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Platformativity: Media Studies, Area Studies



Waves of subaltern, colonial, postcolonial, and critical race studies have posed an undeniable challenge to the normative geopolitical bent of area studies, and yet the same challenges are rarely taken up within media studies. Media studies reach a similar impasse when it comes to dealing with geopolitical forms and functions, stressing the dynamism of media and the passivity, historical immutability, and cultural inertness of regions. This article reconsiders the impasses of both area studies and media studies to propose an alternative approach to the region-platform relation: platformativity. The notion of platformativity is intended to address the infra-individual intra-actions between platform and human, and individual and collective – a kind of performativity via platforms. It considers how media infrastructures operate alongside and through national and regional forms to generate signaletic modes of existence that function as relays between disciplinary, sovereign, and biopolitical formations.
©   , , | ./-
:    () -
Platformativity: Media Studies, Area Studies
Thomas Lamarre
Professor of East Asian studies and communications studies, McGill University,
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Waves of subaltern, colonial, postcolonial, and critical race studies have posed an
undeniable challenge to the normative geopolitical bent of area studies, and yet the
same challenges are rarely taken up within media studies. Media studies reach a simi-
lar impasse when it comes to dealing with geopolitical forms and functions, stressing
the dynamism of media and the passivity, historical immutability, and cultural inert-
ness of regions. This article reconsiders the impasses of both area studies and media
studies to propose an alternative approach to the region-platform relation: platforma-
tivity. The notion of platformativity is intended to address the infra-individual intra-
actions between platform and human, and individual and collective – a kind of
performativity via platforms. It considers how media infrastructures operate alongside
and through national and regional forms to generate signaletic modes of existence
that function as relays between disciplinary, sovereign, and biopolitical formations.
platform studies– infrastructure studies– critical area studies– televisionmukbang
streaming services– broadcasting– ontopower
As the study of platforms turns to users and user practices, it often reaches
an impasse. The impasse concerns social relations. The focus on the platform
tends to include social relations as an afterthought, as if sociality were some-
thing to be added to the study of platforms as a supplement. In their foreword
to the Platform Studies book series, for instance, Nick Monfort and Ian Bogost
(2009: vii) provide a neatly conceptualized call for a ‘focus on a single platform
or a closely related family of platforms’ in conjunction with ‘technical rigor and
 
:    () -
in-depth investigation of how computing technologies work’. They then signal
the importance of ‘an awareness of and discussion of how computing plat-
forms exist in a context of culture and society, being developed based on cul-
tural concepts and then contributing to culture in a variety of ways’ (Ibid., viii).
Such a call is laudable both for bringing questions about culture and society
into platform studies and for leaving open questions about how to dene or
delimit culture. Arguably, the idea that culture consists of ideas and percep-
tions (rather than, say, practices, social relations, or institutions) shows a cer-
tain bias. But it is especially around the notion of ‘context’ that the impasse
arises. Culture and society are situated as a context for platforms, a context
from which platform creators (and maybe users) draw ideas and to which they
may in turn contribute – ‘for instance, afecting how people perceive comput-
ing’ (Ibid.).
This way of introducing culture and society recalls older models of text and
context, which insisted that artefacts needed to be situated within their his-
torical and cultural context. When repurposed for platform studies, however,
this mode of contextualization also introduces a sharp divide between indi-
vidual and society. Both platforms and their creators are posited as individuals.
It seems that the focus on creators insinuates a normative conceptualization
of human individual (methodological individualism), which is extended to the
technical individual or platform. As such, when questions arise about society
or culture, these are assumed to lay outside the individual human and indi-
vidual platform, as if surrounding them.
In their study of the Atari Video Computer System, Monfort and Bogost deal
with the platform in a manner that runs counter to methodological individual-
ism. In the early days of video games, because the Atari’s  did not provide
services for graphics rendering, they note that the programmer had to ‘draw
each frame of a program’s display manually to the screen’ (Ibid., 27-28). As a
result, the underlying mechanisms of the  (cathode ray tube) screen at
once constrained and facilitated certain forms of design; programmers began
to compose with the movement of the electron gun or scanning nger as it
composed the  image. They observe, ‘this task requires that the program-
mer write carefully timed code that ts the motion of the television’s electron
beam’ (Ibid., 28). Finally, with the phrases ‘pacing the beam’ and ‘racing the
beam’, Monfort and Bogost beautifully capture the ‘infra-individual’ and ‘intra-
active’ process implicit in these game designs. The racing-the-beam relation
between programmer and game is intra-active, to use Karen Barad’s turn of
phrase (2007: 33), in that it entails ‘the mutual constitution of entangled agen-
cies’. The programmer and game do not so much interact as preconstituted
unchanging individuals as they ‘intra-act’ as intensive elements. Racing the
:    () -
beam may also be characterized as infra-individual, to use Massumi’s (2014: 8)
term, because ‘what resonates on that level are not separable elements in
Platform studies, then, seem willing and able to dispense with methodologi-
cal individualism when it comes to platforms, creators, and especially the re-
lationship between them. Users, too, might be introduced into this relation
of infra-individual interaction without resorting to normative conceptualiza-
tions of the individual. Gaming might also be characterized in terms of pac-
ing and racing the beam, albeit in a converse manner: you modify your moves
within the game to the timing set by the beam, while adjusting perceptually to
the ring of scan lines. Yet as soon as questions about society or the collective
are raised, the normative conceptualization kicks in. Suddenly, the creators,
the game, and the users are posited as normative individuals by reference to a
social or cultural context, which is in turn liable to be understood by reference
to normative geopolitical individuals (countries or regions, national cultures
or regional cultures). Although I have drawn somewhat opportunistically on
Monfort and Bogost’s call for platform studies, the impasse with respect to so-
cial relations or the collective – the tendency to treat them supplementally – is
common not only in platform studies but also in media studies more generally.
Jason Read (2015: 1) frames this impasse succinctly in his recent work on the
politics of transindividuality:
The individual has become not only the basis of political, cultural, and
economic understanding but also the extent of all of our aspirations; the
individual is both methodologically and prescriptively dominant; it is si-
multaneously all one needs to make sense of the world and the best that
one could hope from it.
Read calls attention in particular to the persistence of methodological indi-
vidualism at the level of the human individual in relation to society. As his
evocation of Gilbert Simondon’s philosophy of individuation attests, however,
he is concerned with how the paradigm of normative individualism is fre-
quently extended beyond humans to both technical modes of existence and
social modes of existence. The hallmark of Simondon’s approach is to look
at a range of individuals – technical individuals, human individuals, among
others – from an implicitly nonnormative perspective, from the perspective
of the process of individuation. From such a perspective, the individual is al-
ways more than one; no matter how thoroughly individualized socially or psy-
chologically, it remains open to processes of individuation. As Muriel Combes
(2013: 26-27) explains, Simondon insists on the continuity between a rst vital
 
:    () -
individuation and a second individualization that is at once psychic and social,
in order to avoid establishing a diference in nature between the vital, on the
one hand, and the psychosocial, on the other: ‘there is not properly speaking a
psychic individuation, but an individualization of the living being giving birth
to the somatic and the psychic’. As such, when Simondon (1989/1958: 252) con-
siders technology from the perspective of individuation, he writes: ‘The ma-
chine remains in the obscure zones of our civilization, at all social levels’.
