Horn, or The Counterside of Media

Horn, or The Counterside of Media

Sign, Storage, Transmission

by Henning Schmidgen

Translated by Nils F. Schott

Published by: Duke University Press Books

320 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 x 0.00 mm, 101 illustrations

  • ISBN: 9781478017721
  • Published: January 2022


We regularly touch and handle media devices. At the same time, media devices such as body scanners, car seat pressure sensors, and smart phones scan and touch us. In Horn, Henning Schmidgen reflects on the bidirectional nature of touch and the ways in which surfaces constitute sites of mediation between interior and exterior. Schmidgen uses the concept of "horn"—whether manifested as a rhinoceros horn or a musical instrument—to stand for both natural substances and artificial objects as spaces of tactility. He enters into creative dialogue with artists, scientists, and philosophers, ranging from Salvador Dalí, William Kentridge, and Rebecca Horn to Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, and Marshall McLuhan, who plumb the complex interplay between tactility and technological and biological surfaces. Whether analyzing how Dalí conceived of images as tactile entities during his “rhinoceros phase” or examining the problem of tactility in Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, Schmidgen reconfigures understandings of the dynamic phenomena of touch in media.