifying, revolutionary enunciation (17). With this argument in mind, take the following excerpts from punk ction, each of which advance punks tradition of, as Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna calls it, fucking with language (Sinker 64): Hillsberys singsong, metered prosepotent with all varieties of cant, referential winks, and neologismsis a superlative example. As Rock ets muses in the novels second chapter, recalling the death of his hero Darby Crash in Ronald Reagans America: So okay, maybe shavings still a novelty to yours coolly, here and now in the utter and wow, mourning in America, year one, A.D. After Darby. But am I over and I mean cradle to 45 Grave my thirst for the worst, oh most deantly. (9)
Shame & the Politics of Punk Fiction 149 And in his early, sardonically entitled Punk Novel (1980), Bad Al goes out of his way to deterritorialize language and offend the sensibili ties of his readers (and publisher!): So this aint a novel So what Look how ya grovel Thinkin ya got somethin hot So yer daddys the man of the house and late at night he puts on a see-through blouse and butters his ass and blows out gas and makes a pass at somebody elses daddy. (12) Although Faulkner it is not, Punk Novel raised the stakes for punk ction by blazing an early trail for a deterritorializing use of language in print that reached its apex in Hillsbery and in Frank Portmans coming-of-ager King Dork ( 2006 ). The latter remains the premier punk bildungsroman over and above the glut of such novels by or about punks, including Joe Menos Hairstyles of the Damned ( 2004 ), The Punk (written when Sams was only fourteen), Cut My Hair John Kings Human Punk ( 2001 ), John Sheppards Small Town Punk ( 2007 ), and Joshua Fursts The Sabotage Caf ( 2007 ), whose runaway punk protagonist not only admits to feeling queasy and shameful ( 117 ) but at one point seeks to embody shame, dismissing a more formal tattoo for something harder on the eyes, some thing that would make people look away in shame . a splotch ( 100 ). In Portmans debut novel, narrator Tom Henderson and his lone friend, Sam, failing to t in with the rest of the fake people who comprise the Hillmont High student body, spend their days listening to punk records, working on album covers for their imaginary bands, avoiding the sts and insults of Hillmont jocks, and dozing through insufferable public school literature courses that focus on improving students vocabulary and laud J. D. Salingers The Catcher in the Rye upon which King Dork hinges and Tom has been forced to read . like three hundred times ( 12 ). Putting aside Toms sardonic, intentional
150 Brian James Schill mimicking of Holden Cauleld throughouthe repeats such Caul eldian lines as I swear to God ( 72, 73, 110, 120 ) and [goddam] phony ( 28, 167, 185, 246 )what allows Dork to rise above its cohorts is how Portman explicitly characterizes his young punk as given to an at times brilliant misuse of language. The device ultimately deter ritorializes not simply Salingers novel, but his entire tongue and the industry that exploits its fans and fastens hysterics such as Tom to their heritage, forcing him, for instance, to nd symbolism in the fact that he is reading his deceased fathers dog-eared copy of Catcher When Toms mother discusses with Tom her late husbands relationship with Toms pedophilic associate principal Teone (Holdens Mr. Antolini) near the novels end, Tom ejaculates almost instinctually that Teone is, among other soubriquets, mal-efcient. Having meant malecent, Tom follows both Lacans and Deleuzes lead, noting sarcastically The trick is to make the mispronunciation have a totally different mean ing from the correctly pronounced word. My education was starting to bear fruit ( 266 ). This anti-Oedipal inversion of the masters language has been part of the novel all along; earlier Tom and his classmates mime their Eng lish teacher in turning bte noire into bait-no-are-eh and wanton into wawntawn (16). Later Tom translates from French a note, tucked inside one of his fathers books, containing the term ramone, a conju gation of the innitive ramoner, or to sweep a chimney ( 174). In the context of the note, Tom discovers that his father was not a chimney sweep, but used the term as a sexual metaphor. The signicance of this reference in the context of punkthe Ramonesrequires little eluci dation. So determined is Portman to deterritorialize Salinger, in fact, that his novel reads not only as a Catcher parody, but a fatal proxy. The novels hardcover publisher Delacorte made brilliant use of King Dorks content by appropriating the 1960s-era crimson-covered Catcher (published by Bantam Books, Delacortes sister rmboth currently operate under the Random House umbrella), the title of which has been rubbed out and replaced with a blue-pen-scribbled King Dork on the sur rogate (Fig. 1). In this way Portmans novel literally erases the original Catcher.
Shame & the Politics of Punk Fiction 151 Fig. 1: Images Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc. King Dork cover design by Angela Carlino.
152 Brian James Schill And in perhaps the most complete assemblage of these enun ciations and generic types, then, Michael Muhammad Knights The Taqwacores (2004)a Catcher In the Rye for young Muslims (back cover)describes the growing pains and various embarrassments (of accent, religious extremism, and skin color) of narrator Yusef Ali, a Pakistani American student living in a Muslim punk house in upstate New York. The novel opens, following an epigraph entitled Muham mad Was A Punk Rocker, with Yusef stumbling into his living room late one night to nd, among other passed-out punks, a spike-haired punker kneeling silently on a attened pizza box and facing an east erly hole in the wall (baseball-bat-induced) indicating qiblahthe way to Mecca. Explaining the origin of term tawqacorea portmanteau combining the Arabic word for piety or divine consciousness with hardcoreone of Yusefs friends suggests the pair head out west some time to catch a few punk shows: Get a van, make like an interstate jamaat . . And along the way wed round up all the queer alims, drunk imams, punk aya tollahs, masochistic muftis, junkie shaykhs, retarded mullahs, and gutter-mouthed maulanas we can nd, just load up the van til we cant t no more and then have guys hangin off the side like in Rawal-fuckinpindi! Shit man, down the i-90. And it all ends in Khalifornia. (28) Challenging Portmans best effort, Knight takes pains, with much effrontery and on behalf of both punks and Muslim Americans, to twist, invert, and deconstruct his parent tongue and culture both linguisti cally and thematically, forcing his way into the masters discourse in order to disassemble and escape it. Thus are the grammar and syntax of punk ction necessarily extreme, difcult, and bad; of this there is no better example than the aforementioned anthology. In taking the mas ters language and form to its limit, punk ction ceases to be the repre sentation of punk (a book about punk) but is itself punk.5 Through a exible, creative use of diction, that is, such enunciation itself deter ritorializes, resists, and offends the master-father. Taken as a whole, and looking to the typology outlined here, punk ctionwhose widely inconsistent authors each speak for a communityforms an appropri ated assemblage of literature that expresses its alienation, anger, shame,
Shame & the Politics of Punk Fiction 153 and anxiety with both the status quo and itself more effectively than punks too easily re-Oedipalized, efuvial, pop music culture. The result is a cacophonous and irrational corpus of texts that actively refuse the masters discourse and, like Kafka, resists the urge to surrender to nationalist impulses or an obscene, trite symbolism. Punks accomplish all of this through an overbearing emphasis on shame. More than any punk record or performance, that is, punk ction both states its communitys difculties more productively and improves upon its forebears arguments by expressing, even cultivating, punks deep sense of shame not only in being itself, but in their inability to dis engage themselves effectively from the masters discoursewhich the typically white, middle-class punk community reluctantly recognizes as its birthright. To understand the radical dynamics of this move, we mine specically Lacans Seminar XVII in more detail, the conclusion of which provides both an ontological and political rationale for what punks literary expression of shame accomplishes. (h)ontology With the May 1968 student protests as its backdrop, The Other Side of Psychoanalysis sketches out Lacans four psychoanalytical discoursesthe master, hysteric, university, and analyst. After wondering, in his nal lecture, why his hysteric audience is not more ashamed of its recent emotionalism, Lacan asks why the masters discoursecapital ismhas maintained its power, in spite of his audiences disquiet ( 181). To begin an answer in advance of Deleuze, Lacan slogs into a homily on Hegels Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), noting that despite the fact that Hegel locates Absolute Knowledge with the slave, it is evident nearly two centuries after Hegel that in no way is the world approaching the ascendancy of the slave ( 171). But if Hegelthe sublime representa tive of . university knowledge (171)is mistaken, the slave is forced into two related conclusions: either the hysteric is not the location of Absolute Knowledge and her ascendancy is a sham, and/or the master is cheating the hysteric, pilfering her knowledge for himself. This is the hysterics embarrassing reality; rather, because any knowledge she might produce is ultimately recuperated by the masterDeleuzes reOedipalizationthe hysteric loses both knowledge and Truth, remain ing forever bound.
154 Brian James Schill Nevertheless, advises Lacan, as the hole from which the master signier arises, shame is useful to the hysteric if she would only enter that hole (189). What capitalism tends towardLacan and Deleuze and Guattari all noteis convincing the sequestered, bound subject that pride and value are located exclusively in individual freedom, need, and accumulation, and in the satisfaction of an ultimately insatiable series of evolving desires. In so doing, the masters discourse also eliminates shame as a consequence of meaningful being in pursuit of accumu lation and gratication. This is why Lacan says that his audience of embarrassed (and ultimately bourgeois) hysterics must become shame. In a shameless market culture where affect, and perhaps meaningful ness, are increasingly prohibited by the master-father, to embody the shame of desire itself and any emotional outburst that might result is to immerse oneself into being and more effectively mufe the masters voice. End this prideful countercultural nonsense, Lacan implores of his seminar students; stop hystericizing and be the masters you were born to bebut do so with a self-conscious embarrassment, and throw this humiliation in the masters (and thus your own) face. In making this argument, Lacan posits a neologism, pairing the French shame (honte) with ontology to produce hontology; shame is meaningful being, and the hysteric does herself a favor in recognizing and utilizing this notion (180). Such advice has been adopted by punk novelists; unable to escape their riveted, faded shame via punk music, they have turned to a collec tive and political form of enunciation not only recognized by academy and industry, but less limiting or co-optable than pop music as such by virtue of its tangibility, articulating their collective shame by objec tifying and normalizing it. That is, punk ction is symbolic of what the Lacan of crits called a cut in the real offered by language (Direc tion 260). The Taqwacores especially signals how such inscribed enunciation can better help its producers and consumers generate new, signicant lines of escape. Writing in 2003 Knight imagined his novel in advance of any actual, identiable Muslim-punk subculture in the United States. It was this collection of words, the object-novel itself, say members of the movements most popular bands, The Komi nas (Bastards in Urdu), Secret Trial Five, and Vote Hezbollah, that inspired them to form Muslim punk bands and start a genuinenonsymbolicscene (Maag).
Shame & the Politics of Punk Fiction 155 Punk writers such as Knight transcend not only their musical but literary forebears who merely identiedbut neither engaged nor over camethe postwar subjects hysteric urge to escape her increasingly alienated self and her embarrassment in riveted being. After all, did not the Beat writers, in the end, fail to salute and exploit the shame they write into their narrators? Salingers reclusion reected his acceptance of the masters segregating discourse, as did Kerouacs prototypically American individualism and preoccupation with (sexual) self-fulll ment, long ago identied by Michel Foucault as merely a capitulation to the bourgeois economys deployment of sexuality in the service of its control of bodies. Baldwinalthough more piercing, provocative, and politically relevant than his contemporaries did escape for much of his adult life, and it is this expatriates ight that betrays the tension in his novels about marginalized characters who seek endlessly a line of escape only to fail. Recognizing such failures, contemporary punk novelistswho embrace, embody, and objectify their shamebetter challenge the mas ters discourse. Especially important in this regard are Hell, Portman, Hillsbery, and Knight, whose novels have been the most deterritorial izing of the genre, dismantling the masters assemblage by enunciating their shame on a public scale far less recoupable than either punk music or Beatnik prose, both of which nd themselves riveted to the contem porary culture industry. If these writers are any indication, then, punk novelistswhose embarrassing work rst emerged alongside Margaret Thatchers and Ronald Reagans market obsessionhave recognized the errors of their ancestors both musical and literary and are more effectively pressing the critique of a shameless, global, capitalism that has only ballooned since punks birth. University of North Dakota notes1. Quincy M.E. aside, several popular American television programs from the 1980s dealt with the lead characters embarrassing punk problem for an episode, including Mamas Family Alice, and Silver Spoons. The music cited in this essay was originally released on vinyl lp and cd, but most of it now can be found online. 2. His biographer would go on to document Cobains chronic shame in his sexual self (Cross 49, 55, 230), drug addiction (260, 275), and success (4).
156 Brian James Schill 3. See The Function and Field in Speech and Language for Lacans descrip tion of the nom du pre that Deleuze and Guattari apply to Kafka. 4. Where It [the Id] was, I [the Ego] shall come into being. 5. Certainly this argument could also be applied, in another essay, to authors whose form, if not content, is punk, including Burroughs, Acker, Mark Amerika, and Ouvroir de Littrature Pontertielle authors such as Harry Mathews, et al.works citedBad Al [Al Saperstein]. Punk Novel. New York: Macmillan, 1980. Baldwin, James. Giovannis Room. New York: Dell-Laurel, 1956. Bangs, Lester. Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung. Ed. Greil Marcus. New York: Vintage Books, 1988. Bikini Kill. Title Track. Revolution Girl Style Now. Self-released, 1991. Blinko, Nick. The Primal Screamer. London: Spare Change, 1995. Candy Machine. Animal Suit. Tune International. DeSoto/Dischord, 1997. Cometbus, Aaron. Double Duce. San Francisco: Last Gasp, 2003. Copjec, Joan. May 68, The Emotional Month. Lacan: The Silent Partners Ed. Slavoj iek. London: Verso, 2006. 90. Cramps, The. Human Fly. Off the Bone. Illegal, 1983. Cross, Charles. Heavier Than Heaven. New York: Hyperion, 2001. Deleuze, Gilles, and Flix Guattari. Kafka: Toward A Minor Literature. 1975. Trans. Dana Polan. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986. Dickies, The. Poodle Party. The Incredible Shrinking Dickies. A&M, 1979. . You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla). The Incredible Shrinking Dickies. A&M, 1979. Dunnion, Kristyn. Mosh Pit. Markham, ON: Red Deer Press, 2004. Rev. of Exit 25 Utopia by Steve Wishnia. Heckler: n.p., Carnelian Bay, [ 2000?]. back cover. Foster, Ben. Like Hell. Chicago: Hope and Nothings, 2001. Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality. Vol. 1: An Introduction 1976. Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage, 1990. Freud, Sigmund. The Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud Vol. 22. New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, 1932. Ed. Anna Freud and James Strachey. London: Â Hogarth Press, Â 1964. Furst, Joshua. The Sabotage Caf. New York: Vintage, 2007. Germs. Manimal. (GI). Slash, 1979. Gimarc, George. Punk Diary. San Francisco: Backbeat, 2005. Glass, J. D. Punk Like Me. 2nd ed. Johnsonville, NY: Bold Stroke, 2006. Hebdige, Dick. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. 1979. London: Routledge, 1999. Hegel, G. W F Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art 1835 Trans. T. M. Knox. Oxford: Clarendon, 1975.
Shame & the Politics of Punk Fiction 157 Hell, Richard. Godlike. New York: Akashic, 2005. . Go Now. New York: Scribner, 1996. Hillsbery, Thorn Kief. What We Do Is Secret. New York: Villard, 2005. Himelstein, Abram, and Jamie Schweser. Tales Of A Punk Rock Nothing New Orleans: New Mouth From The Dirty South, 1998. Holmstrom, John, and Bridget Hurd. Punk: The Best of Punk Magazine New York: It-Harpercollins, 2012. Hsker D. Newest Industry. Zen Arcade. SST, 1984. . Whatever. Zen Arcade. SST, 1984. Iggy and the Stooges. Now I Wanna Be Your Dog. The Stooges. Elektra, 1969. . Search and Destroy. Raw Power. Columbia, 1973. Joy Division. Isolation. Closer. Factory, 1980. Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. 1914. Boston: Bedford, 1993. Kafka, Franz. The Complete Stories. Ed. Nahum Glatzer. New York: Schocken, 1971. . The Trial. 1925. Trans. Willa and Edwin Muir. New York: Schocken, 1968. King, John. Human Punk. London: Vintage, 2001. Knight, Michael Muhammad. The Taqwacores. Berkeley, CA: Soft Skull, 2004. Lacan, Jacques. The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power. 1966. crits 215. . crits. Trans. Bruce Fink. New York: Norton, 2002. . The Function and Field in Speech and Language. crits 31. . The Other Side Of Psychoanalysis. 1970. Trans. Russell Grigg. New York: Norton, 2007. Levinas, Emmanuel. On Escape. 1982. Trans. Bettina Bergo. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003. Maag, Christopher. Young Muslims Build a Subculture on an Underground Book. New York Times 23 Dec. 2008, late ed.: a16. Marcus, Greil. Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989. McCain, Gillian, and Legs McNeil. Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. New York: Penguin Books, 1996. Meno, Joe. Hairstyles of the Damned. New York: Akashic, 2004. Modest Mouse. Never Ending Math Equation. 1998. Building Nothing Out of Something. Up Records, 2000. Nirvana. All Apologies. In Utero. DGC/Subpop, 1993. . Dumb. In Utero. DGC/Subpop, 1993. . Pennyroyal Tea. In Utero. DGC/Subpop, 1993. . Very Ape. In Utero. DGC/Subpop, 1993. OBrien, Lucy. The Woman Punk Made Me. Punk Rock: So What? Ed. Roger Sabin. London: Routledge, 1999. 186. Perry, Mark. Gobbing Pogoing and Gratuitous Bad Language Ed. Robert Dellar. London: Spare Change, 1996.
158 Brian James Schill Pierson, John R. Weasels In A Box. Chicago: Hope and Nothings, 2005. Portman, Frank. King Dork. New York: Delacorte, 2006. Public Image Limited. Memories. Metal Box. Virgin, 1979. Q and Not U. So Many Animal Calls. Different Damage. Dischord, 2003. Quincy, M. E Next Stop, Nowhere. Dir. Ray Danton. Writ. Sam Egan. NBC. 1 Dec. 1982. Ramones, The. 53rd and 3rd. Ramones. Sire, 1976. Reed, Lou. Animal Language. Sally Cant Dance. RCA, 1974. . Metal Machine Music. RCA, 1975. Rich, Jamie S. Cut My Hair. Burbank, CA: Crazysh, 2000. Rollins, Henry. Get in the Van. 1994. Los Angeles: 2.13.61, 1995. Romalotti, Charles. Salad Days. Austin: Layman Books, 2000. Sams, Gideon. The Punk. London: Corgi, 1977. Sheppard, John L. Small Town Punk. 2nd ed. Brooklyn: Ig Publishing, 2007. Sinker, Daniel. We Owe You Nothing: Punk PlanetThe Collected Interviews. New York: Akashic Books, 2001. Smith, Patti. Redondo Beach. Horses. Arista, 1975. Spoon. Quincy Punk Episode. A Series of Sneaks. Elektra, 1998. Sprecher, Lorrie. Sister Safety Pin. Ann Arbor: Firebrand Books, 1994. Turner, Michael. Hard Core Logo. 1993. Vancouver, BC: Arsenal Pulp, 1996. Velvet Underground, The. Im Waiting for the Man. The Velvet Underground & Nico. 1967. Polygram, 1996. Walters, Chris. Punk Rules OK. Vancouver, BC: Burn Books, 2002. Wire. I Am the Fly. Chairs Missing. Harvest, 1978. Wishnia, Steve. Exit 25 Utopia. East Setauket, NY: Imaginary Press, 1999.
