Parikka on material incompatibility

Forget smooth, start with the rough. What if we assume a fundamental incompatibility?

What if we assume that by their nature, things don’t fit in? Not with the world, not with themselves; incompatibility is not a contingency or if it is, it is the fundamental contingency of the world from thoughts to things, ideas to devices. Furthermore, incompatibility is not only a cognitive category, or an object that just does not fit in – the anomalous, the incongruous, the thingy without even a proper name.

More closely, what is material incompatibility?

This could be the plug that does not fit, or the software that does not load, the installation that works only to halfway of the process. Whereas such experiences characterise digital media culture as a culture of standardised and constant frustration, material incompatibility can be seen characteristic of discarded and obsolescent technology as well. Not only a field for media archaeologists dedicated to excavating archives and ideas of outside-the-mainstream, this extended-media-archaeology is more like media garbology: it tracks the material in/compatibilities of components, chemicals and such raw, even bad materiality with our lungs, skin, the soil and other organic inscription surfaces.

Jussi Parikka, “Material Incompatibility” 

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