If the relation between human individuals and technical individuals entails
an obscure zone, it is because technical individuals emerge through a prolon-
gation of vital individuation, yet we tend to treat them as if they derived from
a process of individuation substantially diferent from it. Nonetheless, as Read
(2015: 106) puts it, despite our eforts to introduce a divide between human and
technological individuals, because they both prolong vital individuation, their
relation ‘is not well grasped by the divisions into part and whole, form and
matter, genesis and use’. As a result, Read (Ibid.) concludes,
the problem of technology, of grasping its specic essence, is then im-
mediately related to another ‘obscure zone’, that of the individual and
society. These two problems, the relation of the individual to technology
and of the individual to society, constantly intersect while obscuring
each other.
Looking at platform studies from the angle of Simondon explains how it is
that studies keenly attentive to technical individuation of platforms, and to
the relation between human individual and technical individual, may none-
theless serve to obscure the relation between individual and society. Whether
Simondon himself arrives at a persuasive account of social relations remains
an open question, but he sets forth the challenge, the stakes, and the terms of
engagement, with admirable lucidity: individuation is only ever individual and
collective. Subsequently I address what is sometimes called ‘post- television’
through a dialogue between Simondon’s emphasis on individual-and- collective
individuation and Raymond Williams’s account of the ‘social technology’ of
television. But rst I need to introduce another zone obscuring the relations
between technology, individual, and society – the obscure zone called area
Disaggregating Areas
Ani Maitra and Rey Chow put their thumb on the impasse of area studies vis-
à-vis media: everything hinges on the preposition ‘in. Their discussion takes
:    () -
issue with accounts of ‘new media in Asia’ with reference to internet and cell
phone use. ‘On the one hand’, they note (Maitra & Chow 2015: 17),
the rhetoric of ‘new media’ often emphasizes notions of rootlessness and
placelessness, as borne out by the decentred nature of rhizomatic net-
works that transcend spatial and temporal constraints.… On the other
hand, the qualifying phrase ‘in Asia’ suggests a geographical and geopo-
litical circumscription, a territorial cordoning of so that the spotlight is
on ‘Asia’.
Maitra and Chow expose a sort of double logic inherent in the idea of new
media in Asia. They begin by exposing the paired processes of deterritorial-
ization and reterritorialization. They then reveal the logic of supplementation
implicit in what they call ethnoculturalist approaches: reterritorialization in
this instance is a matter of ethnoculturalist supplementation.
In efect, the paradigm of ‘media in Asia’ treats the platform as a mobile
object to which a series of static attributes or cultural qualities may be sub-
jectively added. What is more, such cultural qualities are xed, static, and in-
ternally homogeneous. Thus accounts of mobile media in Korea and Japan,
for instance, turn into accounts of the Koreanness or Japaneseness of mobile
media. The paradigm of media in Asia produces culturally subjectied indi-
viduals who in turn subjectify objects. In sum, in this paradigm, the encounter
between media studies and areas studies does not challenge either eld but
merely reinforces received biases.
As Arjun Appadurai pointed out some years ago (2000: 7),
much traditional thinking about ‘areas’ has been driven by conceptions
of geographical, civilisational, and cultural coherence that rely on some
sort of trait list– of values, languages, material practices, ecological adap-
tations, marriage patterns, and the like. However sophisticated these ap-
proaches, they all tend to see ‘areas’ as relatively immobile aggregates of
traits, with more or less durable historical boundaries and with a unity
composed of more or less enduring properties.
The obscure zone of area studies, then, is wholeheartedly complicit with the
obscure zone of platform media studies. Their encounter allows the two rela-
tions – human and technology, human and society – to obscure each other.
Again, the strength of Maitra and Chow’s account lies in showing how a logic
of supplementation comes into play. Areas, then, appear to be ideal supple-
ments for media and technologies: actual places are reduced to environments
and static contexts that serve as repositories of xed values. In efect, their
 
:    () -
discussion renews the hoary question once posed via the notion of ‘capitalism
with Chinese characteristics’: when does the qualier ‘with Chinese character-
istics’ stop being a description for capitalism in China?
In sum, if media studies and area studies prove so complicit in their mutual
obscuring of the individuation that generates the relation between humans
and technologies and societies, it is because each eld ignores or even cuts
short the process of individuation, resorting to methodological individualism,
either at the level of users and producers, media and technologies, or cultures,
places, and contexts. They share a fundamental orientation towards hylomor-
phism. Active or mobile forms seem invariably to come to passive or static
matter from without: new media in Asia. The next gesture is supplemental:
materiality provides the perfect supplement for these two disciplines, which
are organized around apparently stable forms or structures, ranging from for-
mal and technical features of moving images, delivery media, and formats, to
the national or supranational (regional) form – hence, the Asianness of media
in Asia.
Waves of subaltern, colonial, postcolonial, and critical race studies have
eroded, or at least posed an undeniable challenge to, the normative bent of area
studies, contesting its foundational geopolitical gesture of reterritorializing
the relation between culture and language to foreclose questions about social
relations by producing ethnolinguistically subjectied individuals (objects of
study) incapable of individuation. In fact, area studies do not usually deal with
areas or regions; they centre on countries, on national languages and cultures,
and when they try to broach the area or region, everything is a matter of inter-
action between nationalized individuals, which is to say, internationalism. As
such, although the term ‘transnational’ is increasingly mobilized discursively
within area studies, it is largely treated as synonymous with ‘international’.
Questions about infra-national intra-actions cannot seem to nd any con-
ceptual traction within area studies. Breaking through the encrusted layers of
methodological individualism in area studies, then, requires taking some sharp
advice from subaltern, colonial, and critical race studies, which is what ‘criti-
cal area studies’ has traditionally done. Here, a number of perspectives come
to mind, but I limit myself to three that strike me as productive for eshing
One noteworthy exception is Lionnet and Shih’s (2005) Minor Transnationalism, whose intro-
duction and contributions strive to address noninternational, efectively intranational and
transnational movements.
 Setsu Shigematsu and Keith L. Camacho ofer a profound critical reconsideration of areas in
the introduction to their edited volume Militarized Currents: Toward a Decolonized Future in
Asia and the Pacic (2010).
