On_Culture Vol. 08 (2019)

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    Modernist Architecture and Visual Culture: Online Forms of Distribution
    (2019) Cristache, Maria
    The project Socialist Modernism documents and aims to protect modernist architecture from Central and Eastern Europe. The platform consists of an online archive with images and texts, an interactive map, and thousands of photographs uploaded on the social media pages and groups administered by the project team. In this paper, I approach critically the infrastructure of distribution provided by this initiative by analyzing two examples of visual representation of architecture. I focus on the content of images, how the material is shared and how it is received on social media. I advance the claim that, in addition to the information about modernist architecture, this project generates data that is relevant for other directions of research, such as visual analysis, cultural heritage, postsocialism, and urban studies. This exploratory analysis draws attention to relevant methodological and conceptual questions and relations that can serve as directions for further research. These range from methodological issues of connecting archival research with social media analysis to conceptual tensions between aestheticized representations of architecture and architectural photography that includes specific references to social issues.
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    To Copy, To Impress, To Distribute: The Start of European Printing
    (2019) Gilbert, Bennett
    In order to distribute our thoughts and feelings, we must make intelligible and distributable copies of them. From approximately 1375 to 1450, certain Europeans started fully mechanized replication of texts and images, based on predecessor smaller technologies. What they started became the most powerful means for the distribution, storage, and retrieval of knowledge in history, up until the invention of digital means. We have scant information about the initiation of print technologies in the period up to Gutenberg, and the picture of Gutenberg that we have has become a great deal more complicated than hitherto. There has not been, however, an approach to the pre-printing period in terms of the history of idea or intellectual history. After a brief survey of established approaches, this essay argues that distribution by impression, or print, is bound up with ancient metaphors for understanding communication by the making of multiples. I suggest that there is a rich field of study for printing history in the sophisticated concepts of reality that medieval and late Scholastic philosophy developed. These concepts helped to express and develop a desire or need for communication that led to the technology of replicating texts and images for wide and continued distribution.
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    Programming a Public Mediascape: Distribution and the Japanese Motion Pictures Experience
    (2019) Amit, Rea
    This essay sheds light on how a film distribution apparatus, which aimed to cater to the entire population as one, in effect ushered in a process of collectivization of cultural life experience, as well as media aesthetics, in postwar Japan.While public discourses on nationhood were discouraged in postwar Japan, information and other textual contents about nationhood flowed freely. The national space as a unified location started to re reform in the mid-1950s. This was after the country regained its sovereignty, and a new medium-television-emerged in the public sphere. However, more than these two factors, I argue that it was the film studio distribution apparatus labeled the "program picture", which enabled an imaginary reunification of viewership throughout the country. Although not entirely unique to the postwar era, this distribution system was predicated on economic models of vertical integration, which in the midst of several medial transformations, established a dominant cinematic aesthetics that has been equally disseminated throughout the country.
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    A Coordinated Europeanization of the Comics Industry through Distribution: The Politics of the Global Journey of Astérix and Tintin through the Strategic Distribution of their Magazines and Contents in the 1960s
    (2019) Burton, Jessica
    Researchers have usually focused on the Tintin and Astérix series global book diffusion through translation. However, little has been discussed about the distribution policies of the comics magazine format, a key factor in the development of European comics. This paper will consider the continentalization of western European national comics industries via the intra-EEC networking of distribution channels during the 1960s. By facilitating the exchange of comics features in the Franco-Belgian area, publishers such as Casterman, Le Lombard, and Dargaud ensured the rise of the industry and of the products they wanted to disseminate. Contemplating the motivations of publishers this article will delve deeper into the emergence of cooperative and competitive distribution channels among national publishers and between countries. Through the archives of Casterman and primary sources this article intends to contribute to a greater understanding of how the carefully planned distribution network of comics influenced the development of the European industry as a whole.
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    (2019) Allen, Marilyn
    de[re]territorialisation adopts a bi-column structure as a method to explore how meaning is distributed between human and digital voices. This bi-discursive paper was generated via a performative gesture where words spoken by a human subject, occupying the left-hand column, were translated by a digital subject to produce text for the right-hand column. de[re]territorialisation explores the potentiality for new narrative flows to be produced through errancy and anomaly, and the capacity for the interplay between the human voice and computational voice recognition systems to deterritorialise and reterritorialise content.
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    Travelling Media Structures: Adaptation and Demarcation in China's Public SARS Discourse
    (2019) Bogen, Cornelia
    The flow of communication structures across various media formats can be traced back to the printing press culture of early modern Europe, where three distinct media features appeared: disagreement, sensationalism, and self-reference. These features continue to characterize health communication in today s online media (Bogen 2011; 2013). This study investigates whether these media structures also characterize contemporary health communication in non-Western countries like China, which are undergoing a modernization process. By taking European structures of healthcare communication as a point of reference, I will analyze how Chinese healthcare communication differs from its European counterpart. This paper takes SARS (the first globally emerging infectious disease of the 21st century) as a case study. While the SARS discourse illustrates the existence of these communication structures in the Chinese me-dia and indicates some convergence between East and West, it is clear that these media structures have been adapted to a specifically Chinese cultural program of modernization. Moreover, I will identify non-European structures that can be explained by China s specific cultural background, and explore the processes of transfer and demarcation that occur when media structures are adapted across cultures.
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    Itch.io and the One-Dollar-Game: How Distribution Platforms Affect the Ontology of (Games as) a Medium
    (2019) Werning, Stefan
    The article at hand outlines formal and media ontological implications of digital distribution by analyzing how independent game publishing platform Itch.io enabled the one-dollar game as an emergent form of cultural expression. Production studies, particularly with reference to film, have investigated how new modes of production have shaped emergent genres and forms like chase scenes and location shooting; this article makes a similar case for distribution modalities. For that purpose, studies and creators accounts on the distribution of literature (Carr, 2015), film (Meusy, 2002) and music (Anderton 2019) are adapted. Characteristic software affordances of Itch.io are analyzed to determine how the platform frames the selling and advertising of disposable games. A corpus of almost 300 one-dollar games was compiled by scraping the Itch.io website. Through a comparative content analysis, several unique microgenres, most of which can only feasibly exist within this product category, as well as performative and simulational aspects of game publishing are studied. The findings are related to ongoing debates about the ontology of (digital) games, thereby connecting the material-semiotic notion of platformization (Helmond, 2015) to cultural production.
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    Editorial: Distribution
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    Data Troubles: Digital Distribution in the Platform Economy
    (2019) Holt, Jennifer
    This essay examines the distribution of content in the global market and how it has become imbricated with cloud policy through online platforms, remote data storage, and the patchwork of international laws, Terms of Service agreements, and policies currently regulating the 1s and 0s being stored and streamed as digital media. Distributing and protecting digital data as it travels all over the world poses challenges that often defy legal paradigms, national boundaries, and traditional geographies of control. Moreover, the incursion of platforms and other intermediaries into the digital distribution landscape has created challenges for everyone from tech companies and theater owners to regulators and audiences. Looking at some of the industrial, cultural, and political dynamics connecting the governance of data with the shifting realities of digital distribution, I will address the growing data troubles faced by the media industries and relate them to the growing stakes for the futures of culture, information, and citizenship in the platform era.