THE MATERIAL REMAINS : DISCURSIVE CONSEQU ENCES OF THE UPGRADE PATH By CAROLINE STONE SHORT A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DE GREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2014
2014 Caroline Stone Short
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank the professors who have helped me develop these ideas into my disserta tion at the University of Florida. I am particularly grateful for the help o f Sid Dobrin, Laurie Gries, Raul Sanchez and Whitney Sanford who guided me to the completion of this project. I also thank my parents, my grandparents, my brother, and my Short fa mily for their continued support of my work. Finally, I am thankful for my husband, Rob, who continues to inspire me with his own writing and research and whose reading of my work has made this possible.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 7 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 8 CHAPTER 1 ARGUMENTATUM AD NOVITATEM: AGAINST RHETORICS OF THE NEW ...... 10 Digital Technologies and the University ................................ ................................ .. 10 Rhetorics of the New ................................ ................................ ............................... 13 The Influence of the Language of New Media ................................ ........................ 14 Tracing Discursive Consequences ................................ ................................ ......... 19 Notes on Methodology ................................ .................... 21 ................................ .............. 27 Further Context for the Data ................................ ................................ ................... 30 Parallel Trends: The Virtual and Hypertext ................................ ............................. 33 The Material Consequences of Language ................................ .............................. 41 2 OLD (NEW) MEDIA ................................ ................................ ................................ 45 Why Study Old Media? ................................ ................................ ........................... 47 New Media Archaeologies ................................ ................................ ...................... 49 Emergences of New Media ................................ ................................ ..................... 51 The Attention to the Nonhuman: Media Archaeology and Materialist Studies ........ 56 The Case of the American Colonial Newspaper: Publick O ccurences .................... 58 Other Material Consequences ................................ ................................ ................ 65 Against the Rhetoric of the New ................................ ................................ ............. 71 Old Media as Residual ................................ ................................ ............................ 73 3 MATERIAL CONSEQUENCES OF WRITING VIRTUAL REALITY ........................ 77 Another Problematic Term ................................ ................................ ...................... 77 A Longer History of the Virtual ................................ ................................ ................ 82 ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 84 ................................ ................................ 95 Screens, Joysticks, and War as Virtual ................................ ................................ 100 From the Desert of the Real to the Realities of the Desert ................................ .... 108 4 WHEN ELECTRONIC THINGS FALL APART ................................ ...................... 114 Mysteries of a M icrochip ................................ ................................ ....................... 122
6 ................................ ........................... 124 Closet fill and Domestic Electronics Recycling ................................ ..................... 128 Exporting Waste ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 130 Manufacturing Waste ................................ ................................ ............................ 135 Closer, Alone, and Connected ................................ ................................ .............. 139 Moving Forward and Glancing Backward ................................ ............................. 142 5 PUTTING WASTE TO WORK: MEDIA ARCHAEOLOGY AS PROFANATION AND PUNK ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 147 E waste as Art and Art as Resistance ................................ ................................ ... 154 An Assembly as Resistance ................................ ................................ ................. 1 61 Busting the Vas e, Gluing it Back Together: Punk Aesthetics ................................ 167 Designing with Materiality in Mind ................................ ................................ ......... 175 Legacy Systems ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 178 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 181 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 193
7 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 1 1 ................................ ............ 29 1 2 Google Ngram Vie ................................ ........... 30 3 1 ................................ ........ 94 4 1 International cell phone subscribers ................................ ................................ 126
8 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy THE MATERIAL REMAINS : DISCURSIVE CONSEQU ENCES OF THE UPGRADE PATH By Caroline Stone Short May 2014 Chair: Sidney I. Dobrin Major: English This dissertation engages both writing studies and new materialist scholars hip to make an intervention in the field of media studies Specifically, this project is situated within and suggests revisions to media archaeology a field which looks at older technologies in orde r to understand their implications for contemporary digital media. This project considers previous studies of emergences and suggests, following Charles Acland, that a residual model of media change offers a productive way forward for the field. W hile many studies have considered older media objects when they were new, a residual model allows for a consideration of how obsolete technologies remain influential after they have been discarded. Through writing studies, this dissertation suggests new ways of con ducting media archaeological work through examining, in addition to often overlooked obsolete electronic technologies, the scholarly discourse used to describe these technologies Central to this work is the argument that discourse has lasting material con sequences. This project use s data analytics to trace how the rise in popularity of certain discourse about electronic technologies. I look at the consequences of the surge in popularity of the argue that this phrase fur thered a
9 of old er forms of electronic devices. Thi s project also trace s to refer to electronic technologies and look s at the implications this phrase has for how the public conceptualize s contemporary drone warfare and the use of virtual reality therapy for P.T.S.D. Further investigating the material consequences of digital technologies, I consider the lifecycle of a microchip fro m productio n to use to disposal as a useful anecdote for thinking through the networks of influence in which m edia objects emerge, circulate and decay. The final chapter of this dissertation considers tronic waste, the work of tactical media practitioners, and the punk aesthetic of early zines in the 1970s. I propose a punk media archaeological method for studying discarded electronic technologies, a method that works toward making visible the often digital interfaces
10 CHAPTER 1 ARGUM ENTATUM AD NOVITATEM: AGAINST RHETORICS OF THE NEW Novelty c annot ... be assumed nor taken for granted. It is never simple and rarely uncontradictory. Novelty in the media is a matter of content as well as technology and organization. No velty is, therefore, the problem. This is why we have begun with the question that we have. Roger Silverstone New Media & Society Digital Technologies and the University It is undeniable that electronic media have already transf ormed and will continue to transform the academy. Contemporary conversations often revolve around digital portfolios, and the plausib ility of digital only libraries. T he future of online courses is also another concern, especially as some faculty members in states like Florida have begun to worry that state legislation will allow commercial vendors to create courses line courses fo r the high quality on line courses that faculty hav he questions of ownership and investment. I n the humanities, th ese technologies have not only changed the methods by which scholars conduct research, more powerful computing capacity coupled with growing databases h as allowed the digital humanities to flourish, with projects often taking the form of data visualization s following Franco T hese shifts are only a few of the many current digital developments within the academy. When software and hardware and best practices seem to change more quickly than scholars, administrators, and legislators can respond, taking the pulse of the current moment can be a daunting task. With the dizzying speed of contemporary
11 o these digital technologies have brought to the university are heightened levels of and ou 256 ). Yet, for all this measuring and counting, there has been less attention devoted understanding how these technologi es are transforming the academy in the long term. an all inclusive picture of the influence of the digital on higher ed ucation, I argue that we can at least identify a prevailing rhetoric about these technologies, a rhetoric that has proved to be particularly beneficial for certain businesses. The current moment is marked not just by technophilia but, predominantly, by neophilia a love of the new and a belief that these new digital technologies will bring revolutionary and sweeping positive changes to the academy. My project began with an interest in historically situating contemporary discourse s about digital technologies. I wanted a way to challenge what I believe is a level effects on users. In other words, within the humanities, it is more co mmo n to encounter scholarship about how these technologies may or may not be changing the way we think or how they might be transforming the ways we relate to one another. On the one hand, these questions are, undoubtedly, important for scholars of digital me dia; these questions have implications for our pedagogy, for our work habits, for our day to day experiences in the world. On the other hand, only focusing on these consequences of contemporary digital interfaces
12 misses or discounts the implications these ne w technologies ha ve for other humans and nonhumans. This neophilic model of media change, the prevailing narrative that has been adopted and circulated about digital devices, accepts that new technologies will replace and outmode older techn ologies. Rather than a model of synthesis and addition, in which older forms exist beside and after the emergence of new forms, this model of media change assumes that new technologies arrive to replace order forms To a degree, it is my sense that this mo del of media change has become a self fulfilling prophecy. When our default mode toward technologies assumes that the newest forms will replace and outmode older forms, we make decisions to discard, upgrade, and replace rather than to reuse and repair. So level effects, my project attempts to expand the scope of how we think about the consequences of media change. How do the production, use, and disposal of hardware have materia l consequences for workers and natural resources? How does the focus on the newest digital technologies, and specifically on the experiential qualities of these technologies, miss the lasting influence of older forms? And how is scholarly discourse implica ted in this problem? Beginning with contemporary discourses about the new, my project looks to early scholarly literature about the digital from the 1990s in order to b etter understand how we arrived at our contemporary moment in media studies In this fir st chapter I trace the I argue that the persistence of this phrase can be seen as both symptom and, in part, a cause of how we currently perceive new digital forms of media and overlook the ma terial
13 consequences of older digital devices. This historical scholarship on the discourse of the digital is an important and often lacking critical supplement to conversations about My project, then, is based on the lastin g and residual powers of both older digital technologies and on the lasting and residual powers of discourse about these technologies ow documents are produced and evaluated in the professional workplace, her text continues to have significant implications for studying the history of a particular discourse. Like the workers who, in the fast paced corporate environment about digital technologies seem to have persisted and carried over from year to year, steadily growing in popularity. In a sens e, t he language of the digital has proved to be much more resilient than the technologies themselves. Rhetorics of the New Before drawing a discourse about electronic technologies, it is impo rtant to note that this fixation on the new is, in one sense, quite old. It would be possible to trace this tendency back as far Phaedrus of course, in that cultural analog, the early, eager adopter would be Phaedrus. M uch mo re recently, it is also possible to see the modernist tendency toward the valorization of the new as another way to think through P erhaps the twentieth century insistence that digital forms of media me rited a break with older forms can also be read as part of a longer cultural insistence that we are modern. As Bruno Latour notes, despite its insistence otherwise,
1 4 humani ty has never achieved modernity. However, our claim to modernity allows us to Seattle that claimed to showcase the offices, schools, and farms of the future home for the citizens of tomorrow a long history of imagining itself as new. T he cultural adoption connected to what w media, in particular, te nd ca u s Always Already New she says that the imagination of that end point in the United States remains uncritically replete with confidence in liberal democracy, and has b een most uniquely characterized by the cheerful expectation that digital media are all This overdetermined sense of reachin g the end of media history is p r o bably what account s for the oddl y perennial newne media. (3) Here, I new to a longer history of modernism, that there is a dynamic that is particular to digital technologies and the new and it surpasses both in fervor and frequency the degree to which the new generally, is invoked in other discourses. These conversations about digital technologies seem to follow the logic of what Paul Virili of our contemporary momen t. The Influence of the Language of New Media Although it has been roughly two decades since scholars began widely refer to digital technologies. ew media of co urse, is not the only problematic phrase
15 that influences our relationship to electronic devices. In Chapter 3 of this project, I technologies and their material consequence Of a lthough the frequency of the there is increasing recognition among scholars that th is phrase does not fit with technologies that rapidly become obsolete, that are not perpetually new. For instance, Residual Media both Jonathan Sterne and Lisa Parks suggest that this continued use of is n the scale of media history, computers have been around (19). In part, then my attempt to trace the proliferation and popularizati on of this phrase in academic writing about digital forms of media is my initial attempt at answering Similarly as Jennifer Gabrys says in her book Digital Rubbish ies, a fact that is only made more evident by the strange persistence of the self defeating term new media defeating because as soon as new digital technologies emerge, they are already on their way to quickly becoming obsolete. In this sense, then, all forms of new media might be thought of as old new media. Because media change happens unevenly, the devices that appear as new to the general population lag generations behind the devices adopted by beta testers and technology innovators. What appears as new always depends upon where we look.
16 Self defeating as it may be, many scholars ar e still in the habit of using the phrase and are sometimes even willing to perform verbal gymnastics to continue saying Paul Levinson addresses this terminological problem by referring to old New new media are so new that fe w of t hem had a major place in our world five years ago. Several did not exist fo ur years ago. ... But few of these new new media are discussed in classrooms at any length or detail in textbooks nor in many other kinds of books, either. (1) Although Levins on rightly calls attention to the lack of scholarship that surrounds some new media. Furt hermore, some might argue that he book is already obsolete in the technologies that it addresses. What will happen in another five years or sooner consideri ng, again, the question of velocity new terminological problem born of the use of superlatives. The phrase implies that these forms are both newer than olde r forms of media and the newest of their kind. So, as Levinson demonstrates, we are faced with a problem when differentiating between what is new and what is newer critics face similar difficulties when debating how to refer to the next wave of changes in form and style. In that way, the media archaeologi cal move that scholars like Gitelman
17 While New New Media serves as one example of how Used as a general category to describe computerized perpetually precise as a label. Whether it is a local radio station New Rock released cleaning product fast food menu item advertised on an interstate billboard the New Beefy Crunch Burrito This is a problem that the Federal Trade Commission attempted to address in an advisory opinion in 1967. The commission said, is either entirely new or has been changed in a functionally significant and substantial respect. of course, that the word has been frequently abused and that it is in the interest of all advertisers to have established ground rules for its use. (1729 30) a tentative outer limit for the use of outlived this six month window during which new. But, the problem with this phrase goes beyond its inaccuracy This problem with this In Kenneth
18 way from what the term does not describe. I t colors how we see digital technologies generally. The for example, might bring to mind h ands, ink, maybe damp newsprint. Perhaps, the press or perhaps it calls to mind a more recent iteration of the printing press a three story machine of metal, towering rolls of paper, and the whirring of gears as it rapidly eed to stop to ask what type of media this phrase describes. The modifier insists that these forms of media are the newest, the most recent versions. Although many have and I will explore thi s scholarship at greater length below, from the outset this phrase precludes the old. So, it edia because that would include the dusty, storage closets and surp lus warehouse, wai ting to be auctioned or scrapped what recycling workers now refer to as closet fill. kind, the most recent upgrades. ambiguity, a categorical void into which the forms previously referred to as new media fall when they have been rendered obsolete by the upg rade path. These old forms of new media can no longer be considered as properly new They are no longer the most recent versions of electronic devices; yet, because this division attaches a specifically mechanical and an
19 these outdated digital forms are not considered as properly old this is the liminal status of old new media. Tracing Discursive Consequences By perpetuating this divide scholars are complicit in the elision of outdated digital devices. How we write these technologies is one of the factors that affects the lives and shorter and shorter shelf lives. This phrase is the linguistic equivalent of pa cking them away in storage closets, out of sight, forgotten. Perhaps most problematic, the phrase older electronic technologies, it is ideologically aligned with In a wei themselves. Computer culture has reached a truly bizarre equilibrium. Today, computers and other digital hardware displace their own ters is defined with primarily reference to old computers. Along with cell phones, they are designed to become obsolete after a short period of use. They are designed to be trash, to make room for future profits, additional hardware sales, and performance up g rades. Certainly, computers have become a gy (19) S terne digital hardware that is more (29). Although I do not disagree with the Sterne here, I argue that what we also need is language and methods that do not elide the residual in fluence of discarde d electronic objects. The rate at which devices are adopted and discarded is shaped by the language that is used to describe these technologies.
20 To explore some of these material consequences that are tied to the language of the upgrade path, in Chapter 4 of this project I examine the lifecycle of a microchip in order to look at the production, use, and disposal of electronics. On the one hand, as Toby Miller and Richard Maxwell have pointed out in Greening the Media all forms of media, both print and digital, have material consequences that have often been overlooked On the other hand, digital waste is, the fastest growing comp onent of the sometimes be ignored, they are never far away. Furthermore, t he power of the phrase to fix our attention on the newest gadgets and devices at the expense of older apparatuses has not gone entirely without notice. As I explore in Chapter 2, scholars have pu shed back against this divide between old and new forms of media by returning to earlier case studies of technologies such as the phonograph and radio. This type of media archaeological work, although it has often focused on the implications that the divid e between old and new media has for older forms such as the book, offers a productive methodology for thinking through contemporary media change. And, r ecently, some of these media archaeological scholars such as Jussi Parikka have begun turning attention towar d the material consequences of the upgrade path. My methodological revision of contemporary media archaeologi cal scholarship combines writing studies with the type of historical case studies of media that media archaeologists commonly perform. My argume nt, then, is not only for an archaeology of digital technologies but perhaps more centrally, for an archaeology of the rhetoric of the digital upgrade path. In one sense, then, my project explores the history of a digital argumentatum ad novitatum a logi cal fallacy in which rhetors have argue d for the new
21 describe courses, programs, and ma jors. My hope is that looking at some of the origins of this phrase in early scholarship on digital forms of media will suggest how the act of writing about technologies has an influence on the technologies of writing themselves. In a text that is often c onsidered to be foundational for contemporary media archaeological scholarship, Wolfgang Ernst says that the archaeological this discourse itself an effec influence on technological developments. Here, I am less interested tracing a one to one causality between discours e and technological developments, with regard to which of these occurred first. Focusing on the chicken and egg dilemma when writing about of associations between human a nd nonhuman actants. Agency, then, is always distributed and shared. What does interest me, however, is what is common to both that insistence that discourse i s important to the development of new technologies and that it is one w ay that we can study technological change. Notes on Methodology di scourse and debate in the early years of electronic media in the academy may afford us a greater degree of understanding of the ways in which, today, the influence of these conversations remain. Within litera ry studies, this methodology has been much more
22 common than within studies of electronic media. Additionally, we could also look to histories of rhetoric and composition studies and the work of scholars such as Victor Vitanza and Jeff Rice, who both acknowledge that histories of these fields have alread y The Rhetoric of Cool: Composition Studies and New Media Rice make composition studies uncomfortable about its history because we have agreed too the field and the part technology has played in how writing is taught. Byron Hawk in A Counter History of Composition argues for a counter history of c omposition that would not separate vitalism and rhetoric (3) but that would use complex vitalism as a way to rethink current pedagogical practices in the writing classroom. H awk argues that histories can always be drawn, and new groupings of text s, events and In terms of method, then, all of th ese scholars return to past debates again and again to better understand how contemporary perceptions and attitudes are connected to these older seemingly settled c onversations Similarly, my project takes a long view of contemporary electronic technologies and is based on an understanding of the past and present as always connected. My methodology, in one sense, is based on a certain model of how history works. It is a model that resembles, to a degree, some popular historical fiction such as the works of E.L. Doctorow. Doctorow, as Frederic Jameson rightly points out, often interrogates the
23 non synchronous, overlapping quality of the residual influence of the past. In Ragtime for instance, Henry Ford, Houdini, and J.P. Morgan all make appearances. As Jameson claims about Ragtime This historical novel can no longer set out to represent es about that past (25) that we are always connected to it and that we have an imperative to engage with what has come before. In an interview in Writers at Work Doctorow said The myths that now seem to persist are about progress, each electronic device succeeding the last as an improvement to a revision on and replacement of what has come before. Furthermore, there is, I argue, a sense that in these technological myths, the devices are given an overly deterministic position. The desktop computer enters the scene. It changes the c lassroom. If subjects have agenc y, it is often written as if this agency only exists through acting as a consumer or a user A s long as we focus only on the present incarnations of these technologies, these myths could appear to be true. But what these acc ounts of technological change miss are the ways that a plurality of voices interpret digital emergences in certain ways and subsequently how these subjects, in turn, wri te their own accounts of the technological change s In other words, writing about the e mergence of digi tal technologies did not single handedly create our contemporary technological moment. But, certainly, the writing about digital technologies is one factor among many that has affected and continues to affect how we conceptualize contempor ary digital technologies.
24 back against a model of change that is exhibited in our contemporary digital upgrade path, to consider how this model of media change is, in part a product of the language change naturally functions through replacement and subtraction, rather than through addition and synthesis. non synchronous modes of production (Jameson, Political Unconscious 95), in which change happens unevenly and new forms exist alongside older ones. As Jan Holmevik notes in Inter/vention erged; similarly, literacy will not disapp ear or be replaced by electracy Here, Holmevik is reaction to electronic technologies does not already exist as such, but this task is, he does not suggest, as some have, that electronic technologies will replace the printed word. Furthermore, a model of media change based on substitution rather than addition and o ur mis understanding of the history of tech nology more broadly might be, in part, at fault for how early digital technologies were portrayed. As Christina Haas suggests in Writing Technology drew parallels between the advent of computing and a narrative about the advent in print found in The Printing Press as an Agent of Change In that text, Eisenstein argues for a revolutionary instead of an evolutionary explosion of printed
25 Haas ri ghtly points out, although Eise orough historical account of different turn, Haas between what Haas believes is an oversimplific ation of the history of print and the emergence of computer technologies (210). I n the following chapter, I consider the work of scholars such as Lisa Gitelman, Frederich Kittler, and Henry Jenkins who return to earlier technological emergences in order t o better understand our contemporary media landscape. My project is, in part, technologies such as Yet, t his media archaeological work can limit our understanding of how media change happens. A s Haas argues, it is not that historical analo gies are not useful for attempting to understand the present. Rather, as she argues, stroked historical analogies can obfuscate while So, while these media archaeological accounts may be useful for understanding how complex technological change can be, they may be less For example, Haas argues that drawing a historical analogy between the emergence of the printing press an d the emergence of the computer relies on certain debates about the printing press already being foreclosed. This historical analogy assumes that the history of the printing press has already been, to an extent, written,
26 that we understand its consequences for e arly readers. For scholars of early print, however, it seems that this debate is far from finished. As Lee Morrissey argues in The Constitution of Literature the emergence of the public sphere other about the place of print in the p ublic sphere among those we now see as formative seventeenth and eighteenth Or, as Haas trying to understand current literacy technologies through analogies with the print revolution is that, in fact, the adve In one sense, it might be necessary to settle on certain accounts of the past in order to draw comparisons with the present, treating these narratives as final and accurate accounts of how, for insta nce, the printing press emerged. In another sense, scholarship that challenges and expands these accounts both increases our understanding of the past and opens different ways of understanding our present moment. Similarly, with regard to digital technolo gies, Holmevik argues that drawing one to one comparisons between electronic forms and earlier writing technologies risks overlooking the specific epistemic interventions of digital technologies: [I] edia expressions and digital experiences not simply as more technological l y but as artifacts in their own right with their own discrete and generative impacts on the cr eation of kno wledge in our time (5). So, my other major methodological revision t o media archaeological models involves a focus on the construction, through discourse, of how we view older digital technologies
27 and, in turn, how this discourse about the past shapes how we view contempor ary digital technologies. I approach (Holmevik 5) and attempt to better understand how our understanding of these devices has been constructed through certain narratives of technological c hange. The Proliferation and Popularization of The archival data for this type of search will always be less than complete because it is impossible to produce a totalizing picture of exactly how the use of this phrase spread and grew. So, to begin to produce a preliminary picture of how scholarly discourse influenced the circulation of this phrase, I track media the frequency of the phrase in presentation titles at the Modern Language Association (MLA) convention and the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCC Cs), the trends in journal articles within JSTOR Data for Research database, and the increased use of the term over time within digitized print archive I chose to focus on the presentations at the MLA convention and CCCCs because these are two of the oldest Research er because both of these databases provide a wide reaching and extensive collection of archived scholarly articles and books. It may not be surprising that the first panel at the MLA convention to m was a panel about copyrig ht and authorship. Jay David Bolter and years before another panel on new medi a was on the program at the MLA i n 1998
28 s, and the number rose to five in 2000. By the 2014 convention there w ill be fifteen panels at the Modern Language Association convention that the phrase in their titles. Even with the rise of the popularity of the digital humanities, and other ways of ta lking about electronic t still persists. Similar trends occurred in presentation titles at CCCCs. In 2004, there were four single papers with 2005, there were two who le CCCCS B y 2008 there were four panels, and seven additional papers not on those panels presented at the conference. In 2013, the convention program included seven titles. The similarly o n the rise. Searching with JSTOR ion articles, the use of the between 1998 and 1999, more than doubling in frequency from 67 occurrences to 137. Such frequency only continued to increase. By 2009 there were 165 occurrences of journals containing both of these terms in academic journals (Figure 1 1) showed a similar, but more highly populated curve, although this met hodology may invite a greater degree of inaccuracy of the results, especially in the earlier years. For
29 not accurate uses such as September, 1990 edition of Reviews in American History media, but to the influence forms of media from print to television that were new at the time. Similarly, another aberrant result that this method returned is from Daniel SubStance tion from Ezra Pound about the effects of radio on consciousness (62) and the other is in a quotation from McLuhan (73). However, in 2009, most of the 439 results were all valid results, in journals ranging from College English, to Criticism, to Journal of Studies. Figure 1
30 And this graph of results from JSTOR se produces curve similar to the rise in use that gram database produces (Figure 1 2) Figure 1 2. Google Ngram Viewer visualization of ew m edia http://books.google.com/ngrams/ phrase increas ed both in print and in conference presentations at two of the largest conferences for the study of the English language. This method allows for an interpretation of the pervasiveness of the phrase today. These trends, for instance, historically situate th e popularity of the phrase within the academy today, shedding light, for example, on currently published the year 2012 alone. Further Context for the Data This rise in t commentary and caution from media theorists. F ifteen years ago, the journal New Media & Society published its first issue, and in their inaugural editorial, Nicholas
31 Jankowski and his fell journal and at the same time young enough to allow that journal to help determi ne its (5). Notably, f rom the beginning, the journal hoped not only to explore social changes born of digital media, but also to problematize the concept of newness. The editors said: The notion of newness is a relative concept. It, to o, demands critique, particularly in light of the complex and diverse histories of technological change change which affects both hardware and software, institutions and practices. (6) The editors explained that to address demand for critique of the new, R oger Silverstone, had put together a series of articles on this topic. They refer the reader to his editorial, which addresses these essays. It is a question which has no single answer. Yet in so much of what we write an d say, the answer is assumed and it is assumed even in o ur own new is new The technologies that have emerged in r ecent years, principally but no exclusively digital technologies, are new. The y do new th ings. They give us new powers. They create new consequences for u s as human beings. They bend minds. They transform institutions. They liberate. They oppress. ... It is easy to be seduced by the simplicity and the signif icance of novelty. It is easy to mis read the signs. Novelty is, however, at this point, our problem. (10) changed significantly since the end of the twentieth century, the terminology we have used to descr ibe them has not. As Parikka and Garnet Hertz argue has moved from its speculative opportunity phase in the 1990s through its wide adoption as a consum
32 (429). It is now possible to perform archaeologies of digital forms of media; yet, I argue What was it about digital media that made the rhetoric of the new so appealing? Although it was impossible for those who adopted this phrase to anticipate all of the developments that w ould arise from its use, there were some s uch as the editors of New Media and Society who believed that the phrase could be problematic for old media On the other hand, we might interpret the trends in the adoption of this language as evidence that scholars believed there was a great enough degr ee of difference between analog and digital media to warrant the use of this phrase. As Lev Manovich argued in 2001 in The Language of New Media witnessing the emergence of a new medium the metamedium of the digital computer. In contrast to a hundred years ago, when cinema was coming into being, we are fully dia (27), and he addressed some of what he believe to digital conversion process does not occur, he argued that the information that is lost through an analog to digital conversation does not, finally, matter because he believed we could not notice the difference. Whether or not this difference does or does not matter and whether users can notice a qualitative shift from analo g to digital are question s I take in up in the final chapter of this project. But even if not all of
33 between digital and analog forms have proved to be correct, in arguing for thes e differences between the two categories of media objects, Manovich made a case for the use of the phrase to describe these digital forms of media The Language of New Media according to Google Scholar search results, has been cited by roughly alone. Similarly, Remediation: Understanding New Media has been cited by 4 compariso n, here, a book published in the same year as these two texts Cynthia Technology and Literacy in the 21st Century: The Importance of Paying Attention only returns 324 citations through the same database. As both these statistics and the data that I presented in the previous section suggest, remains an incredibly popular phrase. The popularity of this phrase has not, however, popular. A s the editors of New Medi a & Society argued, the concep t of newness requires critique. It is this critique of the concept of newness and of the continued use of address. Parallel Trends: The Virtual and Hypertext media. There was ting about electronic forms of media from the mid 1990s forward, and this trend also has implications for some of the material consequences of digital technologies. Also d uring the same time, some scholars of early digital forms bega n bracketing print, re writing its
34 history, in a way that provided for a certain type of contrast with hypertext, def ining hypertext by what they claimed print was not. These writings suggest that scholars of early digital media were not only exceedingly hopeful about the change s that electronic text would bring, their writings also suggest the degree to which they believed, as Manovich did, that these new forms merited a complete break with the old. Their enthusiasm for electronic text is not only a parallel trend to the prolife sense, these arguments about the radical difference of hypertext are encapsulated T his phrase asserts that there has been a break, that electronic forms are more different than they are similar to older forms. The phrase suggests that older forms of media the record player, the newspaper, an d even the book are now pass. dies: the State of the Hypertext as the use of the computer to transcend the linear, bounded and fixed qualities of the traditional written Here, Landow and Delany figure hypertext as litera lly moving beyond the Notably, too, Landow and Delany portrayed the difference between print and hypertext as a difference between materiality and the immaterial. They said: Still, the stubborn materiality of the text constrained such operations: they required some physical task such as flipping pages, pulling another book from a shelf, or dismembering the original text beyond repair. Over the centuries, readers de veloped a repertoire of aids to textual management; these aids operated both within a single volume, and in the relations between volumes. (4)
35 Of course, computers and digital texts have always been material, and this association of the digital with immate riality is something I explore further in Chapter 3, but, for here, it is worth considering whether these writers may have been protesting a bit too much some reade how often this was the case what it means that Delany and Landow chose to describe Although as archivists well know, mold, air and a host of ot her environmental factors weigh upon the life of printed texts, when we look at the life spans of these hypertexts e same time period, exist in forms because the software programs with which they were composed are no longer compatible with contemporary software and hardware. required dismembering of the narrative, and that reading these texts is a kind of ritual binding of the wounds, and an elevation Here, Harpold does not dismiss the printed text for its difficult and constraining body that ca description and Delany and originary text that is prior to hypertext.
