Darren Wershler, Lori Emerson, and Jussi Parikka – The Lab Book: Situated Practices in Media Studies


Univ Of Minnesota Press, ISBN 978-151790218, English, 328 pages, 2022, USA

It has become increasingly difficult to define what a laboratory is as the term is applied to any concentrated set of activities in a particular space. But the laboratory as a ‘space of change’ where experiments and tests take place is an essential construct for the modern humanities. In this remarkable collection of texts, the authors have defined the ‘extended lab model’, i.e. the way knowledge is produced in and through laboratories. The Lab Book identifies six specific categories: Space, Apparatus, Infrastructure and Policy, People, the Imaginary and Technique, each of which is the focus of an individual chapter. The categories are discussed and examined through specific case studies including MIT Media Lab, the Media Archaeological Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder and the ACTLab at the University of Texas at Austin. The authors look at knowledge production and set out to define ‘a method and a model’ that shows, among many other elements, how power relations in a lab determine its outcomes (it is ‘an operational organization of space’), both historically and infrastructurally. The book is also accompanied by a website which features a wealth of laboratory techniques, interviews and additional resources that form both the core of the knowledge produced, while also acting as the epicentre for further developments.