Visuality and the Media Archaeological Body

Early in September I presented a paper at the conference “Archaeologies of Media and Film” hosted by the University of Bradford and National Media Museum.

‘City of Tiny Lights’: visuality and the media architectural body

This paper develops a long standing interest visual theory and visuality as it relates to the experience of the urban and built environment and in particular with the presentation of large scale media forms in public space and how these have become an integral part of the experience of the city. In the first instance, the work presented is intended to provide a critique of visuality as it applies to urban space. As a part of this general critique the paper develops further some of Lev Manovich’s ideas relating to the “poetics of augmented space” (2006), but extends this to encompass embodiment and the body as a frame (Hansen, 2002) for the reception of media in public space. In addition, it argues that the emergence of “augmented public space” (Allen, 2009) has become an integral part of the experience of the city. This phenomenon is characterised by the notion of the “media architectural body” (Allen, 2012), whereby the body is seen to fuse with architecture as it intersects with media technology. A case study will be presented, and through the use of examples, will provide both a genealogy of contemporary urban media spaces and will question some of the assumptions relating to visuality and the rhetoric associated with the increased role played by visual forms in the experience of the urban. This investigation makes direct reference to Huhtamo’s concept of a “media archaeology of the present” (2004 and 2011) and the potential for a genealogy of contemporary contemporary media spaces that arises from this.

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