MEDIA-AS-THINGS is an international media art practice+research collective. In this project, we produce, present, and curate works with a focus on themes such as “failure”, “error”, “noise”, “glitch”, “disorder”, and “miscommunication”. MEDIA-AS-THINGS introduces multidisciplinary work, experimental media projects and analogue practice that use failure. Members are a mixed group of artists-researchers, curators, and educators, currently including Maryam Muliaee, Mani Mehrvarz, Libi Rose Striegl, and Jason E Geistweidt.
MEDIA-AS-THINGS collective was founded in 2018 by Mehrvarz and Muliaee during their practice-as-research in the Ph.D. program in Media Study, University at Buffalo, New York. The term “media-as-things” was coined/developed in 2018 in the course of their research/practice (a series of presentations, and media exhibitions in Buffalo), specifically when writing a book chapter titled “Media-as-Things: A Nonhistorical Nostalgia Through Failure”. In their chapter, Mehrvarz and Muliaee articulated “media-as-things” as a concept in the context of media archaeology, theories of thing, failure and affect theory to frame the qualities of media when they perpetuate failure and miscommunicate. In their thesis, “media-as-things” become the necessary condition for the realization/actualization of “broken-tech art” in which the artists productively deploy failure in their work. Mehrvarz’s and Muliaee’s collaborative manifestation for “media-as-things” has been inspired by the texts/works of authors such as Flusser, McLuhan, Kittler, Latour, Harman, Brown, Shaviro, Marks, Boym, Parikka, Ernst, and Sigert, among others.
“Media-as-things” denotes to a different, new human-object relation in artworks when the failure occurs. Through failure, the object of media becomes a thing, presenting distinct qualities and aesthetics. Humans’ interaction with media-as-things is not anymore the same as it once was with media objects. In an encounter with media-as-things, we are affected by the intensities of the failed machines that are amplified through failure. Media-as-things are like alien machines in the human world, and our relationship with them is no longer historical/cultural.
MEDIA-AS-THINGS collective uses the myriad potential of failure to explore the realm of not-knowing in media in different ways and practices such as exhibitions, publications and events such as workshops, screenings, and performances. What can media-as-things do as/in the work of art? What imaginaries can they possibly reveal? Which qualities do they bear and how do they engage? With an interest in these questions and through the course of creation and experimenting with media, we are interested in opening the black box and repurposing media objects to explore and showcase some of the particularities of media-as-things. The art projects presented here each reveal some of the singularities of media-as-things, foregrounding media archaeology and its emphasis on “thingness”, “materiality” and “failure” rather than relying on media’s regular communication effects. As Bruno Latour inspires: “Open the black boxes; examine the assemblies inside. Each of the parts inside the black box is itself a black box full of parts. If any part were to break, how many humans would immediately materialize around each? How far back in time, away in space, should we retrace our steps to follow all those silent entities that contribute peacefully to your reading this chapter at your desk?”
© Muliaee and Mehrvarz, 2018
Buffalo, New York
media archaeology, failure, noise, error, generation loss, glitch, material decay, miscommunication, dysfunction, signal transmission, poor image, DIY hacking, degradation, degeneration, analogue practice, materiality, temporality, media nostalgia, digital memory, anarchaeology, database, archiveology, xerography, …
This collective aims to produce, exhibit and publish artworks and writings for a variety of venues. If you are interested to join our network for any form of collaboration such as exhibition, publication, podcast, interview, workshop, presentation, etc. don’t hesitate to contact us.