Thomas Lamarre

(Techniques speaker series)

March 19, 2019
Doors Open at 5:00 pm
Talk at 6:00 pm

Social Hall, 715 S McClintock Drive
Tempe, AZ 85281, USA


Thomas Lamarre teaches in East Asian Studies and Communications Studies at McGill University. He is author of numerous publications on the history of media, thought, and material culture, with projects ranging from the communication networks of 9th century Japan (Uncovering Heian Japan: An Archaeology of Sensation and Inscription, 2000), to silent cinema and the global imaginary (Shadows on the Screen: Tanizaki Jun’ichirô on Cinema and Oriental Aesthetics, 2005), animation technologies (The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation, 2009) and television and new media (The Anime Ecology: A Genealogy of Television, Animation, and Game Media, 2018).


As We May Think, Ecologically

Vannevar Bush’s 1945 essay, As We May Think, has been widely heralded, especially by the pioneers of hypertext, as the beginning of computer-supported-cooperative work of interface theory — condensed into his proposal for a device called the memex to help researchers search, record, analyze, and communicate information.

The inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, characterized his vision of a sea of interactive shared knowledge, as one in which computers are memexes whose knowledge base exists in cyberspace rather than microfilm. Building on such accounts, I propose to explore Bush’s radical transformation in the situation of knowledge — the problem of lateral connections. The lateral problem is fundamentally different from the horizontal problem that characterizes the classical knowledge of 18th century — what Foucault calls “horizontal deployments,” such as the table and the grid. It also differs from the modern disciplinary knowledge of the 19th and early 20th centuries, which Foucault characterizes in terms of “obscure verticality.”