ABSTRACT

Behind technology, there is always energy-a surplus of living

energy. Despite a few studies on the “materialist energies” that

constitute “media ecologies,”1 media theory today is predominantly

the science of digital machines as a universe apart. The digital

has become a hegemonic meta-model directed at organizing and

arranging the whole of knowledge; the “language of new media”

has been articulated and software finally has gained its Software

Studies. Nevertheless, an energetic understanding of the media

economy remains absent from this theoretical trend. A focus on

the outside of media is missing, as they tend to be described only

through internal languages and endogenic categories. It is not

simply a McLuhanesque situation: we shape our tools and thereafter

our tool shape us. After decades of digital colonization, our tools

have now begun to impose their own internal language to describe

themselves. Establishing an energetic interpretation of media, on

the contrary, means to provide a description of the external energies

traversing the machine, and in particular, a renewed concept of

surplus. Any system should be defined by the excess of energy

operating it. Here, surplus is understood as the general form of

all the types of energy related to technology in its most fluid and

turbulent state: electricity, data, information, knowledge, labour,

money, desire.