Media and Participation @NECS 2019 Conference in Gdansk

Members of our Research Unit will be at the 2019 NECS Conference „Structures and Voices: Storytelling in Post-Digital Times“ presenting the following papers on June 14 2019, 15:45-16:30 Panel H11

Anne Ganzert (Konstanz University) Pinboarding. Serial Narration and Epistemic Participation in (Post-) Digital Processes
Michel Schreiber (Leuphana University Lüneburg, GER) To simply ‘be there’. The Post-Digital between activism and advertisement.
Milan Stürmer (Leuphana University Lüneburg, GER)Cancelling the Digital: Marilyn Strathern and the Notion of Merographic Collapse
Mathias Denecke (University of Hamburg, GER)Understandings of Media under Post-Digital Condition

Chair: Beate Ochsner (Konstanz University)

See the full conference program for all details here.

Panel Description and Abstracts

Abstract

In colloquial terminology, the ‘digital’ is often related to narratives of participation, democracy and ubiquitous access to information. While emancipatory understandings of the ‘digital’ sparked ideas of new communities and a shift in the understanding of the social (Bruns 2008; Jenkins 2006), today this narrative has reached past its breaking point, a development that is designated by the concept of the post-digital (Cramer 2014). Post-digital discourses usually focus on disassociating the ‘digital’ from its utopian connotations, removing all pretenses of ‘disruption’ and aim to move “beyond access, beyond the digital as a goal in itself“ (Fonseca 2013). It thus becomes necessary to rethink participation and the realm of its digital realization.
The Post-Digital Manifesto for example speaks of new and intensified moments of community and of different ways of participating by relying on connections between pre-digital and ‘new’ media. The authors hoped to create modes that allowed them to simply “be there” (Fleischer 2013). Nevertheless, they relied on the digital as an organisational tool. They argued that “cultural phenomena exist in perpetual circulation between digital and analog, between universal access and temporary localisation. This is the point of departure of the postdigital perspective” (Fleischer 2013). In (re)creating such dichotomies the digital always remains, yet solely as a starting point, neither means nor end. To us this raises the question: Can the post-digital avoid wrong aprioris of participation?
Therefore, the DFG-Project “Media and Participation” does not focus on participation as an integral part of the ‘digital’ which is to be either presupposed, affirmed or resisted. Rather, participation is a moment, a form or a mode of ‘digital’ and - as we would argue - ‘post-digital’ processes. Our panel addresses this question by interrogating the concept of the post-digital from a historical (Stürmer), political (Schreiber), cultural (Ganzert) and discursive (Denecke) perspective.

Pinboarding. Serial Narration and Epistemic Participation in (Post-) Digital Processes

Epistemic processes, fictional or otherwise, and taking part therewith, are mediated in various ways. By focusing on elaborate pin board constructions in contemporary TV series – such as in Homeland or Castle – this paper examines the hypothesis that both serial narration and epistemic participation emerge in both post-digital and digital, visual and serial processes of ‘pinboarding’. Based on the assumption that narration, participation and visualization need to inform any debate about (mediated) knowledge production, questions of analogue narration, (retro) aesthetics, digital attachements and cultural (fan) practices culminate in these pin boards.
While TV shows, networks and platforms proclaim participation to their viewers as achievable through mostly digital and monetary means, the paper argues that objects or attachements in Hennion’s sense, like the series’ pin boards, are key to processes of participation, in which the shows as serial narration; the boards as analogue collages or objects of crime or puzzle solving in the diegesis and as digitalized objects for transmedia storytelling beyond that; and the board’s digital remakes or re-iterations by fans play equal parts.

References:

Abelman, Robert, and David J. Atkin. The Televiewing Audience: The Art and Science of Watching TV. Peter Lang, 2011.
Coley, Rob. ‘The Case of the Speculative Detective: Aesthetic Truths and the Television “Crime Board”’. NECSUS, vol. Sping 2017, no. #true, 2017, p. no page.
Hennion, Antoine. Offene Objekte, Offene Subjekte?. In: Offene Objekte, Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kulturforschung, Heft 1/2011, 93-109.
Müller, Eggo. ‘Formatted Spaces of Participation: Interactive Television and the Changing Relationship between Productions and Consumptions’. Digital Material. Tracing New Media in Everyday Life and Technology, edited by Marianne van den Boomen et al., Amsterdam University Press, 2009, pp. 49–63.
Seward Barry, Anne Marie. Visual Intelligence: Perception, Image, and Manipulation in Visual Communication. State University of New York Press, 1997.

