Andrés Burbano – Different Engines, Media Technologies From Latin America


Routledge, ISBN 978-1003172789, English, 210 pages, 2022, UK

Andrés Burbano is undoubtedly one of the most important scholars in the field of Latin American media art and history and has dedicated many years to the research published in this book (a first contribution was also published in Neural issue #45). He once again proves one of the axioms of media archaeology: media history is neither definitive nor linear, or as he says, there are “events that although located in the past haven’t actually happened yet”. The book is divided into five major case studies: a distinctive system of photography and printing in 19th century Brazil, a system for converting black and white television to colour television in early 20th century Mexico, a ‘personal’ computer system for music composition in 1970s Chile, a programming language in 1990s Brazil, and a physical computing platform in 2000s Colombia. These case studies have been situated, examined through local evidence, and even attempted to be reconstructed by the author in order to gain a full understanding and meaning for them, the knowledge and context of which is reflected in the writing. The specific historical role of Latina America is never ignored in Burbano’s articulation and cultural equations and is what makes this book of real value: the combination of the author’s in-depth research with his clear and documented writing, which is a small gem of research