Photo by Héctor Martínez on Unsplash

Reimagining Communication: Mediation

From popular texts and public discourses to scholarship and research, the use of the word “communication” has been on the rise in academic, professional, and everyday contexts. But what exactly is “communication”? Is it possible to not communicate? How does communication work? What are the disciplinary boundaries of communication studies and what is its object of investigation?

Reimagining Communication: Mediation addresses these questions by presenting a survey of the foundational theoretical and methodological approaches in communication studies. As the field has been continuously growing and reaching new horizons, this volume specifically synthesizes major trends within the trajectory of fundamental ideas that have served as its base and continue shaping its sub-branches, covering topics related to the technologies of communication. By presenting perspectives illustrated by concrete examples on the topics of Media Archaeology, Photography, Cinema, Video, Sound, Animation, Comics, Visualizations, Games, Augmented Environments, Social Media, Consumer Generated Content, Streaming, Copyright, Digital Copies, Algorithms, Digital Privacy, Embodied Conversational Agents and Brain Computer Interfaces, this volume synthesizes the complex relationship of communication to media technologies and its forms in a uniquely accessible and engaging way.

Chapter 1

Francisco Javier Frutos and Carmen López San Segundo’s ‘Media Archaeology and Mediation: the Magic Lantern as an Object of Theoretical Reflection’ applies media archaeology methods to explicate the magic lantern shows at the turn of the 19th and 20th Centuries. These events featured media devices such as the fantascope, megascope, solar microscope and projection lantern that have been understudied in communication studies.

Chapter 2

Grant Rivers and Chris Ingraham’s ‘Intangible Photography’ situate contemporary digital photography practices against the deep background of light capturing technologies dating since the 1820s. The authors focus on debates around preserving intangible cultural heritage, and its implications for visual rhetoric.

Chapter 3

Sean Maher’s ‘Cinema Studies’ details the history of cinema studies since the 1970s, and considers how past debates emanating from theoretical contexts such as semiotics, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis and Marxism lead to theoretical impasses in the 1990s. These ‘grand theory’ approaches contributed to bifurcations in the respective scholarly camps, and set the state for a reinvigoration of cinema studies in the digital age.

Chapter 4

Timothy Barker’s ‘Video: Aesthetics/Agonism/Anti-dialectics’ discusses the history and technology of video media. Also taking a media archaeological approach, the chapter explores the application of communication models video’s cultural imperatives. Important concepts from Vilém Flusser’s writings are integrated to describe a politics and dialectics of video on the basis of agonism.

Chapter 5

Adam Hulbert’s ‘Uneasy Intimacies: Acoustic Space and Machines of Presence’ discusses the role of acoustic spaces and their significance for communication theory. The idea of a listening subject is both supported and challenged by the ubiquity of sonic data and new technologies such as conversational interfaces, which add new layers to previous concepts related to schizophonic subjectivity.

Chapter 6

Hotessa Laurence’s ‘Ante-Narrative and the Animated Time Image’ considers late 20th and early 21st century animation films through the concepts of ‘ante-narrative’ (David Boje) and ‘time image’ (Gilles Deleuze). The chapter analyzes short films that are episodic and circulative in which narrative tendencies are resisted rather than furthered. In these films, narrative diegesis is fragmented as the expression of play and particular ontological positions.

Chapter 7

Neil Curtis’s ‘The Medium of Comics; or the Art of Co-Presence’ examines how new affordances in digital technologies change the ways that comics are created and read. The scrolling function of browsers in particular has led to experimentations in form and accentuated sequential flows of images. This medium is distinct from many others in its unique presentation of simultaneous or ‘co-present’ channels of information.

Chapter 8

Russell Chun’s ‘Visualizing the News: Conceptual Foundations and Emerging Technology’ focuses on what has been called the ‘second golden age’ of information visualization, fueled by the rise of big data and the affordances of the visual web. Covering the background of Tufte’s insistence on statistical rigor and Holmes aesthetic considerations, Chun looks ahead to the possible roles of virtual reality for creating immersive data visualization spaces.

Chapter 9

Jessica Wendorf Muhamad, Karen Schrier and Laura-Kate Huse’s ‘Facilitating communicative environments: An exploration of game modalities as facilitators of prosocial change’ looks at the ways that games can facilitate understanding of complex social issues by enabling individuals to enact attitudes, beliefs and behaviors while having the consequences of these mitigated by role playing. Serious games are reviewed through design practices, theoretical frameworks and strategies of application.

