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Jessica Pikal, SMART EXPORT: JESSIE 2020, 2020. Photo: By courtesy of Jessica Pikal.
Guy Sherwin, Optical Sound, 2007, frame enlargement. Photo: By courtesy of Guy Sherwin.
Siegfried A. Fruhauf: Structural Studies, 2003, C-Print on aluminium. Photo: By courtesy of Siegfried A. Fruhauf.


The Department of Media Theory exists as an arena of research, reflection and pursuit for students, academics, and artists. We regard the present against the long historical experience of once-new media (photography, film, video) and thereby cast a fresh look at the newness of ‘new’ media (digital, networked, algorithmic and data-based). In turn, via the lenses of the latest media and their technologies, we also see old media anew.

A medium is more than a technical tool, and cannot be reduced to its physical properties alone. It is rather understood as a complex, interlocking system of discursive, institutional, textual, spectatorial, psychological and technical aspects. To shift the focus from the individual medium to the relational nature of media configurations brings these interpenetrating aspects to the fore. By doing so, the department wants to shed light on new forms of collective expression and transindividual experience.

Besides providing the theoretical, methodological and historical foundations of media studies, research and teaching at the Department of Media Theory engage with a diverse spectrum of media and their respective dispositifs (the term we use for those ‘complex, interlocking systems’). Areas of focus include:
– the dynamic and expanding field of ‘moving image-based art’, from experimental film, experimental animation and hybrid forms (moving images combined with painting, photography, performance, sculpture, etc.) to ‘artists’ moving images’ in a gallery or museum;
– the relation between the analogue and the digital, with particular reference to networked media technologies and practices that have emerged through the engagement with these technologies;
– image/sound relations in audiovisual practices anchored in artistic contexts;
– the latest push in computation, in particular in automated data analysis and machine learning, as well as activist and artistic practices dealing with data bias and algorithmic inequity;
– video art and its overlapping with film, music, TV, and the Internet;
– documentary (film/video) and its modes of production (collective, participatory, independent, etc.); documentary work as artistic strategy;
– audiovisual media production as artistic research;
– artificial intelligence and creativity;
– methods and methodologies of media studies.

The department’s triple focus on theory, history and art practice also emphasizes artistic research. The department currently hosts two outstanding projects funded by the Austrian Science Fund’s Program for Arts-based Research and is involved in several ongoing national and international research collaborations.

The Department of Media Theory seeks to actively contribute to creating a non-discriminatory working environment and learning atmosphere that enables critical and heterogeneous research and teaching of the highest quality.