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Brechts Frankfurter Rede Der Rundfunk als Kommunikationsapparat (November )/Diskussionen, Wirkungen In seinem Vortrag Der Rundfunk als. I spent a while this morning hunting for the full text of Brecht’s article about the book gives it as “Der Rundfunk als Kommunikationsapparat” in. Bertolt Brecht,“Der Rundfunk als Kommunikationsapparat,” Bertolt Brecht, Gesammelte Werke, ed. ElisabethHauptmann, vol.8 (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

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Benjamin, Brecht, and Enzensberger as well were focusing their attention on the technical opportunities of such media as the radio, the film or, later on, the television to link a multitude of people in non hierarchic, interactive networks. Because, on the level of the circuits kommunikationsappsrat radio-technology, every microphone could function as a loudspeaker and vice versa every loudspeaker could be used as a micro, the common fascist or capitalistic practice of broadcasting and one-to-many communication should be replaced by interaction of all participating users.

The contrary is true, he suggests: And to quote him once again: As a consequence of this interactive organization of the masses, the whole society will reorganize too — and, I am following the list Enzensberger gave, society will be deliberative and emancipative instead of totalitarian and repressive, it will not manipulate consumers but mobilize and stimulate active participation, it will not alienate individuals from each other but bring them together in collectives S.

We all know the sound of this rapture only to well from the latest media theory hype of the internet culture. Enzensberger shares with his predecessors Benjamin and Brecht this conviction that one could forecast development on a firm basis, and together they are joining a genuine teleological and more or less Marxist perspective on history. If you only know what is going on at the level of the hard economic facts and methods of production, if you know what kind of machines and organizations are used to produce goods, you can predict with what kind of society you have to deal with and how it will develop further.

Because the social software is recognized as a effect of economic and technological hardware, Marx and Engels knew only too well what was going to happen on the socio-cultural level if they detected certain changes at the level of hardware.

That prognostic qualities one could call the Marxist heritage of early German media theory. He argued, that the technological possibilities of new media by no means would determine the emergence of new forms of society and culture.

Media such as the radio or the television, Baudrillard remembers that media are always mediating — and that includes to keep a difference between sender and receiver, a medium always presupposes a separation of alter and ego.

He states that electronic media are always mass-media, and that means to send messages to recipients who could not answer. Media, he defines, are channels of communication which per se exclude the possibility of answering S.

Of course you can make a call in call-in-shows or write letters to the editor, but never there will be a authentic feed-back, Baudrillard claims, which is not just pre-calculated and allowed for in the scripts of broadcasting. You always have to fit in the framework of the media format, you are not free to respond as you like. Mass-media, Baudrillard sums upmass-media are excluding any genuine interchange of people, who would really answer to each other S.

New media are unilateral, mono-directional, one point to many points distributors, Baudrillard states.

Interaction via media is impossible — true interaction is only possible if the persons are present, able to answer to each other without directing scripts or schemes. Baudrillard has made himself perfectly clear. Interaction is by no means possible using the new media of radio or television, as Enzensberger has declared and hoped and as once upon a time Brecht and Benjamin had declared and hoped.


Bertold Brecht

The recent German media theory accepted this analysis — and nevertheless looked out for new media at once, which could allow them to carry on the old hopes. Of course, in the recent past it was the internet which helps to rise new hopes which all contain the old wish, that a medium might be found which could surmount the hierarchic and asymmetric forms of communication and substitute them with symmetric and lateral forms of interaction.

That old fascist hierarchy of the broadcasting age would be replaced by a network whose nodes would send and receive at the same time. No privilege and no distinguished level would make a difference, each node would participate, access always provided, as you would expect. Decisions, Flusser believes, would than be made within the interacting network, which comes to solutions as a neuronal system or like parallel processing networks.

Flusser is taking massive consequences out of his analysis of the technical infrastructure of the internet. The world will unit and interact together, he believes, if only every body is connected to the world wide web. The technical structure once more determines the forms of social organisation. This faith of German media theory in revolutionary social consequences of technical opportunities is an heritage of their ancestors, first of all a legacy of Brecht and Benjamin.

But it is just this temporal fer between being and consciousnessbetween surface and deep structure brechf provides Marxist theory with its prognostic powers. Paul Virilio, the French media theorist, recently declared that “Marxism has become the sacrifice of high technology”. As early as — that is, well before Benjamin — Brecht links the analysis of the new medium of film to utopian expectations. This, according to Brecht, rules out “art” in the conventional sense, because art in a capitalist society implies the unique creation of an individual author usually estranged from his audience.

The kommunikationsappadat technology, he says, has abolished bourgeois art: Benjamin takes off from this starting point inalthough without even mentioning Brecht. Art as it has been known since the end of the eigthteenth century becomes obsolete by an new technical medium.

