Media archeology

Week 1: January 17th



on Phaedrus

dialogue between Phaedrus and Socrates on what is writing

The God Theuth invents writings and claims that it will make the people wiser and improve their memory. King Thamus replies, it will enable people to make art,  but critical thinking and analysis of that art is not necessarily those art makers. The king claims the object does not possess the power, but the translation.Thamus claims that this new technology of the written word will make people dumber because they will forget since will use their memory less. This tool of writing actually fools the maker into believing he is all-knowing, when in fact they are just recalling, repeating without knowing. (Data economies versus relational thinking)

Mentions that before others thought the original truth lies in nature versus truth depends upon the speaker/interpreter.

Phaedrus agrees with Thamus.

Socrates reminds that the archive is not fixed nor utter truth, but reminder of past memories. Written words are always dependent and attached to their maker. However interpretation is open and thus they are living.He speaks of a hiearchy of one word over another by stating the serious word will have dialectic and reason to distinguish writing as art and writing as entertainment.Also categorizes speech and writing as an art as opposed to as blabbing.All written works are just reminders of what we already know, and that written texts reappear in others not necessarily as text but as inspired knowledge. He names the person who can combine truth and reason with dialectic be named a ‘philosopher’ whereas the person who expresses with the art of writing is called a ‘poet’.

William Blake  on printmaking

No printmaker before Blake had incorporated the tools and techniques of writing, drawing, and painting in a graphic medium, though the materials and tools were commonplace.

“The whole creation will be consumed, and appear infinite. and holy…by an improvement of sensual enjoyment” (MHH14, E 39)—and with that, “the Author is sure of his reward” (Prospectus, E 692).

“mixed method” technique, in which designs were first etched and then finished as engravings. In this technique, which Blake mastered as an apprentice, the design’s outline was traced with a needle through an acid-resistant “ground” covering the copper plate and then etched with acid.These advances in technique enabled “modern” engravers to represent mass and tone more convincingly than the more linear style of such “ancient” engravers as Blake’s heroes, Durer and Raimondi,Blake’s emulation of the ancient engravers produced a modern result: original artistic expression in a graphic medium whose materiality and natural language were fully exploited.Of the 111 engravings that Blake had produced between 1789 and 1795, he had executed 80 between 1790 and 1793, which suggests that he concentrated on illuminated printing during 1789-90 and 1793-95.

Fifteen of Blake’s 19 illuminated works were executed in a relief-etching technique he had invented in 1788. In his prospectus of 1793 he called it “Illuminated Printing” and announced that he had “invented a method of Printing both Letter-press and Engraving in a style more ornamental, uniform, and grand, than any before discovered,

Joseph Viscomi William Blake’s relief etching process and his invention of illuminated printing