“When is This?: Brian Michael Murphy on Media Archaeology and Preservation

Preservation never simply maintains something that is already existing. It always produces something new.”

In this episode

In this installment in our mini-series focused on sound, media, and art, Caitlin Woolsey speaks with Brian Michael Murphy, a writer and faculty member in media studies at Bennington College. Brian reflects on his interdisciplinary upbringing in the liberal arts and how music and poetry continue to inform his scholarship. He defines the concept of media archaeology, discusses the preservation of sound and archival photographs as material objects, and talks about the emergence of the “data complex” in twentieth-century America.


Brian Michael Murphy is a media archaeologist, poet, and essayist, as well as a faculty member in media studies at Bennington College. Brian’s work examines how media technologies, from taxidermy to digital photography archives, represent and reshape human experience. Research interests span media preservation, race theory, visual culture, digitization, and hip hop studies, and he blogs about film, music, and media technology for the Kenyon Review. His nonfiction book We the Dead: Preserving Media at the End of the World is forthcoming from University of North Carolina. 

This conversation was recorded on September 29, 2020. 

artworks and behind the scenes

related resources