For the past decade, I’ve taught, off and on, a course called [SLIDE2] “Media and Architecture.” It was inspired by my dissertation research on the [SLIDE3] Seattle Public Library – and by my appreciation for the ways that buildings are designed to [SLIDE4] house and provide material support structures for media, and for the ways that architecture itself can function as media. [SLIDES5-9] Over the years, as I’ve revised the syllabus – switching from a chronological to a reverse chronological organization; trying to keep up with new advancements in networked digital technologies and to include more international examples, etc. – I’ve come to realize that, [SLIDE10] the further backwards we moved in time, the fewer and fewer resources I was using from our own fields, media and cinema studies.
There is a plethora of research on architecture and cities in relation to mechanically reproduced still and moving images. For instance, many photographic, architectural, and cultural historians, inspired greatly by Benjamin, have examined [SLIDE11] the city as a photographic subject; [SLIDE12] photography’s early role in the documentation of urban [SLIDE13] transformation and as an instigator of social change; [SLIDE14] and photography’s influence on particular modern architectural and urban designers. There is also much, much work on [SLIDE15] the city and film as contemporaneous developments; on [SLIDE16] the representation of the city in film (this is the dominant thread, by far – as is evidenced even at this conference); and [SLIDE17] [SLIDE18][SLIDE19] on film’s influence upon architects and planners, and vice versa. In more recent decades, scholars, like Lynn Spigel and Anna McCarthy, have begun to address [SLIDE20] the synchronous rise of television and post-war suburbs; [SLIDE21] the politics of screens in public places; and [SLIDE22] the impact of networked digital media on [SLIDE23] urban design and urban experience. [SLIDE24] There’s also been, in recent years, some fantastic work on radio and modern sound technologies’ impact on architecture, zoning, and urban experience.
[SLIDE25] The sheer number of books and conferences and exhibitions on
[SLIDE 3]materialism (both in the colloquial sense of acquisitiveness, and in the Marxist sense)
[SLIDE 4]Something that exists in the space in-between people and things
Materiality, and its perception and use by a user, generates affordances and constraints
[SLIDE 5]Not determined entirely by the matter constituting the object – thus, even the digital, the virtual – things we can’t see or feel – can be thought of as having materiality
[SLIDE 6]Particular significance of the invisible or intangible: “The less we are aware of them, the more powerfully they can determine our expectations by setting the scene and ensuring normative behavior, without being open to challenge. They determine what takes place to the extent that we are unconscious of their capacity to do so.” (Daniel Miller, “Materiality: An Introduction” In Materiality (Duke University Press, 2005): 5)
Something like software fits this description perfectly
Materiality is Deeply Political.
[SLIDE 7]Marxism rooted in humanity’s capacity to transform the material world through production, and in the process, to create a mirror of ourselves
[SLIDE 8]Materiality implies different ways of existing in the world – different ontologies – and different ways of interacting with the things and people we share the world with
Recent interest in new ascriptions of agency – e.g., theories that propose the dissolution of the separation of subject/object; Actor Network Theory; object-oriented philosophies – non a