New ProbesAugust 11, 2007
In his 1969 book Counterblast, McLuhan in cahoots with designer Harley Parker adventure into non-euclidean typographies and playful prose. Speculating (and demonstrating) the presence of previously imperceptible lifeforms in new media environs.
“Media…can be entrusted only to new artists, because they are art forms, that is, new ways of perception, new probes into the world like new species. Evolution as a process has shifted from biology to technology.” (McLuhan) Artists themselves as new species. New mutants arrived from the future to accelerate the evolutionary processes. Kodwo Eshun tuned in to this nearly a decade ago, in his mezmerizing More Brilliant Than The Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction
Technologies are typically situated as remedies for older models of media. Digital cameras incorporate the “click” sound and look of an SLR while simulataneously promoting the convenience of post-chemical processing. This slow-moving remediation buffers the outpouring of ever-new media, gadgets and killer apps that automate and infiltrate one’s sense of (extended) self.
Residual media are missing links, unknown species with traces of familiarity. Cryptozoologists deviate from scientific methods into the realm of the imaginary and fantastic. Inversely, the 19th century Modern Spiritualists appropriated electronic jargon to re-frame their mystical beliefs, seances and sightings