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Book Review: Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media by Shannon Mattern

Book Review: Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media by Shannon Mattern Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media , by Shannon Mattern. University of Minnesota Press, 2017. 280 pp./$108 (hb), $27 (sb). The relatively new discipline of “media archaeology” examines the materiality of media objects through time. Media archaeologists propose that media never die, but instead assume afterlives in society, the environment, and linguistic signification. Pioneer media archaeologists and precursors include the likes of Michel Foucault, Friedrich Kittler, and Bernard Stiegler. In recent years, newcomers to the field have approached information networks, sound environments, and image cultures as also encompassing a plethora of social and political contexts. In short, media archaeology has spawned a series of interdisciplinary, theoretical approaches to the ways in which our medias’ pasts can be identified and experienced in the historical present [Image 1]. IMAGE 1. Shannon Mattern’s recent book, Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media , engages this second generation of media archaeology. Using both a theoretical and practical framework, Mattern conducts an actual archaeology in the modern city, complemented by theoretical methods that assess the social and political stakes of the field. Her critique of “smart cities,” for example, illustrates how smartness is not tethered to technological innovation. “Our earliest settlements were just as smart,” Mattern writes, “although theirs was an intelligence less computational and more material and environmental” (x). Planners, city policymakers, and architects have always been interested in improving the quality of life, even before quantitative means to do so became available. One only needs to consider some of humanity’s most … http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism University of California Press

Book Review: Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media by Shannon Mattern

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Publisher
University of California Press
Copyright
© 2019 by The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Reprints and Permissions web page, https://www.ucpress.edu/journals/reprints-permissions.
eISSN
2578-8531
DOI
10.1525/aft.2019.463010
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media , by Shannon Mattern. University of Minnesota Press, 2017. 280 pp./$108 (hb), $27 (sb). The relatively new discipline of “media archaeology” examines the materiality of media objects through time. Media archaeologists propose that media never die, but instead assume afterlives in society, the environment, and linguistic signification. Pioneer media archaeologists and precursors include the likes of Michel Foucault, Friedrich Kittler, and Bernard Stiegler. In recent years, newcomers to the field have approached information networks, sound environments, and image cultures as also encompassing a plethora of social and political contexts. In short, media archaeology has spawned a series of interdisciplinary, theoretical approaches to the ways in which our medias’ pasts can be identified and experienced in the historical present [Image 1]. IMAGE 1. Shannon Mattern’s recent book, Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media , engages this second generation of media archaeology. Using both a theoretical and practical framework, Mattern conducts an actual archaeology in the modern city, complemented by theoretical methods that assess the social and political stakes of the field. Her critique of “smart cities,” for example, illustrates how smartness is not tethered to technological innovation. “Our earliest settlements were just as smart,” Mattern writes, “although theirs was an intelligence less computational and more material and environmental” (x). Planners, city policymakers, and architects have always been interested in improving the quality of life, even before quantitative means to do so became available. One only needs to consider some of humanity’s most …

Journal

Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural CriticismUniversity of California Press

Published: Sep 3, 2019

References