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Transmedia Frictions

The Digital, the Arts, and the Humanities

Marsha Kinder (Editor), Tara McPherson (Editor), N. Katherine Hayles (Contributor), Lev Manovich (Contributor), Yuri Tsivian (Contributor), Patricia R. Zimmermann (Contributor), Grahame Weinbren (Contributor), Caroline Bassett (Contributor), Steven F. Anderson (Contributor), Stephen David Mamber (Contributor), Edward Richard Branigan (Contributor), John Hess (Contributor), David Crane (Contributor), Mark B.N. Hansen (Contributor), Holly Willis (Contributor), Guillermo Gomez Pena (Contributor), Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (Contributor), Herman Gray (Contributor), Eric Jason Gordon (Contributor), Cristina Venegas (Contributor), John Caldwell (Contributor) & 16 more


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Editors Marsha Kinder and Tara McPherson present an authoritative collection of essays on the continuing debates over medium specificity and the politics of the digital arts. Comparing the term “transmedia” with “transnational,” they show that the movement beyond specific media or nations does not invalidate those entities but makes us look more closely at the cultural specificity of each combination. In two parts, the book stages debates across essays, creating dialogues that give different narrative accounts of what is historically and ideologically at stake in medium specificity and digital politics. Each part includes a substantive introduction by one of the editors.

Part 1 examines precursors, contemporary theorists, and artists who are protagonists in this discursive drama, focusing on how the transmedia frictions and continuities between old and new forms can be read most productively: N. Katherine Hayles and Lev Manovich redefine medium specificity, Edward Branigan and Yuri Tsivian explore nondigital precursors, Steve Anderson and Stephen Mamber assess contemporary archival histories, and Grahame Weinbren and Caroline Bassett defend the open-ended mobility of newly emergent media.

In part 2, trios of essays address various ideologies of the digital: John Hess and Patricia R. Zimmerman, Herman Gray, and David Wade Crane redraw contours of race, space, and the margins; Eric Gordon, Cristina Venegas, and John T. Caldwell unearth database cities, portable homelands, and virtual fieldwork; and Mark B.N. Hansen, Holly Willis, and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Guillermo Gómez-Peña examine interactive bodies transformed by shock, gender, and color.

An invaluable reference work in the field of visual media studies, Transmedia Frictions provides sound historical perspective on the social and political aspects of the interactive digital arts, demonstrating that they are never neutral or innocent.
Preface: Origins, Agents, and Alternative Archaeologies

Medium Specificity and Productive Precursors: An Introduction
Marsha Kinder

Print Is Flat, Code Is Deep: The Importance of Media-Specific Analysis
N. Katherine Hayles

Postmedia Aesthetics
Lev Manovich

If–Then–Else: Memory and the Path Not Taken
Edward Branigan

Cyberspace and Its Precursors: Lintsbach, Warburg, Eisenstein
Yuri Tsivian

Past Indiscretions: Digital Archives and Recombinant History
Steve Anderson

Films Beget Digital Media
Stephen Mamber

Navigating the Ocean of Streams of Story
Grahame Weinbren

Is This Not a Screen? Notes on the Mobile Phone and Cinema
Caroline Bassett

Digital Possibilities and the Reimagining of Politics, Place, and the Self: An Introduction
Tara McPherson

Transnational/National Digital Imaginaries
John Hess and Patricia R. Zimmermann

Is (Cyber) Space the Place?
Herman Gray

Linkages: Political Topography and Networked Topology
David Wade Crane

The Database City: The Digital Possessive and Hollywood Boulevard
Eric Gordon

Cuba, Cyberculture, and the Exile Discourse
Cristina Venegas

Thinking Digitally/Acting Locally: Interactive Narrative, Neighborhood Soil, and La Cosecha Nuestra Community
John T. Caldwell

Video Installation Art as Uncanny Shock, or How Bruce Nauman’s Corridors Expand Sensory Life
Mark B. N. Hansen

Braingirls and Fleshmonsters
Holly Willis

Tech-illa Sunrise (.txt con Sangrita)
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Guillermo Gómez-Peña

Works Cited
Marsha Kinder is an Emerita University Professor of Critical Studies at University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts and the author of many books, including Playing with Power and Blood Cinema. Since 1997, she has directed The Labyrinth Project, an art collective and research initiative on database narrative, which has produced twelve interactive projects (DVDs, websites, and installations). Her latest online project is She is also a longtime member of the Editorial Board of Film Quarterly and is currently working on a book titled Database Narrative in the Light of Neuroscience.

Tara McPherson is Associate Professor at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts; author of the Cawelti Award–winning Reconstructing Dixie; editor of Digital Youth, Innovation, and the Unexpected; coeditor of Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture; a founding editor of both the International Journal of Learning and Media and of the online media journal Vectors. She is the Lead Investigator of the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture and is completing Designing for Difference, based upon ten years of digital production collaborations.
“As someone who attended and participated in the 1999 Interactive Fictions conference, which in many ways consolidated more than a decade of theorizing about and experimenting with digital media, I was uncertain what to expect from Transmedia Frictions. What I found was a rich collection that looks both backward to reconstruct the paths not taken in digital theory and forward to imagine alternative ways of framing issues of medium specificity, digital identities, embodiment, and space/place. This collection is sure to transform how we theorize—and teach—the next phases of our profound and prolonged moment of media transition.”—Henry Jenkins, author of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide

“This anthology is both an essential document in the history of new media studies and a springboard for critical future work in this field. The breadth of this impressive work is itself instructive about our twenty-first-century academic and scholarly goals.”—Mark J. Williams, coeditor of Interfaces: Studies in Visual Culture series

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