36 These writers proclaimed that electronic texts were flexible, fluid, unbounded, individual. The language thes e scholars used to describe hyp ertext is hopeful, utopian even, and perhaps an example of what Steve Woolgar has said was the prevailing (9) of early writing about the digital. Indeed, in the Octob er 2001 issue of PMLA David S. Miall criticized the hyperbolic rhetoric of the digital: Developing an appropriate rhetoric to consider the digital age has, in itself, presented a problem. The promise of the new medium has led to in flationary claims, sugge sting that the human species is about to burst from its chrysalis into an information utopia. (1405) Just arguments that are ostensibly abo ut hypertext, the most radical assertions put forward are often not about electronic text but about the of the canon, these authors positioned the death of the printed book as the passing of another conventional form. But, as Haas argues, media historical analogies (and here analogies through contrast) run the risk of too broadly and inaccurately portraying the older medium upon which the contrast depends. As Lee Morris sey argues in his study of seventeenth and eighteenth century literary criticism and his revision of the Habermasian model of the public sphere: At a time when arguments about modes of literacy implied by the development and spread of the World Wide Web ar e casting the printed book as linear, hierarchical, fixed, and stable and digital hypertext as preferably fluid, open, and changeable it is all the more important to ]t is striking that defenses of digital literacy share of vision of the book as unchanging, both in its physical form and over its various readings. The reality is that the book has never achieved the stability of exclusiveness attributed to it rical association between the book and stability must be conceded, while at the same time we must
37 one to which the eighteenth century development of critic i sm contributes. (xii) For Morrissey, the book has never be en fixed and stable in the ways that these scholars of early digital media portrayed it. Rather, they were relying on a historical association that was only as Morrissey claims possible to read contemporary d iscussions of the effects of digital media on reading as signs of the residual influence of the For instance, i n The Shallows Nicholas Carr argues that the Internet is changing our brains for the worse. Neu testimony from neuroscientists. The research seems to support his sense that n tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural For Carr, long form reading is linear and, in a sense, isolated as opposed to the disjointed, frenetic reading that he believes happens online. But it is worth asking whether both Carr and the early scholars of hypertext might have mischaracterized reading and writing. Much depends on how we think about reading, writing, and the power of text generally. Furthermore, some of these accounts of the fluidity and hypertext and the fixity of print seem to contain contradictions. For instance, it is somewhat perplexing that although Bolter references e 2 0th century, assaults which some have traced in part, to the influence of poststruct ural critique, Bolter also seems contribution to how we conceive of a text.
38 would seem to suggest that he might believe the same about reading and interpretation. and controlled exclusively by the autho r. It is the space defined by perfect printed one of the most influential lasting contribution s of poststructuralism has been that writers such as Derrida changed how we conceptuali allows for dissent, difference, democracy. In this sense, printed text was always radically unstable, personal, dependent, and fluid. But we can take this further, and to Writing Spaces was published about electronic texts, what was so revolutionary about print was its double nature of relative stabilit y and potential instability. So, although Bolter claims that argue that the printed book always was a space of potentiality but that potentiality is best seen through the debate that print had the potenti al to foster. The plurality, the difference can both be found within a single multiple interpretations and disagreements about text. Furthermore, p ty is conducive, if not essential, to these debates and conversations about the text. Here we might simply think of a group of readers, tr ying to have a discussion about a particular passage from a book and consider the hurdles that differing versions and editions and pagination can introduce to this discussion. And, for anyone who has tried this same conversation when some readers only have contemporary unpaginated electronic books, might understand that
39 this type of fluidity and variability of the form of the text can cause an otherwise productive discussion to grind to a halt as the readers without page numbers frantically search for the passages referenced by other readers in the group. And while some electronic poetry that changes with every refresh of a webpage offers a productive way to teach students about the inherent fluidity of language and meaning and might also environments, the corpus of criticism from the seventeenth c entury forward has depended in no small part on the relative unity of texts. For an example of this principle we might consider what happens to textual production when stability all but disappears. In 2007, Penguin Books launched a crowd sourcing experimen t in which they encouraged readers to author a novel collaboratively using a wiki. The text was constantly changing throughout the project as writers logged into the wiki, adding new The A Million unclear as to whether they succeeded. What today appears not to be a novel as we know it may in time come to be seen as one, just as work once judged not to be poetry is often later brought into the critical fold. But for the moment at least the answer to whether or not a community can write a nov (Mason and Thomas 20 1 ) Here, I argue, as the authors of this report do, that A Million Penguins produced a fascinating example of experimental and performative art, and I would add that projects such as these might have useful implications for composition teachers and researchers. Perhaps, but of more conce rn to this project A Million Penguins suggests at least two significant problems that arise when, as the early scholars of hypertext did, we put too much faith in fluidity and instability. First, Bolter claims that the advent of fluid and
40 flexible hyperte one of replacement and substitution, which might not have appeared as particularly problematic at the time. But, as exciting as experimental projects in fluidity might be, we can more clearly see, here, what might be lost if we subscribe to a model of media change that operates by substitution, rather than addition and synthesis. Subscribing to a model of media change that operates by substitution and replacement causes us to lose sight of the potentialities and specificities of older forms. It is worth considering, as well, that A Million Penguins may have been destined to fail in that the project attempted to both produce a canonical literary genre and to experiment with an entirely ne w way of composing. Additionally, although A Million Penguins is very different than a Patchwork Girl fluidity and flexibility, rather than facilitating democratic production, here, seem to lead primarily to ch aos. There are, in other words, no games in an infinite field of play. Some textual stability, hierarchy, and linearity are necessary to production, reception, and criticism. digit al and analog forms of media continue to hold today or whether or not all of the predictions about the changes that hypertext would bring to reading and authorship held, in these writings we find evidence to suggest that there was a relatively widespread b elief that digital technologies harkened forth a break with older forms, that but only ha bit explains its continued use. Although some of the early writers who shaped the field of new media studies, such as the editors of New Media & Society cautioned against the
41 need to historically situate the use of the phrase and to reevaluate its use ove r time, today s cholars have continued using it, for the most part, uncritically The Material Consequences of Language Although I primarily situate my project within digital rhetoric, wri ting studies, and media studies my interest in objects, in the pow er of things such as digital hardware and components, also places my project in conversation with new materialist thinkers, whose work often is closely related to object oriented ontology. In later chapters of this project, I rely on new materialist theore tical contributions when I discuss the influence of Vibrant Matter produce effects both dramatic a can think about waste to be especially helpful to my discussion of the waste of the upgrade path discarded electronic objects, the natural resources that are used at an ever increasing rate to product new objects, and the effects these processes have on workers in the U.S. and abroad. While the work of many of these new materialist scholars has been foundational to how my project treats electronic objects, some of these scholars have characterized lang uage as separate from the networks of humans and nonhumans across which agency might be distributed. For my project, this is a distinction that does not hold. I treat discourse as one actant, among many, that has an effect on the digital upgrade path. So, for instance, Diana Coole and Samantha consciousness, subjectivity, agency, mind, soul ... imagination, emotions values, [and] On the one hand, it is possible to read their
42 distinction between the material and immaterial as pushing back against semiotics and linguistic scholarship that they believe has held too much sway for too long. Coole and Frost go on to say that give materia (3). But is it necessary for us to consider all these things, including language, as ling uistic and the semiotic as included within the material? semiotic works with the material: a foodstuff comes alive to its powers in the pre sence of the materiality of certain n ewspapers, Wagnerian music, a nd the bodily practices of asceticism, all of which quality as what Don uld have to take account not only of foods acting in confederation with oth er bod ies such as digestive liquids or microorganisms but also foods coacting with the intensities often described as perception, belief and memory. (45) semiotic combines the two terms and suggests that the semiotic is powerful, has the capacity to act upon things. On the other hand, the material semiotic suggests that the material and the semiotic remain distinct even in th is connection. Levi Bryant, too, says he is working toward a es at all levels of scale, whether natural or cultural, physical or real. It might seem here that we could then assume that because the semiotic is on
43 suggesting that maybe the semiotic is a way of perceiving the material. But, for Bryant, just because both the semiotic and the material both exist on an equal level ontologically does n ot mean that the material is sufficiently broad to encompass the semiotic. He says that object treating a variety of psychic and cultural entities as real entities ... the naturalist is appalled by the object oriented thesis that these entities are irreducible to the physical, h matter, much depends on how we define the material. But if we can recognize, in some new materialist writings, a tendency to bracket the linguistic, perhaps as a way of pushing back against the linguistic turn, at the outset, I want to be clear that th is is not a move that my writing shares. Here, Writing Technology in which she examines the co constitutive relationship between writing technologies and cognition (45), is especially helpful. For Haas, language becomes material through writing. She argues: Writing is made material through the use of technologies, and writing is technological in the sense and to the extent that it is material. Human beings have used and continue to use technologies (e.g., sticks on sand, pen and in on parchment, #2 p encil on legal pad, cursor on monitor) to bring language to material life. Writing technologies are material not only in and of themselves but also because they allow for the creation of the material artifacts that are named by the noun wr iting. (3) I agre e with Haas and I take this argument further to argue that writing is material because of its material consequences. Just as Thomas Rickert has argued that we should now shift our conception of rhetorical commonplaces to include the object world understanding of ecologi argue that we cannot separate as
44 immaterial, language, discourse, and writing from an understanding of the diverse and many things across which a gency for our contemporary media moment is shared. Just as some new materialist scholars have bracketed the linguistic in order to push back against what they perceived to be dominant modes of study, I argue that early scholarly discourse about digit al for ms of media had a tendency to bracket older newer digital forms are presented as leaving behind, supplanting, and replacing earlier analog technologies. By combining a study of scholarly disco ur se about the upgrade path with case studies of obsolete technologies a media archaeological approach I address in the following chapter I am suggesting a method that puts media studies into conversation with the field of writing studies. I argue that this conversation is an especially important one for media studies because, while the field has traditionally looked at the power of objects, including the content produced using media objects, there has been little attention given to the historical influence o f scholarly discourse about forms of media. As I argue above, figuring language as a thing with material consequences suggests that this scholarly discourse about electronic devices is one actant, among many, that has influenced our contemporary moment Fu rthermore, this approach combining writing studies with media studies has the potential to change how, as scholars, we view our own responsibility for the digital upgrade path.
45 CHAPTER 2 OLD (NEW) MEDIA Old media often end up in the shadow of the new. And when new forms change the existing media landscape, anxieties arise about how these changes will affect us as uncomfortable sense that someone, something has been tink On the one hand, these worries about the effects of the new on the old are not unique to the twenty Phaedrus landscape is evident in his warnings about writing. In a similar but much later account from colonial America, the end of the nineteenth century, Friedric h Nietz s che, after using his Malling Hansen Writing Ball typewriter, noticed that the machine was changing his writing in a letter to (qtd. in Carr 60). There has always been tension, then, between the old and the new. On the other hand, and especially in the last fifteen years or so, we have witnessed mediums of incredible longevity face not just competition or antagonism from newer forms but rather experience what has seemed to many like a rapid decline toward death. The status of the printed daily newspaper has become precarious, as The Times Picayune have reduced their daily print run. And hundreds of other newspapers, in cities across the cou ntry from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Denver, Colorado, have been forced to stop publishing a print edition or close their doors altogether (Smith). The future of printed books has been a source of debate in recent years, and it is the subject of the 2013 docu mentary Out of Print by Vivienne
46 Roumani, switching to exclusively digital prints, the status of 3 5mm film is in now in jeopardy (Eagan). In 2013 and 2014, many movie theaters have had to turn to Kickstarter to raise funds for converting to digital only projection, preparing for the time that new movies will no longer be distributed on 35mm film. As of July 2014, there were still thousands of U.S. theaters that had yet to upgrade to digital projection. The digital is the common denominator in the decline of these older forms. The digital upgrade path produces old media in at least two ways. First, each new electronic device adds to the sense that analog and mechanical forms of media are separate and old. The digital does not affect the age of the book, but advertisements for ebooks do create the sense that print is pass, that it is time to upgrade the library to electronic copies and that the bookstore now lives online. This production of old media as such b y the presence of the digital is often accompanied by a sense of nostalgia and longing on the part of the user for the simplicity of earlier experiences the morning paper, crisp pages of a book, the flickering of a projector. But the second way that the di gital upgrade path produces old media proceeds more quietly. Just as digital forms compete with older, analog forms, they also compete with earlier digital versions. The LCD television is nudged aside by the LED television; new e readers are released in ra pid succession; the digital projectors that replace the 50 year old Simplex 35s and platter systems cannot last nearly as long as their mechanical counterparts. There is a dizziness induced by speed of the changes we currently witness, and it has caused us to forget to situate these changes historically, to remember that what are so readily
47 Obsolescence may seem inevitable, but that does not mean it is without material consequences. Why Study Old Media ? As that it obscures these outdated forms of analog and electronic media, and, in turn, this to fix our attention on the newest gadgets and devices at the expense of older apparatuses has not gone entirely without notice. A growing number of media historians have begun to push back against the terminological division between old and new media by extendin g their case studies of devices both chronologically and geographically. These scholars have worked to contextualize the focus on contemporary digital devices within a longer history of media change. Their work calls attention to technologies such as the p rinting press, the typewriter, and the phonograph as more than outdated, mechanical and analog characteristics often associated with the division between old and new media. These case studies of devices from centuries revolutionary potential for change. As Geoffry B. Pingree and Lisa Gitelman suggest in their introduction to New Media: 1740 1915 : urpose ... is to consider such emergent media within their historical contexts to seek out the past on its own passed terms. We do so, in part, to counter the narrow devotion to field whose conceptual frameworks and methods of inquiry are heavily influenced by ex periences of digital ne tworks and the professional protocols of the social science of communications. (xi ii)
48 division between old and new. These case studies focus on older devices when they were young, when they were emerging. By drawing attention to previous revolutionary effects of older media, this approach counters an ahistorical under standing of digital devices as the first to enact widespread change. Furthermore, writing about emergences requires scholars to develop complex models of causality and agency. For example, writing about the early printing press as a revolutionary agent o f change in Europe required sketching the connections between the technology, human actors, and pre existing social and geographic formations (Eisenstein 233). Emergences, then, because they ask us to consider the question of how something happens and who or what caused it, can be useful for challenging an overly simplistic model of technological agency that is prevalent today. Books like The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains and arguments that violent video games lead to vi olent children are just two examples of a contemporary belief in technological determinism run amuck. As I will explore below, studying older forms when they were new requires that we rethink the relationship between technology and the human and the diffic ulties of drawing any clear cut distinction between the two. In this chapter, I will consider examples of media archaeological work that case study of the emergence of the American colonial newspaper as an example of how this type of scholarship can complicate our understanding of technology and agency. While this type of media archaeological work is productive because it can suggest how emergences require distributed c ausality and networks of actants case studies of
49 emergences still, like studies of popular digital devices, fall into the trap of prioritizing newness. In other words, limiting the focus of these case studies to old devices when they were young suggests, at their most powerful and influential when they were new. When the focus is on a material consequences long a fter it emerged remains unconsidered. I argue that although case studies of old media emergences are a move in a positive direction for understanding the power of devices labeled as obsolete, more needs to be done to call attention to what is outdated and specifically to the material consequences of obsolescence. To address these neglected questions of obsolescence, I thus turn to turn our attention to how older devices continue to have materi al effects long afte r they are considered obsolete. The residual, then, offers a way other than the rhetoric of the new to call attention to the often overlooked power of what is old. New Media Archaeologies Similar to the anthology she edited with Pingre e, in her book Always Already New, Gitelman compares two case studies of the emergences of two forms of media the phonograph and the Internet. She critiques the tendency in media studies to focus and particularly new media are Gramophone, Film, Typewriter although, a s I will explore further and of apparatuses.
50 While media archaeology d Huhtamo 13 ), writing about older forms of Remediation put digital devices and platforms into conversation with their analog counterparts, arguing that every emergent medium remediates the mediums that have come before it. Elizabeth The Printing Press as an Agent of Change published in 1980, considered early effects of the roughly 500 year old machine on literacy and social formations. On the other hand, although this type of work is not new, it is still not as common within media studies. Some contemporary studies of obsolete media and the effects of the upgrade path do not situate their work within media archaeology. For example, in Greening the Media, Richard Maxwell and Toby Mill er, who identify themselves as working within media studies, regret that more attention is not paid to the material effects of obsolete media h an overly humanistic discourse that treats all devices as if they are in the service of mankind and an overly mechanistic discourse to be paid to overlooked materia l effects of obsolete media, and I will explore this work in further detail below. However, I argue that while media archaeology has previously lacked a focus on certain material consequences of devices, it should be also
51 considered the fertile ground that effects because it situates the devices within a network of co influential agents. It only takes a small step further for these media archaeological studies to go from, say, a consideration of early te time rituals to studying the arguing that these previous media archaeological studies focused on immaterial consequences at the expe nse of the material effects of old media. Rather, when Maxwell and Miller say that media studies has lacked an attention to materiality, I read certain types of material consequences. On one hand, this in attention has been to the physicality of technologies. Where, in there have not been as many studies of the ecological consequences of the production, use and disposal of thes e devices. Finally, although there has been significant attention paid to some of the ways in which these technologies affect humans, other effects, such as how laborers who work to produce or dispose of the devices are influenced, warrant further studies. Emergences of New Media As Parikka and Huhtamo note, media archaeology exists at the periphery. However, that does not mean that there has not been enough time or space for major disagreements within the field. One of these disagreements is over where t hese older for media archaeology resides in whether, in this interplay between technology and culture, the new kind of historical imagination that emerged was an effect of new media or whether such media were inv ented because the epistemological setting of the age
52 ausible that the tendency, when studying older forms of media, to ask where something came from might be connected to contemporary confusion about how we ended up here. In other words, there might be a sense that studying previous emergences of new forms o f media helps us understand the contemporary emergences of digital forms. Perhaps if we can better map the birth, early adoption and circulation of the record player, for instance, we can gain critical insight into the widespread adoption of devices like c ell phones and tablets in our lives today. One additional benefit of this type of backwards reaching logic is that as dizzying as digital media change seems to be, the task of understanding how the phonograph or typewriter emerged might seem less daunting than pinning down exactly how my iPhone came to be. In other words, these older studies might suggest how participants in a network are changed when a new technology emerges. In a series of anthologies from the MIT Press in the early 2000s, media studies scholars Henry Jenkins and David Thorburn argued for studying emergences as a way for us to better understand the complexity of interactions among the agents in a system. In the introduction to their 2003 book, Democracy and New Media they say: we must u nderstand the emergence of new techn ologies, and in particular new communications systems, as a result of complex inte ractions among technological, social, cultural, political, legal, and economic forces. (5) Returning to older forms of media through the t ype of case studies that these anthologies present, offers a way, according to Jenkins and Thorburn, to rethink how change happens. They argue that we can better understand contemporary digital forms of media that are emerging today if we understand the fo rces that led to the emergence
53 of previous forms of media. T he problem of where an object comes from, or more specifically, how something arrives quickly gets complicated when we think beyond and before the factory and the human actors that labored to prod uce something. And the problem extends far beyond post industrial production and how mechanical and digital technologies developed. The question that these media archaeologists must wrestle with when they write about emergences writ large, is the question of how any technology comes to be and how that emergence is bound up with the question of the human. In other words, studies of emergence can lead us to ask how technology is separate from the human. When we write about the phonograph, for instance, do w e say that the phonograph emerged or the phonograph was created? If we choose to write that it was created, then how clearly and cleanly can we pin down who created the phonograph? Studies of emergence lead us to multiple, connected sources of agency, one of which is the technology itself. If the technology has agency and can act on humans and things, does this technology have a logic independent of humans? Are we, technol ogical change through our own anticipation? In these case studies, once agency is granted to an inorganic form, human intentionality loses some of its power. The human, in these accounts, becomes not only dependent on the technology but also created by the technology; the human is the creature that becomes such by taking the tool in hand. Narratives of human intentionality are replaced by stories of the power of tools -
54 dur ing locomotion ... [t]he hand will necessarily call for tools ... the tools of the hand will Today, these questions are further complicated by studies of tool using animals such as bonobo monk eys and crows. If these animals use tools, then it becomes more difficult to categorize human tool use as separate. Maybe it is our own anthropocent rism that gets in the way of understanding what a tool is and where it came from. This is n and their functions independently of human functionings that establish the use Looking at the emergence of an old form of media, what Stiegler desc and to what degree agency also resides within objects and nonhuman creatures. It is not that media archaeological studies have a simple answer for the relationship between technology and the human. Rather, they call attention to this dynamic because their focus is already on the nonhuman as influential. For example, in Always Already New, Gitelman says she believes Kittler cedes too much agency to human subjects in his case studies. For e xample, in Film, Gramophone, Typewriter Kittler argues that (109). She also disagrees with Kittler that technological devices can have an internal Gitelman makes two claims here a bout agency, in both cases, humans and devices, she cautions against approaches that would cede them too much agency.