Short Bio:

Anne Ganzert is a postdoctoral researcher in for the project “Smartphone-Communities: Participation as Promise and Imposition“ at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Her PhD on „Serial Pinboarding“ was finalized in 2017 and focuses on contemporary TV series and their pin boards as dispositives of seriality. Recent publications include „In the Footsteps of Smartphone-Users. Traces of a Deferred Community in Ingress and Pokémon Go“ (Digital Culture & Society 2/2017), „ReClaiming Participation“ (Transcript 2016) and “We welcome you to your Heroes community. A Case Study in Transmedia Storytelling” (IMAGE 21, 2015).

To simply ‘be there’. The Post-Digital between activism and advertisement.

The notion of a post-digital world – a world connecting the realm of the digital with the ability to still simply 'be there' (Fleischer 2013) – is not only one of activists, but is shared by capitalist entrepreneurs such as Arianna Huffington. An app promoted by her, called 'GPS for the Soul', shall answer to the problem at hand: “Our 24/7 connection to the digital world often disconnects us from the real world around us – from our physical surroundings, from our loved ones, and especially from ourselves.“ (Huffington 2017). Her suggestion is to create an app that acts as 'a great course-correcting mechanism' (ibid.). The idea is to create nothing less of a digital tool to overcome the division in between the digital world and the real world – a digital tool helping you to simply be there. A tool to force you to reconnect with the physical world, your loved ones, yourself. This talk will take interest in the shared idea of overcoming a gap between the digital and the real by relying on the digital as a starting point in (re-)creating access to another, a real world. Both accounts – Fleischers activism and Huffingtons commercial tactics – seem to share a hope for a digital mediation between the digital and the real world – whilst neither gives a notion of what the 'real world' is supposed to be. Is there something like a new form-of-life in the post-digital (Agamben 1992), a form-of-life aware of its digital becomings and able to overcome a possible digital rule by participating in a post-digital activist movement or an app? Or is the only possible answer to both political and economical lines of thought the harsh “FUCK OFF, Google!” as suggested by the Invisible Committee (The Invisible Committee 2014)?

References

Fleischer, Rasmus: How Music takes place: Excerpts from “The post-digital Manifesto”. In: e-flux journal #49: The Internet Does Not Exist. 2013.
Huffington, Arianna: GPS for the Soul: A Killer App for Better Living. 2017. Found in: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/gps-for-the-soul_b_1427290 (Last seen January 22nd 2019).
The Invisible Committee: An unsere Freunde. Hamburg. 2015.

Short Bio

Michel Schreiber is a research associate at the DFG-project Media and Participation where he works in subproject 1 “Elements of a Critical Theory of Media and Participation” focusing on the political elements of participation. After studying literature, arts and media studies and sociology at the University of Constance and the Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto - both BA and MA - he is currently working on his PHD at the Leuphana University in Lüneburg with the title: “Der Bloom - Anders als Dasein geschieht. Versuch einer ethischen Medienphilosophie.”

Recent Publications:

Endlich Krieg. Tiqqun, Nancy, Derrida – Feindschaft als ontologisches Konzept des Seins. In: Ochsner, Beate; Otto, Isabell; Spöhrer, Markus (Hrsg.): Augenblick. Konstanzer Hefte zur Medienwissenschaft. #58 Objekte Medialer Teilhabe. Marburg. Schüren: 2013. S. 124 –133.
ANTi-human – The ethical blindspot. In: Ochsner, Beate; Spöhrer, Markus (Hrsg.): Applying Actor-Network Theory in Media Studies. Hershey, PA. IGI Global: 2016.

Cancelling the Digital: Marilyn Strathern and the Notion of Merographic Collapse

Perhaps one of the most quoted aphorisms from Donna Haraway’s recent book is that it „matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with“ (Haraway, 2016, p. 12). Unfortunately, it is usually employed to simply denote that how you think about things, and what you say about things, is important; a most trivial point to make indeed. Haraway, however, is explicitly referring to the work of Marilyn Strathern, „often deemed [to be] one of anthropology’s pre-eminent ‘theorists’“ (Lebner, 2017, p. 2). This talk argues that we should pay careful attention to the work of Strathern if we want to think the post-digital in a way that matters.
Following the panel’s concern with participation, this talk will approach the question posed by the post-digital by revisiting Strathern’s notion of the merographic collapse, which marks the transition from a plural to a post-plural world. The merographic collapse of the late 20th century begins to fundamentally alter the condition of possibility of ‚being part of something‘ as it is precisely the cancellation of a ‚certain relational facility‘ (Strathern, 1992, p. 145) that is at stake. Taking the notion of merographic collapse as simultaneously a conceptual tool and a historical diagnosis, this talk will pick up Strathern’s narration after After Nature. In following Strathern investigation of relations, analogies, personhood, individuality, choice, and the processes of ‚making explicit,‘ it will consider what remains of the relational facility once the digital is made explicit and it is the post-digital which we use think the relation (with).

