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What Is A Media Lab?

situated practices in media studies

Month / August 2016

Exploring Digital Ephemera: An Interview with The Digital Studies Center at Rutgers University

Jim Brown is Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Digital Studies Center at Rutgers University Camden. His research focuses on the ethical and rhetorical dimensions of new media technologies.

What is your lab called and where is it?

JB: We are the Digital Studies Center at Rutgers University Camden. We attempted to put together a snazzier name than that, but our dean was keen to keep “Center” in the title. Like “lab”and “studio,” the term “center” has its own political weight (maybe suggesting size, research heft, etc.)Rutgers-Camden is one of three campuses in the Rutgers system, the state university system of New Jersey. Camden is in South Jersey, just across the Ben Franklin Bridge from Philadelphia Pennsylvania. I am the Director and Robert Emmons is our Associate Director.

What sorts of projects and activities form the core of your work? Is there a specific temporal or technological focus for your lab?

JB: We are two years old, so we’re still fairly “young,” but our main research project is the Rutgers-Camden Archive of Digital Ephemera (R-CADE). The R-CADE operates with much the same ethos as Lori Emerson’s Media Archaeology Lab. We don’t have an extensive collection of technology, but our primary focus is actually on providing scholars with software or hardware that they’d like to investigate, research, and/or repurpose. Our R-CADE Symposium features this kind of work.

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An Interview with John Vallier of MediArcade at University of Washington


John Vallier is Head of Distributed Media Studies and an affiliate assistant professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Washington.

What is your lab called and where is it?

It’s called Media Arcade (aka mediArcade) and is located in Suzzallo-Allen Library at the University of Washington, Seattle. We landed on “arcade” for a few reasons:

– it provides access to a number of gaming consoles;
– we wanted to draw undergrads into the space (they were primarily the ones who paid for it), so we aimed to make it sound “fun”;
– it’s closed to the public, so it is not a commons;
– we already have a Media Center, which houses our main video collection;
– it’s a roundabout reference to Benjamin’s The Arcades Project.

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An Interview with Wolfgang Ernst


The Media Archaeological Fundus is populated with core technological molecules which at first glance look outdated but become a-historical once they are deciphered with media-archaeological eyes, ears and minds.

Can you start by telling us a bit about how the idea for the Media Archaeological Fundus came about? 

The seminar for Media Studies was founded at Humboldt University in Berlin in 2003, replacing the former seminar, Theatre Studies. All of a sudden, spaces like the student practicing stage and its related fund of objects for rehearsal were empty. This was the ideal moment for the Berlin school of media studies (insisting on the materialities of communication and epistemic technologies) to claim such rooms under new auspices. The stage became the Media Theatre where technical devices themselves become the protagonist, and the fund became the space for a collection of requisites of a new kind: media archaeological artefacts.

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Post-Studio Practices: An Interview with Neal White of Office of Experiments

I wanted to deliberately move away from the hermetic space that media / digital art was creating for itself – the Lab – and to set up an independent contemporary art practice that was networked and moved across spaces, enclosures, archives and galleries. Therefore I needed to find a way of working with others that was neither exploitative nor driven by serving another discipline or field.

Interview by Jussi Parikka


Neal White runs the Office of Experiments, a research platform that “works in the expanded field of contemporary art.”

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Jesper Olsson on The Media Archaelogy Lab

the point of the Media archaeology lab is to historicize and critically investigate digital media and technologies…not to underwrite the myth of constant progress, but rather to complexify the history of media. In tinkering with old, forgotten, and dead media it opens our eyes to mistakes, waste, and failure […] in order to sharpen our understanding of what media are and how they operate, of their specific temporality, of their impact on perception and thinking, on cultural practice and art and everyday life.

An interview with Jesper Olsson on the concept of the media archaeological lab.

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Hackerspace Culture: An Interview with Alicia Gibb of the Blow Thing Up Lab

In this interview for Theory & Practice of “Doing” // From Digital Humanities to Posthumanities, Georgie Archibald speaks with Alicia Gibb, director of the Blow Things Up Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder. The interview explores the function and culture of the BTU Lab as a university and community hackerspace. It was conducted and recorded in person at the Lab in November 2015, before being transcribed at a later date.

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Doing Digital Humanities Work in a Lab Space: An Interview with Gabriel K. Wolfenstein

In this interview for Theory & Practice of “Doing” // From Digital Humanities to Posthumanities, Cayla D. Eagon, PhD Student at the University of Colorado Boulder, chats with Gabriel K. Wolfenstein, the Crowdsourcing Project Manager for the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) at Stanford University. The interview focuses on describing what digital humanities work looks like in a specific lab space.

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Experiments in Multimedia Installation in Genova

Simona Barbera is an artist and an instructor of multimedia installation at the Academia Legustica di Belle Arti in Genova, Italy. In collaboration with her students, she runs a small media lab intended for experimental work and critical study in the fields of installation art, expanded cinema, sound art and material forms of display. What is […]

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