:    () -
out some intersections within the obscure zone between media studies and
area studies: Dipesh Chakrabarty’s call to provincialize Europe, Appadurai’s
formulation of process geographies, and Maitra and Chow’s attention to media
In Provincializing Europe, Chakrabarty (2009) takes on one of the key con-
cerns of postcolonial thought, one that Edward Said (1995/1978) broached so
eloquently in Orientalism, focusing on the production of historical knowledge –
‘a certain version of “Europe,” reied and celebrated in the phenomenal world
of everyday relationships of power as the scene of the birth of the modern,
[which] continues to dominate the discourse of history. Analysis does not make
it go away’ (Ibid., 27-28). Chakrabarty (1992: 2) has long discussed how the domi-
nance of this version of Europe results in a situation in which third world histo-
rians ‘feel a need to refer to works in European history; historians of Europe do
not feel any need to reciprocate.’ Indeed, although European philosophers and
thinkers commonly produce statements ‘embracing the entirety of humanity …
in relative, and sometimes absolute ignorance of the majority of humankind’
(Ibid., 3), they do not doubt the universality of their claims.
Chakrabarty carefully limits his remarks to the epistemological formation of
history and its efect on third world historians, for instance: ‘the dominance of
“Europe” as the subject of all histories is part of a much more profound theo-
retical condition under which historical knowledge is produced in the third
world’ (2009: 29). If his observations are widely cited in other elds, however, it
is because his remarks on the ‘theoretical condition’ for the production of his-
torical knowledge rings true in a range of other elds and disciplines, among
them lm and media studies, in which the universality of European knowledge
has been constituted by ruling out non-Western forms of knowledge. But what
would it mean to provincialize Europe?
In efect, provincializing Europe would seem to imply considering its uni-
versals to be contingently and locally produced particulars. Crudely put,
European studies are area studies. For Chakrabarty, seeing European studies
as area studies promises to allow for a nonmoralizing plurality of historical
pathways, and yet because his project remains less developed in this respect, it
is ultimately easier to consider what he cautions against. Chakrabarty argues
against putting histories from various parts of the world on equal footing, not-
ing it is not clear what such equality would be relative to. Nor is the goal inclu-
siveness: inclusion would be inclusion within the dominance of Europe, just
as equality would be relative to the European ideals of equality. Other scholars
have noted another drawback: focusing attention on the dominance of Europe
and on deconstructing the metaphysical construction of the West may tend to
spur demands for increasingly sophisticated accounts of Europe rather than
 
:    () -
directing attention elsewhere to seek other ways of doing history (Chow 1998;
Shih 2005). From a Marxist perspective, for instance, the danger is that of los-
ing sight of global economic processes of primitive accumulation, of distribu-
tions that ground modes of circulation. Alf Hornborg ofers such a succinct
and powerful statement that it is worth citing in full (2014: 245):
Not only must Europe and the ‘West’ be dethroned as intrinsically gen-
erative of economic growth, modern technology and civilization, but
these phenomena must in themselves be recognized as contingent on
specic global constellations of asymmetric resource ows and power
relations. In other words, not only was ‘the rise of the West’ a geographi-
cal coincidence of world history– the location of Europe as a middleman
between the Old and New Worlds…– but its economic, technological and
military means of expansion, generally viewed as European ‘inventions’
and as contributions to the rest of humanity, were products of global con-
junctures and processes of accumulation that coalesced after the articu-
lation of Old and New Worlds.… Technological rationality is never
disconnected from issues of global resource distribution.
To return then to Chakrabarty, the strength of his account comes of expos-
ing the status of European histories as area studies and thus dethroning them,
which permits him to signal a generative condition of impossibility – akin to
what Simondon called the obscure zone. As for media studies, it is true that
they are today unabashedly Eurocentric, striving to prop up North Atlantic
area studies, either with such ‘internal’ inventions as German media theory or
renewed modes of universalizing the European subject by reference to media-
induced crises of the body, which by default seems to correspond to what Ezra
Pound once disparagingly called (for diferent reasons) the ‘average sensuous
man’. In such instances, even though technological rationality (media) is often
addressed from the angle of individuation, three other sites of individuation
are methodologically reduced to individuals, often via ethnolinguistic reter-
roritorialization, as if to ground the analysis: nation, body, and region. It is pre-
cisely for this reason that doing media within area studies, or conversely doing
areas within media studies, will not necessarily result in a progressive forma-
tion of knowledge production. On the contrary, such developments are more
likely to reinforce the purchase of methodological individualism, to add to the
obscurity of the obscure zone instead of seeking counternormative intersec-
tions by attending to its potentiality for individuation. Also, with reference to
Hornborg, I would add that the perspective of individuation is here intend-
ed to bring processes of accumulation and distribution to the table. Media
:    () -
studies might contribute a great deal to such a project, for, when media stud-
ies adopt the angle of individuation on technological rationality, they tend to
disclose processes of accumulation of a basic global resource, attention, whose
distribution becomes entangled with knowledge production via labour and
consumption practices. But to follow through on such a project, media studies
would need to adopt a less normative stance vis-a-vis Europe and the ‘West’ as
well as the nation form.
In a similar vein, it was in response to the tendency of area studies (to which
we can add media studies) to treat nations and regions as context repositories
of xed cultural values that Arjun Appadurai urged a turn to ‘scapes’ or process
geographies, proposing, for instance (2000: 7),
an architecture for area studies that is based on process geographies and
sees signicant areas of human organization as precipitates of various
kinds of action, interaction, and motion– trade, travel, pilgrimage, war-
fare, proselytisation, colonisation, exile, and the like. These geographies
are necessarily large scale and shifting, and their changes highlight vari-
able congeries of language, history, and material life. Put more simply, the
large regions that dominate our current maps for area studies are not per-
manent geographical facts. They are problematic heuristic devices for the
study of global geographic and cultural processes.
As has often been noted, Appadurai so adamantly rejects structures and regu-
larities in favour of ows and scapes that his approach may appear to ignore
and even to side with, rather than to challenge, capitalist processes of deterri-
torialization and dematerialization. Ultimately, however, I agree with Bhaskar
Sarkar (2008: 126-127) on the signicance of Appadurai’s project: it has not
proved incompatible with thinking about the regularities that emerge through
ows and scapes and thus about the onset of structures. In efect, Appadurai’s
process geographies may be considered analogous to, or at least compat-
ible with, Foucault’s (2008) delineation of elds of rationality and Raymond
Williams’s (1975) account of media as social technology. Mediascapes, for in-
stance, are entangled with elds of rationality and thus imply elds of techni-
cal rationality, social technologies, and structures of feeling, or what Deleuze
and Guattari (1987: 434-437) present in terms of abstract social machines.
