MEDIA-AS-THINGS is an international media art practice+research collective dedicated to media practice-as-research. 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 works, experimental media projects and analogue practices that are realized through media malfunctions. Members are a diverse group of artists-researchers, curators, and educators, collaborating on various projects which speak to the theme of media-as-things.
MEDIA-AS-THINGS was founded in 2018 by Mehrvarz and Muliaee during their practice and research in the Ph.D. program in the Department of Media Study, the University at Buffalo, New York. The term “media-as-things” was coined/developed in 2018 in the course of writing a book chapter (following Mani’s and Maryam’s doctoral projects as a series of presentations and exhibitions), titled “Media-as-Things: A Nonhistorical Nostalgia Through Failure“. In their book 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 reframe the qualities of media when they are set to miscommunicate. In their thesis, “media-as-things” become a necessary condition for realization/actualization of “broken-tech art”, a form of queer practice in which the artists productively deploy failure to disturb the established, representational meanings. 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, Parikka, Ernst, Zielinski, and Boym, among others.
In the context of art practice, “media-as-things” denotes to a different, new human-object relation when failure occurs. When media breaks down, it becomes a thing, presenting distinct qualities and aesthetics. Humans’ interaction with media-as-things is no longer the same as it was once before. In an encounter with media-as-things, we are affected by the exposure of materialities 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 potentials of failure and seeks nonconventional ways to get media operate otherwise, exploring the realm of not-knowing in media. We document our creative practice in forms of exhibitions, publications, and events such as workshops, screenings, and performances. Thinking through: 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? we are interested in opening the black box and repurposing media objects to showcase some of the hidden particularities that only media-as-things can unfold. The art projects presented by this collective foreground media archaeology and its emphasis on “thingness”, “materiality” and “failure” rather than relying on media’s regular communication functions and significations. 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.