Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Kill the darling part 8: a mechanized slaughter of Giedion

This is from the introduction - where I give a brief overview of the various themes (and thinkers) through which we could start media archaeology. Themes include "cinema", "modernity", "histories of the present" and "alternative histories", and thinkers include - well - several. One of the most important ones is of course Giedion (here briefly approached through a summary by Paul Demarinis):

Siegfried Giedion’s Mechanization Takes Command (1948):

To illustrate the media archaeological relevance of Giedion’s seminal book, it is worthwhile to mention Paul DeMarinis’s 1990 performance Mechanization Takes Command. DeMarinis, himself at the forefront of media archaeological art, writes of the book in such ways that highlights its key role as a transdisciplinary take on history of modernity and technics that is at the same time much more than “just history” and hence summarizes so much of the book but also of the inspiration where media archaeology has been drawing from: “The title’s active present tense conveys the once-fresh immediacy of the bygone mechanical age that spanned the 19th century, during which human invention overwhelmed and re-defined the human being. Contrasting the natural resources, availability of skilled labor, and historical proclivities of Europe and America, he examines, chapter by chapter, the effects of mechanization on the various realms of human endeavour. The lock and key, bread baking, slaughterhouses, furniture and the very notion of comfort, kitchen appliances, and bathing are among the subjects of Giedion’s scrutiny. Ever attentive to the impact of mechanization on the organic world, our lives and our bodies, Giedion’s critical perspective surpasses mere historical documentation, teleological theory, or scientistic adulation: he bares the roots of the many contradictions underlying our current global crises of life and humanity versus the corporate mechanism and the ruling taste. Mechanization Takes Command is a sourcebook of problems, solutions, and the solutions that became problems.” (Demarinis 2010: 211).

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