My book Technologies of History: Visual Media, and the Eccentricity of the Past has just been published by Dartmouth Press and is due for release in March 2011. The book examines alternative forms of visual history as constructed through film, television and digital media over the past 30 years. Integrating theory, historical research and textual criticism, I explore issues of cultural memory, textuality and the impact of digital technologies on our understanding of the past, focusing on works that challenge the conventions and forms of traditional historiography. My goal is to broadly reconsider the range of practices that should be regarded as visual history, drawing special attention to voices and forms of practice that have been left out of mainstream historical discourse. Overall, I argue that the primary aspirations of visual history need not be limited to the production of illusionist narratives but may include the creation of new critical contexts in which viewers simultaneously interrogate the past and rethink the entangled relations of history, memory and media. As an intervention in prevailing discourses of media and history, my aim is to rethink our fundamental relationship to history in response to a diverse and rapidly evolving media landscape that includes online video, science fiction, games and digital networks.
In conjunction with the book, I have also created a rich-media interactive history project of the same title that expands upon a single case study drawn from the book. This project allows for an in-depth exploration of the extraordinary diverse ways the John F. Kennedy assassination has been mediated and reinterpreted, ranging from the Zapruder footage to machinima videos captured from the game JFK Reloaded. For me, these two projects represents an ideal conjunction of scholarly modes, with the book allowing for the in-depth development of a more or less conventional academic argument in linear form. However, the project examines a genuinely diverse range of media texts, so that no reader could reasonably be expected to be familiar with all of the objects under examination. By creating a digital companion to the written text, I was able to perform a different kind of textual analysis, not simply through illustration of examples but by juxtaposing different threads of the argument with related media clips. The experience of navigating this database of critical and mediated works allows the user to experience the argument from multiple perspectives and in varying degrees of specificity.