Following the media-archaeological tenet that cultural technologies do not always progress in linear fashions, this project considers the material and discursive effects of neglected, obsolescent and often forgotten devices of the past, and their connections to current forms of mobile media. Its live and recorded do-it-yourself workshops and demonstrations strive to address the fundamental challenge posed by old media. Text and image-based documentation does not replace the meaningfulness of material interactions with technologies that are designed to operate in conjunction with the sensing, moving and emplaced body, yet locating archaeological objects to practice and play with is often difficult, if not near impossible. Historical devices are often too delicate to use if they exist at all. The MMA approach uses research-creation and DIY reproduction to facilitate embodied, accessible and accountable understandings of old media. It imagines academics as makers and sensation as knowledge, while encouraging everyone one to get up close and personal with centuries-old technologies.
The first three projects shown here stem from doctoral research on the camera obscura by Alison Reiko Loader and feature inexpensive, easy-to-make objects that have delighted both media scholars and children alike. Videos on the eighteenth-century Claude glass used for sightseeing, the handheld and walk-in camera obscura were made for Mobilities.ca in August 2013 by Loader and Caitlin Mullen, after projects designed for the Montreal Mini Maker Faire 2012, Kids Pop Montreal 2013 and the Differential Mobilities conference. Though they document the effects of these devices, the purpose of these videos is to show viewers how to make their own old devices.
Alison Reiko Loader
PhD student, Joint Doctoral Program in Communication Studies
Concordia University, Montreal, Canada