TRS-80 Model 100 and some white flowers on a pink background

Founded in 2009 by Dr. Lori Emerson, the Media Archaeology Lab is a place for cross-disciplinary, experimental research, teaching, and creative practice using one of the largest collections in the world of still functioning media. Researchers, students, teachers, artists and members of the public are encouraged to turn on, open up, play and create with items from the collection that include phonograph players; magic lanterns; historic personal computers, handheld devices and game consoles including the Altair 8800b, Commodore 64, Apple IIe, Vectrex, and Imagination Machine I and II created by African-American video game pioneer Ed Smith.

The MAL is utterly unique not only because it is an open, accessible space for anyone to come and perform hands-on experiments with its extensive collection but also because it demonstrates alternative paths in the history of technology and empowers visitors to imagine an alternative present and future.

The MAL has also evolved into a real life and virtual community enterprise; it has an international advisory board of scholars, archivists, and entrepreneurs; faculty fellows from departments across the CU Boulder campus; and a regularly rotating cohort of students and community volunteers who help with hardware repair, class tours and guest visits to the lab. The lab hosts reading groups, artist residencies, events, retro game nights, and workshops on how to fix your old or new devices and even on how to build your own mesh network.

In short, the MAL is a community-driven hub for preserving and exploring the history of technology. Follow us on Mastodon, Twitter, Instagram, and Twitch!

  • Tuesday, February 20

    Time: 4-5 PM

    Where: Media Archaeology Lab,  1320 Grandview Ave, Boulder + on Twitch

    Join us on Tuesday, February 20 from 4-5PM for a talk and hands-on workshop by artist-in-residence Becca Ricks. The title of the workshop and the project is Knitting with machines: Imagining softer futures through ‘string figures’.

    The event will be livestreamed on our Twitch channel and you will be able to participate remotely in the workshop activities, but we will also hold the event in-person at The Media Archaeology Lab, 1320 Grandview Ave, Boulder, Colorado.

    Working with a hacked Brother knitting machine and soft circuitry, Becca approaches knitting as both metaphor and material for exploring futures that promote connection, community, and embodied knowledge(s). The term “string figures” is one of the practices introduced by feminist STS scholar Donna Haraway for fabricating futures that connect us to our shared communities in the face of a challenging present. Like knitting, string figures are loops, but they are also ways of weaving stories together. In this workshop, participants will have a chance to scrutinize artifacts from the MAL through a critical lens, and sketch out what alternative visions for soft technologies could look like. Participants will also learn how to design for and use the knitting machine, and will be able to knit their own custom swatch to bring home. Collectively, participants will contribute to a participatory art piece that knits together everyone’s designs. Becca Ricks is a researcher-programmer-artist who explores technology through the lens of a feminist technoscience. In her artistic practice, she works across a range of physical and digital media, including knitting, physical computing and electronics, voice technologies, 3D photogrammetry, and words. Becca is the co-founder of tendernet, an art collective exploring critical and participatory design practices in AI. She has taught workshops and spoken at the Toronto Museum of Contemporary Art, the Walker Art Center, RISD, and a number of hackerspaces. Becca is the head of Mozilla Foundation’s Open Source Research & Investigations team, where she studies how people engage in forms of resistance and exercise control in relation to algorithmic categorization online.

  • Our February practitioner-in-residence is Becca Ricks - see her work at beccaricks.space

  • We're starting a book club! Keep an eye out here for updates!