Sven Lutticken’s “Undead Media”: (2004)

The concept of the undead media is a fascinating one. The idea of a new form of media borrowing from an ‘outdated’, or ‘dead’ one, is somewhat monstrous or vampiric in its own right. However, Lutticken’s paper is rather hard to grasp on first reading and takes a number of readings to sink in, it seems to be worth reading a few more times, as well as some of the referenced papers.

  • The ‘post-medium’ and ‘post-media’ ages exist because digital media has no distinguishing ‘essential characteristics’ to tell them definitively apart, such as films with interactive elements borrowing characteristics from games.
  • It is important to keep in mind a medium’s history when evaluating its current position in modern mass media. “While we now talk of the medium as well as the art of painting, it was once only the latter.’
  • Traditionally, medium in the arts, referred to specific substances, such as oil or water colour paints. There for, paintings were not the medium. As such, a new term was needed. The media, newspapers, films, etc.
  • The digitization of media ‘mimic’ the characteristics of the original. According to some, the concept of the medium and the actual media are already deceased. If this is true, then the digitized media can be seen as ‘Undead’. As “Vampires or phantoms that continue to haunt us”, adopting elements, mimicking, and feeding on the original.
  • Gesamtkunstwerk, “A total work of art”. Integrating art and society. – The Nazi’s and the Soviet Union used films to attempt to shape their ideal societies.

People to look at:

  • Bruce Sterling
  • Marshall McLuhan
  • Jean-Luc Godard
  • Luchino Visconti
  • Lev Manovich
  • Rosalind Krauss
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