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El medio es el dise*o audiovisual 
 
by Jorge La Ferla, Editor 
Editorial Universidad de Caldas, Manizales, Colombia, 2007 
702 pp. Paper, US$ 40.00 (80.000 $ colombianos) 
ISBN: 978-958-8319-05-6. 
 
Reviewed by Jos*-Carlos Mari*tegui 
Alta Tecnolog*a Andina (Lima, Peru) and London School of Economics London, 
UK 
 
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Since the early 90*s the Argentinean media theorist Jorge La Ferla has been 
publishing a series of compilations bringing the voices of Latin American 
and European intellectuals together. Thanks to his constant work through the 
La Ferla Chair at the University of Buenos Aires his publications have been 
not only decisive for several generations of students and researchers in 
Latin America, but also were among the first ones in Spanish that gave light 
to new topics surrounding the interdisciplinary fields of new media. 
 
The publication of El medio es el dise*o audiovisual (The medium is the 
audiovisual design) brings part of his previous editorial work together with 
several new titles into a massive compound of 46 authors and 72 texts, 
making this book the most complete compilation of new media theory to date 
published in Spanish. As in the case of La Ferla*s previous projects, one of 
the merits of El medio es el dise*o audiovisual is that it brings for the 
first time Spanish translations of several emblematic texts on new media 
theory. 
 
Usually there is a tendency to publish books and articles of Western 
mainstream intellectuals as the only and decisive voices surrounding media 
arts; however, the harmonic blending with articles by writers from Latin 
America, makes this publication unique. Texts from Arlindo Machado, Paula 
Sibilia, Claudia Giannetti and Lucia Santaella are published along with 
other better-know authors such as Lev Manovich, Umberto Eco, Oliver Grau, 
Pierre Levy or Peter Weibel, composing an original blend of contributors 
with ideological solidity. An additional innovation is making visible the 
names of other intellectuals, particularly from the Colombian scene, where 
the book was published, such as Hernando Barrag*n, Ricardo Cede*o M., Myriam 
Luisa D*az, Mauricio Dur*n, Carmen Gil Vrolijk, Iliana Hern*ndez, and Felipe 
C*sar Londo*o. 
 
The compilation is divided in nine chapters with varied topics that include 
the relations between art, science and technology, television studies, 
experimental film, new media design, media archaeology, video art, hypertext 
and non-linear narratives, interactive media and new media philosophy. 
Though we may argue about the way the texts in each chapter are compiled 
since the notion of new media is in permanent shift, so are these broad 
topics, which makes El medio es el dise*o audiovisual a screenshot of the 
current state of affairs. Additionally to the contributions, an analytic 
Index and a list of referenced works transforms this publication into an 
important research tool. 
 
The book is also part of a broader opinionated project of making more 
diverse the present homogeneous discourse around new media and audiovisual 
technologies. An additional critique to the book is that this blend lacks 
contributions from other new contexts of the world where there is currently 
an active development of the field of new media, such as India, China, the 
Middle East or South Africa. However, taking a critical stance on the 
diverse ways of thinking, designing or creating in different places of the 
world, the book tries to make a global and diverse assemblage by 
incorporating authors from the Latin-American context. The book includes 
several texts around design concepts and issues in new media and tries to 
intersect these ideas with broader media issues that are prospective and 
important for the 21st century, ranging from current media wars, specially 
taking into consideration that Colombia in itself is a country with an 
internal war. This prospective vision is complemented with deep and 
thoughtful texts on the history of new media from authors such as Vil*m 
Flusser or Siegfried Zielinski. In conclusion, the context-hygienic vision 
of new media and several universalistic visions, which do not mean they 
loose their critical carriage, are reconfigured with more local postures to 
enable a global panopticon. Finally, is worth mentioning the unique social 
nature of this publication that is orientated to being accessible as much as 
possible by selling it at an affordable price that covers the basic printing 
costs; the funds will be then used to generate new titles through the same 
egalitarian modality. El medio es el dise*o audiovisual stands by itself as 
a very important contribution that will benefit the future generations of 
researchers and students of new media in the Spanish-speaking Latin America. 
 
 
 
Updated 1st June 2007 
 
 
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