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Announcement: Historical Multimedia

Media Archaeology

“This dossier on Media Archaeology provides further reading around the mini-festival An Archaeology of Imaginary Media, which was held at De Balie, February 5 – 8, 2004. The dossier contains a number of key-texts on Media Archaeology, a relatively new approach to writing media history. The dossier also provides links to key-thinkers in the field, most of whom participated in our project on imaginary media.”
Media Archaeology


Surname is a literary style that describes the celebrations in wedding, birth and circumcision ceremonies in Ottoman Palace. This book is a miniature manuscript based on one of these surnames. In the Surname (1582-1583) of Murat III, Nakkas (the painter) Osman built a documentary of the 55-day long festival organized for the honor of the Shehzadehs (Sultan’s sons.) Although the scene of the festival was represented in a fixed background, the parts of the “décor” were enriched by surprising variations with no particular aim to depict a real space. Therefore, the structural aspects of this manuscript reflect the characteristics of a subjective narration as opposed to a documentary that is claiming to be objective. However this is still not an individual subjectivity but a collective subjectivity that represents the visual attitude formed by the visual culture of the era.

In this project, cinematography was used as a tool of navigation within the miniature environment. The whole scene was divided into layers considering the iconographic narration of the miniatures. A virtual camera travels within the 3D layered space, occasionally focusing on the sub narratives of the celebration. In these sub narratives, a user/viewer can examine the points of view of figures through cinematic visual grammar.

Surname movie (20MB-~ 5-15mins download time)

The Book of Ingenious Mechanical Devices

“Kitab-al Hiyal (The Book of Ingenious Mechanical Devices) documents the mechanical description of various hydraulic machines, written in 1206 by Al Jazari, an irrigation engineer who was employed in the palace of the Artuklu Sultanate in today’s south-eastern Turkey. The book contains approximately 300 automated devices including their construction and usage information — all illustrated with technical drawings in the style of miniature painting.
One of the most important aspects of this book is its visualization techniques such as showing the important parts of mechanisms separately in a bigger scale, constructing mechanisms step-by-step from parts to whole, and cross sectioning for depicting inner layers. Another characteristic of this manuscript as an interface archetype is the attention given not only to the explained mechanisms with their functional structure but also to the outer layer that creates and enhances the illusion of artificial life. The fairytale figures on the outermost layers of the mechanisms further serves the purpose of entertaining the guests of Artuklu Palace.”

Starter Links: Water Pouring Automaton | Elephant Clock


“6. a. The embellishment or decoration of a letter or writing with bright or luminous colours, the use of gold and silver, the addition of elaborate tracery or miniature illustrations, etc.: see ILLUMINATE v. 8. b. with pl. The designs, miniatures, and the like, employed in such decoration.â€? (From the OED.n.6,a-b)

Starter Links: [under construction]

Medley PrintsTransliteracies Research Report

Mixed-media objects, similar to a contemporary collage, that enjoyed an indeterminate period of popularity in the visual culture of eighteenth century England.

“One of the intriguing aspects of medley prints is that so little information survives about them and correspondingly little contemporary scholarship has been published about them. An exception is Mark Hallett’s “The Medley Print in Early Eighteenth-Century London.” Although there is little scholarship on medley prints, there are a number of surviving examples.” (From Gerald Egan’s Research Report.)

Starter Links and References:
Mark Hallett’s article, “The Medley Print in Early Eighteenth-Century London,” in Art History

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Gerald Egan