Finally, as discussed previously, Maitra and Chow pose a challenge to re-
ceived habits of treating media and areas in terms of mobile objects moving
into stable areas – the paradigm of new media in Asia. While applying critical
pressure to the normative implications following from the preposition ‘in’, they
do not propose to reject the question of localization but to put pressure on it,
 
:    () -
to think about it anew. They thus strive to develop an approach to the local that
‘resists being read in terms of ethnoculturalism or technoculturalism’ (Maitra
& Chow 2015: 23). Their account considers the ‘material conditions governing
the level of access to digital media – conditions that compel us to disaggregate
Asia’ (Ibid., 20). The great disparity in access within the putative area – both
between and within ‘Asian’ nations – conrms that (a) a unied or aggregate
Asia does not exist at the level of new media, and (b) calls for ‘media unity’
dovetail with biopolitical modes of governance that treat peoples within the
national polity not as citizens but as bare life. This is why they forcefully chal-
lenge the ‘celebration of (imposed) ubiquitous access’ (Ibid., 26). In sum, to
disaggregate ‘Asia’ by reference to access to resources is also to disaggregate
‘new media’. Their account in this register conrms Hornborg’s point: as we
dethrone areas such as the ‘West’ and ‘Asia’, global distribution of resources
emerges as the point of reference. But the urgent question then is: where does
‘aggregating’ actually happen?
Here Maitra and Chow make a move that meshes with, and eshes out,
Appadurai’s call for process geographies, approaching the question of local-
ization not in terms of ‘rigid geographic regions and boundaries but rather in
terms of fragmentary networks’ (Ibid., 26). These fragmentary networks are the
sites of localized aggregating, as it were, but instead of using the term ‘aggre-
gating’, Maitra and Chow (Ibid., 21) evoke the French term agencement, which
might be translated as ‘assembling’ (rather than the more common transla-
tion, assemblage). In any event, whether one uses the term ‘aggregating’ or the
term ‘assembling’, it is clear that the localization in question does not entail
a bounded or enclosed space. On the contrary, in their account, again in a
manner resonant with Appadurai, such a localization is emergent, not fully
localizable in terms of coordinate geometries – hence their additional gloss,
fragmentary networks. With these questions in mind, Maitra and Chow turn
to their second case study, From Gulf to Gulf to Gulf ( 2013), a ‘collabora-
tive video made by the , a media-making collective based in Mumbai,
India. The video is primarily a collection of fragments from the everyday lives
of Indian sailors on their boats and at the ports they visit’ (Maitra & Chow 2015:
23). In keeping with their project, instead of contextualizing the video, that is,
calling on a stable context to explicate its values, Maitra and Chow track the as-
sembling of human and nonhuman actors (or material actants; Ibid., 21). They
thus arrive at a characterization of the afective operations implicit in this as-
sembling of media, locations, and humans, in which they highlight its light-
ness and smallness, its ephemeral nonmonetized values, as well as disjunctive
audiovisual connections (Ibid., 24-25).
:    () -
In sum, due to their sustained efort to disaggregate Asia, Maitra and Chow
ofer a rigorous and persuasive theoretical alternative to the paradigm of ‘new
media in Asia’ by considering how the assembling or agencement of human
and non-human actors entails a ‘capture’ that is afective and localizing. Or, to
put it another way, individuation is at once individual and collective, for the af-
fective capture generates ‘atypical associations’ that traverse human individu-
als and platforms.
Because I nd such an alternative to be both compelling in its attention
to ner details of media and persuasive in its critical account of geopolitical
knowledge, I propose a complementary line of inquiry into the relations be-
tween humans, platforms, and societies. This line of inquiry might be said to
be situated in the vast middle ground between the two case studies in Maitra
and Chow: on the one hand, the overbearing and massively sovereign power of
governments and corporations mobilized to construct new media infrastruc-
tures that threaten to reduce peoples of India to ‘life in India’ or ‘Indian life
to be managed; and, on the other hand, the daily life of smaller but no less
signicant groups, of actual peoples loosely coordinated through their labour
and livelihood, that is, in this case, sailors, with their eeting quasi-nomadic
expressive uses of new media platforms. This vast middle ground of media be-
tween the ‘molar’ forces of major national military-industrial infrastructures
and the ‘molecular’ movement of sailors and other minor groupings might ten-
tatively be called television. This is because the assembling of the molar and
molecular sides of media has most often been addressed through the history
of television. Because this vast middle ground is, in fact, vast (as is the question
of television), my remarks are necessarily somewhat schematic, exploratory in
Discussions of new Korean streaming services such as and Daum
tvPot almost invariably turn to the example of mukbang (eating broadcasting).
Kim Jihoon (2016), for instance, evokes it in his account of intersections be-
tween the traditional liveness of broadcast and the new liveness of digital post-
 platforms associated with and Daum tvPot. The aptly named
mukbang involves, on the one hand, live streaming of a person (or sometimes
persons) eating, usually with gusto and with ongoing commentary as well as
other food-complementary activities (e.g. playing music), hence the neolo-
gism combining the word ‘eating’ with the word ‘broadcasting’, which might
also be styled ‘eating on the air’, and, on the other hand, audiences for this eat-
ing on the air. The phenomenon has apparently struck an internet chord, for it
 
:    () -
has quickly been reported and cited widely in discussions of transformations
associated with new media and social media.
Accounts of mukbang have addressed both sides of the phenomenon. On
the blogger-streamer’s side of things, accounts stress the highs and lows of its
economy. Blogger-streamers stand to make a lot of money: if they are popular
and succeed in holding the attention of audiences, they may earn a good deal
in advertising revenues. It is striking how much this economy recalls that of
the heyday of broadcasting: it not only entails a one-to-many (or few to many)
model of contents delivery but also implies an attention economy. As with
broadcast television, what is captured and sold is audience attention. There is,
in efect, a primitive accumulation of attention, which can be put to work to
generate surplus value in other registers. Consuming is rendered productive,
but consuming is not an act of labour so much as it is a site for tapping and
securing resources, afective, emotive, and cognitive resources. Blogging, how-
ever, is a form of exible labour, often precarious.
When accounts of eating on the air address the other side of things, the
audiences’ side, they commonly dwell on a sociological factor: more and more
people work long hours, live alone, and thus tend to eat alone. They also com-
monly speculate about two psychosociological factors. First, there is commen-
sality: eating is social; people want to share meals with somebody or another.
Second, people like eating but want to avoid gaining weight. Usually, this de-
sire is attributed to women.  News, for instance, quotes a highly popular
eating-broadcaster, Lee Chang-hyun, saying, ‘in Korea, for women especially,
the gure is quite important. There are dishes which are quite fattening, so me
eating those foods for them provides them with a bit of satisfaction’ (Evans
2015). In other words, broadcasting eating allows for eating by proxy, vicarious
no-cal eating. Let them feed on broadcasts. Let them eat air.
The online English-language reportage on mukbang invariably adopts the
stance of ‘new media in Korea’. The reportage remains content with oand
platitudes about the traditional importance of families eating together in
Korea. Although such commentary feels innocuous, it adheres structurally to
the paradigm Maitra and Chow call into question. Korean traditions are con-
strued in terms of xed and stable values, and new media embody socially
disruptive forces of mobility in general. This example shows that the paradigm
of new media in Asia relies on two interrelated gestures. The rst gesture is
temporal rupture, a break between old and new, which invariably brings with
It would be a worthwhile study in itself to track how reports of mukbang became so widely
circulated and cited in English-language media. One popular account is Holmberg (2014).
