Media Fields Journal Issue 16 – “Life Cycles”
Editors: Amaru Tejeda and Miguel Penabella
Submission Deadline: June 1, 2020
Media lives. From the constant flow of broadcast news across time zones to the instant, constantly updated feed of social networks, the sense that our media is a living thing is central to our understanding and experience of it. While recent news lamenting the discontinuation of Adobe Flash Player and iTunes suggest media’s clearly delineated life expectancies—sparking nostalgic retrospectives and hurried campaigns to archive endangered content—the life cycles of media rarely resemble teleological timelines towards any deathly finality. As Garnet Hertz and Jussi Parikka argue, “Media never dies,” but instead “decays, rots, reforms, remixes, and gets historicized, reinterpreted, and collected.” One need only look to online fake news campaigns that coopt and appropriate media content to construct new meanings of the past, or to the uncanny resurfacing of scandalous social media posts that undercut the supposed ephemerality of our digital footprint. If media never dies, then it is subject to perpetual recovery and transformation, especially in the contemporary context of a 24-hour news cycle that demands the unbroken replenishment of news stories to maintain a sense of never-ending liveness and feed the insatiable demands of global spectatorship.
While scholarly fascinations with life/nonlife, living/dead, and used/new have frequently been figured in temporal terms, a spatial analysis of media life cycles can also serve to complicate our understanding of media life and death. One way may involve recognizing how the exportation of e-waste to the Global South partly enables the experience of media death in parts of the Global North. Technological refuse is spatially displaced from Western lines of sight in harmful repositories of e-waste that serve as markers for late capitalist overproduction. For those living on or adjacent to those sites, such media waste is not dead and dormant but continues to affect entire livelihoods as toxic outflow and pollutants contaminate the ground, waters, and bodies they encounter. The uneven impacts of global capitalism feed into the imagination of media obsolescence, as supposedly outmoded forms like VHS and cassette tapes continue to find productive use even as they are discarded elsewhere. Academic attention to media life cycles in and beyond the landfill has compelled scholars to more closely investigate the materiality of media, dispelling fixed notions of expected, intended, and imagined life expectancies of media as it’s salvaged and recirculated, or left to contaminate and toxify the planet.
Thus, the Media Fields Editorial Collective at the UCSB Department of Film & Media Studies seeks proposals for papers that address the theme of “Life Cycles” as a critical framework through which explorations in media and space may be more closely examined. In particular, we seek submissions that consider the global dimensions of media life cycles in ways that frustrate stable notions of life and death. Potential paper topics include, but are not limited to:
· The geopolitics of e-waste and toxicity
· Global news cycles
· Residual media
· Media salvage and repair
· Remix culture
· Cooptation of data and digital footprints
· Media archaeology
· Media nostalgia
· Analog format revivals
· Generational shifts in videogame consoles
· Secondhand or used markets in media
· Software updates
· Media obsolescence and its relationship to consumer capitalism
For any inquiries, please contact issue co-editors Amaru Tejeda ([log in to unmask]) and Miguel Penabella ([log in to unmask]).
Submissions should be approximately 1500–2500 words. For more information and complete submission guidelines, please visit http://mediafieldsjournal.org/. Please email submissions to [log in to unmask] by June 1, 2020.
Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite