Sarah Kember 

v divider 
  home   bio   academic   fiction   experiments   contact



        New Publications


Life After New Media: Mediation as a Vital Process
Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska
(MIT Press 2012)

This co-authored monograph critically examines the current debate on ‘new’ or ‘digital’ media. It makes a case for a significant shift in the way new media is perceived and understood: from thinking about ‘new media’ as a set of discrete objects (the computer, the mobile phone, the iPod, the e-book reader) to understanding media predominantly in terms of processes of mediation.

The argument is threefold:

(1) In an era when being on Facebook or Twitter, having a smart phone or a digicam, and obtaining one’s genetic profile on a CD after being tested for a variety of genetic diseases has become part of many people’s everyday lives, we maintain that there is a need to move beyond the initial fascination with, and fear of, ‘new’ media; and beyond the belief in their alleged ‘newness’, too.

(2) There is also a need to look at the interlocking of technical and biological processes of mediation. Doing so quickly reveals that life itself has become a transient medium, which is subject to the same mechanisms of reproduction, transformation, flattening and patenting that other media forms (CDs, video cassettes, chemically printed photographs, and so on) underwent previously.

(3) If life itself is to be understood as a medium, we need to critically examine the complex and dynamic processes of mediation that are in operation at the biological, social and political levels in the world, while also remaining aware of the limitations of the stand-alone human ‘we’ that can provide such a rational critique.

The aim in Life after New Media is to achieve something other than merely providing an extension or corrective to the current field of ‘new media studies’. Instead of developing an alternative definition or understanding of new media, the authors refocus the new media debate on a set of processes that have so far escaped close analysis by media studies scholars. In other words, with this book we are not so much interested in moving the debate on new media on, but rather in moving on from the debate on new media; and, in doing so, focusing on the concept of mediation. The distinction is of course primarily heuristic, i.e. provisional and tentative, and the purpose of separating mediation from media is to clarify the relation between them. Mediation does not serve as a translational or transparent layer or intermediary between independently existing entities (say, between the producer and consumer of a film or TV programme).  It is a complex and hybrid process, which is simultaneously economic, social, cultural, psychological and technical.

MIT Press Book News

LSE Review of Books review

Cultural Machine review

vertical divider
Talks and Performances

Forget the Book is the first public event held as part of the RCUK funded CREATe (Centre for Creativity, Regulation, Enterprise and Technology). Here, we discuss issues of creativity, copyright, access and emergent business models in the context of digital publishing.

Sarah is interviewed by Joan Haran on the contribution of fiction to feminst media and technology studies.  She discusses her own novel, the Optical Effects of Lightning.  The interview is also on the Fembot website for the series Books Aren't Dead.
Listen to interview Part 1
Listen to interview Part 2

Smart phones, smart boards, smart homes…. every technology is apparently so darn smart, but how are we keeping up with these gadgets ourselves? Smart technologies are referred to as such because they seem intelligent enough to know about our personal needs, desires, and curiosities and they cater their computational functions to better serve us as individuals. They know us through the data we generate about our lives and appetites,  but of course, that means they’re left with a database of info on us, the tasty consumer, to sell to hungry corporations.
link to podcast

In a podcast by Britt Wray, Sarah Kember explains what this looks like today with the emergence of the smart home, where ubiquitous computing is rebranded as ambient intelligence, and sold as an invisible but necessary part of domestic life for the future.

'Ubiquitous Photography: from everywhere to 'everyware''
History of Photography seminar series
Courtauld Institue of Art
February 2013

'For an experimental mode of expression'
Feminist Debates on Technology

October 2012

'Ubiquitous Photography and the Ambient Intelligent Amateur'
International Photography Symposium
University of Gothenburg in collaboration with the Hasselblad Foundation
October 2012

"The tools that we need for reinventing our lives': feminist dialogues on technology'
Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD)
May 2012

'The state of feminist methodologies: taking stock and new challenges'
Feminist Scholarship for the Next Decade
Feminist Scholarship Division, ICA
Phoenix, Arizona
May 2012

'Ambient Intelligence: the makeover and metamorphosis of the self in relation to
technology and capital (and what we can do
about it) for the Society for Existential
Analysis (SEA) event on The Permeation of Technology in Everyday Life', at the Welcome Institute, Sat 19th November 2011
link to video

'When is a hoax not a hoax? The mediation of
life in technoscientific culture'. Keynote talk for Staging Illusion: Digital and Cultural Fantasy, Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies and the Centre for Material Digital Culture, 9 December,
University of Sussex

‘To live is to be photographed’ (Sontag): Photography & Ambient Intelligence’
Contemporary Vernacular Photographies
The Photographer’s Gallery and the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture
University of Westminster
September 2011

Chair, ‘Homes beyond Home’
CAST seminar series
June 2011

‘Everywhere is Nowhere. The self-reinforcing agents of contemporary technoscience’
Unexpected Agents: Considering agency and subjectivity beyond the boundaries of the human
University of Birmingham
June 2011

Media and the Senses
Two day international conference
May 2011

sarah talk

‘Queer Ethics? On love, loss and doing nothing’
Queer Temporalities
The Fourth Annual Sexuality Summer School
University of Manchester
May 2011

‘Intelligent Mediation’
Media at McGill
Public lecture at McGill University
January 2011

Robotics Retreat
EPSRC (Societal Issues Panel)/AHRC sponsored retreat looking at social and ethical implications of the development of robotics and autonomous systems. Policy remit.
Rhinefield House Hotel
September 2010

‘What is the significance of the nonhuman/alien to feminist theory?’
Feminist Theory and the Non-Human Workshop
Department of Sociology
Lancaster University
September 2010

‘The LHC Project: mediating life, the universe and everything’
Creative Mediation
CRASSH (Centre for Research in Arts Social Sciences and Humanities)
Cambridge University
May 2010

‘Digital Media (and beyond)’
Histories of the Digital Future
University of Warwick
March 2010

‘Voice and Academic Performativity – a feminist intervention?’
Performing Media
Creative Media Forum with MA Gender and Culture (co-organised event)
Goldsmiths, University of London October 2009

Special Event: ‘Metamorphoses’
Monstrous Media, Spectral Subjects
Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Gothic Association
Department of English and Creative Writing
Lancaster University
July 2009

‘(Re)pensar la fotografia’/’(Re)thinking photography’
SCAN. International Photography Symposium (Instantaneas de la teoria de la fotografia)
Tarragona, Spain
May 2009

‘Media, Mars and Metamorphosis (part 3)’
Animation and Automation
Centre for Screen Studies, University of Manchester
Centre for Science Studies, Lancaster University
March 2009

‘The Virtual Life of Photography?’
Photographic Mediations
Coventry School of Art and Design,
with Goldsmiths Creative Media Forum
November 2008. link