One of the more widely cited accounts is Evans (2015). See, for instance, Lee (2016).
:    () -
it a second, spatial gesture. In essence, the paradigm of new media in Asia is a
variation on the fundamental and familiar paradigm of ‘modernity in Asia’
modernity is articulated as a break with the old, which is actualized through
the formation of spatial enclosures, namely, ethnolinguistically enclosed terri-
tories (nations and regions). The temporal rupture (or ruptures) of modernity
is thus deemed properly European or ‘Western’. It then purportedly difuses
or travels to other parts of the world, where, oddly enough, enclosures rise to
meet it, as if naturally, as if waiting to be disclosed. ‘Eating on the air’, con-
strued as ‘new media in Korea’, feels like a latter-day attempt to breathe new
life into the paradigm of modernity.
In any event, the paradigm of social media in Korea mobilized in accounts
of mukbang introduces a spatial enclosure that serves to shore up a closed
model of communication, to impose the image of a closed economy of circu-
lation and distribution. It is as if mukbang bloggers were producing a supply
of product to ll a pre-existing demand among lonely eaters, who turn out to
be young women with food issues. Needless to say, such an emphasis on pre-
existing demand tends to enclose, to interiorize and pathologize, desire: this is
what Korean women want, or this is what Korean society wants of women. In
response, it is possible to invert the relation of supply and demand, that is, to
show how supply is producing demand (and, in efect, producing certain kinds
of bodies and desires). Such a gesture brings us a half step closer to the funda-
mental problem. Ultimately, however, inversion is not enough. If the paradigm
of new media in Korea tends to reinforce cultural essentialisms (through the
bodies of Korean women), it is because, at a fundamental level, it insists on
methodological individualism in all registers of analysis: nation, media, audi-
ences, and bloggers. As such, the paradigm of new media in Korea rules out in
advance Maitra and Chow’s proposal to consider assembling. But it is in that
direction that an account of eating on the air needs to go.
It is here that Jihoon Kim’s (2016) discussion of blogging-streaming makes
a useful intervention, opening with a challenge to the idea of a rupture be-
tween broadcasting and streaming, and, more generally, the imposition of a
historical rupture between television and post-television. Kim then turns to
intersections between broadcasting and what he calls (following Curtin 2009)
the contemporary media matrix in terms of their experience of liveness. I ex-
pand upon Kim’s account in two ways. First, Kim’s exploration of intersections
in a historical register implies a ‘temporal’ counterpart to the more spatially
orientated notion of assembling, which might well be called, following Michel
Foucault, ‘genealogy’. Genealogy considers both the continuities and discon-
tinuities between diferent historical moments of ‘media’ assembling such as
broadcasting and streaming or television and the media matrix. Eating on the
 
:    () -
air, for instance, is both continuous and discontinuous with the assembling
associated with broadcast television. Second, if the genealogical relation to
broadcast television is taken seriously, it afords a way to consider the nation
or region in the making. By approaching the nation from the angle of its indi-
viduation, genealogy ofers a way to challenge the received tendency in media
studies to replicate and normalize the cultural enclosures associated with in-
dividual national forms.
Broadcast infrastructures are by and large national projects, and, as such,
they tend to repeat the national project, that is, the project of nation- building
(or region-building in extraterritorial instances, such as Hong Kong) as it
emerges at the intersection of government, commercial, and military interests.
The ideal for national broadcast infrastructures is what Benedict Anderson
(2006) called at, even sovereignty. The emitted signal is supposed to radi-
ate to the edges of the bounded national territory, thus erasing distinctions
between the centre and the periphery, between urban and rural, by folding
everyone into the centralizing forces of national broadcast. The problem is
that broadcast signals invariably fall short or go too far and at the same time.
Thus the technical problems of vernacular language identied by Anderson
(standardization of speech and of scripts) become entangled with technical
problems associated with electromagnetic signals (frequency allocation and
relays). Recall that, in the era of novels and newspapers, Anderson showed that
the fatality of language functioned as a sort of internal material limit on the
deterritorializing drive of capitalism, which made national sovereignty orbit
around the assembling of forms of speech with print media. The broadcast era,
rst radio and then television, introduced another set of technical problems
for national sovereignty: pockets of people in remote areas, for instance, often
prove too dicult and costly to reach with relay stations. One solution is to
supplement broadcasting infrastructures with cable or satellite systems. But
full access remains incomplete, and coverage never happens in a smooth, even
technological manner. A technodiferential emerges. The relation between the
centre and the periphery, urban and rural, thus undergoes profound transfor-
mations, at once sociolinguistically and technosignaletically, so to speak. Put
another way, broadcasting introduces ‘electromagnetic fatality’ into the ideal
of smooth and uneven distribution, such that national sovereignty has to oper-
ate through the signaletic. The imagined community is transformed into an
image economy, which comes to subtend it.
Considered from the vantage of the electromagnetic signal, it is easy to
see how broadcasting might articulate and provoke a shift from the ideal of
national citizenry, by transforming putative citizens into signaletic modes of
existence (which set the attention economy in motion). In this respect, the
:    () -
biopolitical data-basing governance Maitra and Chow evoke with the Aadhaar
project follows genealogically from broadcasting. But broadcasting is not an
intermediate moment between historical formations, which is overcome; it
remains as a mediator, a relay, between national citizenry and bare data life,
which now co-operate.
Broadcasting, then, even in its most nationally saturated instances, is not
a context, much less an enclosed space. It is, as Raymond Williams so nicely
phrased it, a social technology. Indeed, Williams’s account still provides the
best portrait of the social technology of television. Williams agrees with the
common wisdom that broadcast television turns into a one-to-many system,
entailing transmission from a centralized agency to a relatively undiferentiated
mass audience. Yet, unlike the caricatures of broadcasting common in many
contemporary accounts of post-television, his account shows the complexity
of procedures of centralization, addressing techniques of privatization and
segmentation and avoiding the discourse of massication. Famously, Williams
characterizes broadcast television in terms of ‘mobile privatization’. He argues
that greater distances between homes, together with greater distance between
homes and other centres (commercial centres, workplaces, centres of political
power), contributed to the formation of a modern urban way of life that was
consequently characterized by ‘two apparently paradoxical yet deeply con-
nected tendencies’ – mobility and privatization (Williams 1975: 18). As a social
technology, then, television is what assembles this paradoxical mixture of cen-
tripetal and centrifugal forces, of inward-pulling and outward-pushing forces,
of convergence and divergence. What is more, he works through this assem-
bling in three registers: (1) ow is paired with segmentation (programming),
(2) mobility with privatization, and (3) Williams calls attention to the emer-
gence of multiple centres, indicating that centralization is also shot through
with divergence (Ibid., 21). Not only does television emerge from the interplay
of military, commercial, and government interests, but it also gradually spawns
a series of stations, channels, and studios, each entailing centralization.
