Ubiquitous Media: Asian Transformations (Tokyo July 13-16,2007)
Plenary speakers will include:
Rem Koolhaas (OMA Rotterdam)
Mark B.N. Hansen (University of Chicago)
Katherine Hayles (University of California at Los Angeles)
Shigehiko Hasumi (Former President of The University of Tokyo)
Ken Sakamura (The University of Tokyo)
Barbara Maria Stafford (University of Chicago)
Friedrich Kittler (Humboldt University)
Akira Asada (Kyoto University)
Bernard Stiegler (Centre Georges-Pompidou, Paris)
Today media are increasingly ubiquitous: more and more people live in a world of Internet pop-ups and streaming television, mobile phone texting and video clips, MP3 players and pod-casting. The media mobility means greater connectivity via smart wireless environments in the office, the car and airport. It also offers greater possibilities for recording, storage and archiving of media content. This provides not just the potential for greater choice and flexibility in re-working content (tv programmes, movies, music, images, textual data), but also great surveillance (CCTV cameras, computer spyware, credit data checking and biometrics). The media, then, can no longer be considered to be a monolithic structure producing uniform media effects. Terminology such as ‘multi-media,’ and ‘new media,’ fail to adequately capture the proliferation of media forms. Indeed, as media become ubiquitous they become increasingly embedded in material objects and environments, bodies and clothing, zones of transmission and reception. Media pervade out bodies, cultures and societies.
These ubiquitous media constitute our consumer and brand environment. Their interfaces and codes pervade our bodies and our biology. They pervade our urban spaces. They are ubiquitous in art, religion and our use of language. Yet from another angle art and language are, and have immemorially been, media. Media are about the physical, algorithm and generative code; but they are also immaterial and metaphysical. Communication is about channels and hardware/software; but communication is also about communion and community. Media deal in images: that is in the material; but their idiom is also symbols and the transcendental.
To theorize about today’s world, we evidently need to theorize media. Yet to theorize media also means we need to focus on how technological media are used in everyday practices. Not least, we need to address the question of the relationship of media practices to politics. This opens up questions about the formation of informed publics, new social movements and media events, not just the alleged need to combat media terrorism, nationalism and crime. Suggesting further questions about the power and influence of transnational media, intellectual property rights and openness of access. Raising issues of generativity, creativity and critical intervention.
Asia – East Asia, South Asia, and increasingly crucial, the Middle East – are becoming sites for these processes. Global geopolitics has been restructured by the ‘rise’ of China and India and the turbulence of the Middle East. With concomitant transformations of the role of the West and Japan, this conference becomes also a question of ‘ubiquitous Asia.’ These transformations are producing new trans-Asian culture industries, social movements and activism. At stake are a set of transformations of Asian culture(s) itself – of language, and modes of cultural thought and being. We will seek to address these questions of media transformations and their relation to social and cultural processes in a number of plenary sessions, paper sessions, round tables and events.
This conference is organized by Theory, Culture & Society and Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies /Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo.
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