Michael Graeve

ACCORDING TO THE media archaeology laid out in Friedrich A. Kittler’s Gramophone, Film, Typewriter (1999), the functions of film and phonograph can be distinguished by analogy with the psychoanalytic functions Jacques Lacan described as the “imaginary” and the “real.” Where the imaginary was once stimulated, in the era of the book, by the discrete flow of words, in the age of media it is directly controlled by the cinema’s manipulation of attention through techniques like the close-up, the zoom, and shot/countershot alternations. The phonograph, by contrast, acts as a repository and reproduction device for a real understood by Kittler as the continuous trace of the untranscribable noise a human listener effortlessly, and precisely through an unnoticed focus of attention, screens out. In the postwar era of electronic media—exemplified, on the one hand, by the capacity to edit and manipulate

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