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Mobile and Ubiquitous Media

Critical and International Perspectives


Edited By Michael S. Daubs and Vincent R. Manzerolle

What does the phrase "ubiquitous media" actually mean? Individual definitions are just as varied and ubiquitous as the media to which they refer. As a result, there is to date no large-scale theoretical framework through which we can understand the term. The goal of this volume is to provide a diverse set of critical, theoretical, and international approaches useful to those looking for a more diverse and nuanced understanding of what ubiquitous media means analytically.

In contrast to other existing texts on mobile media, these contributions on mobile media are contextualised within a larger discussion on the nature and history of ubiquitous media. Other sections of this edited volume are dedicated to historical perspectives on ubiquitous media, ubiquitous media and visual culture, the role of ubiquitous media in surveillance, the political economy of ubiquitous media, and the way a ubiquitous media environment affects communities, spaces, and places throughout the world.

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Chapter Nine: Everywhere and Nowhere, Simultaneously: Theorizing the Ubiquitous, Immaterial, Post-Digital Photograph (Kris Belden-Adams)


chapter nine

Everywhere and Nowhere, Simultaneously

Theorizing the Ubiquitous, Immaterial, Post-Digital Photograph

Kris Belden-Adams

Walter Benjamin wrote about the revolutionary impact that photography’s ubiquitous circulation had upon human consciousness, and upon previously stable conceptions of time and space. To those ends, he defined the term “aura”—a quality possessed by an “original” material image—as a “strange weave of time and space; the unique appearance of a distance, however close at hand” (Benjamin 1977, 49). Benjamin’s reception-oriented account of photographic reproductions suggested that an object’s aura is essentially and necessarily related to a viewer’s experience with that object in its unique, physical, original, temporal-and-spatial context. Reproduced images, he noted, carried images across multiple spaces and times, made them ubiquitous as both practice and product, and replaced the aura with easy access, familiarity, contingency, and invitations for viewers to weave new contexts and multiple meanings for images.

Although Benjamin was writing about issues of originality and the sensory effects of photographically induced visual stimulation in the 1920s and 1930s, his ideas are particularly relevant to the state of the medium in today’s Post-Digital age, as digitization and photography’s diverse social practices have become normalized and entrenched in our sensorium so much that their effects may be studied, theorized, and perhaps even quantified. Despite its potentially misleading name, Post-Digital discourses do not announce the end of digital media or a divorce from its analog roots. For photography, the Post-Digital age has become...

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