55 As another example, media archaeologists have offered varying accounts of the dynamic between human intentionality and technological dete rmination in the emergence and circulation of print. For instance, although Elizabeth Eisenstein argues for a revolutionary as opposed to evolutionary model of change in her account of the printing after Gutenberg, in her model human agents, some acting as early capitalists, played a significant role in the circulation of the form. Gutenberg, Vespasiano da Bisticci, Cosimo de Medici, John Fust, and Martin Luther these human agents are essential to her model (23 5). But, as her title suggests, her narrative is primarily about how the printing press itself was a revolutionary agent of change. And Michael Warner in The Letters of the Republic: Publication and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth Century America makes a similar claim when he argues that print has a constituted by the culture from which emerged. It creates the culture after it arrives. If not from the culture, then, it would seem, from the technology of the press. Certainly, some believe that human agency played an essential role in the emergence of print, with agents acting not only as innovators and capitalists but in a system of co dependent cultural change. Roger Chartier describes this double natured relations produce their social area of reception much more than they are produced by crystallized produced form of a work and the ability of form to determine use. Chartier argues that this importance can be seen in the changes in textual space and layout that occurred in printing between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries (11). For Chartier, meaning is
56 made in the space between the text and the object (10). From his line of reasoning we audi ence is constituted (12). The Attention to the Nonhuman: Media Archaeology and Materialist Studies This disagreement over agency is one of the places where the intersection of tal materialism seems the most apparent. On the one hand, Latour, Bennett, and Gitelman are concerned with how we think about agency and causality. However, Gitelman essenti alize media in short, to cede to them a history that is more powerfully theirs consider the potential influence of nonhuman actants and instead relied on human intentiona lity, Gitelman is critical of those in media studies who have failed to consider the influence of anything but a handful of nonhuman actants. So, in a sense, because prepared to answer recent calls to pay attention to objects. For instance, argument that the power of things has too often been ignored, may apply to multiple areas of study within the humanities, but certainly media studies is not one of them. Latour poin ts to the disappearance of objects from our thinking objects vanish from view and the magical and tautological force of society is enough to hold eve ry thing with, literally, no thing
57 has paid attention to some objects and some effect of nonhuman actants, other consequences of these forms old media have been left unconsidered. In what follows below, I offe r a brief summary of one case study that was part of my previous research into the emergences of three forms of new media. In that work, I traced the origins of the American colonial newspaper, the punk rock zine, and the massively multiplayer online game. The project was an attempt to do media archaeological work that also focused on the interaction of multiple agents within a particular emergence. The aim of my case study in the American colonial newspaper below was two fold. My first goal was historical. I attempted work against a tendency to describe contemporary forms of media as if they will always be new. My second goal the colonial newspaper. Even if we look at an emergent form of media from 300 years ago, the American colonial newspaper, the relationship between multiple human and nonhuman actors is anything but simple. At first, agency might appear to be somewhat clearly defined, but depending on the angle take n, human intentionality, technology, or social practices and possible to tell the story of the emergence of the first American colonial newspaper as ome censorship, or as a story about the power of a printing press to influence a city, or, from another angle, as the result of economic activities and literacy practices. But as the number of these connections multiplies, sources of causality blur and age ncy appears as distributed. This blurring and making more complex is, I argue, reason enough to study previous emergences. These media
58 archaeological studies of emergences can serve as examples of the realist attitude Matters of Concern, multiplication, not subtraction account of the emergence of the first A merican colonial newspaper is not meant to be exhaustive. Rather, it is an example how media archaeological studies of emergences enact multiplication and entangle human and nonhuman participants. The Case of the American Colonial Newspaper: Publick Occure nces On September 25, 1690 in Boston, Benjamin Harris, with what some refer to as newspaper, Publick Occurrences, both Foreign and Domestick Four days later, Massachusett fourteen years for the next American colonial newspaper, The Boston News letter, to masthead. So, more t han 100 years before the First Amendment, Publick Occurrences controlled newsprint. Before Publick Occurrences newspapers were available at the bookshops and coffee houses in Boston, but they were produced on the other side of the Atlantic. In the mid seventeenth century, the use of newspapers, such as Gazette of London of newspapers by citizens use of newspapers to promote its own aims to newspapers being used by citizens as
59 Magazine (60). In this model, th e government controlled newspapers led to the formation of an audience of later to be critics. Publick Occurrences on the other hand, was not an instrument of the Massachusetts government. Rather, Harris published a range of local, regional and internat ional news, some of which may have angered the authorities in Boston. He (15). He reported that more than 320 people had died from smallpox in the recent Meeting House. He also included a story about the suicide of an elderly, well respected citizen. report on the revolt of the prince of France against his father who, Harris reported, has seduced the pri the reaction from eventual groups of readers abroad (Tebbel 15). It might seem that the content of Publick Occurrences of the government. However, it is worth considering that seventeenth century subjects had to control the means of production before they could put it to use for critical purposes. Publick Occurrences a critical relationship between citizens and authorities th rough practice if not through content. Whether or not Harris was already acquaint ed with the growing demand in London for a public voice,
60 for a press that was not an organ of the government. Before traveling to America, Harris had served time in Kings Bench Prison in London in 1680 for publishing a newspaper, Domestic Intelligences: or News from City and Country without royal authority. And when Harris sailed for Boston, he was also fleeing warrants for his arrest for further non licensed publishing Locating Publick Occurrences, as the starting point in the shift of colonial newspaper production, tells us about what was not quite possible and about the desire for a new form of colonial print. This censorship was essential not only to the publication of Publick Occurrences but it should also be considered critical to the eventual loosen ing of the requirement to obtain a license to print and the emergence of a competitive newsprint market before the mid eighteenth century. Publick Occurrences was published. By the late 1600s Boston had become a strong commercial center with an active harbor where merchants made connection with focus on print culture (Lepore 17). For the time period, the Purit ans in New England had Oxford or Cambridge (Lepore 39). Although the Massachusetts General Court and the Governor and Council of the Dominion of New England had controll ed the press for failed attempt at Publick Occurrences (Amory 83). Publick Occurrences, then, marks a point in the history of colonial print culture in which an a typical ly literate group was
61 testers. Before trying his hand at publishing, Harris worked to establish ties with the Puritan community. He opened The London Coffee House in August, 1690 (Tebbel 13) and began selling books. Although he was surrounded by seven other booksellers who set up stands in the basement floor of the Exchange, a wooden build ing in the marketplace (Amory 97). In addition to books and coffee, Harris sold tea, chocolate, (Kobre 13), and the current European gazettes at his shop (Amory 97), helping to popularize a foreign form of print that he would later try to produce himself. Harris opened his doors to women who were generally not allowed into the other coffee shops (Kobre 13, Ford 28). In London the coffee houses, as opposed to the inns h literary public sphere in which women were active and political public sphere from which they were absent. Of course, one coffee house does not an entire political public sphere make, but The London Coffee House may be one case, among others, that suggests new forms of media emerge during periods of transition and change for given societies. David Shields, in Civil Tongues and Polite Letters in British America, argues tha t revolutionary coffee houses ladies) and merchants. The first colonial newspaper then appears to us as a product of
62 the already existing discursive network as David Shields says of the groups of c offee significantly transformed the social experience of those who had been excluded from the coffee houses. Here, it is worth noting that Harris left the fourth and last page of the The coffee house allowed Harri s to establish close ties with powerful citizens of the colony who expressed an interest Publick Occurrences after its publication. In a Public Occurrences has been the occa sion of much discourse, it seems, about the that some people accused him of being the author of the newspaper. However, Mather discusses his involvement using somewhat ambiguo us language and some have argued that he did in fact have a hand in writing for the paper (Silverman 23). Mather, who would not frequent the inns in Boston, was a regular patron of the coffee house and The coffee house was onl y one actant that contributed to the emergence of the colonial newspaper. The publication, of course, could not have happened without the technology necessary to produce it. While printing had been widely used for more than
63 100 years in Europe when Publick Occurrences hit stands, there were few American 1639 and 1692 there were one or two presses in Boston (Amory 85). This limited scope of colonially produced print made it relatively easier for the state to control print. advantage over London in regulati ng the circulation of unwanted materials. In England it but it is possible that the conditions in New England were riper for the type of democratic media participation Harris sought than the other regions. precedence over all the Harris was fortunate to he bought it in 1681 Sewa ll instructed others to run the press for him. Among these individuals was Richard Pierce who was appointed the government printer for the Dominion of New England in 1686 after the revocation of the charter and the following turmoil (Amory 92). In 1689, ho wever, the Dominion fell apart and a temporary Council of Safety took over the governing duties (Amory 93). Before the government was restored with a new charter in 1692, the Council appointed Samuel Green, Jr. the government printer. When Green died in Ju ly 1690, Harris, along with John Allen, took over the press (Amory 94). Two months later, with the help of Pierce, Harris published
64 Publick Occurrences (Kobre 1). When the Cambridge press was destroyed in a fire in he art press was the only remaining in Boston (Amory 94). The influence of this lone printing press in the emergence of the colonial newspaper might seem to raise the question of technological determinism, but it seems overly simplistic retroactively to attribute too much credit for change to this technology alone. Systems, made up of people, objects, habits, geographies, have their own rules for how a technology such as the printing press is used at a specific point in history. In the case of Publick Occ urrences the technology, the wooden press that Harris and Allen ran together in 1690, could be said to have afforded Harris the opportunity to publish. It could even be said that it furthered the degree to which Boston was an ideal testing ground for colon ial newsprint because the press in Boston led to a higher number of But, as influential as this well equipped printing press might have been, we cannot say that it caused the emergence of the first col onial newspaper. Rather, Publick Occurrences serves as an example of causality as systemic. It demonstrates the co influence of multiple agents acting together. Government restrictions, high equ ipped colonial press acted together lead to the emergence a new colonial form of print. Returning to this older emergence suggests that change depends on cultural, technological and political precedents. The actants I have identified in this case study ar e, of course, only a beginning to a more holistic picture of the emergence of different forms of media over time.
65 Additionally, Publick Occurrences may also call our attention to a consideration of the influence of contemporary forms of media in places t hat, for geographic or political reasons, are removed from the immediacy of the cutting edge. There are places today, across the Global South, where forms of media often perceived of as old might appear as new. For example, in The Internet Elsewhere, Cyrus Farivar looks at South Korea where a ban on Japanese products until 1998 resulted in PC gaming dominating a much greater portion of the market share than console gaming (18). Stories of media emergences happen unevenly. Mo ving beyond studies of emergences, however, suggests a much larger network of material consequences that not only have to do with the birth of a new form but also with its circulations and travels after it has emerged. Other Material Consequences Case st udies of old media emergences such as Publick Occurrences allow us to see agency as spread out over a number of sites. As Jane Bennett argues, when we view agency as distributed, causality becomes even more difficult to pin down (32). In distributed agency leads us toward looking at causality not as efficient but as emergent. Emergent causality replaces efficient causality. So, in the example of the colonial American newspaper, just as this new form of media is emerging, so too is the system of causality that will continue acting upon all involved. And, again, media archaeological studies, because they prioritize objects, are already in the habit of looking at the interaction bet ween many agents within a network. On the other hand, what these stories often miss, and what my account of the colonial newspaper does not consider, are many of the other material effects of old
66 media. There is attention paid to the human actors and to some aspects of the technological devices, but even with a focus on objects and actors in networks, these accounts stop short of whole categories of material effects of old media. While certain objects, the old forms of media, are the focus of these studie s, the influence of other nonhuman actants goes without notice. For example, while the technologies of print have been widely studied for their influence on some aspects of human life such as literacy rates and the formation of political uprisings, less ha influence on the environment through deforestation, bleaching agents, and power consumes, despoils, and wastes natural resources ... have been mar ginal or absent In their discussion of the early printing press, Maxwell and Miller accuse scholars of depicting den hued diorama in neglected effects of early printing, such as water pollution and deforestation (46) and the less studied consequences of early print on the laborers th emselves. The ink used on wooden hand presses, for example, used lampblack, turpentine, and boiled linseed oil (47). So, while media archaeological studies might seem to better respond to recent calls for studies of In other words, even when objects have been taken into account, certain dominant
67 narratives about these media objects influence have drawn attention away from their capacity to enact other material consequences. (9) that would con sider the material consequences of forms of media. Here, it is worth pausing to explore a linguistic irony that, although Maxwell and Miller do not venture into Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture As Fuller explains, media ecological scholarship, studies of media that take into account the influence of networked actants and specifically focus on forms of media as powerful nonhuman actants, can be traced scholarship on the media landscape and how forms of media exist within networks of in fluence and agency. Although I argue that there is not a need for the complete break such as N. Katherine Hayles and Friedrich Kittler, I red as a type of media ecology. In other words, not everyone that Fuller or I would group within media ecology has self identified as a media ecologist. However, I find the category useful for talking about scholarship that focuses on forms of media and th eir circulations, effects, influences and interactions with human and nonhuman subjects, and I consider media archaeology to be a branch of the larger field of media ecological research. Media ecology has a long history. But as Maxwell and Miller point ou t, stories of the ecological effects of media are conspicuously absent from media studies. Or, put another way, media ecology has
68 lacked an environmental eco critical focus. Where is the ecology in media ecology? One answer might be that ecology is writ la Media ecology is the From a different angle, though, the ecosystem studied by media ecologists is asymmetrically biased toward certain types of human actions. As Lance Strate, the Media Eco media ecology is premised on the belief that leading role in human Media ecology focuses on materiality, but it also often seems to be weighted toward the material influence of certain devices on certain bodies impact on the environment, perhaps it is possible that media ecologists and archaeologists are not as familiar with furthering discussions of the inaccurate terminological divide between old and new media, her discussion of the inner workings of comput ers serves as an example of this gap within the field. material properties do (literally and figura tively) matter discussion to consider the materiality of computer components. She says, they are Toward the end of Always Already New G itelman mentions the need for further
69 investigations of digital materiality, but she limits this to the software level (96). However, in this same section, she helpfully catalogs how a number of media theorists are uncomfortable about this question of digi tal materiality frequency with which the word material to speak about the environmental impact of devices requires an understanding of what materials are used to manufacture its comp onents, where these materials are assembled, and what happens to them when the device becomes obsolete. In other words, when Diana Coole and Samantha Frost ask in their introduction to New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics the power of matter and the ways it materializes in our ordinary experiences or fail to acknowledge the matter contains mysteries. Or, similarly, the influence of a d evice on human experience, on its intended users, might be one of the easiest forms of influence to track down, or at the least, we focus on these effects because we have a point of reference. We have lived through changes in media that had changes on our lives. For example, in on the human. He argues that they are creating new genres of writing; and they have more cont rol over what they of the material consequences of technological change, but the focus is on only the effects that concern human experience and only certain types of human experience, here, writing.
70 It takes a lens that extends beyond just certain types of human experience to show how forms of old media have influenced the environment. As Maxwell and Miller show, this type of study can be archaeological. For instance they dis cu ss how the telegraph depended on workers who were exposed to sulphuric acid while assembling batteries (53), and the copper wires needed for the telegraph and telephone dramatically increased copper mining and pollution associated with the mini ng and smelting (56). Many of these processes of production although they result in forms that fall into the category of old media, continue today. Contemporary print production in onsumer carbon footprint compared to 10 percent for consumer electronics; the energy used to Furthermore, extending the lens of media archaeological case studies to include m edia considerations set a precedent that could ideally be extended to include environmental studies of newer forms, and they contextualize the newer, digital forms as not the only transition from print to electronic media paints a false picture of how wasteful electronic technologies actually are, it is inaccurate to suggest that older fo rms had no environmental impact. On the other hand, and as I will explore in more detail in Chapter 4, there are grave environmental consequences of the digital upgrade path. As just one test growing that are obscured by the rhetoric of the new.
71 As Maxwell and Miller note, is not just the environmental impact of old new media that gets overlooked as the upgrade path hums along. The working conditions of those who manufacture operate and dispose of these devices often goes without notice. A broader archaeological study of film, for example, would move beyond considerations of audience, subjectivity and rec eption to consider, for example, the conditions of labor for the workers who assembled Xenon bulbs, the essential lights to film projectors for decades contained toxic gases and came with lengthy directions for their disposal place the bulb in a special ba g, stand back, throw against a brick wall. Or, from another angle, a broad media archaeological study might also consider the conditions of labor of projectionists and the formation and eventual dissolution of labor unions for the profession. These types o f case studies of the medium would ask that we rethink would problematize, for example, media elevant question is how much information in an image I work as even more revolutionary than a call for environmental studies of media; they are calling for a move away from utopian and exclusively anthropocentric narratives in media studies. Or, although they do not claim this connection for their book, I would argue this work is a more truly ecological example of media ecology. Against the Rhetoric of the New Scholarly dis course that focuses too narrowly on obscures our view of these wider networks of influence The rhetoric of the new paints media technologies as the harbingers of positive change; things are getting better. It is cessarily more dystopian than u topian,
72 more technophobic than technophilic; rather, what a hopeful focus on the new misses is the degree of complexity old media demands. So, although media archaeological studies counter the false terminological divide between old and new media, when their focus is on emergences, on the old as once new, then the ways that these devices remain influential, even when they are out of sight, goes unnoticed. As David Park, Nick Jankowski and Steve Jones argue, in The Long History of New Media media studies Gittelman and Kittler as fallin g into this category and as prioritizing and favoring the new as well as the once new. Park, Jankowski and Jones call for scholarship that gets Studying old media when they were new is one way to complicate the divide between old and new, but it still operates on a fixed idea of obsolescence. Even s continue to have effects, but on whether they are valuable to consumers. What the terminological divide between old and new media calls for is a type of media archaeological scholarship, but it is one that writes value as a larger concept, one based not simply on compatibility with the most recent devices and conformation to prescripted in fluence on the users it was once produced for.
73 Old Media as Residual In his discussion of cultural formations, Raymond Williams makes a case for the relationship between the newly forming and the still influential remainders of the past. Williams disting shiny and less Residual Media Acland says Williams illustrates how continuity and discon tinuity both play roles in the structuring of a living culture, leaving behind any sup pos ition about the simplistic, static, and well defined boundaries of the province of the dominant, let alone the new. Accordingly, we might best wonder about those who speak with unqualified conviction of a uniformly new practice or One of the values, for media archaeology, of studying the residual is that it gets away from revisioning an object as once new in the face of so many other calls to study the now new. Rather, the residual focus directs us to what remains. Acland, like many other m few phrases have been evacuated of meaning, and have outlived their critical technological change necess moves beyond the old as once new to the old as still present and powerful. For chapter specifically considers the consequences electronic garbage, and he argues that the problem of e waste is furthered by two related
74 obsolescence (22). Lisa Parks also c onsiders electronic waste in and she extends this consideration to ask how artistic salvaging and repurposing might serve as a way to draw attention to electronic trash. And, John Davis, t from locations where it is presented as the process of discarded items becoming durable goods that Michael Thompson describes in Rubbish Theory. that it suggests a growing space for broader conceptions of media archaeology, for moving out from under the paradigm of the new. In other words, this chapters in this book extend the project of complicating the division between old and new forms of media, not by returning to a time when these older forms seemed more influential, but, rather, by exploring the ways that these older forms have us to unexpected archives, including the dump. Trash offers a way of telling the story of remains, of materiality that endures after and beyond the interfaces and experiences of older forms of media. Studying outdated digital media, old new media, as garbage works against the terminological divide that separates analog and mechanical forms of media from the newest digital devices. It is within the dump and other systems of waste
75 disposal that we can rediscover the forms of old new media, the outdated digital devices, that are obscured by this division and that exist in an ambiguous zon e between old and new. Gaming systems and their cartridges, personal computers, cell phones, tablets with their styluses, and countless other devices that have been left behind by the upgrade path as waste they speak to different effects of media change ov er time. They counter consumer models and technological progress narratives that rely on forgetting. Recently, a team of filmmakers has been preparing to do media archaeological field work at a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Understanding what has le d them to the desert requires rewinding roughly thirty years. E.T. the Extra Terrestrial was deemed an abysmal failure. Two decades later, Electronic Gaming Monthly ranked it number #1 of the twenty worst video games of all time. Acco rding to se ries of holes to assemble telephone pieces and phone home. As Bores demonstrates in his review of the game, once ET falls into a hole, it is nearly impossible to get him out. l back million unsold copies of the game were crushed, encased in concrete and buri ed in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico. It is fitting, perhaps, that these copies of ET ended up in a hole. In May of 2013, the Alamogordo City Commission granted the film studio
76 Fuel Industries the rights to dig in the landfill in an attempt to find t he games (Bear) What this admittedly bizarre case suggests is that forms of old media do not disappear. They remain, and it takes media archaeological work, including digging in the dump where decades of discarded electronic devices now reside, to underst and the residual impact of old media. The residual works against the rhetoric of the new that has dominated discussions of contemporary devices and archaeological research into older forms of media. The residual leads us to the landfill, to the garbage pi le, and to closets where old devices sit and gather dust. In these spaces, where things remain and decay together, there is a different model for the material consequences of media devices. Where as the dominant model of media change has been built on a sy nchronic understanding of emergence followed by obsolescence, the residual leads us to a model of change as non synchronous. Change happens unevenly, and its effects, in turn, do not fade away ersected by a variety of it takes a willingness to turn away from a study of only the new to recognize the residue of the old that persists.
77 CHAPTER 3 MATERIAL CONS EQUENCES OF WRITING VIRTUAL REALITY Another Problematic Term The previous two chapters of this project considered some of the scholarly origins, circulation, effects of, and possibilities for rethinking one phrase: new media. In this chapter, I will turn my attention to a different but related terminology of digital devices: the language of the virtual. With respect to electronic technologies, the virtual conveniently but, as I w ill argue here, inaccurately is used to speak about a wide range of devices and practices. From writing about massively multiplayer online environments such as Second Life and World of Warcraft warfare in Afghanistan image rich electronically mediated interfaces. By labeling these technologies as virtual, a gesture is made to a difference between reality, materiality, and actuality. A virtual thing in this closely related to these invocations of the virtual. As with my terminological misgivings writ ings about digital media stems from my belief that this language elides material consequences of the technologies labeled as virtual. Even when scholars are attentive to the material consequences of electronic devices, this reliance on the language of th e virtual has a tendency to persist. In these Climate Change and the Media Tammy Boyce and Justin Lewis rightly argue that we should become more aware of the environmental eff ects of the telecommunications industry.
78 Yet, for all their emphasis on the materiality of forms of media, in their description of the content tends to obscure their re sponsibility for a vast proliferation of hardware, all with high levels of built believe, as Boyce and Lewis argue, that it is important to hold the telecommunications industry responsible for the environmental impacts of digital media, but, for me, central to holding these companies responsible is not separating the hardware from the software. As Friedrich Kittler argues in Literature, Media, Information Systems, no software at al and bound up with the hardware of a machine. Or, as Jennifer Gabrys argues in Digital Rubbish, tied to matter ; it constitutes a distinct articulation of material processes. ... There is no software because there is nothing soft or absent In other words, my cont ent to the marketing campaigns to the shipping materials, a thorough media ecological study takes into account the material effects of the many aspects of these obscur ing this responsibility. Rather, the responsibility is ours as well, and one of the ways that we must become accountable is to recognize this linguistic contradiction. The content has never been virtual in the sense that it has been less real; it has only been perceived, described, and accepted as simulated and dematerialized. When computer interfaces are referred to as virtual, their material consequences are overlooked. And this failure to consider to the material consequences of what is labeled as virtua l has
79 serious implications for our actions both on an individual and on a collective and international scale. Critical Terms for Media Studies, Bill Brown pushes back against the threat that some feel digital forms of media p ose to materiality the far from new. He explores how the perceived disappearance of materiality has been a complaint of successive generations diminished materiality are by no means a recent development, and this tendency could who has recently been released from his description, just as the shadows cast on introduction to this section of The Republic allegory of the cave and what Lee sees as as Cornford did before him, turns to the most
80 (240). Today, there is not only a per vasive sense that there has been a break in our relationship with the real, physical world but also that this break is connected to our use of computerized devices. As the commonly used acronym IRL (in real life) suggests, when we are away from the keyboar d, we are participating in real life. While at the keyboard, why are we somewhere other than the real world? Where does this acronym suggest that we are when we are not IRL? How has the writing about these technologies helped to put us in a place that seem s less than real? current incarnation of the dematerialization hypothesis and the residual influence of theories of virtual reality that became increasingly popular thro ughout the 1990s. On the one hand, it may seem that some twenty years later these theories have little influence mediated interfaces. In the intervening years, the tenor of the conversation about these technologies ha s relaxed from its fever park, Live Park 4D World Tour, and Avatar suggest an ongoing interest in virtual reality, the concept has not continued to garner the degree of against these older theories and considers the interface of virtual reality not as a disembodying medium but as one that requires hardware and has physical effects on the user. And even most media theorists have, it seems, moved beyond utopian descriptions of life after commercially available, immersive virtual reality technologies, iction (hyperbole)
81 of the capacities of cyber seems to be less talk about virtual reality and more discussion of a reality that is new browser technology is not entirely without its own set of problems, as John Tinnell usefully points of images. In this simply be to posit a surplus outside reality and to lock oursel ves into an R+1 equation in technologies do not impose a complete break with the re al. On the other hand, although the fully immersive technologies of virtual reality has remained a commonly used term for writing about electronic interfaces. Thi s iew media as a threat to materiality, [who] generally mean that our human experience of of our shifting media landscape. While I, too, intend to consider the work of write rs who viewed VR technologies with disdain, my focus will also be on the writers who viewed VR positively, those who believed that VR beckoned the fulfillment of a utopian mind
82 writings in this chapter will be on other possible physical, political, and lethal consequences of this diminished sense of a material world. A Longer History of the V irtual es, it is necessary, different, definition within philosophy. From Aristotle to Deleuze to the onticology of Levi Bryant and the vital materialism of Jane Bennett, t othering substantiality, its being as substance, or its being as a (more o The virtual, in this sense, offers us a way to think beyond a correlationism that would require a new object to be present in every instance toward an understanding of how objects persist through time. The concept acts as a necessary foil or supplement, depending on the theory, to th e concept of the material. My focus, then, in this chapter adjectivally to connote a separate, digitally mediated space that is portrayed as disconnected from a physical reality.
