Welcome to Birth of the Device, an inventory of effects on our new era of media communication in 2020.Today, content is no longer limited to the constraints of 20th century recorded media. Type no longer related to print, film no longer tethered to celluloid, sound to tape or even our early programming and digital formats to heavy localized hard drives and servers. Specialized equipment or production knowledge is no longer required to send video, type, icons or infographics, sound, music, or even altered photographic reality with deep fake apps. Family whats app threads regularly mix emojis, video, voice notes, type and image. This condition presents new opportunities for uniquely 21st century aesthetics as well as new socio-political conditions for the monetization, creation and free movement of communication in society.

Research Questions

What happens when, for the first time in the history of mass communications technology, the average citizen holds the means of production and distribution in their hand?

What are the implications for power systems and the diversification of representational practice amidst a new empire of media corporations, data monopolization and the disappearing margin between content, journalism, clickbait, algorithms and advertising.

What are the implications for the basic time signature of media? The grammar, syntax and structure of communication? What happens to film when moving image has been displaced from the narrative chronology typical to the filmic screen of the theatre or television?

What happens when the form of the medium no longer seemingly relates to the product or media it creates?

Birth of the Device is an inventory of effects set out to explore the questions and conditions of our new era of media communication in 2020. Following in the tradition of Laszlo Moholy Nagy’s 1925 Malerei Fotografie Film and Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore’s 1967 experimental paperback, The Medium Is the Massage, Birth of the Device is a partial, experimental @* acid pop into 21st century media- networked, synced, kinetic. Beyond McLuhan’s cool and electric and Moholoy Nagy’s typophoto modernism, Birth of the Device is a trip, distilling and abstracting insights from the intersection of our current socio-political movements in the early 21st century and our shifting technological moment.

21st century x praxis

While Moholy-Nagy was writing amidst increasing European fascism, the rise of industrialism and the crisis between the world wars, Birth of the Device similarly looks at media in the context of early 21st century political, environmental and social developments. The revolution of the internet has paralleled revolutions in drone operated warfare, data hacking, privacy and surveillance issues and a slipping mass journalistic standard due to mounting rhetoric of ‘fake news’ to dismiss unfavorable reporting.

As a 21st-century work, we can add a lens of ethnography; economic anthropology; postcolonial, queer and feminist critique; activism; and speculative design thinking. Through these lenses, media is not the machine but rather are systems of interactions between economic imperatives encompassing modern-industrial neoliberal capitalism, proliferations of subcultures and a fundamental spiritual questioning of human experience.

Our new age calls for a diversification of the the philosophical and social principles of internet architecture and environmental experiences of messaging, which is a collective experiment and has involved interviews and conversations across subcultures and fields. As climate disaster, deforestation and dwindling natural resources intensifies, we need new collaboration between fields to understand a broader ecosystem of affects connected to our technologies and how we can reshift our understanding of technology as futurism to expand beyond innovations in digital technologies which rely upon finite resources, short life spans and only partial mechanisms for recycling.


1925 Moholy-Nagy, László; Malerei, Photographie, Film (Painting, photography, film). Munich: Albert Langen Verlag.

1967 McLuhan, Marshall; The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. Penguin Books.

2012 Schnapp J, Michaels A, Heller S; The Electric Information Age Book: McLuhan/Agel/Fiore and the Experimental Paperback