Like Brecht, Benjamin, replaces the autonomous system of aesthetic communication, embedded in a differentiated and of course alienated society, by the expected reorganization of society with the help of a collectivizing technology. At the same time, Benjamin expects the abolition kommumikationsapparat the typically modern one-to-many communications, which imply a quantitative and qualitative asymmetry between producer and recipients, between sender and receivers.

The differentiation of communication into these functional roles, he says, is abolished for two reasons. First, members of the audience assume the same attitude towards the actors in the film as a editor or a cameraman The technical apparatus of film establishes a symmetry between the perceptions of the audience and those of the producers.

At first inBrecht merely smiled at the discovery of the radio. A sensational affair, but what for? Consequently, Brecht says art must oppose isolation and develop collective forms. For the radio, bredht means that it no longer be allowed to expose a host of individuals to a constant stream of nonsense, but rather include all members of the audience and weld them together into a collective. InBrecht notes: It is an apparatus of distribution, it merely allocates.

Now, rundcunk order to become positive —— that is, to find out about the positive side of radio broadcasts —— here is a suggestion for changing the function of the radio: The radio could inarguably be the best apparatus of communication in public life, an enormous system of channels —— provided it saw itself as not only a sender but also a receiver.

This means making the listener not only listen but also speak; not to isolate him but to place him in relation to others. Today, the magic formula would be interaction kommunikationeapparat many—to—many communications in a nonhierarchic network. With the aid of this concept, Brecht wishes to abolish the gap between one single sender and numerous receivers. Such a symmetrization, he continues, is revolutionary and directly implemented in technology itself: Any child could tell you [not to mention Brecht: Friedrich Kittler, Grammophon, Film, Typewriter[22].



Bertold Brecht – Der Rundfunk als Kommunikationsapparat by Tomas Barton on Prezi

A person wishing to look into things closely will be unable to avoid technology, the most obvious matter. But it is precisely because technology is so close to us that we find it so difficult to analyze. Friedrich Kittler articulates the paradox: Bolz goes on to explain: This new unity of body and media, continues Bolz, facilitates the reorganization of social life in the medium of a collective body: Just read the blueprints of the circuits, the media technologist Friedrich Kittler is advising.

Sound and image, voice and text exist only as a surface effect, also well—known to consumers under the pleasant name of the interface. Brecht and Benjamin expected a new social system from the new media.

Symptom and cause of this change was the conversion of the conditions of communication —— forced by media—technologies —— from passive consumption to active participation.

Recent media theory repeats these utopian hopes with surprising redundancy. Norbert Bolz, for instance, predicts that the asymmetry and distance between producer and recipients will be electronically liquidated in the hyper—medium of the hyper—text: The aim of this development is an interactive paradise, in which participants are no longer alienated from themselves and their environment, but are quasi—organically interlocked in the medium of a new immediacy: Angelic telepathy makes all mediating systems of symbols superfluous, and eliminates all differences between inside and outside, between self—reference and external reference; mind—reading permits no lie, no mask, no role, no hypocrisy, no illusion, and no distinction between information and message.

Already inBolz wrote: This may be called proximity: All we need, are advanced modern technologies. The media are new, the utopian dreams old. The fact that the structure of the hopes of Brecht and Benjamin are so exactly repeated can be seen to support our opening statement that the theory of new media inherits from its Marxist fathers not only the priority of technology as the motor of history, but also its Messianic horizon.

On no account do I insist on denouncing the capacities of media theory.

I would like to plead, however, for giving up this hierarchical relationship among media technology, social system, semantics, and sensuousness, and also giving up the primacy of technology. Anyone who believes the evolution of media technology is the key to an understanding of social processes risks being transformed from an analyst to an prophet.

The argumentation is still the same, only the media are changing video, film, computer.

Brecht on Radio

One reason for this continuity seems to be the continuation of the desire to equippe analysis with prognostic powers. In case of Becht and Benjamin, they have failed. Kool KillerBerlinp. This is the abolition not only of the Old European difference subject and object, but also —— very explicitly —— of the essential differences among “biologically inspired system theories”; namely, the difference between self—reference and external reference.

It must also be emphazised that —— according to Kittler — the “theory of mechanical self—reproduction” passes “ine vitably into technical practice” Friedrich Kittler, Die Nacht der Substanz. In current semantics, whitsun indicates the surmounting of media- or code-differences. Current German Media-Theory and their Ancestors: Friedrich Kittler, Grammophon, Film, Typewriter[22] A person wishing to look into things closely will be unable to avoid technology, the most obvious matter.

III The media are new, the utopian dreams old.