BARRY — FOUNDER AND SOMETIMES DREAMER
Barry Vacker teaches media and cultural studies at Temple University, where he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Media Studies and Production. From 2009-2014, Barry served as the Faculty Teaching Mentor in the School of Media and Communication. A full-time professor for nineteen years, Barry received his PhD (Interdiscplinary Studies: Communication, Philosophy, Law) from The University of Texas at Austin in 1995. Here are links to: recent projects | 1page Bio | Full CV
Over the years, Barry has authored numerous articles, chapters, and books on art, media, culture, and technology, including recent topics such as Facebook and the Hubble telescope, zombies and satellites, and the proliferation of apocalyptic scenarios in the mind-expanding book: The End of the World — Again. His most recent work is centered on creating and developing "cosmic media theory," which seeks to expand our understanding of how film, science, media technology, and monumental earthworks (land art) reflect and shape our visions of human destiny in the vast universe.
When not in Philadelphia during the summers, Barry may found hanging out in and around Marfa, Texas, where he owns some desert land with amazing sunsets and access to art, science, nature, and some crazily ambitious experimental projects. For more info on the Marfa area, including the Chinati Foundation, the McDonald Observatory, the Big Bend National Park, the Clock of the Long Now, and the Blue Origin space launch site, click here.
Four of Barry's courses helped inspire the founding of the Center for Media and Destiny. Click on each link to view syllabus.
BOOKS AND FILM: COSMIC MEDIA
Various publications also helped inpire the founding of the Center. Though Barry had yet to coin the term "cosmic media theory," most of his academic publications and experimental projects since 2006 have directly involved issues central to destiny, technology, and cosmic media theory. These include:
• The End of the World — Again. This is the first official book publication of the Center for Media and Destiny.
Doomsday scenarios. They proliferate in our culture, from economics to ecology, theology to technology, biology to cosmology, James Bond to Slavov Žižek, Plato’s Atlantis to Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. With creativity and critical insight, Barry Vacker shows why apocalyptic memes replicate and have built-in survival advantages. He also explains how the doomsdays reveal the deeper challenges facing human existence — the “philosophical apocalypse” effected by our lack of cosmic meaning in the vast universe. Have we really embraced our true existence on Spaceship Earth floating in the cosmos of the new millennium? Our calendars say we have passed the year 2000, but have we really entered the new millennium? The End of the World — Again offers an original, exciting, and, for some, terrifying critique of culture in 2012 and beyond.
• Media Environments (San Diego: Cognella Publishing, 2010). This highly innovative textbook combines film with critical theory to decode the dominant models and memes that order our global media environments. The text includes chapters opn traditional issues of media theory, but also chapters on "Science," "Electronic Consciousness," "Spaceship Earth," and the "Trajectories" of human destiny. Contributors to the topics of media and destiny and cosmic media theory include: Stephen Hawking, Al Gore, Carl Sagan, Naomi Wolf, Susan Jacoby, Neil Postman, Henry Jenkins, Douglas Rushkoff, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Jan Fernback, Ray Kurzweil, Douglas Kellner, and many others.
• The text for Peter Granser's art-photography book: Signs (Stuttgart: Hatje Cantz in Stuttgart and the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Photography, 2008). Granser is a German photographer specializing in American culture. The book and photos have been featured in galleries and exhibitions throughout Germany and in Chicago, New York City, Lianzhou (China), Houston, and Brussels.
Inspired by Peter's stark and perceptive photos of neo-conservative, fundamentalist, and patriotic culture in Texas (Barry's home state) and entitled, "Lone Stars, Lost Amidst the Big Bang," the text theorizes these conditions: 1) the crash of the space age, 2) humans feeling a deep sense of "cosmic vertigo," and 3) and a cultural reversal in America and humanity's inability to imagine a meaningful destiny on earth and in the expanding universe of vast voids and billions of galaxies. Though the text does not yet mention "cosmic media theory," the central topics of the essay include the effects of cosmic media technologies, how humans have responded to not being the center of the universe, and what it means in post-millennial culture, so far. This is surely one of the most innovative essays written about America and culture in the new millennium.
• Space Times Square: the 2008 experimental film that was all about cosmic media theory, though it did not use that term. Written and directed by Barry, the 24-minute film has screened at festivals and conferences around the world. The film also won a prestigious international award from the Media Ecology Association: The 2010 John Culkin Award for Outstanding Praxis in Media Ecology. More details about the film are available here.
The film is a bit pixelated in Vimeo; on DVD it has high resolution.
For more info on Barry's works, click here: Website