Our common denominator 'media'

by Mika Elo

During the last year Media Factory has established itself as a network. The competences of the network participants complement each other in a multi-faceted way. There is a real interest in cooperation and new forms of collaboration are actively searched for. The starting point is promising, to say the least.

However, as the network organized its first public seminar in Chydenia in August 2008, the theoretical foundations of the network turned out to be anything but clear. Especially, in regard to the key notion ‘media’ no consensus was found. The points of departure of the various actors in the network were too far apart.

Heterogeneity of the theoretical ground isn’t a problem per se. It can even be seen as a necessary precondition for the development of an innovative interdisciplinary research culture that the Media Factory network has identified as one of its objectives. On the other hand, lack of a common ground makes the search for a productive focus and scope of joint research activities into a difficult task. Interdisciplinary research culture has to be built up step by step.

I think that these steps inevitably include development of a common vocabulary. This is not to say that an ‘Esperanto for media researchers’ would be a relevant goal. Rather, the emphasis should be put on training some ‘translation skills’. A good exercise would be for example to articulate the relations of the following notions, which are all figuring in our key concept ‘media’: ‘mediator’ (that which comes in-between), ‘formate’ (specified technology), ‘means’ (purposeful instrument), ‘channel’ (access to a beyond), ‘carrier’ (material support of information), and ‘concept’ (an articulated relation between form and content). A further exercise: to map these relations in regard to the three main contexts of Media Factory researchers’ interests, i.e. those of conception, production and ends.

Mika Elo
Doctor of Arts
Researcher, Coordinator
School of Visual Culture
University of Art and Design

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