83 o be confused with virtual reality. The latter is generally treated as a simulacrum of reality, as a sort of to distinguish between these two senses of this term, s uggesting that even for his association of the virtual with digital technologies, an ass contemporary use of the term to its longer history, and argues that the widespread use Are we becoming more comfortable with absence and simulation? If, as Shields why do these virtual technologies have real consequences? Alt hough these older incarnations of the virtual that Shields details are useful for understanding how the concept has shifted over time, I argue that a higher degree of causality might be traced es and the use of the term to describe early image rich electronic interfaces only a couple of decades ago. In other words, just as Bryant argues that separating these two distinct senses of the virtual is important to his project, in this chapter, I will from the 1990s forward as a term for describing immersive computer mediated environments. In making this move, my goal is to show a connection between how a number of very specific connotations that were set so me twenty years ago still persist
84 today and, most importantly, how they belie the material consequences of digital technologies. VR in the Popular Imagination: The Promises and Perils of an In the early 1990s, basic virtual reality si mulation technologies became included a head mounted display (HMD), and the CAVE system of projectors inside a hough this move toward more prevalence in the popular imagination, virtual reality technologies had been undergoing development for decades. In 1965 at the International Federatio n for Information The ultimate display would, of course, be a room within which the computer can control the existence of matter. A chair displayed in such a room would be good enough to sit in. Handcuffs display ed in such a room would be confining, and a bullet displayed in such a room would be fatal. With appropriate programming such a dis play c ould literally be the Wonderland into which Alice walked. physical experiences as they are outside of the display. The measure of a chair is that we can sit in it, the measure of handcuffs that they are able to confine us, the measure of a bullet that it can kill us. Here, in theorizing virtual reality, Sutherland suggests that programmers should aspire to create interfaces that give the user experiences as these ex periences are outside the computer controlled environment. What is striking, as well, about this passage is that Sutherland imagines virtual reality not as the simple appearance of these phenomena, which would amount to tricking the user. Sutherland
85 imagin reality, this trans substantive act might be the ultimate horizon: the replacement of a simulation with an actualization, matter created by computers. Some thirty years lat er, virtual reality theorists and authors were writing in a way virtual reality to the forefront of the popular imagination. As Sutherland had, they envisioned technol ogies that would one day develop beyond mere simulation. Science fiction writers such as Neal Stephenson and William Gibson portrayed futuristic narratives in which characters are able to move between two worlds, one virtual, one actual (Taylor 177). Throu The Net, Hackers, Virtuosity, The Thirteenth Floor, and Strange Days popularized cyberspace and virtual reality The Matrix in which Neo become s aware that the world he has been living in has been a product of virtual reality, the Matrix, and that Earth has, in reality, been turned into a wasteland. For interface designers, this erasure of the interface demonstrated in The Matrix was key to me asuring the success of their efforts. As Mari Laure Ryan argued in 1999, sign s (bits, pixels, and binary codes) in the production of what the user experiences as WIMP interfaces could
86 th The question, for him, became one of eliminating the traces of the device. In 1999, Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin made a similar claim and applied it to a longer trajec tory of representation. They argued that the history of mediation has been a history of two competing tendencies. While on the one hand, the logic hypermediacy makes the nature of mediations as such more present to the user, the logic of immediacy works to jagged Grusin hypothesized that with improvement in the technologies of the interface, total immersion, where our recognition of mediation by these digital technologies would disappear, could one day be possible. Although their account connects 1990s digital technologies with earlier forms of mediation, from their description of VR, it seems that Bolter and Grusin believed immersive technologies were closer than ever to erasing the recog nizable presence of mediation. 1990s visions of virtual reality to he argued that while these narratives of being freed are premised on dissatisfaction with
87 her gone mad or has become increasingly It seems of no small co nsequence that alongside these writings about virtual reality technologies, theories of a subject freed from its body, also reared their heads in literary criticism and cultural studies in the 1990s. The influence of proclamations that we had become postmo dern on how these writers portrayed virtual reality technologies disorientation through the experience of images could be emancipatory (8). In his 1989 The Transparent S ociety Unlike Taylor and Vattimo, N. Katherine Hayles was not convinced that a diminished sense reality and a cultural tendency toward immateriality could be construed positively. Hayles connected the rise of virtual reality technologies to a growing sense of dematerialization. In her 199 does not locate the origin of this sense of immateriality within virtual reality technologies. is merely one site among many in contemporary culture critiqued virtual reality theorists who argued for the possibilities that this dematerialized body would afford hen bodies are virtual, these critics argue, what does it matter
88 whether one is embodied in actuality as male or female, white or black, fully functional VR offered wa s the ability to move beyond the physical differences between bodies, to make these physical differences no longer matter. But, for Hayles, even if the technology progressed to the point that a user could forget the body through an immersive experience in Craig D. Murray and Judith Sixsmith also pointed to the importance of considering embodiment against narratives that treated VR as a med ium that would free published in 1999 in Ethos: A Journal of Psychological Anthropology they said that medium. Such discourses talk of leaving the body behind at the computer terminal, of projecting a movements immediately after using VR technologies, Murray and Sixsmith ar gue for language that acknowledges how embodiment remains even when it may seem to have nd Sixsmith, movements after their VR experiences show, the body was always with the mind, never separate from it. Murray and Sixsmith were not alone in pushing back against claims that these technologies divorced the user from physical reality. In her 2003 study of the
89 embodied nature of online communication in WaterMOO, Jenny Sundn criticized thes e From a different angle, though, it is possible to argue that even if virtual reali ty does not dematerialize anything, it demands that users question the line between what is real and not. Because this technology operates by tricking the senses and by attempting to replicate experiences, virtual reality creates a sense that we should cal l engagement with virtual reality software, the experience of virtual reality puts into q uestion how reliable empiricist procedures can be. In other words, the accuracy and believability of knowledge derived from the senses are at stake with virtual reality the actual place in which a VR user goes through these experiences seems to necessitate this linguistic demarcation. And, I argue that as these experiential qualities perc eived need for a terminological break between the real and the digitally mediated only increased. Michael Heim, in his 1993 book, The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality points to the influence of Star Trek: The Next Generation ual reality technologies with a more widespread audience, with shaping how a generation thought about virtual reality. For example, designer and computer engineer Jason Leigh, who designed
90 an interactive VR model of the Enterprise credits Star Trek: The Next Generation and specifically the holodeck with influencing how he thought about the future of immersive Enterpris e Leigh said, ties with ultimate display, is closed off inside of a room. In this room of the starship, as in ust one example of the creative ways this technology was deployed on the series, in the first confronted with a sea of green. He slowly steps from the corridor into what appears to be a rain forest. Behind him, the door dissolves. Riker stands in transfixed amazement, gaping wide lks through trees and brush, across a stream with a loose stone, up a fern filled embankment, finally encountering Data. It is in the holodeck that we first learn that Data es the seem to master. ans do that. I still need much
91 It is inside the holodeck that a question explored throughout the series is first raised: Where does the human e nd and the machine begin? This space, where sensations are not reliable indicators of what a thing is, where the senses can be fooled by the machine, pushes us to make new distinctions. Inside the holodeck, trees feel like trees, they look like trees, but, just like Data, their appearance masks a substance and an origin that differs from the other trees Riker has encountered outside of the demarcate varying degrees of auth enticity. If it is possible to imagine technology progressing to the point that computers are able to create sensations that cannot, experientially, be distinguished from those not created by computers, it is necessary to make distinctions. From this angle it becomes especially important in the virtual reality environment of the Holodeck to differentiate between the authentic human, Riker, and computer created objects does not differ from our experience of objects outside of the difference between the two. One is virtual; the other is real.
92 Again, as technologies continue to become more sophisticated, the perceived need for this linguistic demarcation only increases. As Allucqure Stone argues in her eas a whack in one of the virtual In actuality, though, these technologies dematerialize nothing. They only create the sense that things have become virtual, rather than real. The technologies direct attention to their capacity to simulat e, and consequently, the language used to describe these devices calls attention to this capacity. What this language of the virtual elides are the actual consequences of these production, use, and eventual obsolescence of these technologies. When these co nsequences are not visible at all or, at the least, less visible because of language used to describe them, language V isibility is at issue for Gay Hawkins in her discussion o f contemporary systems of waste and disposal. Hawkins and sewers its absence it has the power to create us as private citizens. We are, in a sense, purified through its removal (57). Here the perception that waste has disappeared seems to be of t he most importance. Perceiving dematerialization depends on the scale of our investigation. Waste seems to dematerialize, but in actuality it is no less material once it has left our home. If we limit our focus to the experience of the user, virtual realit y
93 wearing a head mounted display is not the same as a chair that he sits in at his h ome. If chair experienced through virtual reality technologies is dematerialized. Yet, if the scale of our consideration is expanded, then we can begin to notice all of the materials and labor that produce these technologies. We can notice the physical and emotional effects that the technology itself has on the user during and after the experience. Virtual reality is anything but immaterial. I argue that this discour se of the virtual, which, as many have noted, could be traced to multiple origins, has the effect of drawing our attention mostly to the dematerializing possibilities of computer mediated immersive interfaces. As Ryan said seemed to be no lack of opinion at the time about the possibilities VR had for challenging reality. What seems to be left out of the lines of argument she recounts is the possibility that VR was entirely real: [T]here is hardly anyone who does not hav e a passionate opinion about the technology: some day VR will replace re ality; VR will never replace reality; VR challenges the concept of re ality; VR will enable us to rediscover and explore reality; VR is a safe substitute to drugs and sex; VR is pleasure without risk and therefore immoral; VR will en hance the mind, leading mankind to new powers; VR is a ddictive and will enslave us; VR is a radically new experience; VR is as o ld as Paleolithic art; V R is basically a computer technology; all forms o f representation create a VR experience; VR challenges the distinction fictio n reality; VR is the triumph of fiction over reality. (110) ot, finally, about
94 presence in the popular imagination had much to do with the pe rception of VR as an other than real space. In other words, my argument, that the use of the virtual today is a term that elides material consequences and that its act of elision is based on a connotation with immateriality and unreality requires at least two things to be true. First, it requires that the term was widely used and, second, that the term was associated with suggests, there was a rapid increase in the use of the term in print between 1990 and at least 1996 (see fig. 3 1). Figure 3 1 http://books.google.com/ngrams/ Although far from perfect and only an analysis of the frequency this phras e appears in approximately four percent of the corpus of published books, the researchers at Google (Michel et al. 176). It might be argued that, at the least, the visib le spike between 1990 and 1996 suggests significant and steady increase in the use of the phrase in print. And as Ryan and others have noted, in the 1990s, there was a strong tendency to write
95 about virtual reality technologies as if these devices had ushe red in a break with the real, a disembodied subject, and dematerialized objects. In what ways does the persistence of this language of the virtual that was used describe these immersive computer ty of devices described as virtual today? How does this term perpetuate the erasure of the consequences of new kinds of digitally mediated environments? Even if the utopian hype about complete immersion through the disappearance of mediation has subsided, the theories of the dematerialization of the real seem to remain. In the following effect the perception of the effects of digital technologies, and how this percepti on has material consequences through our actions, on individual and international levels. Computer science has not delivered the holodeck. And although some home gaming systems now include more physically inter active technologies such as not yet common components of home electronics setups. In a different sector of the market, though, there has been a long standing investment i n these technologies, which continues to grow today (Shields 63). The U.S. military has developed a number of virtual reality. In fact, the military was the first to pi oneer basic immersive virtual reality military used virtual reality to rehabilitate veterans with PTSD through a program called Virtual Vietnam (Spitalnick). Today, digital platforms are steadily increasing in popularity
96 these technologies is reflected in its financial allocations to the programs. According to Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan that is used at clinics around the U.S. to assist veterans coping with P.T.S.D. Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan for Creative Technologies. The practice of using virtual reality for therapeutic ends is commonly referred to as immersion therapy or as virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET), a term coined by Virtually Better, the company that created Virtual Vietnam an d collaborates on Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan (Spitalnick). In VRET, trainees are exposed to vibro tactile sensations and are outfitted with 3 D goggles. The therapists also use scent boxes to fill the room with the smells that might trigger attacks (Spitalni ck). Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan in this In a 2008 article for The New Yorker, Sue Halpern recounted her experiences using Virtual Iraq an earlier version of Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan : T]he floor under me began to vibrate and my ears filled with the hum of tires on pavement. Suddenly, a gunman appeared on the overpass above me and sta rted to shoot. ... a car burst into flames ... For her article, Halpern interviewed Karen Perlman, a psychologist at the Naval Medical Center San Diego who works with veterans who have been diagnosed with P.T.S.D. Perlman had already seen
97 positive results from using the virtual reality program with her patients. At the time of the treats the core fear, the avoidan ce and the anxiety ... in a potent way. V.R. augments psychologist and researcher at Virtually Better, Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan is currently used at roughly 50 to 70 location s around the country, including VA hospitals and military bases. In a March 2013 article about Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan published in Psychiatric Annals Rizzo and his colleagues reported that in their clinical trial more than fifty percent of the particip ants no longer met P.T.S.D. criteria after treatment. Spitalnick said that although using VRET as a supplemental therapy has proven to be very effective at helping veterans with P.T.S.D., the major barriers to VRET being used in more locations are the cost s involved in maintaining the software and hardware and the training that therapists must receive to be able to use the program. According to Spitalnick, Virtually Better also offers VRET to treat a wide range of anxiety related disorders and to aid wit h pain management. And Rizzo and his fellow researchers predict that one day VR therapies like these will reshape civilian health led to a recognition of PTSD. The r history, innovations that emerge in military health care, driven by the urgency of war, While Spitalnick said that i mmersive programs such as Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan are more difficult to use on a widespread level, other digitally mediated programs that patients can use at home promise to make this type of medical intervention more
98 widely available. In their article, R izzo and his fellow researchers also make a distinction between immersive virtual reality such as Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan and non immersive console games systems (as well a s in non game research lab generated systems). This format presents a 3 D graphic environment on a flat screen monitor, projection system, that shifts depending on who is using the term. He said, for example, that defining virtual reality as computer mediated software that a user can interact with in a meaningful way means that even the game Angry Birds could be called virtual reality by some researchers. But he also said most of his colleagues would only apply the term to designs that give the user a greater degree of agency and feedback from the interface. It is not only in the area of therapy that the military is implementing programs incl uded in this increasingly broad category of virtual technologies. The military also uses a number of different non immersive computer mediated platforms for training and recruitment. The Army Experience program travels around the country to recruit young m en and women through encouraging them to participate in immersive and non immersive simulations of the experience of the battlefield. As part of this pilot program, the military created the Army Experience Center in Philadelphia, which it ran as a test pro gram from 2008 to 2010. The $12 million center featured three simulators with mockups of army equipment and life sized projections of battlefield scenes in addition to Xbox 360s and PC gaming stations, and it offered hours of free gaming to anyone
99 above th e age of 13 who registers with the center by providing his or her name, date of birth, and address (McLeroy). Among the programs used at the Army Experience Center and in the Army Origin ally is now used to train current soldiers to operate the devices such as the Talon robot for dismantling roadside bombs (Sin ger download. Anthropologist Robertson Allen, who spent two and a half years conducting an ethnographic study of the production of describes the most recen t These two narratives that Allen says this third iteration of has helped to abstractions that were intended to remove the game from the current mi litary conflict in
100 These technologies of the sc video games are transitional spaces in whic h civilian becomes virtual soldier at least Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 lets civilians (Graham and Shaw 790). At the same t ime that these technologies have the potential to blur the lines between military and civilian, the language used to describe the technologies has begun to be applied to an even wider range of military actions that involve screen describe contemporary warfare i n which a pilot, operating a joystick controlled drone, can, from the desert of New Mexico, drop bombs on human targets. What are the consequences that result from this shift in how virtual reality is conceptualized? When, as Singer notes, the Pentagon spe nds $6 billion a year on its virtual side, then where is Screens, Joysticks, and War as Virtual This widening of the scope of what the military counts as virtual is not limited to the software and hardw associated with computer techniques it is now i ncreasingly used as well to encompass and describe a wide variety of technologically assisted remote operations of real
101 differentiates The New Yorker says the drone strikes are marked by a these drone pilots were further detailed by Sara Reardon in a January 2013 article for the New Scientis t She says: For a war zone, the silence is disconcerting. Th e battlefield is a dark, cold, slightly musty smelling room, lit only b y blinking LEDs on computer consoles and a pale glow from screens sh owing serial views of desert expanses. A pair of jumpsui ted US air force so ldiers sits at each console, speaking softly into their headsets and navigating remotely operated aircraft with controllers similar to those in fighter jets. (Reardon) east partially the from a term that once described immersive virtual realit y technologies that use specific hardware such as head mounted displays, to a term for talking about less immersive graphical representations such as video games, to a term that is now being used to describe military operations that, in part, use screen ba sed technologies and remote controllers. On the one hand, the technologies described as virtual have always had real material consequences. The users of VR experienced physiological effects whether in play or in therapy or in training, and the rapid prod uction and disposal of computerized technologies, as I will explore in the next chapter, have consequences for workers,
102 adjectivally as a catchall term for digital technologies is not unique to the military. On the other hand, while the computer mediated environments used in contemporary drone warfare have striking similarities with their virtual reality predecessors, similarities that might help to explain this slippage of term inology, there are much more immediate and grave material consequences that are elided when virtual makes the leap from of this terminology and its potential to influ consequently, how war is authorized and carried out have not gone without notice. James Der Derian, writing in International Affairs most virtuoso moment of the virtuous war probably c ame when a Predator drone armed with Hellfire missiles found an Al s a first person account of his Convoy Trainer (VCCT), which he also refers to as The Matrix. Der Derian explores the International Affairs in which he described what were then new technologies including sensor arrays (772). He argued that these distancing techno logies had the potential, if they were used
103 to the virtuous the political discourse as well as the battlefield. ... virtuous wars promote a vision of 3). Der Derian said, on the other hand, but less destructive, deadly, or bloody for those on the short end of the big technolo intended to point out the inherent inconsistencies between the way that digitally mediated warfare is perceived and its actual effects paradox, an omino us sign of things to come, virtuous war is, in that final analysis it sees Others have also troubled this depiction of drone warfa simulation as well as surveillance and speed have collapsed the geographical distance, his 2008 article, Der Derian references The Matrix Simulations and, in his epigraph, he attributes of Baudri The Matrix intentionally blurring the line between the theories and theatrical representations only appears to lessen the material consequences of armed conflict. Only when the focus is strictly on U.S. casualties can the current use of these
104 myopic view of the battle field even slightly, war appears as anything but dematerialized. Dematerialization is only a perception. And, here, it seems that the language used to describe these technologies of war is at least partially to blame. The language of the virtual has become associated with computer mediated representations that are perceived as less than real, and even when this language is applied to contexts outside approach the relationsh ip Der Derian describes between the virtualization of war and The Gulf War Did Not Take Place, information, ceases to be a realistic war and becomes a virtual war, in some way selectively broadcast and because the Iraqis never had a chance to win the war (61), what happened in Iraq during the first Bush administration should not be referred to as a a more complete scale of war and speak about it as something other than virtual and virtuous. For For Baudrillard this task seems to be frustrated by the mediated nature of contemporary warfare. For Der Derian, it is a difficult task but also a crucial one. Even in 2000, Der D erian said that these new technologies were on their way to transforming warfare vehicles (UAVs) are no only game in town in terms of confronting and trying to disrupt the Al
105 And, in 2012, the US air force trained more pilots to fly drones than it did pilots to fly manned air craft (Reardon). Originally used only for surveillance, the Predator and now designators with new target acquisition capabilities ... the extrahuman capabilities of virtual tech is anything but less destructive, deadly, or exponent ially more destructive. Foreign Policy acknowledges that although these technologies may save domestic lives, there are risks with digitizing warfare. The technologies that are often desc ribed as virtual often and fighting becomes ever more distant and virtual, there is also an emerging dark side to keep our (glaze d these attacks do not involve deploying large numbers of troops, a grey area in foreign policy has formed. Because the way that these militar y technologies are different than previous technologies, their electronic mystique, has garnered more attention than the ways in which war is still brutal, bloody, visceral, a state of exception formed for the rules of engagement. program of targeted killings of suspected terrorists in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia (Singer 8) has drawn little attention from the public because the effects of the strikes are kept from sight. Mayer says that
106 ted from the human toll, as well as from the political and moral consequences. Nearly all the victims have remained faceless, and the damage had carried out 365 drone strikes in Pakistan, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London (Mazzetti and Shane). On March 15, 2013, a federal appeals court ruled that the CIA has to disclose its records of drone strikes. The case was brought by the ACLU and The New York Times after they filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the records (Savage). In an interview published by the International Review of the Red Cross in March of 2013, Singer says that with the recent conflict in Libya, the Obama administration argu ed that they did not need authorization from administration, it has been argued that th e executive order created the state of created by the drone. But even in the drone attacks openly carried out by the military in recognized war are never alone ... Currently 185 personnel are required to support one Predator or and recovery. Other personn el assist with processing the hundreds of thousands of
107 hours of images captured by the drones (Gregory 194). Furthermore, he argues that created by UAVs. Gregory, instead, hunter viscerally immerses physically remote operators in combat and reinforces [the drone events on the screen they are some 18 inc hes away from what it looks like on the g drawn into and captured by the visual mediated warfare have allowed pilots to see more than ever before, even as they remain physically remote from rators have an unprecedented view of war ever to the battlefield, these new abilities to see are culturally determined and create egory 193). In other words, Gregory argues that even as the technologies of surveillance progress to allow wider ranges of visibility and detail, who and what are watched and how these images are interpreted are still determined by a U.S. centered narrativ e of war. politics of war. ... The technology is shaping how we, in the pubic, and especially our
108 about war: And now we have a technology that enables us to carry out acts of what we previously would have thought of as war wi thout having to wrestle with some of the potential political costs of se nding a son or daughter into be clear, I actually agree with the goal of many of these operations. But I am concerned ab how we talk about it and thus conceptualize and authorize it. (emphasis added, 5) For Singer, it is not simply the changing technolog ies that are affecting how wars are fought; it is the language that is used to talk about war that alters the actions involved in waging war. Although, here, I agree with Singer that technology plays a part in changing the language of war, I also argue tha t the language about technologies of war has been influential in how we conceive of warfare. The history and circulation of this language in popular and scholarly discourses influences how these technologies are described, conceived and implemented today and authorized today requires rethinking how we have previously talked about, conceptualized and authored the virtual. From the Desert of the Real to the Realities of the Desert From Bill Brown to Der Simulations. It is an understandable move. With the incredible capacity of drones to capture video footage of the remote spaces, a mapped space emerges, and this mapped space, because it is constructed and from our perspective, does not have a 1 to 1 correspondence to the of the map as a way to recognize th Provinces of Night said, are
109 What I believe Der Derian w ants us to recognize is that even when the desert the desert of the real itself. And if we have seemed to be in the desert of the real itself, it has been the desert c reated by these theories of the disappearance of the real, theories that the real was no longer real at all. As Bruno Latour says in the nadir the absolute zero of politics, aesthetics, and where we have been stuck since Descartes. Just as virtual reality technologies and virtual war, when the scale of o ur consideration is expanded, appear as anything but dematerialized, here, Latour is calling for a new scale of inquiry that cedes agency to as Latour claims, postmodern virtuality does not exist, what is required then to be able mediated space while still maintaining an eye toward the material consequences of these technologies? Sundn troubles the division between abse nce and presence in thinking about online actions. For Sundn, the answer, it seems, is that we must oscillate between both. Of the text based online community WaterMOO, she says, The door to the virtual world is a dream that points in two directions, towa rd text and matter, without asking the typi st to pick sides. The trick is rather to develop an ability to simultaneou sly walk both ways and through typed in enactments embody the state of neither/nor. (99)
110 If this oscillation is possible, it requires two m oves. First, it requires recognizing that with each successive technological advance, the tendency to write about the medium, as if it could enact dematerialization, only grows stronger. The interfaces seem to more closely resemble those from earlier virtu al reality theories and theatrical representations. The components become more difficult to understand without a significant computing background. It takes an increasing amount of work to speak about these interfaces as matter instead of magic. Here, Paul think about the magnitude with which technological change speeds up over time, fueling an even faster rate of change (81). Alongside this move, oscillation requires pointing again and again to the mat erial consequences that these devices entail. In other words, to oscillate we have to recognize that the urgency and the difficulty of the task are bound up together. As technological capabilities increase, so too does the labor and materials required to p roduce, maintain and dispose of these devices increase so too do the potential international humanitarian consequences increase, as the machinery of war progresses faster than the laws can respond. As Bill Brown suggests, it is a materialist methodolo gy that best addresses media help us assess the materialities of dematerializing media? What critical act is comparable to that casual yet cataclysmic moment in a movie th eater when you happen Plato to Cornford to Desmond Lee, have presented the content of the screen as less
111 materials, the construction through matter and time, of these seemingly dematerialized representations on the cave wall, in the theater, on the television. I argue that it is through new materialist methodology that traces the production, circulation and disposal and persistence of not only technologies but the terminology of technological change that we can begin to understand the complex materiality of these technologies that are currently referred to as virtual. It is through a perceived dematerialization of our world, after all, that theories of moreo materialist turn that began to thrive in the 1990s within a variety of disciplines: anthropology, art history, history, cinema studies, the history of science, and literary and cul technologies labeled as virtual in order to counter this sense that they are less real, immaterial, and, therefore, inconsequential? For Drucker, the interface of virtual r eality seriously complicates the possibility of network theory (ANT) on immersive interfaces. She says that unlike the experience of some websites, such as The New York Times ot require as much effort on the part of the user. any seams showing, becaus network theory breaks down, since it is premised on assumptions of discrete autonomy,
112 distinctions of actor from network, that are at odds with the integrative codependencies new materialist theories, it does inform the work of a number of new materialist practitioners such as Bennett (ix). Latour explains in Reassembling the Social that his assemblage seriously (64). Latour argues that ANT can allow us to show how objects, which have bl are capable of agency. Objects, and I am arguing here, the language that we use to describe objects, can, as Latour says, suggest, influe If, as Drucker suggests, an actor network theory analysis of these interfaces now, to attempt this type of work in studies of digital media. What this methodology and closely related new materialist and autonomous objects but rather a trend, over time, of shifts and tendencies that were previously elided when we narrowly paid too much attention to the experiential aspects of the interface. And, alongside expanding the scale of our considerations to take seriously the interactions between more huma n and nonhuman actors beyond the user who sits at a screen or wears a head mounted display, it is crucial that we take seriously the language with which we describe these networks. What is at stake, here,
113 is recognizing that we are complicit in lessening t he gravity of actions, including how digitized warfare is waged, when we write about computer mediated interfaces as anything less than powerful and potentially lethal parts of our shared material reality.
