Tactics against Antiquity

The Contemporary Ancient Messene


  • Marinos Koutsomichalis Cyprus University of Technology




ruins, creative turn, soundwalk, peripatetic, performance archaeology, punk archaeology


This essay outlines an empirical endeavour pivoting on the contemporaneity of the ruins of ancient Messene (Greece) by means of an eclectic method and in a situated artistic context. Drawing inspiration from the “peripatetic” tradition, the project concerns a technologically mediated soundwalk through the ruins which foregrounds Messene (a) as a place that is practised sociopolitically in the present as a way to generate cultural and historical content, and (b) as a vibrant habitat that hosts a wide range of entwined beings, things, energies and phenomena. A mixed method focused on technologies for mediation and the researcher’s body as the centre of the project’s inquiry is proposed, so as to produce an experience that is evocative of an emergent multitemporality specific to this place while also making accessible to the senses the plurality of objects and geophysical phenomena that manifest at the site. The project is contextualised with respect to experimental, creative, performative and “punk” archaeology, as well as to object-oriented and new materialist trends. It presents the resulting narrative, discusses how it relates to various sociopolitical/historical contexts and details the method and its constituent elements. The provided illustrations document the composed soundwalk and the creative tactics at play.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Marinos Koutsomichalis, Cyprus University of Technology

Marinos Koutsomichalis is an artist, scholar and creative technologist. He is broadly interested in the materiality of self-generative systems, (post-)digital objecthood, sound, image, data, electronic circuitry, perception, selfhood, temporality, landscapes and the media/technologies we rely upon to mediate, probe, interact with or otherwise engage with the former. He has exhibited or performed his work extensively and internationally and has held research or teaching positions in Greece, Italy Norway, and the U.K. He is a Lecturer in Creative Multimedia at the Cyprus University of Technology (Limassol, Cyprus), where he co-directs the Media Arts and Design Research Lab.


Barrett, E. and B. Bolt, eds. 2013. Carnal Knowledge: Towards a “New Materialism” Through the Arts. London and New York: I.B.Tauris. https://doi.org/10.5040/9780755603435

Bassett, K. 2004. “Walking as an Aesthetic Practice and a Critical Tool: Some Psycho- Geographic Experiments.” Journal of Geography in Higher Education 28 (3): 397–410. https://doi.org/10.1080/0309826042000286965

Bogost, I. 2012. Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like To Be a Thing. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. https://doi.org/10.5749/minnesota/9780816678976.001.0001

Calotychos, V. 2003. Modern Greece: A Cultural Poetics. Oxford: Berg. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350151475

Chattopadhyay, B. 2013. “Sonic Drifting: Sound, City and Psychogeography.” SoundEffects – An Interdisciplinary Journal of Sound and Sound Experience 3 (3): 138–152. https://doi.org/10.7146/se.v3i3.18445

Constantine, D. 1984. Early Greek Travellers and the Hellenic ideal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dixon, J. 2017. “Buildings Archaeology without Recording.” Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 4 (2): 213–220. https://doi.org/10.1558/jca.32422

Drever, J. L. 2009. “Soundwalking: Aural Excursions into the Everyday.” In The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music, edited by J. Saunders, 163–192. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

Ekathimerini. 2021. “New Democracy Lawmaker Ousted from Party over Anti-Communist Rant.” Ekathimerini, 5 October. Online: https://www.ekathimerini.com/news/1169182/new-democracy-lawmaker-ousted-from-party-over-anti-communist-rant/

Furley, D. 2012. “Peripatetic School.” In The Oxford Classical Dictionary (4th edition), edited by S. Hornblower and A. Spawforth, 1108. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gerolymatos, A. 2016. An International Civil War: Greece, 1943-1949. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

González-Ruibal, A. 2019. An Archaeology of the Contemporary Era. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429441752

Halsall, F. 2014. “Art and Guerrilla Metaphysics: Graham Harman and Aesthetics as First Philosophy.” Speculations 5 (1): 382–410.

Hamilakis, Y. 2007. The Nation and its Ruins: Antiquity, Archaeology, and National Imagination in Greece. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

____. 2014. Archaeology and the Senses: Human Experience, Memory, and Affect. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Harman, G. 2016. Living Earth: Field Notes from the Dark Ecology Project 2014-2016. Amsterdam: Sonic Acts Press.

____. 2018. Object-Oriented Ontology: A New Theory of Everything. London: Pelican.

Harrison, R. 2016. “Archaeologies of Emergent Presents and Futures.” Historical Archaeology 50 (3): 165–180. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03377340

____. and J. Schofield. 2010. After Modernity: Archaeological Approaches to the Contemporary Past. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hayles, N. K. 2014. “Speculative Aesthetics and Object-Oriented Inquiry (OOI).” Speculations 5 (1): 158–179.

