The vision machine

Vision Machine

News this morning from Roger Stahl of a wonderful new resource and site, The vision machine: media, war, peace.  I’ve admired Roger’s work for an age, and his Militainment Inc.: war, media and popular culture has been an indispensable source for my own work on military violence in its various forms; you can find his blog here.

But the new, collective project (for which Roger is a co-director) is even more ambitious; the subject obviously speaks directly to my own concerns, but so too does the format – see the last paragraph below.

TheVisionMachine is a scholarly platform for critically engaging the intersection of war, peace, and media. Using a multimedia approach, the site incorporates pod/vodcasts, media analysis, documentary clips, and links to larger bodies of work. The site is operated by a global group of scholars in the fields of International Relations, Media Production, and Communication Studies.

Thematically, TheVisionMachine is comprised of three components. The first is historical, focusing on the dual development of colonial and media empires from early days of the panorama, photography, print media, radio, TV, to today’s Internet (web 2.0), and social media – thus covering the history of and evolution from old to new digital media. The second is theoretical, using classical and critical theory to examine media as the product and instrument of cultural, economic and political struggles, resistance and revolt. The third is practical, using media production such a micro-documentaries, regular pod/vodcasts, and interactive social media to disseminate research, generate interactive debate, and raise public awareness. As one might guess, The Vision Machine takes direct inspiration from Paul Virilio’s book by the same name, though the site is certainly not limited to his style of thought.

TheVisionMachine is…

1. A Multimedia Journal. TheVisionMachine seeks contributions from a range of prominent thinkers, from academics to activists, media producers, military professionals, journalists, public intellectuals, and more. These contributions range from audio/video profile interviews to short-form original pieces of criticism, theory, observational essays, and documentary work. The driving impulse of the site is to provide a venue for airing cutting-edge ideas and exposing work to larger audiences. If you are interested in becoming involved, please contact us here.

2. A Discussion Platform. TheVisionMachine operates as a hub for an ongoing community conversation. The site hosts a social networking function, discussion boards geared around specific topics, and comment clouds for individual exhibits. Subscribers are encouraged not only to partake of the various articles and micro-documentaries featured on the site, but also to contribute to an expanding range of expertise and perspectives.

3. A Media Production Clearing House. One of the ultimate goals of TheVisionMachine is to operate as a media center, a place for creative collaboration and media production. The structure of the site provides opportunities to “crowdsource” material for larger projects. These could range from academic endeavors to the production of documentary films on relevant subjects. TheVisionMachine is partner with the University of Queensland Media Lab, a $180,000 media monitoring and recording facility, one of the first of its kind housed in a non-corporate, non-military institution.

TheVisionMachine is driven by an explicit attempt to rethink and revamp archaic academic practices of knowledge creation and dissemination. The site aims to move from the average global readership of academic articles in the social sciences (which currently stands at 4.5 readers per published journal article!) to actively engaging a wider public through digital new media. TheVisionMachine is designed as a truly interactive multiplatform space where those with an interest in the infotech/war/peace complex can participate in debates through discussion threads, audio/video postings, and micro-documentary production. Thereby, TheVisionMachine aspires to be a rosetta stone to the complex contemporary global media environment, a tool for interfacing a world where satellite, Internet, cell phone, and other recent technologies directly affect questions of war and peace, control and resistance.

If you need to find the site without using the link above, you should note that there are several ‘vision machines’ on the web – but only one is ‘‘.  Note, too, that the site takes its title from Paul Virilio‘s book (which is available here) but isn’t limited to his style of thought…