A Media Archaeology Research Project

A Media Archaeology Research Project

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A 3500 words Media Archaeology Research Project.

In order to be able to make sense of what is happening now in our culture of moving images, we need to understand its past – not in the sense of teleological

development but in terms of how untimely sensibilities and ideas embodied in obsolete images and technologies keep on reappearing, inadvertently perhaps, in the


Conduct and write up a small research project on an issue in media archaeology. This may take the form of

(a) researching and analysing a specific aspect of a technology or practice analysed in the course (moving panoramas, magic lanterns in science education, back-

projection screens, analog video synthesisers etc);

(b) researching and analysing the media archaeological significance of ONE local, national or regional technology or practice on the development of media in a

particular country or region (shadow puppets, theatrical traditions, folk arts, popular musical forms, national or religious epics etc); or

(c) the media archaeological formation of a specific contemporary media practice (YouTube archives, LOL cats, OpenSSL, computer viruses etc) or device (vocoder,

personal stereo, keyboard, calculator etc).

It is advisable to pick a topic which is small enough for you to get interesting detail without over-running the available word-count. Much of your research will be

online but you should use the library and any LONDON-BASED archives. You may be able to contact archivists, curators, museum staff and others who may give guidance.

Sometimes information will not be easily available. This can be regarded as a finding in its own right, and you may wish to interpret the non-existence of records as

part of your data. There are points for successful research but also for the research methods, including those that do not reveal historical data but reasons why it

may not be possible to access it, at least in the time available, for example in the case of media that began as military technologies. Remember that media forms have

been highly mobile over history: an technique from indigenous Australians may turn up in a media technology on the other side of the world.

• select a significant and interesting topic, for example one that challenges dominant ideas about the history of media, or one that shows a potential way of doing

things that remains to be explored

• use all available sources (print, online, video, email interview etc) and assess their level of expertise and trustworthiness

• demonstrate an ability to design and carry out a small research project and write it up clearly

• show how a particular technique or practice has developed or failed to develop

• give historical reasons for its success or failure (social, cultural, legal, political, economic etc)

• assess the potential impact of the topic on historical or contemporary media as appropriate.

• take account of ideas discussed in the course such as critiques of technological determinism and progress models


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