References:

Corsin Jiménez, Alberto. “Exchanging Equations: Anthropology as/beyond Symmetry.” In Redescribing Relations: Strathernian Conversations on Ethnography, Knowledge and Politics, edited by Ashley Lebner, 77–103. New York: Berghahn, 2017.
Haraway, Donna. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Experimental Futures: Technological Lives, Scientific Arts, Anthropological Voices. Durham: Duke University Press, 2016.
Lebner, Ashley, ed. Redescribing Relations: Strathernian Conversations on Ethnography, Knowledge and Politics. New York: Berghahn, 2017.
Strathern, Marilyn. After Nature: English Kinship in the Late Twentieth Century. The Lewis Henry Morgan Lectures 1989. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Strathern, Marilyn. Partial Connections. ASAO Special Publications, no. 3. Savage, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1991.
Strathern, Marilyn. “Parts and Wholes: Refiguring Relationships in a Post-Plural World.” In Conceptualizing Society, edited by Adam Kuper, 75–104. London & New York: Routledge, 1992.
Strathern, Marilyn. The Relation: Issues in Complexity and Scale. Cambridge: Prickly Pear, 1995.

Short Bio

Milan Stürmer is a research associate at the DFG-project Media and Participation where he works in subproject 1 “Elements of a Critical Theory of Media and Participation” focusing on the economic elements of participation. Having studied Film Studies and Media and Cultural Studies followed by a MA in Kulturwissenschaften, he is currently pursuing his PhD at the Institute of Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media at Leuphana University, Lüneburg, with the working title “Debt as Relation – The Transformation of the Capital-Form in the Context of the History of Rationality”. His research interests include the history of economics, anthropology, ecology, media theory and the philosophy of technology.

UNDERSTANDINGS OF MEDIA UNDER POST-DIGITAL CONDITIONS

Asking ‹What is Post Digital?›, today there is a bulk of scholarly literature claiming to map a research field. As ‹post-digital› is neither a coherently used concept, nor based on a specific theoretical framework, my talk takes into account three recent scholarly writings (the transmediale festival reader (2017), the edited volume «Postdigital Aesthetics» (2015), and a special issue of the journal Aprja (2014)).
Taking serious especially the media of the panel’s ‹media and participation› theme, the paper investigates the texts’ implicit as well as explicit understandings of media in the post-digital. As post-digital is also being defined by a decidedly critical perspective on its vocabulary, the talk traces the shifting connotations of media in regards to its technicity, as a technology, and concerning its prefix digital. Here, I suggest that the texts in question have an instrumental understanding of media. (Tholen 2002)
Becoming describable with respect to two different aspects, the talk engages with the registered ‹ubiquity of digital media› as well as with the ‹techniques› to eventually encourage socio-political change. Whereas the digital media’s ubiquity figures as inevitable circumstance of our ‹era›, the techniques are coined by a tool-like view with a mere focus on usage in terms of a reappropriation of digital media. Knitting together media and participation, the latter figures as an argumentative resource in order to narrate a necessary transition from powerlessness to empowerment. Thus, due to the eclectic understanding of media, the underlying idea of participation both figures as one-dimensional and as simply instrumentally constructible.

References

Andersen, Christian Ulik/Cox, Geoff/Papadopoulos (ed.) (2014): Post-Digital Research. Special Issue of APRJA ‘A peer-reviewed journal about’ 3 (1).
Berry, David/Dieter, Michael (ed.) (2015): Postdigital Aesthetics. Art, Computation adn Design. Palgrave Macmillan, UK.
Bishop, Ryan/Gansing, Kristoffer/Parikka, Jussi/Wilk, Elvia (ed.) (2017): across&beyond - A transmediale Reader on Post-digital Practices, Concepts, and Institutions. Berlin: SternbergPress.
Tholen, Christoph (2002): Die Zäsur der Medien. Kulturphilosophische Konturen Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp.

Bio

Mathias Denecke is a research associate in the subproject “Media Cultures of Streaming. Temporality, Infrastructures, Evaluation”. After finishing both the bachelor’s and the master’s degree in literature-arts-media studies at university of Konstanz in 2014, he started working on a dissertation project at Leuphana University of Lüneburg. The project “‘Observations of stream metaphors’ – translation problems of digital cultures” aims on a ‘denaturalization’ (Blumenberg) of metaphors especially in recent cultural and media scholarly theory formation. Research interests are media theory, media technical infrastructures and theories of metaphors. Recent publications include „Zuschauerfiguren zwischen Flow und Internet-TV: Vom Verfließen der Differenz“, in: Montage AV 1 (2017). Denecke is co-editor of ReClaiming Participation. Technology, Mediation, Collectivity, Bielefeld: transcript 2016 (with A. Ganzert, I. Otto and R. Stock).Publications

 

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