Saturday, June 5

Electronic Book Review - Kittler's Optical Media

The Electronic Book Review has a good review up of Friedrich Kittler's (currently untranslated, AFAIK), Optische Medien (2002) comparing it to Oliver Grau's Virtual Art.

The "discussion of new digital image media represents the most striking difference between these two texts. Indeed, Kittler appears far more interested in the prehistory of technical media, which constitutes two thirds of his book, and he only devotes the last eight and a half pages to the computer, which some reviewers have described as a severe weakness (see Adelmann). Kittler adds, however, that this lack of attention to the computer is motivated by a fundamental distinction between optical and digital technologies. The computer, in other words, can no longer be described as an optical medium, as it is not designed to process images: “All the differences between individual media are leveled out. Regardless of whether the digital computer transmits sounds or is internally working only with endless streams of bits” (316)."