Call for Papers: Material Others and Other Materialities

Symposium: Material Others and Other Materialities

Date of Symposium: Friday 30 September 2016, at Iklectik Arts Lab, Waterloo, London

Call for Papers, Deadline: 22 July 2016 EXTENDED TO 5 August 2016

Topic: The topic of this symposium is the current relevance of questions of materiality and otherness to art and design disciplines. Various recent theoretical discourses, which have been widely referenced within debates in art and design, have emphasised relations between the body, the other and matter. On the one hand, biological or bare life has become political, while on the other, matter has come to be seen as possessing agency. The interest in the interrelation between embodiment and reason, which phenomenology highlights, has been extended into a focus on the intertwining of other intelligences and organisms, both artificial and animal, with our no longer wholly human lives. The aim of this symposium is to develop discussions about and around the ramifications of these discourses and issues for specific art, media and design-related practices.

An Object: Theoretical questions might include, but are not restricted to:

  • whether others are reducible to material description;
  • whether matter as actant is itself an other;
  • where the ontology of the virtual leaves the concept of otherness;
  • what content the concepts ‘life’ and ‘humanity’ have, etc.

These and similar questions are usually articulated using a range of specialised vocabularies, however, and draw on a variety of intellectual and philosophical traditions. Moreover, the disciplines which they will be related to have their own specific discourses and histories.

In light of this interdisciplinary diversity and for the sake of clarity, participants are asked build their presentation around a particular ‘object’ in a broad sense, which can be used to exemplify the connection between their disciplinary and theoretical interests. This object may be an artefact, a practice, or indeed something more abstract. The point of presenting with an object is to provide a concrete starting point for discussion.

Common Thread: Vilem Flusser and Louis Bec’s short ‘philosophical fable’, Vampyroteuthis Infernalis, will form a background context and connecting thread for the symposium. In this text Flusser and Bec compare human Dasein to that of a deep-sea squid, the vampyroteuthis infernalis, in the process raising questions about the relation of cognition, culture and sociality to corporeal anatomy and environment. It is expected that presentations will find a reference point in Flusser and Bec’s text however tangential, but not that they should be specifically about the text or its themes as such.

Context: The topic of the symposium derives from the last year of discussions and events held by the Informed Matters research community, which have focused texts by Hito Steyerl, Isabelle Stengers, Karen Barad, Peter Sloterdijk and Vilem Flusser. Exploration of various practical examples ranging from the history of computer-aided design to video art and architectural space have shaped this symposium.

Format: This call is for presentations of 15 mins in length. Presentations will be grouped into small panels, with each having a respondent. This means that papers need to be ready for distribution to the respondents by Friday 22 September 2016.

Submission of Abstracts: Please send your abstract of 200 words (with a title and including a suggestion of object) to by 22 July 2016. For the subject line of your email please use ‘Material Others’.

The papers will be organised into panels by Allan Parsons, Amanda Windle and Andrew Chesher of the Informed Matters research community at UAL, and participants advised of their inclusion by 30 July 2016.


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