“Perhaps it is not tighter definitions but a fuller canvassing of the interplay between past and present media that the historical study of new media could use most.”
– Wudwig Wittgenstein
Benjamin Peters’ proposal of media as renewable opens up the larger discussion of network’s enfoldment of time and space. Peters opens up the conversation, but did not detail the ways which media renew themselves in the “gaps, silences, and white spaces” left by the media that displaced them. By conceptualizing history as a constellation, as a network, we can begin to see how such renewal happen. Fascinated by the idea of renewable, fascinated by the idea that history can offer an “ever-renewable resource” as an affirmative call for the actualization of this virtual realm of possibilities, I am nevertheless urged to consider how this renewal happen.
By conceptualizing history as networks engages with questions of change, agency, and organization embroiled in the term “renewal”. It seems renewal as a term needs some unpacking. I find Castell offers a form of clarity that might be missed in Latour, mainly how the “switchers” does the switching. Castell argues that changing one component of the network does not change the structural logic of domination. To counter networks of power and their connection, an alternative networks need to introduced. In other words, disruptions, ruptures, events, and breaks are not enough to introduce change if the establishment of new networks does not bind/connect/sediment to the previous network. Then the question must be, how are these new annunciations/connections/articulations durable? The binding of alternative networks has unique temporalities and should address the issue of durability (we can not take sedimentation lightly). Again, Castell in his “Afterwords” did not tell us how this can happen (though perhaps he sketched out his ideas in some of the other readings).
[If I am making this an issue of durability, then there are certain affirmativeness to the ‘failure of networks’ themselves (interesting I think…) Yes, failures of networks bring to light the ‘black-boxed’ nature of heterogenous elements, but I think there’s something more going on…]
Specifically, renewable media, and more generally, history and networks, the question of agency, change, and organization still needs to be teased out. Merleau-Ponty argues, history is a “cumulative penetration in an unfolding process” where habit sediment the past within the present, dismissing history as successive discrete events. I start from Merleau-Ponty to touch upon the critique that ANT doesn’t take in to account the politics of gender, race, etc. I think its important to privilege embodiment for we are bodies-in-situation or bodies-in-networks. Actors are embodied in their networks, that this embodiment brings attention to our practices and habituations within a network and how that network offers the affordances for certain expressions. Creative praxis must be durable and bind to our very practice in a relational ontology of indeterminacy offered by ANT.
I did not answer any of the questions that I set out to ask, or am even faithful to the critques I made in the beginning, but I feel this train of thought can be another affirmative facination.