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Einstein's Discourse Networks

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This paper situates Einstein's theory of relativity within broader networks of communication. The speed of light, explained Einstein, was an unsurpassable velocity if, and only if, it was considered in terms of »arbitrary« and »voluntary« signals. Light signals in physics belong within a broader set of signs and symbols that include communication and military signals, understood by reference to Helmholtz, Saussure, media philosophies from WWII to '68 (Lavelle, Ong, McLuhan) and Derrida. Once light signals in physics are considered in relation to semaphore, print, telegraph, radio, computers and tape recorders, Kittler and Habermas provide us with conflicting ways for understanding science and technology, rationality and consensus. We conclude with a study of »flash and bang« in popular accounts of relativity theory to understand the role of theoretical science in the transmission of information and violence.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 2014

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  • Our review is aimed at the interdisciplinary exploration of matters of cultural techniques as well as of questions of media philosophy. We assume that the evolution of medial and cultural contexts is only understood adequately when the role of artefacts, apparatuses and dispositifs in cultural achievements and their reflection is thoroughly taken into account. The focus of the contributions thus lies on analyzing the interdependency of actions, knowledge, and material objects in assemblages of human and non-human agents. The review is designed as an international forum for media culture studies.

    Die Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kulturforschung (ZMK) zielt auf die fächerübergreifende Diskussion einer Theorie der Kulturtechniken sowie medienphilosophischer Problemstellungen. Dabei geht sie davon aus, dass sich die Evolution medienkultureller Zusammenhänge nur adäquat erfassen lässt, wenn der Rolle von Artefakten, Apparaturen und Dispositiven bei Kulturleistungen und deren Reflexion Rechnung getragen wird. Der Schwerpunkt der Fachbeiträge liegt daher auf der Analyse der Wechselbeziehungen von Handlungen, Erkenntnissen und Werken in Ensembles aus menschlichen und nichtmenschlichen Agenten. Damit bietet die Zeitschrift auch der inzwischen als Fachdisziplin etablierten kulturwissenschaftlichen Medienforschung ein internationales Forum.
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