Performativity and Metaphor in New Materialist Media Theory
Some media theorists have begun to rethink the material basis of media in light of ‘new materialist’ thought. This involves expanding the concept of media to include the temporal and indeterminate processes involved. The process of mediation, rather than stable media objects, emerges as the point of departure. The basic claim of this essay is that media theory’s recent embrace of material forces and practices should not take place as refusal of representation. The critical context of new materialism, which concerns the instability between objects and their representation, has led some media theorists to reconsider the relation between media theory and its objects of study in the world. This takes place in some cases in the name of a performativity of method—an appeal to the creative, practical, and material forces of media-theoretical research that reconceives the theory-world relation in these terms. Metaphor, the rhetorical transfer of meaning from one term to another, and usually understood as supplemental, can also be conceived as a material process of mediation, if we think in terms of a new materialist perspective. Thinking about metaphor in this way allows us to carry new materialism’s important insights on materiality, meaning, mediation and method further.