DEAD MEDIA RESEARCH STUDIO is devoted to media archaeology, research on the retro, the vintage, the forgotten, obsolete, obscure or otherwise dead media technologies, forms, and formats. the media objects of the past stand at the center of networks of production and consumption assembled at a particular moment in time. from music made for vinyl records, wax cylinders and tefifons, to programs broadcast on radio and cathode ray televisions, recorded on super 8, vhs, or betamax, to games played on atari and oscilloscope, this course introduces the skills and resources necessary for excavating these networks and conducting scholarship on seemingly dead media.

this course includes exposure to theories of media archaeology, including writings from friedrich kittler, jussi parikka, wolfgang ernst, and jonathan sterne; an introduction to research methods and archaeological practice; instruction on localization and utilization of word, image, and sound archives; and an emphasis on the need to restore, revive, and zombify artifacts to re-contextualize networks of social and cultural meaning.

Topic Schedule

Archeologies of Media Archaeology

  • Introduction
  • Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969)
  • Erkki Huhtamo and Jussi Parikka, “An Archaeology of Media Archaeology,” Media Archaeology: Approaches, Applications, and Implications (2011)
  • Parikka, “Cartographies of the Old and the New,” What is Media Archaeology (2012)
  • Siegfried Zielinski, “Including a Proposal for the Cartography of Media Anarchaeology,” Deep Time of the Media (2006)

  • Marshall McLuhan, “The Medium is the Message,” Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964)
  • 🎮 Media Object Show-and-Tell

  • ⏲ Assignment: Begin Investigations for the Flea Market Archaeology Workshop
  • ⏲ Assignment: Begin Media Archaeology Site List

Obsolescence and Obscurity

  • Jonathan Sterne, “Out with the Trash: The Future of New Media,” Residual Media (2007)
  • Jeffrey Sconce, "Circuit City Unplugged" (2009)
  • 🎮 Mobile Phone Autopsy

  • Screening: The Family Dog
  • Supplement: Lisa Parks, “Falling Apart: Electronics Salvaging & the Global Media Economy,” Residual Media (2007)

Art by Telephone

  • Avital Ronell, The Telephone Book: Technology, Schizophrenia, Electric Speech (1989)
  • Louis Kaplan, “The Telephone Paintings: Hanging up Moholy,” Leonardo (1993)
  • Supplement: “Telecommunication Art,” Leonardo; Tristan Tzara, “Prologue to Dada”

  • 📽 Screening: The World's Telephone Workshop.
  • "We Go Into the Movies," Western Electric News (1918)
  • 📽 Screening: Caroline Martel, The Phantom of the Operator (2004)

  • 🤖 Telephone Trick Picture Workshop
  • ⏲ Assignment: Begin Video Presentation Prep for Betamax Broadcast Studio Workshop

Sex, Lies, Videotape

  • Kate Egan, “The Celebration of a ‘Proper Product’: Exploring the Residual Collectible through the ‘Video Nasty,’” Residual Media (2007).
  • Lucas Hilderbrand, “Grainy Days and Mondays: Superstar and Bootleg Aesthetics,” Camera Obscura (2004).
  • 🎮 Activity: Vernacular Video
  • Jeffrey Sconce, Haunted Media: Electronic Presence from Telegraphy to Television (2000)
  • 🤖 Betamax Broadcast Studio Workshop

Point and Click

  • Alexander Galloway, “Origins of the First Person Shooter,” Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture (2006)
  • Laine Nooney, “A Pedestal, A Table, A Love Letter: Archaeologies of Gender in Videogame History,” Game Studies (2013)
  • Supplement: Raiford Guins, Game After: A Cultural Study of Video Game Afterlife (2014)

  • 🎮 Supplemental Activity: Reproducing Obsolete Games
  • 🎮 Activity: Domestic Games

Robots and Reanimation

  • Garnet Hertz and Jussi Parikka, “Zombie Media: Circuit Bending Media Archaeology into an Art Method,” Leonardo (2012)
  • Morten Riis, “The Media Archaeological Repairman,” Organized Sound (2013)
  • Matthew Griffin and Susanne Herrmann, "Technologies of Writing: Interview with Friedrich A. Kittler," New Literary History (1996)
  • Supplement: Rem Koolhaas, Junkspace (2001)

  • 🎮 Activity: Soldering Primer
  • 🤖 Soldering Workshop
  • 🎮 Activity: Circuit Bending

Obsolete Art

  • The GLI.TC/H Reader (2011)
  • 📽 Screening: The Art of Glitch & Selections from Fornax Void
  • 🤖 Glitch Art Workshop

  • ⏲ Assignment: Floppy Ethnography Prep

Sacred Vibrations

  • Lisa Gitelman, “The Case of Phonographs,” Always Already New (2006)
  • Jonathan Sterne, “A Resonant Tomb” (2003)
  • John Davis, “Going Analog: Vinylphiles and the Consumption of the ‘Obsolete’ Vinyl Record,” Residual Media (2007)

  • Supplement: Jonathan Sterne, MP3: The Meaning of a Format (2012)
  • 📽 Screening: Beep: A Documentary History of Game Sound (2016)
  • 🤖 Software Defined Radio Workshop
  • ⏲ Assignment: VHF Signal Mapping

Optical Media

  • Friedrich Kittler, Optical Media (2010)

  • 🎮 Activity: Gameboy Camera and Printer
  • 🎮 Activity: CD-Interative and Viceo CD

  • 🤖 Floppy Photography Workshop

Digital Objects

  • Vivian Sobchack, “Nostalgia for a Digital Object: Regrets on the Quickening of QuickTime” (1999)
  • Alexander Galloway, "The Unworkable Interface" (2008)
  • Wendy Chun, "On Software, or the Persistence of Visual Knowledge" and “On ‘Sourcery,’ or Code as Fetish” (2008)

  • ⏲ Assignment: Prepare Software Archaeology Object
  • Friedrich Kittler, “There Is No Software” (1995)
  • 🤖 Software Archaeology Workshop

BASIC Programming

  • 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 (2012)
  • Selections from Nibble Magazine (1980s) and “Nibble’s Mike Harvey,” Juiced.GS (2006)
  • Supplement: Jussi Parikka, “History of Computers,” and Montfort and Bogost, “Platform," Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media (2014)
  • 🎮 Activity: Introduction to BASIC
  • Anna Anthropy, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters (2012)
  • A Touch of Applesoft Basic (1986)

  • 🤖 Programming in Applesoft Basic Workshop

Archive Fever

Writing Machines

  • Lisa Gitelman, "Automatic Writing," Scripts, Grooves, and Writing Machines (1999)
  • Friedrich Kittler, "The Mechanized Philosopher" in Looking After Nietzsche (1990)
  • Supplement: Friedrich Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter (1999)

  • 🎮 Activity: Touch-Typing
  • Friedrich Kittler, "The Great Lalula," Discourse Networks (1990)
  • Enrique Vila-Matas, A Brief History of Portable Literature (2015)

  • 🤖 Typing Pool Workshop


  • Sigmund Freud, "A Note upon the “Mystic Writing Pad” (1925)
  • 🤖 Mimeograph Workshop

Final Assembly

  • 🤖 Zine Production Workshop

Additional Reading