114 CHAPTER 4 WHEN ELECTRONIC THINGS FALL APART In the age of electronic retrieval, the enti re phenomenal universe is at once junkyard and museum. Marshall McLuhan From Clich to Archetype Millions of Atari cartridges now lie still, encased in concrete, underground in a desert landfill. Yet, these game they were digital, interactive, and, to a degree, immersive (Lister et al. 13). And, curiously, some 20 miles down the road from the Alamogordo landfill, pilots at Holloman Air Force Base learn how to o perate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). They will use abroad. These stories suggest a clandestine materiality of the digital that must be unearthed and uncovered b ecause it falls outside of the realm of the everyday. But material consequences of other digital technologies do exist ready at hand. As a number of scholars have pointed out, even the recent housing crisis serves as a virtual transactions. In their introduction to New Materialisms, Diana Coole and Samantha Frost argue that the crash of the housing market contradicts the to day existence of those who lost their homes. Foreclosure, eviction, and homelessness are experienced as material conditions of existence. In other words, wh en something happens that forces us to consider more than just the immediate experience of seemingly virtual electronic
115 waves of influence that stretch far beyond the devi ces themselves. Jennifer Gabrys makes a related point about the inaccuracy of the term virtual to describe the NASDAQ, but her argument considers the hardware that displays the a widely tower is clad in what is declared to be the largest stationary video screen in the world. This surface, which is over seven stories in height, covers a span of nearly 10,000 square feet and is powered by nearly 19 million light on the bulk of this screen and on these millions of LEDs, it is clear that from immaterial. The virtual, in fact, is a mechanism of expendi It is not simply remote geography or inaccurate terminology that obscure this materiality. In one sense, it is a much older problem of interfaces and of mediation. As Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin argue, there has always been a tendency to loo k through, rather than at, a mediating apparatus. work to make work disappear, that the attempt to erase mediation is also the attempt to erase creative acts. They offer examples of how this tendency works in earlier mediums to reveal how this logic functions today. Like the painters who work the surface of a canvas to remove ever completely forget that a digital representation is media ted, the logic of immediacy
116 other logic of remediation, exposes the seams, the brush strokes, the act of production, and the process of mediation (38). Bolter and Grusin arg ue that hypermediacy draws our attention to an instance of mediation as such, and I would argue that seeing the mediation as such includes paying attention the construction of the interface and the consequences of the mode of production. On one hand, I a design of Wired magazine and Mondo 2000 as examples of the logic of hypermediacy (31). But many other self refe rential, intentionally disjointed, or proudly DIY projects would also Grindhouse or, as I will explore in the following chapter, the design of artists books, zines and tac tical video games all work against the erasure of mediation. On the other hand, I believe that a focus on artistic practices alone suggests too high a degree of human intentionality behind the logic hypermediacy. Sometimes a network of agents, both human a nd nonhuman, operate in what at first appears to be a singularity, the medium itself, and through this distributed causality, the traces of production are revealed by chance. We can see in both the consequences of the stock market and in the devices that d as virtual and immat erial, is, when things fail, anything but. The seams are made visible, when things fall apart at the seams. As Bill Brown argues in his introduction to Things when obj ects break it becomes easier to see overlooked aspects of their materiality, what Brown refers to as their
117 us: when the drill breaks, when the car stalls, when the wind qualities are alluded to inscrutable reality of hammer being lying behind the accessible, theoretical, or perceptual qualities of the gest that a sudden lack of functionality allows us to notice certain qualities of tools that had previously been the object that has shifted slightly. The object that has fallen apart also suggests then, a it is not necessary to destroy everything nor to begin a completely new world. It is sufficient to displace this cup or this bush or this stone just a lit tle, and thus everything. The Haas idim tel l a story about the world to come that says everything there will be just as it is here. Just as our room is now, so it will be in the world to come ; where our baby sleeps now, there too it will sleep in the other world. And the clothes we wear in this world, those too we will wear there. Everything will be as it is now, just a little different. (qtd. in Agamben 52) It takes only a small shift, when something breaks, to begin to notice aspects of a lity that we overlooked when we focused only on the experiential qualities of a device. For instance, it may seem that the iPhone is best described in terms of desire, connectivity, and the good or harm that this device brings about in our day to day inter When people are alone, even for a few moments, they fidget and reach for a device. Here connection works like a symptom, not a cure, and our constant, reflexive impulse to connect shapes a new way
118 digital. Her analysis of how our reflexes are being rewired takes electronic things seriously, in a (Bennett 244), how we are animated by inanimate devices small enough to fit in our devices the mselves are influential. In other words, when we focus on how technology changes us, we are looking through and past the device itself, not examining all the ways in which its powers far exceed how it might make us feel or act while we are holding it. In t his sense, when we focus only on the immediate experiential qualities of a We are not considering how the device is a thing created; rather, we focus on the experien ces that the thing creates for us. Although, again, these experiences are important, especially considering the wide scale implications of these types of social trends, there is also a sense in which, because this view misses grave consequences of these de vices, focusing on how they make us feel might amount to technological navel gazing. But when a digital device such as the iPhone accidentally slips into the sudsy waters of a kitchen sink, different qualities rise to the surface of our consciousness the space behind the screen, the feel of the buttons, the size of the headphone jack through which water has seeped inside, shorting the circuits. When a screen goes black whether it happens in the theater after a 35mm film wrap and burn or on a smaller scale after a smartphone has taken a dive into the pavement or a sink we must begin to
119 components, if only briefly. This taking notice that happens when a device breaks is a move toward increased appreciation for and accountability toward the materials, the physical components of electronics. Although this taking notice gets beyond a focus only on the purely experiential consequences of a device, if this the point at which de vices become more than experiential interfaces for us, then we are already hopelessly late. By the time that they arrive in our hands, these devices have already been circulating widely, interacting with many other agents, often on an international scale. And this circulation, this wide range of influence, is belied by hand range of influence, its potentiality, its tr avels. As Jennifer Gabrys argues in Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics : When electronic devices shrink to the scal e of paper thin and handheld devices, they appear to be lightweight and fre e of material resources. But this sense of immateria lity also enables the pro liferation of waste, form the processes of manufacture to the development of disposable and transient devices in excess. (4 5) It seems that things are getting smaller. We check email, place telephone calls, take pictures and shoo t videos with single devices. We are moving toward having one device through which we access all of our digital content. And, as Friedrich Kittler argues in Literature, Media, Information Systems there is a sense in which we are currently experiencing an (147). So, it seems that it now takes less physical matter to access a text. However, what tracin g the material circulation and consequences of this miniaturized computer
120 hardware suggests is that at the same time we might theorize an implosion of a waste produced by ele ctronic forms of media. Because the devices themselves, then, even when they break, are not sufficient indicators of the amount of influence and matter they create, we must look somewhere else to find evidence of their effects. One of the places where thi s type of media archaeological work can occur is in the dump. If Paul Virilio is right that we can best describe our shifting media landscape dump registers the spee d and voracity of consumption, the transience of objects and registered. Although re cent attention to e materiality are shifting, e fields in Taiwan, in these places, too, we can trace the material consequences of the waste, that considering the material, cul tural, economic, and otherwise ogies of understand who and what share an ecosystem with the object, and extend our map of
121 In this chapter I will explore some of the material consequences of outmoded electronic devices. Specifically, I will focus on the life cycle of the microprocessor chip, course, within digital devices that have material consequences. And, as Richard Maxwell and Toby Miller argue in Greening the Media when we trace the proliferations of older, analog forms of media, we find that their influence, too, is not limited to the cultural or experiential dimensions. The newspaper, the telegraph, film, and television had and continue to have effects on laborers, the economy, and the environment (9). So, focusing on a computer processor, on the one hand, is an arbitrary choice because this kind of media archaeological work is limited only by the archive. All media objects, and for that matter all objects, are situated within networks of influence. On the other hand, the microprocessor chip is a shared point for many electronic devices, and it figures as one of the key player s in the digital upgrade path. For instance, the rapid evolution of smartphones depends on the ability of manufacturers to fit greater and greater numbers of transistors onto these silicon squares at an exponential rate. The transistors for an iPhone 5, fo r instance, were written onto the microchip using photographic lithography, painting with light. But this process can only take chip manufacturing so far. The brush stroke of this technique is too large to fit the ever increasing amount of data required by the upgrade path. For the current rate of increases in processing power t o continue, the electronics industry has been investing in extreme ultraviolet technology, which paints with a much thinner brushstroke of light. But this technology is currently muc h pricier and slower than previous methods (McGrath). The effects of this change in microchip production extend beyond
122 consumers to include financial markets, the environment, and laborers. So, although microchip production does not, in any sense, offer an exhaustive account of the material consequences of the upgrade path, it is, at the least, a place to begin taking account. Mysteries of a Microchip As I argue in Chapter 2, mystery may account, in part, for the lack of attention media scholars have paid to the components of digital technologies. As Lisa Gitelman says in her 2008 book Always Already New : Digital media inscribe too, and they do s o in what are mysterious new ways. ... I see words written on my computer screen, for instance, and I know its o perating system and other p rograms have been written by programmers, but the only related inscript ions of which I can be fully confident are the ones that come rolling out o f the attached printer, and possibly the ones that I am told were literally prin ted onto chips that have been installed somewhere inside. (19) inside the machine. This level of uncertainty might seem unnecessary for a researcher who is adept at combing through archival materials. Certainly there are resources on computer programming and microchip production that could remedy her doubt and skepticism about the nature of the microchip. On the one hand, we might read with traditional disciplinary norms. There is a saying, which now circulates on coffee mugs, t shirts, and tote bags that m ight come to mind here reminiscent of a once strict dis ciplinary isolationism that, roughly five years after her
123 that data is not found in nature but is, rather, culturally produced (4). The collection does not, however, consider how the production of big data depends also on natural resources and labor outside of the academy. Even in a book on the construction of bi g data that puts science studies into conversation with media studies, the mystery of the microchip remains. to speak with authority about computer components. There is a larger cultural tendency to explain digital circuitry as mysterious in origin. One of the most notable recent examples of this tendency has been former Canadian defense min insistence that microchips are the result of aliens that crash landed on the Earth. He said: The reality is that they (aliens) have been vi siting earth for decades and probably millennia and have contributed consi derably to our knowled ge. ... Microchips, for example, fiber optics, they are just two of the many things that allegedly and probably for real came from crashed vehicles. (Parrish) Hellyer is, of course, a rather extreme example of belief in the exceptional, extra worldly stat us of microtechnology. But if we do not look into the circulation and materiality and consequentiality intervention. In a sense, it is the microchip that furthers the digital upgrade path and makes the problem of e waste extend far beyond the personal computer and the cell The pervasiveness of electronics the insertion of microchi ps into such a wide range of systems and objects means that the types of
124 influence because it seems to be out of our field of study, we miss how this technology and its trails of influence weave through countless parts of our lives. Or, said another way, what microchips as mysteries or as the product of intergalactic intervention misses is the alien everyday. As Ian Bogost argues in Alien Phenomenology what we are missi ng is wonder, but not the type of wonder that stands back, hesitating to search for answers. The posture one takes before the alien is that of curiosity, of wonder ... g in the dirt. Th rgue, or in the galactic far reaches, or in the undiscovered ecosystems of the deepest sea and most everywhere (133) E.T. cartridges the alien is In 1965 semiconductor researcher and co founder of Intel Gordon E. Moore predicted in an article for Electronics ics is the (Moore 115), this rate has remained roughly the same since his paper was published. semiconductor power would double every eig (Grossman 144). This doubling of semiconductor power leads to a high rate of turnover of electronic devices, as the faster processors outpace and eventually render obsolete reference is often made to
125 the quickening of information through digital technologies, it is evident that speed has a This digital upgrade path moves so quickly that cell phone carriers Veriz on, T Mobile and AT&T announced in the summer of 2013 that they would be offering financing plans that allow customers to make monthly payments on their existing phones and to upgrade their devices every six to twelve months (Gryta). And when we couple Mo complete picture of the scale of e waste emerges. Recent usage figures place the U.S. near the top with regard to a number of electronic devices worldwide. The International usage place the United States second in the world, behind China, with roughly 82 million subscriptions. For television subscriptions in 2008, the U.S. ranked third behind China and India with roughly 98 mi according to a report by the International Television Data Group. And in mobile phone and India with roughly 279 m illion subscribe rs (Fig ure 4 1 ) Considering predictions that (Keller), these figures appear as particularly significant.
126 Figure 4 1. International cell phone subscribers Data from the International But it is not simply the rate at which faster microprocessors are developed that drives the turnover of electronics. We are locked into a pattern of consumption that extends far beyond our use and disposal of these particular devices. We have naturalized the upgrade path in our vehicles, fashion, furnishings, and homes. Scholars have
127 connected this rise in disposability to shifting attitudes toward waste that occurred between the 19th and 20th centuries (Lucas 6) object the Earth Engineering Center at Columbia University and Biocycle in 2008. O f that garbage, roughly 270 million tons ended up in landfills (van Haaren et al 19). And to put these figures in perspective, the EPA estimated in 2008 that municipal waste generation had more than doubled in the last fifty years (US EPA 35). So, while el ectronics are the fastest growing component in the solid waste stream (Davis), the digital upgrade path is intimately connected to older established patterns of consumption and disposal. As Tammy Boyce and Justin Lewis put it in Climate Change and the Medi a that prosperous sections of society may actually have enough objects ... is still regarded as unthinkable within the te long been complicit in this cycle of exchange. It may be worth noting, here, that not everyone agrees with the assessment that eographer Nicky Gregson and her rate with which we dispose of things today and the ra te at which things were thrown out in the past and that our tendency to preserve, catalog and keep certain objects
1 28 suggests that it is inaccurate and glib to characterize contemporary society as by seductively simple, from the process of disposal as a creative and constitutive act, a similar angle to The History of Shit While between garbage in centuries past and digital rubbish. They argue that ar chiving and ven when electronic objects are archived, what they can tell us about the past is limited by changes in compatibility. As Gabrys argues: Much of the technology in the museum or arch i ve of electronic history is inaccessible, however: ancient computer s do not function, software manuals are unreadable to all but a few, s pools of punch tape separate from decoding devices, keyboards and prin ters and peripherals have no point of attachment, and training films cannot be viewed. (15) Furthermore, and as I will explore in the following sections, electronics are difficult to repurpose and recycle because they contain hazardous materials. In other words, this garbage generated by households in the early 20th century and by households today in the early 21st century does matter, and what, in people and institutions have normali zed increasingly shorter and shorter lives of electronic devices. Closet fill and Domestic Electronics Recycling function with the rapidity that is required to keep pace today, they frequently end up on
129 shelves, in drawers, in closets. In fact, high tech electronics stashed in private basements and closets that some recycling ere is no recent comprehensive data on the amount closet fill stockpiled in U.S. homes and offices (Saphores et al 3324), but a 2009 study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, estimated that each U.S. home has roughly 4 small ( less than 10 pounds) and 2.4 large e waste items stockpiled (Saphores et al 3323). The researchers estimated that there are more than 700 million e waste items stored in homes, a figure electronic items such as refrigerators or ovens (3330). When consumers do choose to recycle their electronics, most cities do not accept e waste through curbside collection, and these items must be taken to local collection centers or retailers that offe r electronics recycling bins. In 2012, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries estimated that between three and four million tons of electronics were processed in the U.S. in 2011 (40). After these items have been demanufactured at local facilities, di fferent components such as CRTs often must be shipped to other states that have facilities certified to dismantle hazardous components. Furthermore, federal, state, and county pri industrialized country in which inmates are forced to process e waste (254). One of the ess. Inmates at the penitentiary in Atwater, California, recycle
130 smashing leaded glass in cathode ray tubes unnecessarily exposed [these] workers to risk of toxic contam lead and cadmium levels in the air at Atwater far exceeded the permissible exposure recycling certificatio n in 2011 and are now OSHA certified, this only came after a 2010 Office of the Inspector General investigation found that UNICOR failed to protect Grossman argues in Hi gh Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxins and Human Health the use of prisoners who are paid less than one dollar a day to recycle (249). Exporting Waste Waste figur es centrally to the dystopian, not too distant future of David Foster Infinite Jest In the novel, garbage bags, cans, dumpsters, and kitchen Johnny Gently was e hose down our chemically troubled streets and ... to rid the American psychosphere of the unpleasant debris of a throw away past... to rid of the toxic effluvia choking our highways and littering our byways and grungeing up o ur sunsets and cruddying those harbors (382). One of President Even time has become the wasted byproduct of international brands through the policy of subsidized years The Year of the Whopper, The Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad, The Year of Glad, and the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment, and both of these last two certainly carry additional and more readily obvious connotations.
131 But perhaps the stark est images of waste in the novel arise through the U.S. and Displacement Company catapults municipal garbage from Boston across the newly ht can be heard from the there's the thud and sprong of an E.W.D. transnational catapult off way below to their left and then the high keen sound of a waste displacement projectile (217). And near by in Boston giant fans push clouds of air pollution back across the Canadian border, also referred to as the Concavity or Convexity, depending on perspective, American or Canadian, respectively: giant protective ATHSCME fans atop the huge ly convex protect ive walls of anodized Lucite hold off the drooling and piss colored bank of teratogenic Concavity clouds and move the bank well back, north, away, jaggedly, over your protected head. (93) Here, these exaggerated waste displacement tactics speak of the stat e of American consumerism in this fictional future, the level of hostilities between the two nations, and the attitudes of an out of sight and out of mind society. These descriptions work on a comic level, of course, but like much of Infinite Jest serious social critique comes cloaked in the absurd. In Infinite Jest the displaced waste moves in ways that are large, loud, immediate, annoying. The waste cannot be ignored, at least not while it is in transit. The non fiction, contemporary analog for this inte rnational system of waste displacement, on the other hand, often operates out of public sight, using illegal countries around the world. When electronics are recycled th ere is no federal legislation in the United States against the exportation of e waste to countries that illegally import this waste in order to
132 mine the discarded items for materials that are of value (Ogunseitan et. al 670). The Basel Action Network and G reenpeace have worked to draw attention to how this problem is affecting the global third world where workers often disassemble electronics by hand, exposing themselves to dangerous chemicals. In Guiyu, China, which CNN waste collection channels. According to a 2012 United Nations University report on e recycling focuses on extracting re use a nd scrap values from e waste without environmental protection measures, emissions controls or measures to protect the e waste processing in China, the report concl serious damage to local environments and the health of workers in such locations as groundwater has, since the mid 1990s, been poisoned by th e runoff from electronics recycling and must now have water trucked in (Grossman 185). Grossman describes In small outdoor work areas, workers sit in f ront of small braziers where circuit boards containin g plastics and somet imes fiberglass, impregnated with chemicals and metals, are melted do wn. When the boards are soft and liquid, the solder and chips are plucked f rom the toxic soup. The lead based solder is collected for metals dea lers, and the microchip s are transferred to another area of Guiyu for furth er processing. There, beside a river, chips are bathed in open buckets and barrels of acid to extract the gold in an ages r mixture of pure nitric and hydrochloric acids to precipitate the gold out of the plastic and other metals. Puffs of caustic steam gas likely to contain chlorine and sulfur dioxide rise from the liqu has been reclaimed, the waste liqui ds pure acids and met als are routinely dumped in the river. (Grossman 187)
133 The policies surrounding the disposal of this waste worldwide require compliance by all nations in order to be truly effective. One of these policies is the Basel Convention, an international treaty th at was written when: [i]n the late 1980s, a tightening of e nvironmental regulations in industrialized countries led to a dramatic r ise in the cost of hazardous waste disposal. Searching for cheaper ways to ing hazardous waste to developing countries and to Eastern Europe. When this activity was revealed, internatio nal outrage led to the drafting and adoption of the Basel Conve ntion. (Origins of the Basel Convention) of the 175 countries that have signed the agreement, the United States is one of three along with Haiti and Afghanistan that has not ratified the treaty. Without ratification, the U.S. is not obligated to report e waste statistics. On America Recycles Day in November 2010, President Obama created the Interagency Task Force on Electronics Stewardship. In 2011, the group released its of e waste and improve safe handling of generated 2.4 million tons of e waste in 2010, and, as of 2005, U.S. recyclers were exporting 74% of their e waste (24). The g roup stopped short, however, of recommending the end of e important role in reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling of used electronics, creating environmental, economic, and social benefits, including brid ging the digital divide by providing access to information technology products to many people in developing ss top (8) a number of have passed laws to regulate the flow and handling of e waste. The
134 authors suggested that, until the government passes e waste standards, consumers must take responsibility for the future of their electronic product s (12). According to Josh Lepawsky and Chris McNabb who conducted a cartographic study of international flows of e waste, the task of tracing where waste travels is complicated by the lack of a set definition of what is and what is not e waste and by the international trade in e that the trade of electronic waste is not linear. There is not a fixed point at which the waste ends up; it continues to circulate and often ends up in other products (Lepawsky and McNabb 191). And although their findings did not contradict the dominant narrative of e waste moving from developed to developing nations, they did find a subst antial amount of e waste travels between developing nations (191), an occurrence that the waste between developing nations such as India, China, and Kenya (179). Furthermo re, it is inaccurate to portray e waste processing in Guiyu as only a result of imports from developed nations; much of the e waste processed in the region is a result of domestic imports (Wang et al 10). Although China banned the import of e waste in 2000 volumes of imported e waste and second al 13). A 2013 United Nations University report on e waste in China concluded that much of the waste flows into the country through back channels as opposed to t hrough scrap shipments and transit through Hong Kong and Vietnam (Wang et al 15).
