In the lab I direct, we prototype technologies that no longer exist or no longer function. Within the field of comparative media studies, this approach is somewhat atypical, mostly because historians and theorists usually treat media as objects of study, not materials for inquiry. Each of our prototypes corresponds with a year somewhere between 1840 and 1940. For instance, we recently conducted an early magnetic recording experiment from 1898. It was probably the first sound recording of its kind. We prototyped the components using a combination of sourced and fabricated materials. We then installed the prototype in the Audain…
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