MEDIA-AS-THINGS is a media art practice+research collective, producing/presenting/curating works with a focus on themes such as “failure”, “error”, “noise”, “glitch”, “disorder”, and “miscommunication”. MEDIA-AS-THINGS introduces work — multidisciplinary, experimental media projects and analogue practice, aimed for exhibitions, publications and events such as workshops, screenings, and performances. Members are a mix of artists-researchers, curators, and academics that currently include Maryam Muliaee, Mani Mehrvarz, Libi Rose Striegl, and Jason E Geistweidt.
MEDIA-AS-THINGS 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” first was coined in 2018 in the course of writing a book chapter in which Mani and Maryam articulated it in the context of frameworks such as media archaeology, theories of thing, failure and affect theory. In their writing, “media-as-things” was developed to conceptualize the qualities of media when they perpetuate failure and to frame “broken-tech art” in which artist productively make use of failure in their work. This manifestation has been inspired by multiple texts/works by authors such as Flusser, McLuhan, Kittler, Latour, Harman, Brown, Shaviro, Marks, Boym, Parikka, Ernst, Emerson, and Sigert, among others.
Media-as-things denotes to human-object relation in art when 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 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 or cultural but becomes a private one.
This collective uses the myriad potential of failure to explore the realm of not-knowing in media in different ways. 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 experiment with media, we open the black box and repurpose 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 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.