Wolfgang Ernt’s Materialist Media Diagrammatics by Jussi Parikka

by stronged

In his article Operative Media Archaeology, Jussi explores Wolfgang Ernst’s view that narrative is an actual object; ‘the use of remediation of media history as a material monument instead of a historical narrative.’ (Parikka, Abstract)

Ernst believed that objects can only exist within a ‘time-criticality…a materialism of processes, flows and signals instead of ‘just’ hardware and machines.’ (Parikka, 55) To understand an object of media one must engage with the ‘agency of the machine’ (Ernst, 2005: 591 quoted in Parikka, 55), a dialogue of pattered signals that exists only in any given duration of time.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article and have subsequently read Parikka’s “New Materialism as Media Theory: Medianatures and Dirty Matter” paper. I feel torn between this materialist view of ontology and a more phenomenological, qualitative one. I have been ruminating upon creating a hybrid between the two: A theory where Ernst’s pattern-making agency still applies, yet the intricacy or intensity of the patterns between the two objects signifies the qualitative exchange. Intricacy implies a longer period of time to either construct or comprehend the meaning of the pattern. Whereas intensity I feel more relates to the boldness or volume of the information exchanged.

Take, for example, the below images. The first two images seem quite bland compared to the latter two due to the intricacy and intensity of the represented patterns. Although the coded language of the electrician/engineer is quite intriguing in the first image, the sheet of metal that it is written on does not visually excite the viewer as much as the third image down, that offers an intricacy in texture and much more contrasted colouring and lighting.

Similarly, despite offering an interesting array of colouring, the second image down does not offer nearly as much intensity as the fourth image down. The fourth image features the trail of a burrowing insect across a coarse terrain of a branch. Although the second image tells the story of where the moisture has gathered and caused the most corrosion to the metal, it does not present as intricate a design of the wood.

This perhaps explains why we find macro images all the more interesting to view and understand. Rarely do we examine a material construct in such fine detail. Every material item has its hidden narratives.





I would like to construct a K-Film purely of macro shots. Reminds me of this great film (and the subsequent docos made about the life of insects):

The Philosopher James K. Feibleman believes that the qualitative aspects of interaction far outweigh the temporal, summing it up nicely with this example: “The importance of events in any life is more directly proportionate to their intensity than to their extensity. It may take a man a year to travel around the world—and leaveabso- lutely no impression on him. Then again it may take him only a second to see the face of a woman—and change his entire future.” (James K. Feibleman, Philosophers Lead Sheltered Lives (London: Allen & Unwin, 1952), p. 55. )