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"I name this approach media archaeology, which in a pragmatic perspective means to dig out secret paths in history, which might help us find our way into the future. Media archaeology is my form of activity [Tatigkeit]" -Siegfried Zielinksi, Ctheory,net

"Media archaeology is first and foremost a methodology, a hermeneutic reading of the 'new' against the grain of the past, rather than a telling of the histories of technologies from past to present" (Geert Lovink, 2003, 11).

"The study of the cyclically recurring elements and motives underlying and guiding the development of media culture"

"the 'excavation' of the ways in which these discursive traditions and formulations have been 'imprinted' on specific media machines and systems in different historical contexts, contributing to their identity in terms of socially and ideologically specific webs of signification" (Erkki Huhtamo 1996).

"Not seek the old in the new, but find something new in the old" (Zielinkski 2006)


"Media archaeology can be approached from two directions, each with its own definition. One: media archaeology is an object-oriented field of media studies (as distinguished from conventional history) concerned not only with dead media (see Bruce Sterling’s Dead Media Project http://www.deadmedia.org), the forgotten practices associated with them, and their impact in the co-production of past knowledge but also the more erratic developments and idiosyncratic genealogies of contemporary technologies of communication (Druckrey 2006; examples include Kittler 1999 and Zielinski 2006). Two: media archaeology is a concern with media as modes of engagement with the material world. Media archaeology is an understanding of media as sensory prostheses which mediate archaeological practices and experiences; it is a concern with the nature of translation in archaeology and the qualities of the material world manifest by particular media. I would push the definition even further in underlining a certain recognition of the negentropic potentials of everything from lantern slides, daguerreotypes and other photographic materials to maps, plans, texts, or combinations therein to digital media — an archaeology of the information age (Shanks 2006; also see archaeographer; Witmore 2006; on negentropy see Witmore 2007). With the former, we find media studies practitioners revealing forgotten, disregarded sets of relations whether with optics, computers, or the camera obscura, and thus generating more complicated genealogies of media. With the latter, we find archaeologists engaging with found photography (Shanks 2006), the mediating practices of excavation or survey (Tringham (in press)), found video footage (Avikunthak 2001) or even questions of transformation in comparative studies of archaeological sites.

Both media archaeologies complicate what are seen to be conventional understandings of media lodged in their progressive trajectories as if it could not have happened otherwise. Both deny the exclusivity of time as linear progression. Both recognize media as particular modalities offering up diverse possibilities for engaging the material world. There is much more to be said, but enough already." Christopher Witmore, Archaeolog Blog

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