Reviewer biography

Current Reviews

Review Articles

Book Reviews Archive

El medio es el diseño audiovisual

by Jorge La Ferla, Editor
Editorial Universidad de Caldas, Manizales, Colombia, 2007
702 pp. Paper, US$ 40.00 (80.000 $ colombianos)
ISBN: 978-958-8319-05-6.

Reviewed by José-Carlos Mariátegui
Alta Tecnología Andina (Lima, Peru) and London School of Economics London, UK


Since the early 90’s the Argentinean media theorist Jorge La Ferla has been publishing a series of compilations bringing the voices of Latin American and European intellectuals together. Thanks to his constant work through the La Ferla Chair at the University of Buenos Aires his publications have been not only decisive for several generations of students and researchers in Latin America, but also were among the first ones in Spanish that gave light to new topics surrounding the interdisciplinary fields of new media.

The publication of El medio es el diseño audiovisual (The medium is the audiovisual design) brings part of his previous editorial work together with several new titles into a massive compound of 46 authors and 72 texts, making this book the most complete compilation of new media theory to date published in Spanish. As in the case of La Ferla’s previous projects, one of the merits of El medio es el diseño audiovisual is that it brings for the first time Spanish translations of several emblematic texts on new media theory.

Usually there is a tendency to publish books and articles of Western mainstream intellectuals as the only and decisive voices surrounding media arts; however, the harmonic blending with articles by writers from Latin America, makes this publication unique. Texts from Arlindo Machado, Paula Sibilia, Claudia Giannetti and Lucia Santaella are published along with other better-know authors such as Lev Manovich, Umberto Eco, Oliver Grau, Pierre Levy or Peter Weibel, composing an original blend of contributors with ideological solidity. An additional innovation is making visible the names of other intellectuals, particularly from the Colombian scene, where the book was published, such as Hernando Barragán, Ricardo Cedeño M., Myriam Luisa Díaz, Mauricio Durán, Carmen Gil Vrolijk, Iliana Hernández, and Felipe César Londoño.

The compilation is divided in nine chapters with varied topics that include the relations between art, science and technology, television studies, experimental film, new media design, media archaeology, video art, hypertext and non-linear narratives, interactive media and new media philosophy. Though we may argue about the way the texts in each chapter are compiled since the notion of new media is in permanent shift, so are these broad topics, which makes El medio es el diseño audiovisual a screenshot of the current state of affairs. Additionally to the contributions, an analytic Index and a list of referenced works transforms this publication into an important research tool.

The book is also part of a broader opinionated project of making more diverse the present homogeneous discourse around new media and audiovisual technologies. An additional critique to the book is that this blend lacks contributions from other new contexts of the world where there is currently an active development of the field of new media, such as India, China, the Middle East or South Africa. However, taking a critical stance on the diverse ways of thinking, designing or creating in different places of the world, the book tries to make a global and diverse assemblage by incorporating authors from the Latin-American context. The book includes several texts around design concepts and issues in new media and tries to intersect these ideas with broader media issues that are prospective and important for the 21st century, ranging from current media wars, specially taking into consideration that Colombia in itself is a country with an internal war. This prospective vision is complemented with deep and thoughtful texts on the history of new media from authors such as Vilém Flusser or Siegfried Zielinski. In conclusion, the context-hygienic vision of new media and several universalistic visions, which do not mean they loose their critical carriage, are reconfigured with more local postures to enable a global panopticon. Finally, is worth mentioning the unique social nature of this publication that is orientated to being accessible as much as possible by selling it at an affordable price that covers the basic printing costs; the funds will be then used to generate new titles through the same egalitarian modality. El medio es el diseño audiovisual stands by itself as a very important contribution that will benefit the future generations of researchers and students of new media in the Spanish-speaking Latin America.



Updated 1st June 2007

Contact LDR: ldr@leonardo.org

Contact Leonardo: isast@sfsu.edu

copyright © 2007 ISAST