Williams’s notion of mobile privatization recalls Foucault’s account of dis-
ciplinary power: ‘Individuals are always going from one closed site to another,
each with its own laws: rst of all the family, then school (you’re not at home
any more), then the barracks (you’re not at school, you know), then the fac-
tory, hospital from time to time, maybe prison, the model site of connement’
(Deleuze 1997: 177). This is exactly what Williams brings to the fore in his ac-
count of broadcasting: people are always commuting to one centralized site
or another, for working, or shopping, or education, each with its own inter-
ests, commercial, legal, political, national schooling, to name a few. But what
stabilizes (or makes possible) this incessant movement from one disciplinary
 
:    () -
enclosure to another? For Foucault (2008), it is the family. The family serves as
the relay between the emerging formation of disciplinary power and the wan-
ing formation of sovereign power. Moreover, for Foucault, the emergence of a
‘sovereign family’ (the nuclear family emerging through the dismantling of the
extended family) is the key to psychiatric power: psychiatric power assembles
disciplinary power (the closed sites of production) and sovereign power (dis-
placed onto the shrinking family). Similarly, in Williams, it is the privatized
household that serves as a relay between centralized sites, but interestingly
enough, broadcast television appears in the place of psychiatric care.
Discussions of the mukbang scenario evoke a sort of ‘broadcast therapy’ or
‘media care’ that becomes legible when Williams’s account of television is read
alongside Foucault’s account of psychiatric care. Such discussions draw atten-
tion to the shrinking of the family (now it is a family of one), but the family
retains its sovereign hold, thus serving as a relay between disciplinary sites.
Accounts gesture towards the possibility of potentially aberrant or socially ex-
treme behaviour, particularly on the part of young women. The platform for
broadcasting and streaming media, then, as a social technology, emerges as if
to manage the relation between disciplinary formations and the privatized or
individualized consumption associated with a household of one.
Looking at new media genealogically calls attention to how the media plat-
form takes on two functions, operating in a dual manner. On the one hand,
the platform may operate in a therapeutic or quasi-psychiatric manner, pro-
viding a kind of ideal supplement that smooths over the jolting, even painful,
everyday transitions between disciplinary sites and household, making life feel
liveable after all. On the other hand, platform is a technosignaletic relay, both
in its network connections into national, regional, and global media infrastruc-
tures and in its relation to the infrastructures of daily life (especially urban
design and modes of transportation). The temptation is to introduce a sharp
divide between these two aspects of the media platform, for instance, between
contents and usage (psychologizing, therapeutic, personalizing) and form,
platform, or infrastructure (engineering specications, connectivity, techni-
cal afordances). In fact, discussions of broadcast television have generally
tended to gravitate towards one or the other. It is hardly surprising, then, that
See, in particular, the end of Lecture 5 in Michel Foucault’s (2007) Abnormal: Lectures at the
Collège de France, 1974-1975.
For instance, Kathy Charles and Michael Palkowski (2015: 96) mention mukbang in relation
to feederism. An Tairan (2016) refers to mukbang in an essay on online voyeurism. Kim Hye-
jin (2015) links mukbang to food porn in an essay translated from Korean as ‘A Study on Food
Porn as a Sub-Culture – Centering on Internet “Meokbang” (eating scene) in Afreeca ’.
:    () -
accounts of new media remain similarly perplexed and divided over the psy-
chosocial technology of platforms, preferring to posit repositories of xed and
stable values (cultural and national contexts) instead of dealing with emerging
elds of rationality and transformations in social technologies and subjective
The example of mukbang encourages me to propose, tentatively, of course, a
way of addressing these diferent registers or dimensions of media without re-
sorting to methodological individualism vis-à-vis countries or cultures, human
individuals, and technical individuals – platformativity. The notion of plat-
formativity is intended to address the infra-individual intra-actions between
platform and human, and individual and collective – a kind of performativity
via platforms. Judith Butler’s (1988) now-classic articulation of performativity
concerned the human individual reiterating itself, with iterations bringing an
afective infra-individual potentiality to the surface, enabling repetition with
diference. In platformativity, the platforms and infrastructures play an ac-
tive role or, more precisely, an intra-active role, as they iterate, over and again.
Needless to say, platforms are normally deemed to be perfect iteration ma-
chines, reiterating and thus reproducing the same, constraining diference to
the appearance of interference or glitch or error, which is commonly ruled out
as mere disruption or suspension of service, rather than repetition with dif-
ference. Be that as it may, what is allegedly a mere interference (or resonance)
may take on an intra-active role within the platformative relation comprising
humans, societies, and infrastructures.
Let me return to the example of mukbang. Eating broadcasting activates
an afective relation much discussed in relation to television: bringing strang-
ers into the home but also domesticating that strangeness. Accounts of muk-
bang suggest a similar tack: it is strange that young women invite into their
home an unknown young man whose distinguishing feature is an ability to
consume massive amounts of food while slurping, chatting, gulping, and ges-
ticulating and, at the same time, utterly ordinary. Early television researchers
coined the term ‘parasociality’ to describe such efects: people begin to feel
an intimate connection with the people on the small screen, people they do
not really know. The term ‘parasociality’ may appear somewhat awkward and
poten tially misleading, in that ‘para’ may imply that this sociality is not genu-
ine. In fact, parasociality is (and should be deemed to be) genuine sociality.
In his introduction to a special issue on platforms and power, Joss Hands (2013) also uses
the term ‘platformativity’, to refer to political uses of platforms in an era in which internet
infrastructures are increasingly invisible, which allows for media platforms to make, openly
and visibly, a diverse range of interventions.
 
:    () -
But this does not necessarily make it a good sociality. Commentators with an
armative take on parasociality tend to stress its attening efects: television
reporters, actors, and characters do not stand over and above the audience,
larger than life, speaking down. The people on the television are small and ac-
cessible; they are in your home; you can talk back to them.
When Maitra and Chow draw on Paola Voci and Helen Grace to evoke the
lightness and ephemeral qualities of new media videos, for instance, they are
not only looking at media content from the perspective of its expressiveness
(instead of representation) but are also transferring qualities of the platform to
its contents – lightweight, small, mobile. As was often noted in accounts of the
parasociality of broadcast television, qualities of the platform afect the rela-
tion to the images on screen: for instance, smallness, familiarity, accessibility.
In other words, the person on the screen may be Lee (at the level of represen-
tation), but, ultimately, the expressiveness or afective qualities of the plat-
form matter more than representation. Infra-individual intra-action proves
more important than interaction among individuals. By the same token, the
platform takes on qualities of the human: it is not merely personalized but
becomes person-like. In efect, technical individual (platform), human indi-
vidual (users, viewers, consumers), and screen life (characters or personages)
are situated at the same level in ontological terms, mutually captured and cap-
turing, infra-individually. What initially seems to be an opposition between the
domestic and the exotic, between the familiar and the strange, turns out to be
an oscillation between the intimate and the disparate, in which the disparate
inhabits intimacy.
