Media futures: Premediation and the politics of performative prototypes
Keywords:imaginary media, policy analysis, performative prototypes, design
For centuries our interest in the future has spurred more and less spectacular ideas of potential relationships between bodies, minds and media. Today, we are, perhaps more than ever, surrounded by imaginary media technologies. Through advertising and popular culture our desires for — and fears of — the media of the future are enticed. This paper explores how imaginary media technologies are used to conceive of a relationship between failure and solution and how this relation can be interpreted critically. Theoretically, the paper calls on the notion of performative prototypes and premediation to stress how imagined designs may influence actual technology development, use and imagined interaction. Further, based on the notion that technologies can be interpreted as policies frozen in silicon the paper applies a form of policy analysis which analyses the performative prototypes as so-called problem representations (i.e., as the relations between envisioned problems and imagined resolutions). Three specific cases of fictitious media futures are then used to propose an analytical dimension of speculative solutions. As a general conclusion, the paper points to how imagined technologies calls for a more rigorous discussion of the intentionality and morality of (designed and imagined) machinery; the emergence of cyborg subjectivity; and the normativity perpetuated by designs that potentially limit our imaginable future.
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