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What else have they got down there in Property? Eight-track tapes? Victrolas?" asks Detective Jimmy McNulty in Season 1 of The Wire, the HBO series that took as a leitmotif the inadequacy of the technology of those working in the Baltimore Police Department. Antiquated typewriters instead of computers, reel-to-reel tape recorders instead of digital surveillance equipment, black-and-white television sets and analogue cameras provide comic relief as well as commentary on the state of funding for narcotics investigations in a post-9-11 America obsessed with "the war on terror." Meanwhile the dealers use the outdated technologies of the "postwar modern" to elude surveillance: pay phones and pagers leave fewer traces than the digital technologies to which the police aspire. Media technology - whether obsolete, outmoded, or state-of-the-art--serves as a central narrative and thematic concern throughout the five seasons of The Wire. In this lecture, Matlock will take literally the media objects foregrounded by The Wire, discussing the stuff on the screen as a way of interrogating fantasies about what media technology can do.

Object Lessons: Dead Media, Live Wires, and the Twenty-first Century Police - Audio UCL - London's Global University

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What else have they got down there in Property? Eight-track tapes? Victrolas?" asks Detective Jimmy McNulty in Season 1 of The Wire, the HBO series that took as a leitmotif the inadequacy of the technology of those working in the Baltimore Police Department. Antiquated typewriters instead of computers, reel-to-reel tape recorders instead of digital surveillance equipment, black-and-white television sets and analogue cameras provide comic relief as well as commentary on the state of funding for narcotics investigations in a post-9-11 America obsessed with "the war on terror." Meanwhile the dealers use the outdated technologies of the "postwar modern" to elude surveillance: pay phones and pagers leave fewer traces than the digital technologies to which the police aspire. Media technology - whether obsolete, outmoded, or state-of-the-art--serves as a central narrative and thematic concern throughout the five seasons of The Wire. In this lecture, Matlock will take literally the media objects foregrounded by The Wire, discussing the stuff on the screen as a way of interrogating fantasies about what media technology can do.

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