Transmission in Motion


“Exploring Movement: Salazar’s Posthuman Notion of Transmission Media” – Irene Alcubilla Troughton

During this first lecture, in the frame of the Transmission in Motion Seminar, Nicolas Salazar developed certain ideas about how rocks, and especially limestones in caves, can transmit as much as any digital media nowadays. The main idea that I got from this session could be summarised as it follows: transmission is not something confined in technology; therefore, media is not a technologically dependent phenomenon. That implies that mediation can be, as well, related to physical elements that transmit beyond mere words.

Coming from the linguistically and technologically-bound idea that a transmission medium is something that lies behind, and it is subjected to, a communication medium, Nicolas Salazar view on limestones caves was revealing. Two reflections that arose from this main assertion were of interest to me: firstly, the physical, material way of understanding transmission beyond discourse and secondly, the relation between physical movement as a transmission medium to life.

However, this does not imply a rejection of communication as a basic point of transmission media but rather a deconstruction of the term. As Salazar pointed out, certain scholars have paid attention to the way in which, during pre-literary cultures, communication was done in a non-linear, radial, acoustic way, in contrast to Modern societies where, after the invention of writing, a rational and linear conceptualisation of communication was introduced. As an example of this difference, we have painting in caves: these expressions do not have a centre or an organisation; they follow a more acoustic pattern.

In this sense, the morphological and kinetics aspects of the rock in caves give us an idea of how another understanding of transmission and communication can be achieved. Caves are being constantly modified by the movement of air and water that erodes the rocks and have an imprint on them, in the same way that the presence of human beings (such as, the way we produce CO2 while breathing) produce also a change in caves. Being aware of this makes one realise how something seemingly static is in constant movement, even if that movement is unperceivable at first by the human eye. This is the movement that is already there; it is a living, vital movement that can be found anywhere.

At the end, Salazar concluded that what it is being transmitted in the cave is a vital substance (memory and imagination) but not a representation. Even if I do not agree with such a strict definition of representationalism as it was shown in the lecture, where it was equated to a mere reproduction of an external reality, I do believe that by changing the focus from representation to transmission it is possible to develop new paths. This post-human notion of transmission media aid us in developing approaches to the way in which we communicate, interact and re-construct life; as well as help us understand how movement can be conceptualised as a physical, somatic, sensory and not necessarily human dynamic.