[ISEA2011] Keynote: Sean Cubitt – Time to live


Prof. Sean Cubitt will discuss and present his views on the dominant media of the 21st century that are now in place: spreadsheets, databases and geographic information systems.                    Intro                                                                                                                                                                    The dominant media of the 21st century are now in place: spreadsheets, databases and geographic information systems. Evolved from double-entry book-keeping, from the early adding machines and filing cabinets of the first office revolution, and from the maps that guided the first wave of European imperialism. All three share a move away from origins in chronological ordering. Time is being squeezed out of contemporary media. We need to look hard at its position in digital technology. The moving image media begin with succession – one frame after another – adding the interlaced and progressive scan with the invention of video. Digital imaging brings with it the clock function in image capture and processing; and the introduction of the time-to-live principle in packet switching, which ensures undelivered packages erase themselves so that they do not clog the system. Time is integral to digital
media, far more so than to their mechanical predecessors. Vector graphics are a startling example of the potential of this temporal specificity. However, vectors are both constrained by the universality of raster displays, and redeployed in video codecs as a means for managing and controlling time. The aesthetics of digital time cannot be separated from its political economy and art that is digital needs to pay attention to the materiality of digital media, and the politics and economics that define them, especially in the moment of IPv6, HTML5 and the MPEG-LA patent wars.

The video documentation of Sean Cubitt’s keynote speech Time to Live at ISEA2011 is available online in five parts. Please click on the the following links for Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV, and Part V.

  • Sean Cubitt, UK, Professor of Film and Television. Sean Cubitt is Director of the Program in Media and Communications at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and Honorary Professor of the University of Dundee, UK. His publications include Timeshift: On Video Culture (Comedia/Routledge, 1991), Videography: Video Media as Art and Culture (Macmillans/St Martins Press, 1993), Digital Aesthetics (Theory, Culture and Society/Sage, 1998),Simulation and Social Theory (Theory, Culture and Society/ Sage, 2001), The Cinema Effect (MIT Press, 2004) and EcoMedia (Rodopi, 2005). He was the coeditor of Aliens R Us: Postcolonial Science Fiction with Ziauddin Sardar (Pluto Press 2002) and The Third Text Reader with Rasheed Araeen and Ziauddin Sardar (Athlone/Continuum 2002) and How to Study the Event Film: The Lord of the Rings (Manchester University Press, 2008). He is an editor of Cultural Politics and serves on the editorial boards of a dozen journals including Screen, Third Text, Visual Communication, Futures and The International Journal of Cultural Studies. His article on early video art won the 2006 CAA Award for best article. He is the series editor for Leonardo Books at MIT Press. His current research is on public screens and the transformation of public space; and on genealogies of digital light.

Full text (PDF) p 566-576