135 In order to better keep track of the flows of waste on both a domestic and international technology to everything from electronics to plastics. In 2009 researchers at MIT put this microtechnology to the test in their TrashTrack project. TrashTrack required 500 reporting location sensors Wolf, and Ratti 151). Although the researchers considered using visual tracking and RFID tracking, they way of mapping the flows of e waste in the future (158). While the researchers do call attention to the challenges of tracking e waste and the necessity of finding more effective methods of data collection, their proposal suggests that even when we understand electronic waste as a problem, microprocessors are offered up as the solution. As I will explore in the next section, microchips as an answer to end of life concerns about devices that were developed around and made obsolescent by the implemented on a scale large enough to track the waste that is now unaccounted for by l Convention, e waste only gives us a late and partial picture of the influence of microprocessors on our lifeworld. Manufacturing Waste Waste is not just created through the disposal of devices that operate using microchips. The fabrication of these chips and the fabrication of the printed circuit boards on which they will eventually reside both have significant environmental impacts. According to Eric D. Williams, an environmental researcher who has written extensively semiconductor industry uses hundreds, even
136 microchips requires substantial amounts of energy and natural resources including water and silicon (2). As Grossman writes: one squ are centimeter of finished sili con wafer weighs about 0.16 grams or about half the weight of a humming bird egg, which is about the size of a small jelly bean (but considerably ligh ter). .... making this small and incredibly delicate item requires about twe nty liters of water. (42) plant, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) uses millions of gallons of ultra pure water a day to produce its chips. And the plant can only expect business to increase. Since 2011, TSMC has partnered with Apple to produce chips for the next generation of iPads and iPhones. Although it took several years for the company to nnounced that it would be purchasing chips from the plant beginning in 2014 (Lessin et al). And while TSMC has offered classes in water recycling to other businesses in the area and the plant recycles some of its own wastewater, the sustainability of this is questionable, especially in a region that is experiencing ongoing drought conditions The emissions fro m the plants that produce microchips in developing nations are often not monitored (Williams 3), but there have been recorded cases of water contamination from these plants. And the workers who produce the chips are at a greater risk for health complicatio ns. The chemical workers are exposed to in
137 that the women in the plants have a higher rate of miscarriage than the general population. And former workers at IBM and National Semiconducter have filed lawsuits alleging that they experienced higher rates of birth defects and cancers (Williams 4). While goods powered by microchips are lauded for their abilities to improve the quality of our health we now have e doctors, heart and blood sugar monitoring iPhone this focus y elides those whose health has suffered from the manufacturing of these goods. And, as more manufacturing of microchips those workers, moving them into a place that is not a ccounted for. The Office of Budget control the design of their devices, but do not fabricate or case, companies such as Samsung, and now TSMC, that manufacture the microprocessors and the parts are assembled at locations such as the Foxconn plant in China. Economists have argued that reclassifying these companies from t he wholesale employment figures (Bernard 1). But regardless of where these domestic workers are counted, the designation of an Apple product, for instance, as a factoryless good, speaks to the degree to which a separation exists between the widespread use of microprocessors and our understanding and willingness to take account of the consequences these factories have for workers and the environment.
138 Semiconductors could be reused, as some researchers have suggested, and this would significantly affect how much energy a device uses over its lifetime because the manufacturing energy outweighs the energy that it takes to power a device, or what is ization cost (Oliver et al 58). However, this type of reuse would require changes to how hardware and software is configured (Oliver et al 62). In the final section of her book, Grossman explores some changing practices in recycling and manufacturing, and she asks that readers become more attentive to the material consequences of these devices. While it is difficult to argue with her call for changes in design to make devices more universally compatible and changes in marketing to raise consumer awareness a bout recycling options, I am more skeptical than Grossman that we could ever completely avoid upgrading our computers by their own electronic devices by manually upgrading comp onents have found, it is not simply the processor that is an issue. The memory and storage must also often be (268). Motherboards, for example, may only be able to all ow for a certain number of upgrades. production, I would agree with Grossman that processors are central to the systems of waste generated by electronic devices, but I would argue that if we are going to consider manufacturing and systems of waste, then we cannot ignore the software side. And while it seems that software has often been the subject media studies at the expense of a consideration of material consequences of the hardwa re, my argument is
139 not that we should study software at the expense of the hardware. Rather, on both a theoretical and a practical level, it is impossible to separate the two. As Kittler argues in Literature, Media, Information Systems some level the software is entirely dependent upon and bound up in the hardware of a Digital Rubbish expanding his ogramming matter, software becomes tied to matter; it constitutes a distinct articulation of material processes. ... There is no software because there is nothing soft or absent (62). On the one hand, software might lend itself to cultural critiq ue and studies of how Software Takes Command in which he all run on software ... any investigation of code, software architectu res, or interfaces is only valuable if it helps us to understand how these technologies are reshaping software that consider its consequences for the hardware and for t he systems of influence through which the hardware is produced. Code that is less than lean, either from rushing a product to market or from the bloat that results when programmers must s, needlessly slows processing time and only hastens the upgrade path. Closer, Alone, and Connected On the one hand, the lifecycle of a microchip might seem to be only a speeding up of previous processes of disposal, of the perceived forward movement fur thered by
140 further and elide the consequences of the digital upgrade path, the demand fo r the new and the disposal of the old are not unique to electronic forms of media. As Lewis and Boyce argue in Climate Change and the Media present advertising industry, the idea that we should consume less of anything is an Or, as Walter Benjamin argues in Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction his sense that we desire to get closer and closer to objects, it is possible to see how our current media landscape of smartphones and tablets was, in a sense, anticipated in his vision se range influenced how we write about the powers of devices today. While much of early writing he powers of computer based communication to network us, make us interact, bring us closer together, there is an increasing sense, today, that we have gotten so close to our tiny screens that now we are alone with our devices. As I noted at the beginning o 2013 editorial for The New York Times sentiments in Alone Together address he delivered at Middlebury College, describes his ambivalence at seeing a young girl on a bench in New York crying: Technology celebrates connectedness, but encourages retreat. The ake me avoid the human connection, but it did make
141 ignoring her easier in that moment, and more likely, by comfortably encouraging me to forget my choic e to do so. My daily use of technological communication has been shaping me into someone more likely to forget others. around us who are also using hand held digital devices. Foer and Turkle both seem to be saying that it is possible to be disconnected from these others, and i f we do, we are alone. devices only further this connection we have to others. This is not a connection newly achieved through Facebook, text messaging or email; it is a conne ction through global resources and the laborers who work for international corporations. This difference between being separated from or connected to others depends on perspective, on the angle of the lens we choose to employ. It depends on whether or not certain ways of being connected matter to us. Comedian Louis C.K. characterizes this oscillation we experience between selfish, solipsistic thinking and our willingness to consider the Everybody has a co mpetition in their br ain of good thoughts and bad thoughts, hopefully the good thoughts win. Fo r me, I always have both. I he thing I believe, and then this th and then this course, but maybe. moving from the somewhat commonplace and mundane to increasingly serious ar people. You can do anything.
142 takes his iPhone out of his pocket. Even today, how do we have this amazing microtechnology? Because the they j ump off the ... roof because nightmare in there. You really ha ve a choice. You could have candles and horses and be a little kinder to each other or let someone suffer immeasurably far away just so you can leave a mean comment on Youtube. The Turkle and Foer are correct. We have forgotten others while we have satisfied this u rge to get closer and closer to our screens. But maybe the others we have forgotten are the nonhumans and the humans that are influenced, moved, changed, and put into service by, but certainly not left alone by our reliance on digital technology. Moving Fo rward and Glancing Backward Scholars in the humanities are beginning to turn their attention to electronic waste. In Technological Ecologies and Sustainability editors Danielle Nicole DeVoss, Heidi McKee and Richard Selfe devote the final section of thei r collection to a The editors describe e introduction to this section of the book, she argues that our discussions of sustainability should never be limited to ways to sustain scholarship alone. Rather, stel say in their chapter of this
143 items] are picked apart by hand, exposing impoverished wo rkers to the hazardous (2). What is remarkable about this chapter goes beyond its content, which is similar in er appears in a recent collection with other well known scholars in rhetoric and composition suggests a growing recognition within the discipline that e sustainability But raising these issue s within the humanities is only half of the battle. Assuming e waste and the sustainability of digital technologies are subjects that will continue to gain traction within the liberal arts, the task becomes how to create more sustainable practices of schol arship. In the following chapter, I will explore how artists and tactical media practitioners have approached the problem of e waste. I argue that it is this type Profanations 86 ) of an apparatus, in part, that can help us develop modes of scholarship that are more critically responsive to the electronic devices we use to produce our work. In other words, as scholars we are already bound up with the digital upgrade path, and this interrelation only grows stronger as the digital hu manities and big data grows in popularity. But simply calling for new methods risks falling into the neophilic trap that all we need to fix the current problem is newer and newer objects. Rather, I argue that we already have critical approaches that can be applied to electronic sustainability. Just as, after Latour and others, we have begun to approach science as constructed, we need to approach the digital upgrade path as created, in part, through our own language. Although some have argued that objects ha
144 (Bennet t 241 ) Objects are influential actants that do not exist solely as linguistic constructions. On the other hand, how we write objects has afforded them part of their desi matter itself, in part through directing attention to what should matter. To take one example of how studying the language of the upgrade path changes these possibilities for action, we can look at how language changes something as seemingly Wall Street Journal article about microchip manufacturin g, writer Shara Tibken begins by describing the challenges thing that might not be able to keep pace known as founder Gordon Moore it is the agency ceded to other well accepted scientific principles the article. This time she places the semiconductor researchers in control investments to date show the industry is placing most of its bets on EUV as a contender
145 about financial markets, companies f the upgrade path becomes clear er our acceptance and belief that this rate of technological turnover would continue is what has made it so. The lang uage, here, matters. Either we are helpless to push back against the rapid obsolescence of electronic devices, or what has caused this rapid obsolescence of electronic devices has been, in part, how we have written about and bought into technological chang e. take as their subjects the cast aside devices of the upgrade path, we need archaeological accounts of the field o f media studies itself. Situating this backward objects of study have circulated within networks of influence figures media scholars as active participants in the shaping of o we find is that media objects leave behind them trails of toxic waste and sickened workers, an archaeological account of our own field positions us to become accountable for some of the ways we have furthere d these consequences. watches as the detritus of the past accumulates. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his w ings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he see s one single catastrophe that keeps piling ruin upon ruin and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole wh at has b een smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no lo nger close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress. (257 8)
146 piles of broken, outmoded computers rise skyward. As scholars have lauded digital but, unlike the angel of history, our eyes were turned elsewhere. When we turn toward electronic waste, what we might look for is the potenti al within these artifacts. They possess a mysterious quality not because they speak to us of a different galaxy and alien life but because they are, as Bogost argues, the aliens among us, of our own creation. Looking at waste with this type of wonder is th e starting point for imagining different relations to waste.
147 CHAPTER 5 PUTTING WASTE TO WORK: MEDIA ARCHAEOLOGY AS PROFANATION AND PUNK garbage has to be the poem of our time because garbage is spiritual, believable enough to get our attention, getting in the way, piling up, stinking, turning brooks brownish and creamy white: what else deflects us from the errors of our illusionary ways, not a temptation to trashlessness, that is too far off, and, anyway, unimaginable, unrealistic. A.R. Ammons Garbage presence of trash, the belief that trash exists, and eventual changes in our behavior. Because t he trash stinks, because the trash obstructs our paths, it gets our attention. But the electronic trash of the upgrade path does not often get in our way. That is, it I disassemble and assemble electronic devices we have fewer chances to see certain material consequences of the digital upgrade path. These workers are not in our classrooms o r in our neighborhoods. When their working conditions are poor, there are no union organized strikes to catch our attention on the evening news. When electronic trash is exported to cities such as Guiyu, China, this e waste certainly is not in my way as mu ch as it is in the way of the laborers who must process it by hand. digital upgrade p ath are less visible to us because of geography and, as I argue in
148 Chapter 1, because of a long standing tendency to write about these devices as if they were purely characterized by experiential and immaterial qualities, then we need to find ways to make advance of digital technology? Surely not. This approach, as Ammons says, would be approach is n eeded, and changing our terminology is only the beginning. The extent of our academic complicity extends beyond the language we have used to describe digital devices; it includes our methodologies when writing about the digital, the devices we use to teach our own classes, and our willingness to further, without voicing hesitation, And the hour is getting late. As Richard Lanham said in his 1995 book The Electronic Word lution on the textbook is might sound a bit like cyberbole, the exaggerated language of the digital that Steve Woolgar argued was prevalent during the early 1990s (Woo lgar 9). And, furthermore, it is the type of rewriting of the history of the book that Lanham enacts he argues that that, as I argue in Chapter 1, helped to further the false s ense that there should be a sharp break is, right about the revolution of the textbook. As Reema Kharis said recently, writing for NPR: At the forefront of the digital mo vement if i that are academic libraries. In 2010, th e engineering and technology library at the University of Texas, San Antonio p runed all of its print materials for
149 e books and e journals. And just last year, Stanford Uni versity ditched bookshelves for screens. secondary, middle, and elementary schools across the country as well. As districts implement these changes, the shifts are framed within narratives of progress lighter backpacks, innovative teaching methods, positive transitions into the 21st century. Rarely are the negative implications of these changes discussed the recurring costs for schools, the limits of cross platform compatibility of books, the rapid obsolescence of the devices, and all the material consequences that are associated with production and disposal of e readers. Yet, even if we attempt to bracket, here, the implications these devices have for workers and resources on a global scale, digital devices have serious financial implications for the academy. As David Debolt noted in an article for The Chronicle even in 2008, colleges were stru Or, as Neil Postman said: [T]he benefits and deficits of a new technology are not distributed equally. There are, as it were, winners and losers. It i s both puzzling and poignant that on many occasions the loser s, out of ignorance, have actually cheered the winners, and some still do. (9) are so closely tied with the future of the book and the future of printing have cheered the s ame shifts that have jeopardized their livelihoods. For the most part, it seems digital technology has been a some voices that have risen against the uncritical acceptance of the conceits of t he upgrade path, as Nicholas Carr and Sherry Turkle recently have. However, their work, as I argued in the previous chapters, primarily considers the implications these
150 technologies have for our experiences. And yet there is an older tradition of critical approaches to technology that could, on one hand traced at least back to Plato. With regard to electronic technological criticism, it is possible to argue that this tradition was founded, in part at least, by Marshal McLuhan and furthered by his pupils suc h as Neil Postman, who started the media ecology association. Roughly twenty years ago, in Technopoly Postman wrote about this unwillingness to criticize technological change we are currently surrounded by throngs of zealous Theuths, one eyed prophets who see only what new technologies can do and are incapable of imagining what they will undo what they will help us do. As I argued in the previous two chapters, maybe we are blinded by m ystery. In this model, digital technology belongs to a high priesthood, its secrets shrouded from the unworthy. Maybe, on the other hand, we are working so furiously to stay up to date with technological change that it now seems too challenging to critical ly approach our own use of these devices. We do not want to be seen as the technophobes. Our jobs may even seem to depend on enthusiastically adopting the newest software and hardware. But this point is over simplified. The choice is not between ludditic denial of technological change and cheering at the adoption of every new seemingly mandatory upgrade. Rather, there is a third choice: to see beyond the current technological mandates from industry and from our institutions and to approach these mandates from a critical position. This approach, which I argue is the rightful place of media archaeological scholarship, recognizes that, as Lanham predicted, a revolution is afoot. ion
151 to this media revolution does require a historical perspective, the type of scholarship that Parikka says media archaeologists have been producing logy has (2). But the work that is needed to address the material consequences of the upgrade path is not simply the juxtaposition or contextualization of the old wit hin the new. Rather, this type of media archaeological work requires that we understand the situated place of media objects within networks of influence that extend beyond the objects themselves. Media archaeological work, then, must have practical applica tions. Within the university, when we are faced with new technological mandates, it is the responsibility, in part, of the media archaeologist to trace these mandates forward. Who else is uniquely ely end up in the trash? Who will ask what practices we can change now? These practices most certainly also have to do with understanding the mysterious hardware and software of digital technology and with proposing changes toward sustainability. It is hum anities scholars who are best positioned to do this type of critical work, and digital humanities, in its concern with quantifying literature and distant reading and generating statistical visualizations has not begun to fully exercise the potential of wha t it means for scholars in the humanities to have a greater understanding of digital devices. And, similar to the way that Latour and Woolgar, in 1979, looked at the construction of scientific facts in the laboratory, scholarship is needed that understa nds the digital upgrade path in the academy not as natural or purely positive change but rather as constructed and as with consequences that are unevenly distributed. This
152 work, among digital humanities scholars, has already begun, to a degree, with those who are part of the #TransformDH movement. Their work considers how digital technologies disproportionately benefit some and disempower others based on race, gender, and class. Although these scholars are actively working to counter what I would characteri ze as the overly optimistic tone of digital humanities, the scope of their inquiries has yet to include many of the other material consequences of technological change. Historically situated, media archaeological criticism, is the necessary complement to s What is Media Archaeology? Parikka takes up the question of some of these material waste and defines what she is doing as human te archaeology perhaps something not so explicitly present before ... but which should clearly be part of the new temporal In our enthusiasm, for whatever reasons, for the new we have pushed aside certain material consequences of technological change. Yet, old new media remain. And, as I argued in Chapter 4, the material consequences of these devices can be me asured on an international scale. Sometimes, it is when devices break that overlooked aspects of their materiality become apparent to us. It is then that devices appear to us not simply as interfaces but as machines with components. When something does not function, when it is out of context, out of place, we can see it
153 at e waste offe potential. In other words, we need to look at trash, or, rather, we need to look differently at trash. As I argued at the end of Chapter 4, seeing the trash differently might be akin to Ian B born out of prolonging the gaze, focusing on the object not simply as a tool in the service of doing something but rather as a thing full of potential. Although as Brown, Harm an, Bennett and others have noted that when things are broken we can see them differently, here I am interested in asking how we can achieve a higher degree of agency in this process, not waiting for electronic objects to break, but by taking them apart an d repurposing and reassembling the components in ways that not only prolong the gaze but recontextualize electronic devices that have not been hacked this way. In other words, in Vibrant Matter Bennett describes the morning that she found items on a Balti one dense mat of oak pollen one unblemished dead rat one white plastic bottle cap one smooth stick of wood. (4) This list of th ese discarded items Bennett presents in the first pages of Vibrant Matter is formatted how it appears above, as verse. It is possible to imagine this passage from invoke poetry on the side of I 95. Bennett said that she watched these items undergo a transformation, and aft er this transformation, the objects appeared to her as imbued
154 with vitality. These radically poetic experiences happened by chance. Maybe it is by capturing and dismantling discarded and obsolete electronic items from the rubbish heap, that we can harness the surprise and shock of the chance encounter with waste. E waste as Art and Art as Resistance Increasingly, artists and media practitioners are considering the question of e waste. Through sculptures, portraits, installments, films and other works, the digital devices that these artists repurpose move from hidden backspaces of closets and attics to spaces of heightened looking such as the museum and the gallery. Like Ammons and y the poetry and the vitality, the persistent materiality, of electronic trash. Some of these artists are particularly concerned with the dual dynamic of concealment and persistence that characterize electronic trash. As Lisa Parks describes in an article about international practices of electronics salvaging, Ivo Dekovic, a Croatian sculptor and experimental videographer, felt so strongly that being out of sight was an essential characteristic of outdated electronics that he constructed an installation on the bottom of the Adriatic Sea. Dekovic buried televisions in concrete and sank the sculptures in the ocean. He periodically returned to the installation to monitor within Not only does Parks claim that objects, even when they are discarded, continue to exert inf (34). Here, to side with the trash is to make a gesture of refusal. Parks considers
155 structure d obsolescence, but she argues that we should see this process not only as one of destruction of one type of use value but also as a process of creation. Structured residu concealment that often works against this sort of creative reuse that Dekovic performs c losed doors. There is, in fact, a long history of concealing or hiding waste in urban and rural spaces that intersects with the history of class and racial politics in the United es trash but is to call attention to these practices of concealment and to show how, despite this concealment, waste remains. that trash has the ability to radically transform th ose who encounter it. She considers refusal to disappear causes a disturbance that h technologies of governance, faith in infrastructure to disappear is not by chance Furthermore, following Michael Taussig, Hawkins argues that what shocks us about the ). We have been continually and actively, albeit unconsciously, pushing waste not only out of our homes and public spaces but also out
156 In other words, when we encounter waste, Hawkins argues that we realize that we, in a sense, knew about the waste already. It is not simply that I now know there is waste in Guiyu, China, or that the production and assembly of electronic device s affects workers, natural resources, and international economies. Rather, Hawkins suggests that I already had a sense of these material consequences of electronic waste, but that I had been actively pushing them aside. When I encounter this waste, when it breaks through my attempt to forget that it exists and that I have helped to create it, this encounter changes me. In her book, The Ethics of Waste, Hawkins further explores this potential of waste to act as a site of micropolitical change. For instance, in her description of new movements and habits as the body becomes open to waste. ... [it] entangle[s] us in new relations and bodily practices that could be the first smal l step toward a more does suggest that the micropractices involved in recycling have potential to transform te habits and explains that we want to forget about waste because it reminds us of our own mortality (12), and she argues that our current senses of who we are depend o n seeing ourselves as separate from waste (35). Although Hawkins does not consider the artistic repurposing of trash specifically, her argument that trash, through its potential to disturb and change our habits can be transformative, might be applied to bo th theorists and
157 her convinced of the vibrant nature of objects, and artists like Dekovic have an interest in repurposing electronic objects in ways that not only cha nge how we see the objects but in ways also might change how we see ourselves. When we consider refuse as politically powerful, and to follow Michael distinction tha t Thierry Bardini makes between junk and trash in Junkware Bardini says: Junk is one step before garbage, its quasi necessary fa te. Junk is garbage ready to happen, trash in the making. On the pavement, junk meets its fate: garbage or garage sale. Junk c omes in stacks, piles, drawers, and shelves. Junk lies in the marginal living spaces of the house, garages attics and cellars. You forget about it, and it somehow grows anarchically. Junk rusts, fades, decays. (xxvi) Bardini goes on to suggest that we are labor force, disposable and recyclable consumers, disposable and recyclable biology, specifically junk DNA, in hopes do have lasting consequences. So, we are left with ever increasing amounts of junk, junk, I would argue, is lar ge enough to encompass not only molecular biology, consumers, the labor force, and spectators, but, importantly, it is broad enough to encompass electronic objects that already would seem to have become garbage. They,
