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18:00 24 February 2010

The Wire: Object Lessons - dead media, live wires, and the 21st-century police


Sir Ambrose Fleming Lecture Theatre (G06) | Roberts Building (link Map)
Malet Place | London | WC1E 7JE | United Kingdom

Open to: Academic | Alumni | Public | Student
Admission: Free
Ticketing: Pre-booking essential

Speaker information

Dr. Jann Matlock, Senior Lecturer, UCL French & UCL Film Studies Space

'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 Meanwhile the dealers use the outdated technologies of the 'postwar modern' to elude surveillance: pay phones and pagers leave fewer traces than the digital technologies to which the police aspire.

In this lecture, Dr. 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.


Karolina Kendall-Bush
+44 (0)20 8998 3502 | karolina.kendall-bush@ucl.ac.uk


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