What is a "medium"? And how can the history of the term - the way in which it has been used and theorized - help us answer this question?
This paper will tackle both these issues by focusing on Walter Benjamin's writings, studying carefully the meanings he assigned to the German terms Medium ("medium") and Apparat ("apparatus"). As we will see, such a study provides significant insights into both the question of what a "medium" is, and the nature Walter Benjamin's "media theory" - a topic that, even though widely and effectively studied, has never been analyzed so far from the perspective of Medium and Apparat, the terminological foci of his understanding of human experience in its interaction with technology.
Antonio Somaini is Full Professor of Film, Media, and Visual Culture Theory at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3. His research deals with the film, media and montage theories of the 1920s and 1930s, and with issues related to contemporary visual and media culture, such as the distinction between high and low definition images. The English translation of his 2011 book Eisenstein. Cinema, Art History, Montage is forthcoming by The University of Illinois Press. His edition of Sergei M. Eisenstein’s Notes for a “General History of Cinema” has been published in French in 2014 by the Editions de l’AFRHC (Association Française de Recherche sur l’Histoire du Cinéma), and is forthcoming in English in 2016 by Amsterdam University Press.