158 two ways. Everything, including garbage, could possibly be seen as junk. Secondly, as junk, these objects have potential. By becoming junk again, these discarded electronic objects are positioned to b e reused, to be put to a new use. So, perhaps one way to change the fate of obsolete electronic objects is to find ways to see these objects as junk rather than waste. Junk, conceptually, has both power and potentiality that our concepts of trash and waste often seem to lack. The liminal position of junk can call attention to the ways that what is discarded continues to travel, and perhaps the concept of junk also suggests the political possibilities that Hawkins envisions for waste. Recently, and in a si milar mode as Dekovic, a number of artists have taken discarded objects and treated them as junk, as items with the potential to help us look at the digital upgrade path differently. In her 2010 documentary Waste Land Lucy Walker followed Brazilian photog project, which presents the way that these often forgotten materials shape the lives of these workers, directly addresses the question of the visibility of systems of waste. W aste Land). His portraits of these workers gesture toward the poses of subjects in classical paintings the workers appear elegant, poised, powerful, and Muniz has created composite settings for each of these subjects, using his pieces of garbage from Jardi m Gramacho to outline large reproductions of their figures with bottle caps, flip flops, hats, tires, cans, and many other discarded items. He then photographs the part photo reproduction, part garbage collage assemblage. The clean
159 lined sepia toned bodies of the scavengers seem to triumphantly rise from the noisy and objects, e waste has been the subject of some of his compositions, and his work on waste practices, as a whole, calls attention to the international disparities between first world consumption and third world disposal. waste, sculptor Nick Gentry, a multi media artist from the UK, presents the human not only in relation to and with waste but as composed of specifically electronic waste. Gentry said in an article for Creative Crossing e entirely of old computer parts. I started to look at floppy disks and the importance that they have had are constructed using outmoded media devices such as floppy di scs and VHS tapes. His art asks not only that viewers consider these technologies with which we have, for s work, what is discarded remains, but through assembling junk into human portraits, Gentry asks that we consider how we are the waste we create. waste problem, the Royal Society of Arts recently construc ted a sculpture they named WEE Man that was nearly twenty three feet tall that weighed some 6,600 pounds, dimensions that were supposed to represent the amount of e waste one British citizen disposes of in a lifetime. While ace on electronic waste, WEE Man dramatizes the size
160 constituted by the trash waste corpuses far exceed what m ight seem like a couple of discarded cell phones here and a few tube televisions there. And Steven Rodrig, an artist from New Jersey, colored printed circuit boards to create sculptures of organic creatures such as spiders, c acti, flowers, sea turtles, dragonflies and consideration to use computer circuitry to co mplicate how we envision life more broadly, tying the fate of these computer components not only to a human future but also to the futures of other species. transporting materials from the trash heap to the museum. As Lea Vergine says in her introduction to From Junk to Art the book that accompanied the The Museum of materials ... could be just as effective as valuable, time honored materials in creating 1). Art takes a different type of looking, a more prolonged attention to composition, and this act of looking is pr emised on engaging with something that has been created by someone. I am not suggesting this type of art is a viable solution for all of the e waste created by the upgrade path. Rather, I would argue that artistic repurposing suggests one way to push back against our active desire not to know and that it suggests an attitude toward waste that can inform our methodologies as we write
161 about digital objects. Just as these artists have taken what has been discarded and moved it into different spaces, we need me thodologies that take what is pushed aside and assembles it in such a way that it resists our desire not to know. An Assembly as Resistance Furthermore, I argue that these types of artistic practices are not simply reuse or appropriation. Rather, these ar tists have taken objects out of their conventional and only make use of the materials in new ways but, importantly, in ways that challenge and resist the logic of the upgr of e waste in art is resistant and provocative. Not only have these discarded, deconstructed, and n ow reconstructed objects not been made to disappear from our components in our own lives differently. To briefly return to my discussion from Chapter 4 of the broken hammer, with artistic repurposing of e waste, too, we become aware of qualities of an object that were previously not visible. But the difference between this type of design and the broken hammer, is the role of intentionality. With art that is created fro not simply waited for something to break or fail. Rather, the objects have been disassembled and reassembled in ways that not only suggest they are things made and things made o ut of materials, but also they have been reassembled in ways t hat make them work differently, in ways that make them take on new rhetorical lives. One way to understand the acts that these artists perform might be as what Giorgio Agamben calls profanation And, although Agamben, in his discussion of
162 concept useful for useful for thinking about these artworks that capitalized on discarded electronic objects. Agamben describe s profanation as: freeing a behavior from its genetic inscription w ithin a given sphere ... The free behavior still reproduces and mimics the forms of the activit y from which it has been emancipated, but, in empt ying them of their sense and of any obligato ry relationship to an end, it opens them up and makes them available for a new use. ( Profanations 86) So, to use his formulation, e waste artworks still resemble the spheres from which they were born. Part of the way these works function is that it is stil l possible to look at, for rofanation, then, is more forceful, more resistant, than appropriation or reuse. Profanation requires both a break and a continued relationship of belonging. The newly assembled object is freed to do different work but, at the same time, it remains in conv ersation with the sphere from which it came. It is this breaking and yet belonging that allows us to not only see the newly assembled object but also to take what we have now see and apply it backward to see the sphere from which the object came differentl y. profane. I n What is an Apparatus? their traditional predecessors in a way that renders any attempt to profane them particularly more difficult to profane is the cell phone. whatever the intensity of the desire that has driven him cannot acqu ire a
163 new subjectivity, but only a number through which he can, eventually, be controlled. (21) So, perhaps it is not that modern apparatuses are simply more difficult to profane because of their components. They are more difficult to profane, in part, be cause the who are driven by desire after hearing the siren song of a given apparatus are trapped. Are we trapped by the digital upgrade path, and, if so, how do we account for artists like Gentry, Muniz and Rodrig? And in this scenario in which some of us have been captured, are these artists the prisoners who have broken free and returned to the cave to help their fellow inmates? To contextualize and to better understand t history of artists who repurpose junk. Or, as Willi am Rathje and Cullen Murphy say in the preface to Rubbish! bage will surely thrive as long as garbage them to, in some cases, resist this type of capture that Agamben describes. This is one way, I would argue, to read Bolter and Gr as a design practice that, in part, profanes. The logic of hypermediacy offers a way to work toward seeing the old in the new, to recognizing the traces of production and to make them visible. Hypermediated design allows us to read against the grain or, in Image, Music, Text the he grain might, on the one hand, seem to suggest that he held a technophobic and anthropocentric view of media change over time. Indeed
164 playing record, there seems to be a flattening out of technique ... the various manners of playing are all flattened out into perfection of the grain as the trace of labor and production within any artwork. In this formulation, the grain is not simply the trace of the human, but the trace of a wider range of with Bolter and Gru derides. This process is achieved through erasure of the any hint that the object is a thing made. Hypermediacy, on the other hand, works toward revealing the grain through resisting the erasure and elision of the traces of production. The seams show, not simply because something has broken, but because the objects have been designed with the seams showing. In other words although Agamben suggests that it is more difficult to profane waste within a longer history of hypermediacy and resistance, then the task may seem less daunting. Perhaps, as Agamben argues, it another sense, these artists are using different materials but similar methods to a long line of designers, writers, and musicians who have worked toward hypermediacy and profanation. Conn ecting these contemporary e waste artists to this longer history suggests ways to read for alternative media archaeologies that not only put the new and the old into conversation but also suggest methods for intervention into future practices.
165 In their di scussion of hypermediacy, Bolter and Grusin suggest that the design of magazines like Wired and Mondo 2000 showcase the logic of hypermediacy. While I do not disagree with this claim, I would point toward an earlier example in the print archive that has st rong connections to profanation, the grain, and hypermediacy. The emergence of the punk rock zine in the mid 1970s suggests a parallel for thinking about the contemporary resistance that these artists who work with discarded electronics perform through the ir designs, what it means to make the seams show in a media object, and a way to situate media archaeology within a wider scope of punk practices. A connection between steam punk and media archaeology has already been suggested by Parikka in What is Media Archaeology? agree with Parikka that the combination of old and new technologies that the steam punk aesthetic accomplishes does suggest a parallel for media archaeological practices, I argue for connecting media archaeology to a longer history of punk. So, on the one hand, I have included thi s condensed overview of my previous research into the first punk rock zine as an example of media archaeology that focuses on emergences. But, here, I am interested in emergences not simply as a way of complicating the divide between old and new media, but also as a way to historically situate resistant practices today. In other words, I would argue that there is profanation at work both in the artistic assemblies of e waste and in the creation of punk rock zines in the 1970s, and by putting these practices side by side we might be able to construct
166 a trajectory of resistant creation that takes advantage of the available means of production, treating what is at hand as junk that can be put to new uses. On the other hand, the type of media archaeological wor k that I claim is necessary in the face of the furious speed of the upgrade path could benefit from a punk aesthetic to aggressively resist. Through becoming punk, media archaeology more clearly emerges as not only a historical and archival field but as a field that performs readings of media objects that go against the grain by reading for the grain. In the following section, I consider what the emergence of the first punk rock zine in 1976 might suggest about resistant creative practices, practices that p rofane not simply by creating something new but by creating something that calls into question the domain from which it came. I have included the brief example below because, as Parikka suggests, there are parallels between contemporary punk culture, for h im steam punk culture, and the work of media archaeologists. But I would extend this conversation further and call for a media archaeology that is critical, resistant, and that takes the cast aside junk of the upgrade path as its subject matter. This media archaeology would not simply exhibit similarities to some branches of punk culture, such as steam punk, but rather it would be itself punk. I have been interested in the implications of a punk aesthetic, specifically one informed by the design of zines, f or discussions of remediation and transparent immediacy for some time, and I was encouraged by What is Media Archaeology? that there were aesthetic similarities between steam punk and media archaeology. But it was only recently that I encountered the work of Kostis Kourelis, Bill Caraher and their colleagues in medieval
167 written a book Punk Archaeology set to be published this fall. As Bill Caraher said in a both embrace a spatial aspect of this ironic mode of narration that keys upon the unexpected energy of neglected, hidden, and dangerous places and seeks to translate th e energy and knowledge of this space into media appropriate for broader consumption y residue of industrial ecosystems, both the lasting influence of these bands from the 1970s and the outdated electronic objects that, while discarded, remain influential. Bu sting the Vase, Gluing it Back Together: Punk Aesthetics In the mid 1970s, when the mainstream music press saw fit to write about what would later come to be referred to as punk, the reviews were often highly critical and dismissive. For example, in Tom Z The Washington Post of Elvis musical inabilities with garish leather outfi ts and safety pins through their ears all in the Rolling Stone female group, The Slits, (They) will have to bear the double curse of their sex and their style, which takes the concept of e nlightened a Slits will respond to charges of incompetence by inviting members of their audience on stage to play while the four w omen take the floor to dance. (Marcus 38) It seemed like this new genre of rock would be unappreci ated and underreported by the music press. But then, in January of 1976, three young men posted handmade
168 at once spoke of the emergence of a new form of print media, the birth of a music genre, and the beginning of a cultural phenomenon. What John Holmstrom and Ged was the first punk rock zine, a handmade, self published serial print publi cation. From this artifact, it is possible to trace a history forward of the relationship between a genre of music and a form of underground self publishing. And the aesthetic of punk be came intertwined with the design choices these three young men made. Indeed, in places like that are published today still exhibit a remarkable similarity to that fi rst punk zine from 1976. On the one hand, these self published magazines could be traced back to pamphleteers. Thomas Paine might be thought of as an early zinester. But contemporary zines are most often traced back to 1930s science fiction fanzines (Spen cer 94). Some of these fanzines such as The Time Traveler were produced using an early duplicating technology, the mimeograph machine, which was patented by Thomas Edison in 1880 (Friedman 10). These publications were commonly distributed through the mail to a network of readers and other writers of the genre (Spencer 96), fiction (Friedman 10). the underground press Holmstrom said inspired Dunn, McNeil, and him to publish Punk :
169 We had a lot of hate with the hippies. T he flower power types really hated cs owes an awful lot to the has the example of th e 60 s underground press, and there were a lot of hippies that enjoyed that punk was being a pain in the ass. (Holmstrom interview). The creators of Punk borrowed from multiple histories of self publishing in order to design a new form of print media that resis ted the trends in publishing at the time. And the resistance that Punk performed was both through its content and its design. With regard to its content, Punk was ahead of its time. Rather than reporting on an already established genre of music and cultur al phenomenon, Punk played an integral role in starting the movement. In fact, the zine was credited by several mainstream publications in the late 1970s with naming the punk movement. First first album by almost a (Marcus 3). And although Punk would go on to cover The Sex Pistols after they became popular, the zine was arguably the first to define this genre of music that eventually became a household name. But where did punk rock start, an d how was it connected to the music that Punk had already defined as within the genre from the mind of their manager Malcolm McLare n who operated a popular boutique New York Dolls (McNeil 189). Before creating The Sex Pistols, McLaren knew how to package and profit from culture.
170 Nobody in New York was selli ng rock and roll culture in the form of dress and music, in one place. And the store, Sex, had a definite ideology, it creating an attitude. (McLaren qtd in McNeil 189) McLaren was also interested in the politi cal possibilities of music. He had been enamored by the May 1968 Situationist Internationale movement in Paris (Marcus 28), (qtd. in Marcus 32). McLaren had trash interest in resistance was shared both by the creato rs of Punk and by McLaren, who created The Sex Pistols. Punk seems to believe this sentiment w as already present in the movement before The Sex Punk. It captured the attitude: people needed to sa y something that negative. I liked that time of decay. There was nihilis m i n the atmosphere, longing to die. Part of the feeling of New York at tha t time was this longing for oblivion, that you were about to disintegrate, go the way of this bankrupt, crumbling city. Yet that was something almost mystically wonderful (Savage 13 3). Part of punk culture at the time, according to Harron, included an embrace of decay and of the feeling of wonder in the face of decay. Here, it is possible to see the potential that ling of awe
171 Bogost describes in Alien Phenomenology And punk was an aesthetic that during the late 1970s spread quickly after the creation of Punk in part because of the influence of bands like the Sex Pistols. As McNeil said, the movement, the definition of punk, was shifting by 1979 away from the way the cr eators of Punk had originally envisioned, After four year of doing Punk magazine, and b asically getting laughed at, ause as the Sex Pistols made he rest of the county, were suddenly transforming themselves with safet y pins, spiked haircuts, and nk a spiked haircut and a Although McNeil believed that the popularity of punk fashion was an aberration from what he, Dunn, and Holmstom had labeled as punk in their zine, it was clear by 1979 that the punk project had taken root. Causality, in the success of any movement, especially an undergroun d one, is difficult to trace and is distributed across a wide range of actors. In the case of Punk though, the zine was an influential and early actor through its content. pr actices of mainstream publications. And the design of the publication, with hand illustrations and hand wave of punk rock zines that followed. This principle of do it yourself (DIY) was s hared by both the emerging number of punk rock zines and the musicians that these zinesters wrote about. In the first U.K. punk fanzine which was published after and in dialogue with Punk s, now
172 and, as Griel Marcus argues in Lipstick Traces was related to dada theories of art punk production was a reworking of dada production paste quote is referring to the production of the punk music, it is certainly fitting to apply this to the production of zines, which used cut and past but not like newspapers and magazines did before programs like Photoshop let them export digital files to the plat emakers. The cut and paste technique that Holmstrom, Dunn, and McNeil applied in Punk was executed in a way that made it evident that somebody had put it together by hand and had left his or her mark on the finished product. Punk was printed using offset interview). However, many zines that followed Punk used the recent advances in photocopying technology along with hand lettering and ha nd illustrations to produce a layout that mimicked Punk. For the most part, commercial printing at the time Punk emerged was aimed at erasure of the mode of production. Or, some designers have digital technology. Right angles, typed content, large photo spreads in these mainstream publications all enacted product to an audience who is then able to achieve a degree of transparent immediacy through the form. If executed properly, the surface of the painting dissolved and presen ted to the viewer the scene beyond. To achieve transparency, however, linear
173 perspective was regarded as necessary but no t sufficient, for the artist must also work the surface to erase his brush strokes. (Bolter 25) With Punk, the visible labor within the finished product of the zine, from the handwritten text to the hand illustrated graphics, makes the human element, the hands of production, a lways present when we interact with the material product. The design of a zine, its pages bound together with string or painted staples, with hand drawn art cut out and pasted alongside co The pr ofanation that the punk rock zine performs is in relation to the sphere from which it broke and with which it was in conversation, the design of mainstream publications, in which the hands of production were erased. Although this quality of any work, bei some sense obscured from our vision, in the case of zines, the design works against (47) so that I can replace the creator with the authority of my single voice. With zines, this task is more difficult. The seams of the product are too apparent for us not to acknowledge the act of production. Rather, with a publication such as Punk a type of oscillation occurs in which the reader, ne ver able to completely replace the authority of the author in an interpretive position, joins with the author and, in a sense, shares the createdness of zines, while it m ay not completely determine their use, in turn guides the community of reader/creators toward a heightened awareness of the createdness of
174 their community. In other words, the design made both the createdness of the zine, of the genre of music, and of the cultural changes at the hands of punks visible in a way design, it might encourage others to do it themselves as well. Zi nes, so far, have mostly been a mostly overlooked area of the print archive. There are those such as Fredric Wertham, a New York psychiatrist, who in the 1940s became interested in fanzines from his research into the ways in which popular culture was detrimental to the psyche (Spencer 14). However, Wertha m later abandoned this criticism o f zines, and his fascination with them led him to publish The World of Fazines, one of the first books on the subject. Yet, within the history of zines, profanation is evident both in the emergence of Punk which took apar t the components of the magazines that were not covering this new genre of music and repurposed these components in a way that made their createdness visible, and in the zines that followed, those that repurposed the recently developed Xerox technology mea nt for businesses in order to produce their texts. In other words, I argue that Punk was successful, in part, because the zine was similar enough to the magazines with which the creators took issue to be able to call into question the authority of the prod uction of music journalism generally. So, on the one hand, when we look at the standard use and conventions surrounding any media object, it might as Agamben argues, seem that the devices (Agamben 21). But, with the first punk zine as with the electronic objects artists have begun to repurpose in their sculptures and photography, it is possible to see media objects as imbued with the potential to be put to work as unconventional means.
175 Designing with Materiality in Mind Although zines have not yet been the subject of much media archaeological scholarship, in Writing Machines N. Katherine Hayles makes a strong case for paying attention to the design and material composition of t share the handmade quality of zines. Hayles argues that these texts suggest the medium matters, and, in this way, her argument seems to be categorically similar to essage, then she is at least suggesting that the design of the medium is inseparable from our understanding of the message. Hayles insists that technologies of inscription affect our experience of texts, materiality can become or can be made more apparent to readers. On the one hand, her insistence that technologies affect how we read may not seem like a radical claim. Her argument may sound similar to the claims of those who argue that computers and the I nternet are altering our brains seriously, it opens new possibilities for scholarship that pays attention to the physical the object could be removed from its historical specificity and treated as a books or the novel House of Leaves makes readers away of the physicality object. And I would suggest that Punk and the zines that material properties. For Hayles, conside ring materiality is especially important because
176 Hayles suggests that the oscillation betw een our experiences of immediacy and becoming aware of an interface acts reflexively to influence how we read. She says that itself an act of meaning making that positi ons the reader in a specific material To take the design possibilities within the aesthetic of the punk rock zine and apply it to digital texts today, how can we write digital texts that are mindful of our materiality? Is it possible to put the dynamic Hayles has identified to work, allowing readers to become more critically minded even during their experienc es of immersion? Garnet Hertz, who works with the Dead Media Lab and publishes the zine Critical Making has been involved on the forefront of media archaeological scholarship, collaborating with Parikka on an article in which they address the position of obsolete Yet, dead media creeps back as dangerous toxins into the 9). To Hertz, one answer to what should be done about the digital upgrade path is that we should activists producing persuasive games, Here there are opportunities for scholarship in the digital humanities composing critical disruptions that call attention to the material consequences of media change through platforms that are also the site of the critique. As Hertz says on the his webs ite for Critical Making his
177 on productive work making Tactical Med ia Raley explores the aesthetic techniques and guiding principles of some of these tactical media activists producing persuasive games, information visualizations, ). Although she says that wants to avoid offering a potentially limiting definition of what tactical media is and is not Raley suggests that what unites these artist of disruption, intervention, and the data visualization artists might even be said to create work that shares a methodology with recent digital humanities projects. Aga in, though, what seems to unite sit ins through distributed denial of service attacks (40) and Trebor Scholz and Carol pital and limited mobility of citizens in Tuesday Afternoon (151). Here, tactical media practitioners could be said to work toward the disruptions political act not only disrupts ... it overthrows the regime of the perceptible ...what
178 follows that this context then includes th e theories of postmodernity, then the social function of art might also be to address, following Latour, the prevailing sense of a postmodern virtuality. For example, a spring 2012 multimedia exhibit by artist Jamie Kruse in New York called the Thingness of Energy invited audience members to consider the material realities of energy production. The exhibit was accompanied by three large vinyl window with things of ene dead in Iraq in which DeLappe has been logging into the game and broadcasting the names of fallen servicemen and women to the online community, work toward are often a disruption of what seem to be virtual flows and a serious material consequences. Legacy Syste ms In computer science, legacy systems are outdated computers systems that users adhere to after newer software and hardware have been developed. These systems are often independent of the Internet, and companies will continue using a legacy system becau se it is a known quantity and because upgrading the system would require a financial investment that the company is unwilling to make. In my own experience as a page designer and copy editor as a daily newspaper, legacy systems were used because the compan y could not afford to upgrade its backend content management system for the locally produced articles. In turn, this backend system required an older operating system, which had to be run on older machines. We ran operating systems
179 that were a decade old o n machines that were close to fifteen years old. The servers were even older. Legacy systems, to my mind, are useful concept for a materialist media archaeology in at least two ways. First, it is the task of media archaeology to consider the residual, th e legacies that have been left by the media objects that are, compared to the seemingly unending flow of upgrades, now outdated. The task is not only to look into the past to study the emergence and proliferation of these objects when they were new or when they were most commonly used but also to consider how these objects and their material consequences remain and continue to be influential today. Secondly, legacy systems are not limited to these analog and digital devices. This term might also be applied to the residual effects of previous scholarship in media studies. In this way, these terms that, as I traced in Chapter 1 and 3 respectively, saw a sharp rise in their po pularity and use in the 1990s suggests that archaeological studies of the field of media studies itself offer explanatory power for addressing how, in part, these material consequences of outdated media objects have proliferated. considers the material consequences, such as e waste, of outdated electronic devices. As William Rathje and Cullen Murphy say in Rubbish! picking through ancient garbage e ver since archaeology became a profession, more than a century ago, and they will no doubt go on doing so as long as garbage is in the archive and the museum that the old media remain. And if, as Caraher argues,
180 punk archaeology considers the detritus of the modern landscape alongside the ways that actors have rebelled against the constraints imposed on them, then a punk media archaeological method would consider not o nly what is made into waste by the upgrade path but, most importantly, what type of methods can be explored, from interface design to sculptures of waste to tracing wider networks of agents acting on and influenced by media devices, to produce digital scho larship that is critical, historically situated, and sustainable.
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193 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Caroline Short received her Ph.D. from the University of Florida in the spring of 2014. Her doctoral coursework focus ed on Film and Media Studies and Rhetoric and Composition In addition to teaching courses for the Department of English and the University Writing Program, she worked as the webmaster for the Department of English. She is married to Robert Short, a fellow doctoral student in English at the University of Florida. Previously, she worked as a 35mm projectionist and newspaper paginator. She is originally from Florence, South Carolina.
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