[Workshop] From body capital to the Internet. New media, new modes of representation, new uses

10 11 Dec 2018

An ERC BodyCapital workshop, co-organised with INA-Grand est

ERC BodyCapital is a research project centred on audio-visual representations of the body in the twentieth century, up to the birth of YouTube in 2005. BodyCapital considers the birth of the Internet as the point at which film and television were succeeded as modes of mass communication, wherein a new space for democratised content and new forms of expression and sociability was created and developed. The Internet has foregrounded both the broad potential of multimedia and the logic of networking practices for the mass audience. It has consequently opened up a new field of distribution within and responding to known structures (institutions, companies, traditional media) whilst reconfiguring relationships between the mass media and its publics. In this sense, Internet has established a mode of interactivity, inspiring individual initiatives through the creation of personal sites.

For the historian, however, the Internet as a channel for communications and thereby the historical record represents a new and largely uncharted landscape with no overriding, established mode of empirical navigation. How, then, should the internet be approached, both as a site of enquiry and as an historical object? Where and how does the historian begin to locate evanescent sources of data that have rotted or disappeared with barely a trace? In other words, how does the historian even begin to approach the Internet as a periodization/ channel/ medium or repository? Rather than creating a history of the Internet per se, this BodyCapital workshop is concerned with situating and characterizing audiovisuals that portray the body (mise-en-scene of the body) contained within it.

Naturally such a process must begin with understanding the historical foundations of the Internet era. This BodyCapital workshop is therefore comprised of a series of presentations and of teaching sessions with interactive participation. The contributions will first familiarise participants with the history of the Internet and the logic of multimedia. Then they will focus on techniques and methodologies that might be used by historians specialising in the body, medicine and health looking to mine primary source material contained within the historic web. A special feature of the workshop will be a case study in the shape of a collaboration with the Institut national de l'audiovisuel [INA] who, in combination with the Bibliotheque national de France, shares responsibility for the legal deposit of French web material, archiving audiovisual media related web sites. Overall, this workshop aims to establish a chronology of the history of the Internet and to outline appropriate methods of analysis.

Overall, the aim of the workshop is to equip historians with the knowledge to begin interrogating the internet as an object of historical investigation. What multimedia resources were then in use (i.e., graphic and administrative technologies)? What modes of configuration were used or preferred (text and image, hypertext uses)? Which pioneer sites have contributed to Internet history/historiography/ Internet-as-object??In building the historical foundation of the Internet era in the BodyCapital perspective, we will encounter new modes of representations of the body that the internet favoured: webcam uses (cf. Fred Forest), first artist creations, reuse of traditional contents (photographs and films).

Organised in collaboration with INA-Grand Est, 31 rue Kageneck (1e étage), 67000 Strasbourg, France

For further information or if you would like to attend, please contact Jessica Borge, Joël Danet or Tricia Close-Koenig.