Social & Political Sciences

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Siegfried Zielinski

Media Theory
European Graduate School


Siegfried Zielinski is the Michel Foucault Chair at The European Graduate School / EGS, where he teaches as a professor of mediology and technoculture. He is also the chair of media theory, with a focus on archaeology and variantology of media, at the Institute for Time Based Media at the Berlin University of Arts.   Siegfried Zielinski studied theatre arts, modern German literature, linguistics, semiotics, sociology, philosophy, and political science in Marburg and Berlin, at both the Free University and the Technical University. The major focus of his studies centered on the field of advanced technical media (radio, film, video, computers) under Friedrich Knilli, whose institute had developed out of Walter Höllerer’s Institute of Language in the Age of Technology. In the early 1970s, Siegfried Zielinski published his first essays on media studies and media critique in the journal Marburger Blätter as well as in other periodicals. While still a student in Berlin, Siegfried Zielinski set up and supervised an experimental video studio.   In 1979, Siegfried Zielinski was both author and director of the 16mm documentary film Responses to Holocaust in Western Germany, which was shown in 1979 all over the USA in universities and Jewish communities. In the same year, Siegfried Zielinski graduated with a thesis on Veit Harlan, the film director of Jud Süss, which was published as his first monograph in 1981. This was followed by a short period working as a freelance writer before he developed and instituted, together with Friedrich Knilli, the first project-oriented study course in media consulting at the Technical University, Berlin, in the early 1980s. During this period, Siegfried Zielinski produced—with his students—numerous video films, publications, and technical documentaries, including one on office software for the first UNIX machines for the mass market. Siegfried Zielinski's doctoral dissertation in 1985 was On the History of the Video Recorder; his habilitation in 1989 qualified him to teach media studies at the university level.   In the same year, Siegfried Zielinski received his first appointment to a full professorship in audiovisual studies at the University of Salzburg in Austria, where he set up a department for teaching, research, and production of Audiovisions, which was also the title of his first book translated into English. Exhibitions, media events, the development of the program Artists in der Residenz (named after a famous Salzburg location), and an independent publications series were all part of his work in Austria. While there, Zielinski also produced, with Alois Pluschkowitz, a series of twenty short films on the Archaeology of Audiovisuality. During this period, he designed the program European Summer Academy for Art, Film and Media, in close collaboration with the film director Peter Lilienthal, the philosopher Dietmar Kamper, and Eckhard Stein from Kleines Fernsehspiel (ZDF) at the Academy of Arts in Berlin.   In 1993, Siegfried Zielinski was appointed a professor of communication and audiovisual studies at the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne; in 1994, he became its founding director and later was elected its first rector. In mid-2001, Zielinski returned to teaching and research, focusing on history and theory—particularly the archaeology of the media.   Since January 2007, Siegfried Zielinski teaches and researches at the Berlin University of Arts. He regularly gives master classes at MECAD in Barcelona, particularly for students from Latin America. Zielinski also teaches techno-aesthetics and media archaeology at The European Graduate School / EGS in Saas Fee, Switzerland, where he holds the Michel Foucault professorship.   Siegfried Zielinski has published more than a dozen books and over 150 essays—primarily in the areas of media history and theory. Currently, he is working on a five volume book series on Variantology – Deep Time Relations of Arts, Sciences and Technologies; vol. 1 has been edited with Silvia Wagnermaier (2005), vol. 2 with David Link (2006), and vol. 3ff. with Eckhard Fuerlus (2008). His most recent monographic book, Deep Time of the Media – Towards an Archaeology of Hearing and Seeing by Technical Means, which was published in English by MIT Press (2006)—this book was also published in Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian. Siegfried Zielinski also published Audiovisions – Cinema and Television as Entr’actes in History (Amsterdam University Press, 1999) in English as well as Hungarian.   Siegfried Zielinski was on the editorial board of CTheory, the first electronic magazine on the Internet, launched by the Canadian couple Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, and he co-initiated the journal Balkan Media, which was founded in 1992 in Sofia, Bulgaria, as an attempt to counter the destructive crises in the region. In 1996, Zielinski helped to establish the Center for Communication and Culture (C3) in Budapest. He has lectured and given seminars in many countries all over the world, and his texts have been translated into many different languages, including Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish. Within the framework of his activities at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, Zielinski initiated and directed the annual festival Digitale (1995–1999, in close cooperation with Nils Roeller); initiated and co-edited the Academy’s year-book Jahrbuch für Künste und Apparate LAB (Walther König publishers Cologne as of 1995, seven volumes had been published); and, in collaboration with Silvia Wagnermaier, established the Vilém Flusser Archive and its own small publications series. In 2008, Vilém Flusser's 'Bochum Lectures' were published by Fischer Verlag, edited by Silvia Wagnermaier and Siegfried Zielinski.   Zielinski was elected a member of the European Film Academy (EFA), the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Arts (Akademie der Künste), and the Magic Lantern Society of Great Britain, among others.

Research Interest

Media Theory

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