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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Medienwissenschaft

Workshop "Techno-Trauma: From Analog to Digital" - Abstract

Techno-Trauma: From Analog to Digital



While trauma studies have typically focused on non-historicizable memory as induced by shock experience (Vietnam, the Holocaust, terrorist attacks), and its post-traumatic transformation in therapy and public discourse (such as television, literature and film), the media-archaeological approach shifts attention to a more fundamental level of operativity, focusing on traumatic affects as immediate functions of the technological pre-conditions themselves. When coupled with human perception, electronic and algorithmic media operations result in specific irritations of the human sense of time. The photographic punctum short-circuiting historical distance was described by Roland Barthes' La chambre claire as an affective temporal indexicality in direct relation to photo-sensitive chemicals. The cultural shock induced by the first recordings and re-playing of voices by the Edison phonograph is yet to be digested in occidental cultural epistemology and logocentrism. The modelling of the human unconsciousness according to binary machine logics by Jacques Lacan has finally undermined the self-understanding of a privileged human subjectivity - an ongoing irritation of presence as consciousness.

One thread of discussion in the forthcoming workshop will be the assumption that a special class of traumatic temporality is not event-based in terms of historical experience but springs from the technological conditions of experience themselves.

Another (but not exclusive) emphasis will be put on the oral and sonic signal recording, signal transmission, signal processing and signal replaying technologies as a privileged site for analyzing practices of archiving presence and re-presencing the past as it undergoes analog-to-digital conversion.