(edited by) Claudia Gianetti – An Archive(s)


Edith Russ Haus für MedienKunst, ISBN: 978-3000460180, English, German, 191 pages, 2014, Germany

The compilation of encyclopaedias, or the reduction of knowledge to manageable chunks, offering a catalogued as-complete-as-possible overview, has always been a problematic issue. In fact, the arbitrariness of choices among the endless possible entries is an objective self-imposed limit . Nevertheless it can also be seen as a great opportunity for the editor, to make the most significant and essential selection in the most concise way. When it comes to the archaeology of media (as in this case), the selection becomes intrinsically more dynamic, as it deals with digging though history and science to uncover a vast heterogeneity of layers behind our current unilateral and flattened perception of media. Edited by Claudia Giannetti and ‘mentored’ by Siegfried Zielinski, this book is a small gem. Assembling almost one hundred entries, it’s a minimal but essential collection, and an excellent ‘archive’ in the spirit of Zielinski: a preservation of categories and structures. The entries, written by fifty-six contributors, usually about their own major research interests, synthesize general topics and key personalities as well as obscure devices and practices, crossing centuries, cultures, latitudes and disciplines, but remaining perfectly consistent. This distillation of historical media culture is a unique resource, made of effective and potentially groundbreaking “micro-narratives,” connected by their formulation of alternatives, questioning the official histories and archives of the present. Seamlessly accomplishing this task, it should be a compulsory text in media studies.