Oui, the mediarchaeologists, have a method for delving into the depths, to the core, better yet, the dual-core, of the media. Media theorists generally assume that media are defined by their effects. First of all, effects on the sensorium, or the hierarchy of senses. Thus, already with McLuhan, anything could be media.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, assume the same thing but with a nuance : the effects on the sensorium (and on language) come from media devices. So oui place them at the origin and in command (archè) of our cultural environment. They determine both thought and writing. But in a non-linear way: in a mediarchy, the effects are also the causes (both formal and material).
Oui, mediarchaeologists, aim to analyze and measure the effects of digital media on writing, the sensorium and thought. In order to do this, oui must get to the core to attain that which, in the medium, governs. The origin—what comes first—and the principle are the condition of the conditions of the medium. At the origin of the commanding structure, oui locate recursion. The recursivity of the conditions of mediality is the strange loop that governs the media, in reverse, at the core of their core.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, find ourselves confronted with three tasks.
Oui, as mediarchaeologists, artists, researchers, designers, theorists, writers, teachers and conservator-restorers— or media paleontologists—undertake subterranean plunges into the material layers of the media, opening up the strategies at work in their lowest and most hidden layers, be they industrial, economic, logistic, geopolitical, ideological. The strata of this formation govern the verticality of the digital – in the layers of our devices as in the multi-level Stack. Neither these strata nor our own world are flat : but made of dynamic folds and metamorphic resurgences. These infrastructures are our intra-structures—defying all clear separation between an outside and an inside. Our media are our milieu : our most inner self as much as our environment. Our feigned interactions are the intra-actions of the Stack : Our primary task is to reorient ourselves here. Let us call this task : repoliticization. This is realized through art.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, are also in quest of a poetics of machines, the first step of which reveals itself to be a poetics of the algorithm (generator, bot, collaborative writing), and a poetics of hardware—both written with a blended human-machinic voice. Oui listen to the sound of bots—in search for noise. Let’s call this task: repoetization. It is a repoetization of languages, of codes, of commands, of materials, of milieux.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, are burdened with one last task, that of deciphering and decrypting the account of dead and immortal media. Of understanding the secret of media generation, of their birth, of their contagion, of their life and death. This task is our main task. History, which presupposes writing and thus media, cannot be the proper way of compiling this account. For media preceded writing, and not the other way around. This is why oui are archaeologists, and not historians. Oui seek to listen to these media, whose voice is not comparable to our own. Our goal is to grasp where oui are writing and speaking from, as humans. Our goal is to make contact with the consciousness of the media machines. Oui seek to approach the mystery of codes, for, today, all is code—gods and demons included. Let us call this task : deciphering.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, show interface artists their contradictions. These artists think they are creating by using readymade software, whereas the true creators are those who have created the software, the operating system and the microprocessor. The interface artists, whose productions are often spectacular and animated by a sense of seriousness, are like fish in a bowl who believe they’re free. Oui, mediarchaeologists, at least know that our freedom is nothing but awareness of our medial determinations.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, open up the machines and carry out our operations with a doubly open heart. Oui prefer the digital scavenger to the code tamer, but Oui most prefer the algorithm injector. Our path leads from high-level languages to the coding operations that underlie them. This path is increasingly difficult because of industrial blocking measures. Oui are devoting all energy to removing these check points.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, are seizing the past by way of the future, to extract the present from disnovation and to free tomorrow from the short-circuits of live broadcasting. Attentive to deep time, oui are seizing the present by curating the past, thwarting the dominant high-tech discourse. Against precalculated (rather than planned) obsolescence and against the ideology of the new, oui are exploring the materialities of machines by recycling machines of the past to question those that are emerging. Oui are reversing the law of consumerism. Moore is less. Glitch is bliss. The modular devices of yesterday know more than the latest password-protected black boxes. (S)Low Tech. Mediarchy’s recursions loop around a core of cores, which must remain open. Its name is : microprocessor, concrete base upon which all symbolic superstructures are erected.