What is Mediology?

Mediology is the study of logics of media and mediation conceived in their widest possible sense. Moving beyond the limitations of many contemporary approaches to these terms, which often limit the scope of the study of media to the ‘mass media’ technologies of the 20th century – such as radio, film, television – a mediological approach aims to investigate all the varied structures, materials, and practices which make representation, in its widest sense, possible. By linking the study of newer media formations with more traditional forms of mediation – from biological and chemical forms of representation to the use of images, written words and symbols, musical and mathematical discourses, money and commodity forms, social practices and performances, etc. – Mediology aims to reframe the study of media in a manner in which not only the content but also the form of these practices are essential to an understanding of media objects. By focusing on the production, distribution, history, and evolution of media formations, mediological analysis aims to pose the question of potential logics of mediation in the broadest possible sense, and in a manner which is more comprehensive, historical, and materialist than previous approaches.

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WHAT MEDIOLOGY IS:

– Mediology moves beyond traditional ‘media studies’ to include all forms of ‘mediation’ in the widest possible sense, including biological, chemical, linguistic, imagistic, financial, musical, gestural, architectural, and new and emerging forms of mediation.

– Mediology sees the ‘mass media’ of the 20th century – radio, film, television, the internet – as simply a continuation of more traditional forms of mediation, including written language, painting and visual images, money and commodity formations, architectural and built forms, etc.

– Mediology works to move beyond the analysis of the content of media objects to an integrated study of the material conditions of the production of media objects, as well as the evolution and change between mediological forms of distribution, circulation, consumption.

– Mediology view media as productive of the conditions of possibility whereby meanings and their effects emerge. Media therefore exist in the interstices between many of the traditional binaries which have structured Western thought, such as the divisions between subject/object, matter/mind, form/content, living/non-living, mind/body, outside/inside, self/other, sense/non-sense. Mediology reframes many of these debates via emerging perspectives centered around notions such as media ecologies, assemblage theories, network theories and networkologies, theories of complex adaptive systems, etc.

– Mediology views media and the collective intersection of various media effects as productive of what has been generally called ’subjectivity’ or ‘individuality.’ Mediology views subjectivity as existing at the intersection of various networks of media, each with their particular historical, material, and cultural conditions of emergence. Thus, there are a wide variety of types of intertwinings of alphabetic subjects, televisual subjects, internet subjects, gestural subjects – but no univeral subjects outside of time, place, and media.

– Mediology views bodies and their objects as media whereby organisms interact with the world. The body and its sense organs are the primary media whereby organisms interact with their environments, while the various tools and prostheses which have co-evolved with humans – including tools, weapons, household objects, words, vehicles, and a variety of other objects – are media which create media effects intertwined with those of bodies.

– Mediology views the entire world as an intertwined ensemble of media and media-effects. Thus it is a discipline and domain of knowledge, for just as anthropolgy and performance studies when they were new proposed new lenses through which the world could be viewed, so mediology views the world through the lens of media and mediation. This perpective is seen as no more ‘true’ than an economic or biologically centered worldview, but rather, as providing unique insights into the potentials and pitfalls of the increasing pace of transformation of forms of mediation at play in our current age. Thus it is possible to think of chemical and physical media as much as economic of musical media. Mediological analaysis aims to engage the commonalities and particularities involved in mediation as such.

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WHAT MEDIOLOGY IS NOT:

unlike traditional Communications Studies, Mediology does not reduce itself to studying to the content of messages transmitted by senders to receivers. On the contrary, Mediology aims to examine the content of utterances within the context of the specific media which determine the conditions of their production, as well as the diversity of forms thereof, as well as study the manner in which the the clear-cut distinction between ‘message,’ ’sender,’ and ‘reciever’ are themselves historically and socially contingent mediological formations.

unlike traditional Media Studies, Mediology does not reduce itself to studying the ‘mass media’ of the 20th century, such as radio, film, television, and now, the internet. Rather, Mediology sees these newer forms as extensions of previous cultural media – such as the image, alphabet, tools, easel painting, mathematical symbols, written letters and postal service, musical writing and instruments, newspapers, scientific instruments – as well as forms of mediation at work in extra-human interfaces, as exemplified by media such as DNA, computer codes, physical information, animal and plant communication, etc.

unlike Information Studies, Mediology does not reduce all media effects to constrained view of what does or does not constitute ‘information.’ Rather, Mediology aims to show how media constitute their own criteria of legibility, value, and adjudication.

unlike traditional Cognitive Sciences, Mediology does not believe thought to be fundamentally binary, or that it might be possible to investigate minds and thinking separately from the medium of the body. Rather, Mediology sees the body of living organisms as the primary media through which they encounter the world.

unlike traditional Semiotics, Mediology does not have a restrictive definition of what constitutes a sign, or of the need for a sharp division between signifier and signified, nor does it privilege the linguistic or written over the visual or aural. Mediology views all forms of interchange between entities as media effects, beyond the strictures of traditional semiotic approaches.

Mediology combines aspects of all of these disciplines, and works at their intersection . . .

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