Chapter 10

Aarón Rodríguez Serrano, Marta Martín Núñez and Shaila García Catalán’s ‘Augmented Reality’ develops a theoretical perspective on the origins, development and current state of augmented reality technologies. The authors apply a phenomenological frame to explicate key metaphors of the magic mirror and magic lens to describe the political ramifications in the relationship of AR technologies to embodied and social realities.

Chapter 11

Tanner Mirrless’s ‘Social Media’ presents a comprehensive account of key issues related to social media. The chapter investigates social media with regards to its main uses and affordances, and goes on to frame these technologies as systems, tools and agents. The relationship of social media to political, economic and cultural spheres of social activity is highlighted.

Chapter 12

Naim Çınar’s ‘The Rise of Consumer Generated Content and Its Transformative Effect on Advertising’ analyses the connection between advertising and online consumer generated content. This type of mediation has been understudied in communication studies, and the chapter provides an outline of its main dynamics and features, while looking ahead to its future impacts on advertising practices.

Chapter 13

Anja Nylund Hagen’s ‘Music in Streams: Communicating Music in the Streaming Paradigm’ looks at how streaming services have come to play such a major role in the culture industry, reaching vast audiences via a relatively new channel of information flows. The chapter focuses on music streaming and how streaming platforms are reshaping music industry practices and audience engagement.

Chapter 14

Steve Collins and Sherman Young’s ‘Digital Copyright’ connects recent developments in digital copyright management to the long history of copyright dating back to the book trades in 18th century England. Copyright laws have evolved as technologies have changed, revealing changing dynamics of contestation. Case studies are utilized to draw out varying positions related to copyright as an enabler of business models or incentive for cultural production.

Chapter 15

Margie Borschke’s ‘Reimaging Copies in Digital Networks’ reviews the concept of the ‘copy’ and how its meaning has shifted as media practices that were once based hoarding, unauthorized copying and collecting have changed in relation to cloud-based storage and streaming. Attention is drawn to the rhetoric around the cloud and stream, disentangling debates around ontology, mimesis and authenticity, and revealing the centrality of the copy for communication studies today.

Chapter 16

Michelle Wilson’s ‘Questioning Algorithms and Agency: Facial Biometrics in Algorithmic Contexts’ considers the notion of the Algorithm as part of the everyday imaginary around new digital technologies. Anxieties and desires around algorithms center on questions related to agency and control, and whether these are to be situated in human or technological domains. The concept of delegating human agency is suggested as a productive strategy for dealing with these questions.

Chapter 17

Tommy Cooke’s ‘Digital Privacy & Interdisciplinarity: Tendencies, Problems, and Possibilities’ discusses historical and contemporary debates around digital privacy in communication studies. The interdisciplinarity of scholarly treatment in particular has revealed many of the tensions faced by researchers in this area. The chapter also considers normalizing tendencies amongst scholars and emphasizes the need for new theoretical approaches in this area of inquiry.

Chapter 18

Sergio Sayago and Josep Blat’s ‘Reimagining Communication with Conversational User Interfaces: Anthropomorphic Design and Conversational User Experience’ consider the new interfaces that are allowing us to talk to our technologies. Two important issues in the design of conversational user interfaces are explored– anthropomorphism and conversational dialogue. The authors review current and seminal works in the field, and how they have applied these issues in their recent research.

Chapter 19

David J. Gunkel’s ‘Brain Computer Interface’ relates the new interfaces between neurons and computational devices to the larger encompassing area of human-computer interaction. These new technologies allow for data input and output between the central and peripheral nervous systems, and the nearby informatic environment. The chapter also considers brain computer interfaces in relation to science fiction in order to obtain an outlook on future applications and design developments.

Michael Filimowicz, PhD (Simon Fraser University) & Veronika Tzankova (Columbia College Vancouver)

Other Volumes in the Series

Reimagining Communication: Meaning

Reimagining Communication: Experience

Reimagining Communication: Action


The chapter summaries here have in places drawn from the authors’ chapter abstracts, the full versions of which can be found in Routledge’s online reference for the volume.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store