In sum, parasociality leads to a at ontology, but, as with any mode of at-
tening, its value is situational: it may prove equalizing in the sense of chal-
lenging hierarchies and democratizing interactions or equalizing in the sense
of rendering equivalent, transforming into exchange value. It should be noted
that, historically, accounts of parasociality were typically deployed to contest
theories of television based on brainwashing and authoritarian mind control –
because such theories actually betray a fascination with authoritarian desire
that reproduces it through hollow-sounding denunciations. In this respect, in
its refusal to take the side of totalitarian thought, the concept of parasocial-
ity proves more compatible with Foucault and Williams and their respective
emphasis on subjective and social technologies. In any event, any assessment
of the situation of parasociality has to begin by grappling with the activation
of infra-individual intra-action between audience, platform, and screen per-
son,  character, or television life. The concept of platformativity is intended
There are diferent takes on the life of television, but Stanley Cavell (1982) provides an espe-
cially solid account of the inverse side of broadcasting and segmentation, that is, monitoring
:    () -
to delineate that eld of inquiry, an ethical and political inquiry into media-
inected situations of infra-individual intra-action.
Needless to say, media-inected situations come in many diferent kinds.
The challenge of Maitra and Chow’s account lies in its search for a nonmon-
etized situation, which they nd in From Gulf to Gulf, where it is possible to
bracket certain questions about infrastructures. At the other extreme is media
convergence or media mix, that is, multimedia franchises calculated to mone-
tize the intra-actions between media and platforms, which depend on deregu-
lated infrastructures and an incessant production of distributive capacity: the
infrastructure is the situation. Here I have tried to develop one way of begin-
ning to approach the vast middle ground, in the hope that inquiry into the in-
frastructural dimension of platformativity will allow us not only to contest and
move beyond the paradigm of ‘new media in Asia’ through a reconsideration
of national and regional forms in terms of infrastructural situation but may
also open an inquiry into forms of power that are emerging as relays between
disciplinary, sovereign, and biopolitical formations – what is increasingly
called ‘ontopower’ (e.g. Massumi 2015; Povinelli 2015). The signaletic modes of
existence generated through and stretched across the national and regional
situations increasingly associated with ‘Asia’ draw heavily on the ongoing ex-
pansion of social technologies of media, such as broadcast television, while
deecting them into new modes of primitive accumulation and concentration
of ownership, which are at the same time countered by claims that afective
possession should be law. Sorting out such platformative situations is surely
essential to the task of engaging and reckoning with the contemporary ethics
and politics of media.
An, Tairan (2016), ‘The Third Voyeurism’. Masks: Quarterly Journal of Dissimulation in
Art/Architecture/Design, 0 (Spring), 47-54.
Anderson, Benedict (2006), Imagined Communities: Relections on the Origin and
Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso Books.
Appadurai, Arjun (2000), ‘Grassroots Globalization and the Research Imagination.
Public Culture, 12(1), 1-19.
Barad, Karen (2007), Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the
Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham: Duke University Press.
and serialization, in ‘The Fact of Television’. Cavell links the act and experience of monitoring
to a capture of lived life.
 
:    () -
Butler, Judith (1988), ‘Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in
Phenomenology and Feminist Theory’. Theatre Journal 40(4): 519-531.
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... At the same time, the term has served many of our authors as a conceptual anchor, tying their work to broader academic debates over media convergence and digital infrastructures (e.g. Lamarre 2017;Tapsell 2014). In this way, they are connected to influential work by media and communication studies scholars such as Henry Jenkins (2008), Tarleton Gillespie (2010), and José van Dijck, Thomas Poell, and Martijn de Waal (2018). ...
... Like other area-studies scholars, such as Dal Yong Jin (2015), contributors to this journal have critiqued the overreliance on American cases in such debates and have reinvented the concept of the 'platform' in ways that open up a much wider range of local and regional processes for analysis. This has certainly been the case for the contributions to a themed issue that dealt specifically with 'regional platforms' (Jin 2017;Lamarre 2017;Li 2017;Mukherjee & Singh 2017;Steinberg 2017; for an introduction, see Steinberg & Li 2017). However, the concept also informed debates in Chinese-speaking contexts (e.g. ...
... Kakao in South Korea, Sina Weibo in China), it risks producing what the migration scholars Andreas Wimmer and Nina Glick Schiller (2002: 302) call 'methodological nationalism': research that accepts, either empirically or conceptually, the nation-state as 'the natural social and political form of the modern world' . Except for the introductions to various special issues, almost all of which took a regional approach, only nine DIAS publications explicitly moved away from this paradigm and put their research focus on regional dynamics (Duara 2015;Grincheva 2019;Lamarre 2015Lamarre , 2017Schneider 2015) or comparative perspectives (Leong 2016;Schäfer 2018;Tapsell 2014;Wang 2020). All other contributions had a national focus (see Figure 3). ...
This article reviews a decade of research, published in the journal Asiascape: Digital Asia ( DIAS ), that explored the question of how digital technologies and their usage have shaped – and have been shaped by – societies, politics, and economies across the Asian region. It discusses the kind of scholarship that DIAS has published, and on which topics, before giving an overview of the contributions that form this anniversary issue. The article concludes by offering thoughts on the future of digital Asia research.
... The presentation of self in everyday life, Penguin, London. 17 Lamarre, T. (2017) After a thorough analysis, I was able to conclude that both the However, it did not allow a rigid structure of the interview, considering each streamer's experience is different, and therefore the structure had to be flexible. Another reason for choosing the semi-structured interviews was that it allowed me to better explore certain answers by asking follow-up questions, such as 'how come?', 'could you please explain?', etc., thus getting a better understanding of each streamer's experience. ...
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This paper sets out to investigate pre-service teachers’ opinions regarding their participation in an international virtual exchange and simulation project. The aims of the project focused on the development of participants’ digital competence, intercultural communicative competence, and pedagogical content knowledge. An online survey was used as a means for collecting answers. The data gathered indicate that respondents consider the project to have been useful, enriching and relevant for them as it offered a concrete learning experience incorporated in a simulation that contributed to their professional development. Both a qualitative and a quantitative analysis was conducted to connect respondents’ pre-test and post-test answers.
This article dehomogenizes the concept of “web traffic” through a keywords-informed approach. It attends to how, in China, the term for “web traffic,” liuliang (流量), is utilized in rich and creative ways. Instantiating bottom-up epistemic practices, the taxonomies, collocations, and wisdom related to liuliang reveal alternative and locally relevant ways in which people imagine, apprehend, and deal with digital media and data in everyday life. They unleash a set of reinvigorating vocabulary for the theorization of web traffic—liquidity, manipulability, portability, socio-spatial differentiation, ideological valence, and mystified power, among others. These new lenses enrich a genuinely global understanding of digital media, enable those in the Global North to comparatively rethink their taken-for-granted experiences of datafication, and democratize the making of media knowledges by addressing the inequality between the Global North and South(s), between experts and non-experts.
