Monday, 14 June 2010

Sublimated Attractions

A new article co-written by myself and professor Jaakko Suominen has just been published in Media History-journal. It touches on media archaeological themes, and focuses on the historical context where the emergence and introduction of computing in Finland in the 1950s was framed as a multisensory event. The article is based on primary research by Professor Suominen.

A short summary of the text:

Sublimated Attractions
The Introduction of Early Computers in Finland in the Late 1950s as a Mediated Experience
Suominen, Jaakko and Parikka, Jussi
Media History, vol. 16, Issue 3, August 2010, pp. 319-340.

The article focuses on the emergence of Finnish computer culture in the late 1950s. The introduction of computers is studied by using a wide range of source material of popular media, such as commercial and company promotion films, newspapers, popular magazine articles, cartoons and comic strips. The paper argues that the introduction of the new computing technology was deeply experienced with the help of popular media, where the technological capabilities of computers as thinking and sensing 'all-purpose machines' were translated into several media-specific audio-visual forms. Computers were represented as sensing and sensible technology, a rubric that was remediated by the help of old media. In this process, the spectacularization of computers worked not only as an innocent fabulation of the computers to convince the 'general public' but to create a certain social arrangement particular to this spectacle. The idea that the end-user is cut off from the actual processes of the computer, as suggested by such media historians as Friedrich Kittler, was evident already in the earlier construction of computing culture in the mainframe era.

Keywords: history of computing; popular media; modernity; cultural appropriation of technology; introduction of technology; Finland

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