May14. | 16:43
Tania Hron | Berlin Media Theory: Program of an Alternative Thinking
Global Nuit Debout Akadimia on Syntagma
open lecture by Tania Hron
Berlin Media Theory: Program of an Alternative Thinking
“Media Determine our Situation” Friedrich Kittler 1943-2011
Avtonomi Akadimia | Sunday 15/05 | 19:00 to 21:00
Syntagma Square | Meeting Point : at the fountain
In this open air lecture on Syntagma Square I will introduce the participants to Berlin Media Theory, and to the the legacy of Friedrich Kittler.
The the large oeuvre of Friedrich Kittler is a key to understand what Media Theory is really all about: that media, that techné “determine our situation”. My presentation is as much for those already familiar with Kittler as those who have never heard of him.
I’d like to explain why the Berlin School of Media Theory actually matters to us today, and hint how it can be combined with Marxist ideas as well as with concepts such as “Assamblea” – open discussion and decision processes everyone can participate in, not in the least because of what we call new media and the world wide web. Media determine our situation: without new technologies of communication the network of activists all over the world would be unthinkable, as much as global capitalism.
So, why Friedrich Kittler? The famous German media philosopher, deceased in 2011, left a body of work including many tracks well worth following: Kittler as a founder of discourse , as an originator of media theory, media studies, media history and media philosophy, as a lateral thinker in academic activities, as well as a child of his time and a brilliant writer with a unique style.
Speaking “Klartext” is a typical statement in Kittler’s texts, and it is crucial for his philosophy: speaking in a literal sense in opposition to using metaphors that describe phenomena where explanation fails. What is the impact of symbolical structures such as language, scripture, numeral? Moreover, Klartext is when you investigate the context as well as the history – the ontology and genealogy – in which certain developments, objects, ideas occur. Where was assamblea invented? At the Pnika of course, Kittler would have said. Assembly and assembler code, vowel alphabet and numbers as code, operative and diagrammatic practice versus theory that speaks of things merely in a metaphorical way is also a major point for the Berlin School of Media Theory. For Kittler, Pop Music is a misuse of warfare technology and not the outbreak of love, peace and freedom. Drugs may be the very substance that opened a slot for new ideas, behavior or survival. The Gods are not metaphorical objects, they are what they describe: Aphrodite is the feeling she provokes, that is desire, numbers and letters have a history, they are the foundation of thought and technology. So if we wan to talk about how to change the world today we need to understand how it works: the discursive practices with Foucault, Lacan’s Réel, Imaginaire and Symbolique, the Capital of Marx and the forms of capital of Bourdieux, and the technological material base with Friedrich Kittler.
After a peculiar little career as a soap opera star Tania Hron studied German Literature, Cultural Studies and Ethnology at Humboldt University. Later on she taught there herself. She worked for and with Friedrich Kittler from 2004 until his death. From 2011 to 2014 she was engaged at the Deutsche Literaturarchiv Marbach in archiving Kittler’s literary estate, consisting of a vast collection of papers and digital storage devices such as floppy discs, CD-ROMs, old laser discs as well as seven hard drives. Tania Hron is co-editor of the Collected Works of Friedrich Kittler and has edited some of his texts for other publications.