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Conditions of Mediation

Phenomenological Perspectives on Media

Tim Markham and Scott Rodgers

Phenomenology has become one of the most important philosophical traditions underpinning recent theory and research on new media, whether or not the word is used explicitly. Conditions of Mediation brings together, for the first time in a single publication, the diversity of phenomenological media research—from social platforms and wearable media to diasporic identity formation and the ethics of consumer technologies.

The new orthodoxy in media studies emphasizes the experience of media—whether as forms, texts, technics or protocols—marking a departure from traditional approaches preoccupied with media content or its structural contexts. But phenomenologically informed approaches go beyond merely asking what people do with media. They ask a more profound question: what constitutes the conditions of mediated experience in the first place?

Beginning with an accessible introduction, this book invites readers to explore a wide range of phenomenological perspectives on media via two critical dialogues involving key thinkers alongside a series of theoretically sophisticated and empirically grounded chapters. In so doing, interdisciplinary media studies is brought into conversation with the work of philosophers such as Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, as well as phenomenologically-inspired thinkers such as Erving Goffman, Pierre Bourdieu, Tim Ingold, Henri Lefebvre, Friedrich Kittler, Marshall McLuhan and Bernard Stiegler.

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Signal Territories: Broadcast Infrastructure, Google Earth, and Phenomenology (Lisa Parks)

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Signal Territories

Broadcast Infrastructure, Google Earth, and Phenomenology1

Lisa Parks

This image (see Figure D.1) is a screen capture from the earth-observing platform known as Google Earth. It shows the United States with a layer called FCCInfo activated and reveals the country to be one giant signal territory—a landscape defined not only by its sovereign boundaries but blanketed with color-coded icons and lines representing an array of broadcast facilities including transmission towers, repeaters, transponders, links, and antennas. Such sites are vital to the functioning of broadcast systems and thus are integral to the production of media cultures. These transmission facilities did not emerge overnight. They surfaced gradually over the past century as urban and rural communities developed radio and television stations both independently and in conjunction with national broadcast corporations. Each of the technological objects represented by color-coded balloons is embedded within a set of material conditions and local histories, as well as within what Richard Maxwell and Toby Miller call a “materialist ecology” of media. In this sense, the Google Earth–FCCInfo interface can be thought of as creating a discursive space for further inquiry as it isolates and directs attention to a multitude of sites and objects that demand further critical, historical, and phenomenological investigation.

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