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Updated by Jodie Taylor on Nov 22, 2017
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Media Ecologies

"Media ecology looks into the matter of how media of communication affect human perception, understanding, feeling, and value; and how our interaction with media facilitates or impedes our chances of survival. Media ecology tries to find out what roles media force us to play, how media structure what we are seeing, why media make us feel and act as we do." (Neil Postman)

What is Media Ecology? (A Short Answer)

"The term ‘ecology’ is used here because it is one of the most expressive language currently has to indicate the massive and dynamic interrelation of processes and objects, beings and things, patterns and matter….The term ‘media ecology’ is used and in circulation in a number of ways. The term is chosen here because this multiple use turns it into a crossroads: Putting these two words next to each other produces a conjunction of two variables that are always busy with meaning. Their dynamism, however, always arises out of concrete conditions. The virtuality of such conditions, their possible reinvention or alternative state, their pregnancy with change and interrelation, is as deeply implied in this concreteness as much as it can be said to be subject to definition (Fuller 2005:2-3)"

Variable Media Network

The variable media paradigm pairs creators with museum and media consultants to imagine potential futures for works in ephemeral formats, including digital media, performances, and installations. The initiative aims to define each of these case studies in terms of medium-independent behaviors and to identify the best strategies for preserving work with the help of an interactive questionnaire.

Media Ecologies

In Media Ecologies, Matthew Fuller asks what happens when media systems interact. Complex objects such as media systems—understood here as processes, or elements in a composition as much as "things"—have become informational as much as physical, but without losing any of their fundamental materiality. Fuller looks at this multiplicitous materiality—how it can be sensed, made use of, and how it makes other possibilities tangible. He investigates the ways the different qualities in media systems can be said to mix and interrelate, and, as he writes, "to produce patterns, dangers, and potentials."

Fuller draws on texts by Felix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze as well as writings by Friedrich Nietzsche, Marshall McLuhan, Donna Haraway, Friedrich Kittler, and others, to define and extend the idea of "media ecology." Arguing that the only way to find out about what happens when media systems interact is to carry out such interactions, Fuller traces a series of media ecologies—"taking every path in a labyrinth simultaneously," as he describes one chapter. He looks at contemporary London-based pirate radio and its interweaving of high- and low-tech media systems; the "medial will to power" illustrated by "the camera that ate itself"; how, as seen in a range of compelling interpretations of new media works, the capacities and behaviors of media objects are affected when they are in "abnormal" relationships with other objects; and each step in a sequence of Web pages, Cctv—world wide watch, that encourages viewers to report crimes seen via webcams.

Contributing to debates around standardization, cultural evolution, cybernetic culture, and surveillance, and inventing a politically challenging aesthetic that links them, Media Ecologies, with its various narrative speeds, scales, frames of references, and voices, does not offer the academically traditional unifying framework; rather, Fuller says, it proposes to capture "an explosion of activity and ideas to which it hopes to add an echo."

Media Ecologies and Imaginary Media: Transversal Expansions, Contractions, and Foldings

This article focuses on the transpositions of media and nature through recent art projects such as Harwood, Wright and Yokokoji’s Eco Media (Cross Talk) and Garnet Hertz’s Dead Media lab. The Eco Media project developed new modes of thinking media (ecology) through a tracking of the intensities of nature. However, in this case the medium is understood in a very broad sense to cover the ecosystem as a communication network of atmospheric flows, tides, reproductive hormones, scent markers, migrations or geological distributions.

Curating Everyday Life: Approaches to Documenting Everyday Soundscapes

In the last decade, cell phone’s transformation from a tool for mobile telephony into a multi-modal, computational “smart” media device has engendered a new kind of emplacement, and the ubiquity of technological mediation into the everyday settings of urban life. With it, a new kind of media literacy has become necessary for participation in the networked social publics (Ito; Jenkins et al.). Increasingly, the way we experience our physical environments, make sense of immediate events, and form impressions is through the lens of the camera and through the ear of the microphone, framed by the mediating possibilities of smartphones. Adopting these practices as a kind of new media “grammar” (Burn 29)—a multi-modal language for public and interpersonal communication—offers new perspectives for thinking about the way in which mobile computing technologies allow us to explore our environments and produce new types of cultural knowledge.

Media Ecology as Ecology Contrariwise: Protecting Humans from the Digital Environment

Excerpted from: Andrey Miroshnichenko. “Media Ecology as Ecology Contrariwise: Protecting Humans from the Digital Environment”. Systema: connecting matter, life, culture and technology. Vol 3, No 1 (2015): Special Issue: Media Ecology. Guest Editor Robert Logan

The article applies the concepts of media socialization, media literacy, and media hygiene to the problem of human adaptation to the digital environment. The interaction of humans with the digital environment is described from the viewpoint of media ecology, but the ecological paradigm is reversed: what is at issue is not the protection of the environment from humans, but rather the protection of humans from the digital environment.
The development of the digital environment is only a few decades old. Humans have no experience of living amid environmental confusion and temporal compression. The task of media ecology is to help humankind develop the skills of living in a digital environment.

Media socialization develops norms for the children who enter the digital world with little experience of social interaction in the real world. Media literacy is a method of teaching people to use technical and social interfaces for interaction within a new environment. Media hygiene guides people to “prosume” content in the digital environment safely.

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    Dr Jodie Taylor is a Senior Lecturer in Media & Cultural Studies at SAE Creative Media Institute, Brisbane. Through the lens of critical pedagogy, Jodie’s praxis-orientated approach to education is guided by the desire to help students become aesthetically inspired, media literate, culturally sensitive, critical and creative thinkers.

    She is the author of Playing it Queer: Popular Music, Identity & Queer World-making (Peter Lang 2012), and co-author of Redefining Mainstream Popular Music (Routledge 2013) and The Festivalisation of Culture (Ashgate 2014). She has published more than 30 scholarly articles & chapters on popular music, gender, sexuality and ageing; queer theory, youth culture and subcultural style; and ethical relations in ethnographic fieldwork.

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