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Paperback | $28.95 Trade | £19.95 | ISBN: 9780262740326 | 389 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 86 b&w illus.| February 2008

Deep Time of the Media

Toward an Archaeology of Hearing and Seeing by Technical Means
Foreword by Timothy Druckrey
Translated by Gloria Custance


Deep Time of the Media takes us on an archaeological quest into the hidden layers of media development—dynamic moments of intense activity in media design and construction that have been largely ignored in the historical-media archaeological record. Siegfried Zielinski argues that the history of the media does not proceed predictably from primitive tools to complex machinery; in Deep Time of the Media, he illuminates turning points of media history—fractures in the predictable—that help us see the new in the old.

Drawing on original source materials, Zielinski explores the technology of devices for hearing and seeing through two thousand years of cultural and technological history. He discovers the contributions of "dreamers and modelers" of media worlds, from the ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles and natural philosophers of the Renaissance and Baroque periods to Russian avant-gardists of the early twentieth century. "Media are spaces of action for constructed attempts to connect what is separated," Zielinski writes. He describes models and machines that make this connection: including a theater of mirrors in sixteenth-century Naples, an automaton for musical composition created by the seventeenth-century Jesuit Athanasius Kircher, and the eighteenth-century electrical tele-writing machine of Joseph Mazzolari, among others. Uncovering these moments in the media-archaeological record, Zielinski says, brings us into a new relationship with present-day moments; these discoveries in the "deep time" media history shed light on today's media landscape and may help us map our expedition to the media future.

About the Author

Siegfried Zielinski, a founder of the new field of media archaeology, is Founding Director of the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, where he is Professor of Media and Communication Studies and is developing a workshop for a variantology of the media. He has published more than a dozen books and many articles. Deep Time of the Media is the second of his books to appear in English.


"Siegfried Zielinski has combed the technical history of the media from cave painting to the World Wide Web and arrived at some surprising new insights... A brilliant study on the subtext of European history of technology and science.", Frank Hartmann, Falter


"Deep Time of the Media is a revealing book that only Siegfried Zielinksi could have written. It is a book that doesn't legitimize our contemporary technological culture as the logical outcome of a long cultural evolution but instead sees media history as a dynamic process shaped by the accident(al) and the imaginative. Zielinski broadens our view by transgressing different time periods and knowledge fields and exploring obscure archives where hermetics and alchemy reveal the genius of misfits and the art of unforeseen events."
Alex Adriaansens, Director, V2_, Institute for the Unstable Media, Rotterdam

"Deep Time of Media is an extraordinary gift. Next to the canonical geniuses of the past, Siegfried Zielinski introduces us to a host of unknown philosophers, visionaries, and inventors who turn out to be great precursors to the world of modern media. His book will not only encourage the revision of received wisdom in the history of ideas and of science, but also inspire the geniuses of the future."
Zbig Rybczynski, filmmaker

"Zielinski breaks with the continuity of conventional genealogies and refuses to become involved in the facile enterprise of relating contemporary media technology to historic forerunners. Instead, Zielinksi seeks new bearings on the present in the curiosity cabinet of media history."

Mirko Tobias Sh