Since the 2010s, “we, the rabbit” has gained currency as an internet slang term referring to China, Chinese ethnicity, and the Chinese Communist Party. The recent popularity of the rabbit as a metonym for the nation is boosted by the varied multimedia forms of bunny characters appearing in historical narratives, web comics, games, and most important, the patriotic animated series Year Hare Affair. Juxtaposing commercial ambitions with a nationalist agenda, Year Hare Affair narrates historical events by personifying countries as anthropomorphic animals. Taking the viral rise of Year Hare Affair as a case study, this article delineates a genealogy of the bunny characters in Chinese popular culture. The transmedia forms of bunny characters, including those appearing in texts, comics, animated programs, and games, provide room for the construction of unstable meanings revolving around the bunny. Consequently, while such animated series align with official narratives of history, they also tone down the weight of those narratives by employing a variety of narrative devices, including parody, game-related motifs, and space-time manipulation. Through these diverse representations, the political message is sometimes enhanced and sometimes playfully challenged. Read in this light, the bunny's evolving trajectory in contemporary popular culture speaks volumes about the dynamics between digital aesthetics and politics, as well as the multiplicity of discourses generated as they meet.
This study on the animation feature The Legend of Hei (2019) and its TV animation series (2011 to the present) endeavors to explore nascent models of eco-aesthetics in Chinese animation through an intersectional framework bridging studies of eco-politics, eco-cinema, and contemporary animation and media studies. Through close analysis of multiplanar imaging and limited animation in the animation feature, I discuss how varied animation techniques in the film contribute to aesthetic effects of appearance and disappearance, diversified characterization, and representations of contesting models of ecological subjectivities, bio-politics, and environmental governance. Contrary to a radical ecologist’s approach that resorts to forceful undertakings to “rescue nature,” the animation projects an alternative ethico-political method that promotes co-existence, inter-species governance, tolerance, and the art of “letting be.” The latter half of the essay situates the TV animation series The Battle of Luo Xiaohei in the milieu of eco-cinema and media ecology. I argue that the TV animation’s transmedial presentation of ACG gaming, platformativity, and parasocial participation of gamers, human characters and elfin alike, offer new insights on videogaming as social and cultural responses to environmental crises, also drawing attention to the ethico-political potential of parasocial gameplay in promoting democratic ideals of ecosystem governance.
In the last several years, an increasing number of rural vloggers from China have opened their YouTube channels, Facebook pages, and Instagram accounts. They broadcast their farming, working, cooking, and crafting. The visual narratives make interesting storytelling about contemporary China, given the fact that these social media platforms themselves are officially inaccessible there. Using Li Ziqi, one of the most viewed Chinese YouTubers, as my case study, I will discuss the politics behind the construction of the “good China story” at the grassroots level. I argue that the aestheticized labor plays a central role in making the good story and its nation-building rhetoric, which is enabled and disrupted by the negotiation and contestation of the aspiring rural individual, the profit-driven cooperation, and the overseeing state.
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How can media philosophy help us rehistoricize Zhang Shichuan (director) and Zheng Zhengqiu’s (screenwriter) Laogong zhi aiqing [ Laborer’s Love , 1922] and foster a deeper understanding of its aesthetics within its historical context? In this article, I take Zhang Zhen’s (1999, 27–50) book chapter on the film, “Teahouse, Shadowplay, Bricolage Cinema,” as a point de départ of my investigation. I argue that Laborer’s Love is best understood as part of a larger media ecology that has always been in transition, or more properly speaking, always in a process of becoming. I want to demonstrate that in the film, the hybridity between a more presentational style that stemmed from early-twentieth-century Chinese theater and a more representational style that stemmed from American cinema may not be a symptom of the film’s transitionality. Rather, such hybridity might have been Zhang Shichuan’s conscious stylistic choice. Also, in the light of Thomas Lamarre’s understanding of the cinema as a negotiation between two relationships between the human and the machine—cinematism (an alignment between the human body and the moving trajectory of the machine) and animetism (a positing of the body within a moving machine)—we can rethink the film as an anthropotechnical mediation between these two relationships.
How are intergenerational relationships playing out in and through the digital rhythms of the household? Through extensive fieldwork in Tokyo, Shanghai and Melbourne, this book ethnographically explores how households are being understood, articulated and defined by digital media practices. It investigates the rise of self-tracking, quantified self and informal practices of care at distance as part of contemporary household dynamics.
The pandemic restrictions and lockdowns have seen working from home (WFH) becoming a mundane practice. During the lockdowns, all movement were situated in the rhythms of the domestic and its infinite regresses of 'presence bleed' (Gregg [2011]. Work’s Intimacy. London: Polity.) – informal care of older parents and young children, the gendered nature of care work and its often invisible role as it convergences with uneven expectations around working from home (WFH) and home schooling. In June 2020 we developed an open call for responses to the Work, Care and Creativity Study (WCCS). The study sought to explore the lived experiences of primary carers who are also creative professionals working and caring from home (WCFH) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Deploying creative practice techniques which use prompts (such as photos, drawing and creative writing responses) to elicit participant’s experiences and emotions, this study sought to render visible some of the overlooked experiences, perceptions and practices emerging over the pandemic.
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This article interprets the work of cultural theorists Steven Connor and Sianne Ngai in terms of their efforts to reevaluate certain key presumptions of aesthetic theory that inherits the surprisingly resilient biases of the 18th century, in particular the work of Immanuel Kant and Edmund Burke. Focusing on the work of Ngai and Connor, I think through the implications this recent theory has for the previously peripheral position occupied by gustatory taste and the cultural objects and experiences it implicates. I discuss the possibility that ideas and examples drawn from the work of Connor and Ngai might form the basis for an alternative area of analysis that is better adapted to the peculiarities of gustatory taste and the culinary. In particular, I argue that the visceral element, which tends to accompany gustatory taste, ought to be interpreted in terms of its generative contribution to the creation of concepts through metaphor, rather than as a muddying influence that prevents clarity of discrimination. Similarly, the close relationship between the edible and the domestic is deserving of a more generous reading than is commonly found in aesthetic theory underwritten by the categories of the sublime and the beautiful.
'Imagined Communities' examines the creation & function of the 'imagined communities' of nationality & the way these communities were in part created by the growth of the nation-state, the interaction between capitalism & printing & the birth of vernacular languages in early modern Europe.
This article examines the rhetorics of recognition in postclimate change political theory. As the future of human life or a human way of life is put under pressure from the heating of the planet, critical theory has increasingly leveled the ontological distinctions among biological, geological, and meteorological existents, and a posthuman critique is giving way to a postliving critique and biopower is giving way to geontopower. Building on my recent reflections on geontopower, I explore how critical theory is absorbing nonliving existents into late liberal forms of democracy, focusing more specifically on the logos-oriented model of Jacques Ranciere and post-Deleuzean vitalist oriented models.