CAMPUS MEDIUS--Topography and Topology of a Media Experience

paper, specified "short paper"
  1. 1. Simon Ganahl

    Department for German Studies - Universität Wien (University of Vienna)

  2. 2. Rory Solomon

    Parsons School of Design - The New School

  3. 3. Mallory Brennan

    School of Media Studies - The New School

  4. 4. Darius Daftary


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Campus Medius investigates mediality as historical experience, focusing on a chronotope (Bachtin 2008 & Schlögel 2008) of twenty-four hours in Vienna between May 13 and 14, 1933, and presented on two web-based platforms: an interactive map and an interactive documentary. Methodologically, the project relates Bruno Latour's actor-network theory to dispositif analysis following Michel Foucault, directed at identifying the conditions under which the experiential field of modern media was able to emerge. This approach identifies three levels, distinct in terms of their perspective but empirically overlapping: an archaeology of knowledge forms, a genealogy of power relations, and a typology of subjectivation modes. The twenty-four hours under investigation are marked by the Turks Deliverance Celebrations (Ackerl 1984) held by the Austrian National Socialists and the Home Guards. These events, commemorating the 250th anniversary of Vienna's liberation from the Turkish siege in 1683, were oriented from the outset upon processes of mass communication: the rallies were prepared by the party-political press, partially broadcast live on radio, and captured in propaganda films. To create a counter-public sphere, the Social Democrats published programmatic editorials and organized open-air concerts in Vienna's municipal buildings. While the Burgtheater staged Benito Mussolini's play Campo di Maggio, the large cinemas were screening Fritz Lang's sound movie Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse, a film banned in Germany. Campus Medius reconstructs the media events of this time-space and traces them back to historical media dispositifs. Hence, the project consists of two integral parts:
1. Topography: an interactive map of the chronotope, including hypermedia documents such as video clips, newspaper articles, radio broadcasts, photographs, and archive files. On this mock-up, the events are arranged politically—socialist and communist actors, Austrofascist ators, National Socialist actors, and bourgeois actors.

2. Topology: an argumentative analysis of knowledge forms, power relations, and subjectivation modes underlying the exemplary time-space. Based on the concrete events, this interactive documentary examines functions of media in the classical, modern, and postmodern age—a periodization which constitutes the organizational structure as represented in the diagram.

The technological architecture of the project is comprised of two platforms: the topography exists within the Urban Research Tool (URT) for geospatial mapping, developed at Parsons The New School for Design, and the topology exists within Zeega, a tool for interactive storytelling developed at Harvard's Sensory Ethnography Lab. These platforms provide two complementary lenses for exploring the collection of media material, and will be accessible through one interface: a website with the On its front page, an image of Vienna's historical map will be integrated with URT as a kind of basemap, rectified to align with the underlying OpenStreetMap data. The user can either wander through the actor-networks by clicking on the hypertextual points and paths, or follow the Zeega tours that offer three narrative montages, thereby allowing cross-references between the platforms. While the mapped topography describes the events and displays the related media in a networked structure, the Zeegas—titled Sovereign Sign, Disciplinary Gaze, and Controlled Transmission—attempt to explain the historical a priori of the actual experiences, corresponding to the periodization mentioned above. Apart from access to these tours, the interactive map as interface will provide links to three subordinate pages: a text that introduces the project to the users; a glossary of the main theoretical, topical, and technological terms; and a list of references and sources.
Age Knowledge Power Subjectivation
classical representation sovereignty God
modern man disciplinarity individual
postmodern communication control assemblage
The Turks Deliverance Celebrations connect the chronotope with the siege of Vienna in 1683 or—in a broader view—with the classical age. In Foucault's philosophy, this historical dispositif features representation as knowledge form, sovereignty as power relation, and God as subjectivation mode. (Foucault 1966, 1975 & 1976) As shown in the overview of the project's topology, the Viennese weekend actualizes not only these classical attributes, but also features of the modern dispositif in Foucault distinguished by man as knowledge form, disciplinarity as power relation, and individuals in masses as mode of subjectivation. (Foucault 1966, 1975 & 1976) Finally, the exemplary time-space also gives examples of a postmodern dispositif with communication as knowledge form, control as power relation, and assemblages as subjectivation mode. (Deleuze 1990, Hardt/Negri 2000 & Galloway/Thacker 2007) Campus Medius analyzes functions of media in these historical settings as well as effects of their actualization: sovereign leaders of the 17th and 18th century return as theatrical stars; movie houses resemble disciplinary institutions of the 19th century; controls of communication processes as established in the 20th century appear in the form of target groups and public relations; etc.
The research project deals with (a) representational, (b) methodological, and (c) empirical questions currently under discussion in cultural studies and humanities:
a) Campus Medius is rooted in digital humanities. (McPherson 2009 & Gold 2012) In its clear division between topographical presentation (Presner 2010) and topological analysis (Deleuze 1986), the project utilizes two web-based platforms in order to harness each one's particular affordances. While the interactive URT map shows the actors through hypermedia documents, the Zeega tours focus on the emergence conditions of these events. The capacity of this narrative montages to provide an argumentative explanation of its subject is juxtaposed with the map's encouragement to explore the movie clips, newspaper articles, radio broadcasts, photographs, and archive files in various ways. This implementation sets a high value on technological and scholarly transparency: Campus Medius has been examined in a peer-review process, is being programmed with open-source software, and will be published open-access in the online journal Sensate in 2014.
b) Campus Medius contributes to the clarification of the relationship between actor-network theory (Latour 2005) and dispositif analysis (Foucault 1977). According to our thesis, the former suits the description of concrete events that involve human and non-human actors while the latter allows us to derive the examined cases from historical dispositifs of knowledge forms, power relations, and subjectivation modes. (Ganahl 2013) This association is implemented in the dual structure of topography and topology. Due to the media historical subject, the project not only takes up the philosophical (Deleuze 1989 & Agamben 2009) and sociological (Law 1992 & Bührmann/Schneider 2008) discussion, but also the so-called apparatus debate (Baudry 1975 & Rosen 1986).
c) Campus Medius relates actors that are usually covered in separate fields of study. Thus, the representative architecture of Schönbrunn Palace and the disciplinary character of Karl-Marx-Hof meet each other as scenes of antagonistic rallies. (Blau 1999) The sensible leader who Mussolini imagined as Napoleon in Campo di Maggio (Dietrich 1976 & Pyrah 2007) confronts the insane criminal as depicted in Lang's Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (Jacques 1994 & Aurich 2001). While the chancellor's speech at the Turks Deliverance Celebration was broadcast live on radio, the bourgeois newspaper Neue Freie Presse ran an essay about Edward Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, who carried out propaganda as an "exact science" in order to direct public opinion via "group leaders." (Rundt 1933) Bernays had opened his New York office for public relations in the 1920s (Ewen 1996 & Tye 1998), but his concept to build lifestyles around products didn't fully thrive until Paul Lazarsfeld developed complementary statistical methods with his Economic-Psychological Research Bureau in Vienna. (Samuel 2010) The sociologist carried out a survey for Austrian radio in 1932 that broke with an understanding of the audience as a mass of individuals. (Mark 1996) By correlating the listeners' program wishes with their social data, he created target groups that could be exploited in commercial terms.

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2014
"Digital Cultural Empowerment"

Hosted at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Université de Lausanne

Lausanne, Switzerland

July 7, 2014 - July 12, 2014

377 works by 898 authors indexed

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Attendance: 750 delegates according to Nyhan 2016

Series: ADHO (9)

Organizers: ADHO