Immortal Media (MS2106.01)

Brian Michael Murphy

In this introductory course, we will analyze media preservation projects that attempt to create immortal media—artifacts that last beyond the end of the world. From the Depression to the digital age, preservationists have responded to the social, cultural, technological, and ecological crises of their moment by projecting fears about their own mortality onto media artifacts, then immortalizing them. The first permanent time capsules embodied the racial anxieties of the influential eugenics movement, aimed at preserving the purity of the white race. In this era of climate change, preservationists are turning to ancient technologies like etching to create permanent archives, launching small discs of analog images into outer space, including one attached to a telecommunications satellite, and another deposited on a comet that orbits between Mars and Jupiter. At the same time, artists such as Bill Morrison and Hiroshi Sugimoto use deteriorated and damaged materials to invite us to contemplate the beauty of decay, and question the perennial impulse to create media that never die.

Prerequisites: None.
Credits: 4
T 2:10pm - 4:00pm; F 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency:
This course is categorized as 2000, All courses, Brian Michael Murphy, CAPA, Four Credit, Media Studies, Tuesday and/or Friday Afternoons.