University of California Los Angeles, USA
This lecture will introduce a certain way of doing media archaeology by developing a theoretical-historical contextualization of the topos, a notion adopted from the literary scholar Ernst Robert Curtius and turned into a “tool” for explaining the recurrence of clichés and commonplaces in media culture. Huhtamo has applied the idea to various media forms ranging from “peep media” and the moving panorama to mobile media. In this intervention the approach will be delineated theoretically, discussing its predecessors and demonstrating how it can be applied to various facets of media culture. The task is identifying topoi, analyzing their trajectories and transformations, and explaining the cultural ‘logics’ that condition their ‘wanderings’ across time and space. Topoi are discursive “engines” that mediate themes, forms, and fantasies across cultural traditions. Predictably, they have also been appropriated by the culture industry.
Erkki Huhtamo (b. 1958, Helsinki, Finland) works as Professor of Media History and Theory at the Department of Design Media Arts at the University of California (Los Angeles, USA). Since the early 1990’s, Huhtamo has pioneered media archaeology, an emerging approach to media studies. His most recent books are Media Archaeology: Approaches, Applications, and Implications (ed. with Jussi Parikka, University of California Press, 2011) and Illusions in Motion: Media Archaeology of the Moving Panorama and Related Spectacles (The MIT Press, 2012). His current book project is From Illusions to Interactions: Media Archaeology of Interactive Media (The MIT Press, under contract). As a curator Huhtamo has created many media art exhibitions, including The Interactive Garden (1993), Toshio Iwai (1994), The ISEA 94 Exhibition (1994), Digital Mediations (1995), Unexpected Obstacles: Perry Hoberman (1997), Paul DeMarinis (2000), Alien Intelligence (2000), Bernie Lubell (2002), and others. He has also written and directed television programs about media culture, and served in media art exhibition and festival juries worldwide.