Herber, N. 2009. Drive entre Mille Sons: A Psychogeographic Approach to Mobile Music and Mediated Interaction.” Technoetic Arts 7 (1): 3–12. https://doi.org/10.1386/tear.7.1.3_1

Ingold, T. 2007. “Materials against Materiality.” Archaeological Dialogues 14 (1): 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1380203807002127

Kalyvas, S. 2016. [The Geography of Violence in Messinia during the Occupation. A Quantitative Approach]. Online: https:/stathiskalyvas.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/messinia-kalyvas-revised.pdf

Koutsomichalis, M. 2013. “On Soundscapes, Phonography and Environmental Sound Art.” Journal of Sonic Studies 4 (1). Online: https://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/268080/268081

Leffler, M. P. (1992) A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Leontis, A. 1995. Topographies of Hellenism: Mapping the Homeland. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Liakos, A. 2019. [The Greek 20th Century]. Athens: Polis.

Lucas, G. 2013. “Ruins.” In The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Contemporary World, edited by P. Graves-Brown, A. Piccini and R. Harrison, 192–203. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199602001.013.035

Moret, P. and A. Zambon. 2016. “Les premiers voyageurs à Messène : de Cyriaque d’Ancône à l’expédition de Morée.” Revue archéologique 61 (1): 3–60. https://doi.org/10.3917/arch.161.0003

Morgan, C. 2015. “Punk, DIY, and Anarchy in Archaeological Thought and Practice.” AP: Online Journal in Public Archaeology 5: 123–146. https://doi.org/10.23914/ap.v5i0.67

____. and S. Eve. 2012. “DIY and Digital Archaeology: What Are You Doing to Participate?” World Archaeology 44 (4): 521–537. https://doi.org/10.1080/00438243.2012.741810

Morton, T. 2016. Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence. New York: Columbia University Press. https://doi.org/10.7312/mort17752

Olsen, B., M. Shanks, T. Webmoor and C. Witmore. 2012. Archaeology: The Discipline of Things. Berkeley: University of California Press. https://doi.org/10.1525/9780520954007

Pearson, M., 2017. “In Comes I”: Performance, Memory and Landscape. Exeter, UK: University of Exeter Press.

____. and M. Shanks. 2001. Theatre/Archaeology. London: Routledge.

Pétursdóttir, Þ. 2012. “Small Things Forgotten Now Included, or What Else Do Things Deserve?”. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 16 (3): 577–603. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10761-012-0191-0

____. and B. Olsen. 2018. “Theory Adrift: The Matter of Archaeological Theorizing.” Journal of Social Archaeology 18 (1): 97–117. https://doi.org/10.1177/1469605317737426

Richardson, L. J. 2017. “I’ll Give You ‘Punk Archaeology’, Sunshine.” World Archaeology 49 (3): 306–317. https://doi.org/10.1080/00438243.2017.1333036

Sfikas, T. D. 2004. “A Prime Minister for All Time: Themistoklis Sofoulis from Premiership to Opposition to Premiership, 1945–49.” In The Greek Civil War: Essays on a Conflict of Exceptionalism and Silences, edited by P. Carabott and T. D. Sfikas, 75–100. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315239309-7

Smith, P. 2010. “The Contemporary Derive: A Partial Review of Issues Concerning the Contemporary Practice of Psychogeography.” Cultural Geographies 17 (1): 103–122. https://doi.org/10.1177/1474474009350002

Ståhl, O., M. Tham and C. Holtorf. 2017. “Towards a Post-Anthropocentric Speculative Archaeology (Through Design).” Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 4 (2): 238–246. https://doi.org/10.1558/jca.32442

Themelis, P. 2017. [Ancient Messene From the Hellenistic to the Roman and Byzantine City]. [Themes in Archaeology] 1 (1): 6–21.

Thomas, A., D. Lee, U. Frederick and C. White. 2017. “Beyond Art/Archaeology: Research and Practice after the ‘Creative Turn’.” Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 4 (2): 121–129. https://doi.org/10.1558/jca.33150

Tringham, R. 2013 “The Sense of Touch – the Full Body Experience – in the Past and Present of Çatalhöyük, Turkey.” In Making Senses of the Past: Towards a Sensory Archaeology, edited by J. Day, 177–195. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

____. and M. Stevanovic, eds. 2012. Last House on the Hill: BACH Area Reports from Çatalhöyük, Turkey. Monumenta Archaeologica 27. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press.

Witmore, C. 2004. “Four Archaeological Engagements with Place Mediating Bodily Experience through Peripatetic Video.” Visual Anthropology Review 20 (2): 57–72. https://doi.org/10.1525/var.2004.20.2.57.

____. 2006. “Vision, Media, Noise and the Percolation of Time: Symmetrical Approaches to the Mediation of the Material World.” Journal of Material Culture 11 (3): 267–292. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359183506068806



How to Cite

Koutsomichalis, M. (2022). Tactics against Antiquity: The Contemporary Ancient Messene. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 8(2), 274–298. https://doi.org/10.1558/jca.20009