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, know that media allow us to « fold time, space and agencies. » Oui remorselessly experiment with the unprecedented properties of acceleration. Oui are wary of real time. Oui know that dead time is control’s assassin.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, know that all medialization raises the horizon of mediumnism. Media allow the dead to speak. Dead media continue to speak to the living. Oui have no fear of mediumnism, neither do oui deny its efficacy: oui delight in it.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, are not seeking to get behind a final definition of media, but to multiply research and experimentation concerning the imaginaries of media, and to stimulate ourselves with contradictory conceptualizations of media.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, publicly denounce the trolls who introduce HypePads in the classroomreducing the medium to the status of a user-friendly instrument, the tool to a gadget, the child to a user.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, decry the reign of valet applications, which remove their operations from any political grasp and from any active recovery—replacing computers with Mechanical Turks. Driven by the impatience of consumerist desires, butler-applications subjugate without reservations armies of tiny damned hands to the most extreme discre(tisa)tion—in a universe of Uber-Mensch and of Supermales, of micro-serfs and of filles-au-pair-to-peer, where the medium is the massacre of talents.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, stalk the reality of capta and captures behind the ideology of data. Nothing is given that hasn’t already been taken. We give way to ourselves every time we take what is given. The servers never serve us without taking us over. Our task is to learn to take from them what they do not give to us.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, experiment with the elemental nature of the media. In our HypePhones, oui carry around small bits of Africa and Asian drops of sweat in our pockets. The Cloud isn’t made of vapor, but of underwater cables. Its ubiquity doesn’t liberate us from space : it reduces the autonomy of the hard drive to the subsidiary nature of the terminal. There is no Cloud, only someone else’s hard drive.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, dig into media’s deep time to bring forth alternatives to the misguided wanderings of our era—whose generic name is : Capitalism.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, reveal the poetics of the worldwide electric flow relayed by electrically charged bodies. Oui are their echographers. Oui auscultate the living, the dead and their machines to find in their codes partial equivalents that shape their movements as well as their lassitudes, but most of all their passings, ACTG GOTO 1000101 and other bytes which constitute their actuality.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, stalk the milieux that are constantly composing and recomposing in the invaginations of matter in motion and of matter in meaning, within its intrafaces and its interstructures. Oui affirm the kinships of code in its multiple forms, from the virus to the microbe, the mushroom and other cells, that compose luminous zoologies out of our archaeologies. Oui, mediarchaeologists, manipulate reverse transcriptase and recombinant amplification.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, are always co-authors. At least, with writing machines. Without pretentions of grandeur, without personal voice, oui are microphones.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, suspect the dominant testosterone of certain hacker sectors. To the conquerers’ armor oui prefer the queer’s hoodie, to Hack-a-thons, Hacking-with-care.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, are the illegitimate children of Bruce Sterling and Friedrich Kittler, the bastards of Joan Clarke and Alan Turing, William Buroughs and William Gibson, Douglas Engelbart, Forrest Kassanavoid, Grace Hopper, Heraclitus, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Ada Lovelace. Oui are the offshoots of the culture of nexus, of stolon.
Oui, mediarchaeologists, reactivate media and their defunct prophets. Not out of nostalgia, but to measure the attentional ruptures that their death spawns, and on their ashes build, not mausoleums, but prolific architectures and means—media—of action.
This mediarchaeologist manifesto sprang forth from the Cerisy-la-Salle castle, from May 30th to June 5th 2016, based on a performance by Emmanuel Guez, looked over, edited, amended, augmented by multiple exchanges. It is made to be diffused, looked over, reedited, amended, echographed for and by all of its co-authors to come.
Its archaeosignatories are Thierry Bardini, Yves Citton, Igor Galligo, Jeff Guess, Emmanuel Guez, Quentin Julien, Isabelle Krzywkowski, Marie Lechner, Anthony Masure, Pia Pandelakis, Ghislain Thibault, Frédérique Vargoz, Gwenola Wagon.
It was translated-adapted into English from the original French by Henry Carmines and Lindsey Wainwright.