Mediated Imaginations: Technologies Touching Upon Art

Call for papers
Kunstlicht Vol 38 (2017) 3/4.

Guest editors: Bas de Boer, Sam Edens, Jonne Hoek

Deadline proposals: 07-07-2017

Throughout history, artistic practices have been intimately connected with tools and technologies. Today, techniques and (high-tech) technologies multiply, offering new possibilities for artistic expression. These technological developments raise questions as to what extent technologies touch upon art, how tools and technologies are embedded in or form part of artistic practice, and how technologies mediate imagination. In the philosophy of technology, the term ‘mediation’ is used to express the idea that technologies and human actions mutually constitute each other (Don Ihde, Peter-Paul Verbeek). This idea gave rise to an empirically oriented approach that focuses on concrete technologies, and asks: how does a person relate to the world through these technologies? In this special issue, Kunstlicht explores the mediating function of technologies in relation to imagination, creativity, and art.

We are commonly predisposed to think of technology and imagination as distinct from one another. Artistic imagination is often associated with individuality, freedom, and creativity, while technology is thought of in terms of servitude, generality, and uniformity (Martin Heidegger, Max Horkheimer & Theodor Adorno). However, by focusing on concrete technologies, philosophers of technology currently study the connections between humans, technologies, and the life-world (Bruno Latour, Don Ihde, Langdon Winner), and stress their intimate nature (Donna Haraway, Jean-Luc Nancy). Building on these approaches, a philosophy of technological mediation is interested in how technologies guide our actions in – and understanding of – the world (Peter-Paul Verbeek).

From this perspective, tools and technologies in art are not considered in terms of their medium specificity (Clement Greenberg), and neither is technology ‘the message’ itself (Marshall McLuhan). Even a declared ‘post-medium condition’ cannot sidestep technologies, since only through critical reflection can we “grasp the inner complexity of the mediums” (Rosalind Krauss), to reveal their differential potential. This we also see happening in current artistic practices. Technologies can be a central aspect of the artwork (e.g. software-based art, interactive installations, or Jean Tinguely’s kinetic sculptures), making the aesthetics of certain tools or technologies visible as part of an artistic repertoire. Some artists center their work on human-technology relations (Yvonne Dröge-Wendel, Esther Polak), while other artists use or extend the human body as a tool (Stelarc, Jaime del Val), or critically question collective technological imaginaries (Hito Steyerl, Perry Hoberman).

Kunstlicht aims to investigate how a philosophy of technological mediation might shed new light on the constitution of the artist’s imagination, specific practices, or possibilities for artistic expression. How is art mediated by technological means? How have technologies been the fabric of expression in (e.g.) Romantic, or pop art? How has the digitalization of media of expression reshaped the artist’s imagination? How have specific techniques inspired the work of specific artists? How do technologies help to create a meaningful environment for artistic expression? And how might the philosophy of technology, art history, and aesthetics converge here?

Writers and artists are invited to reflect upon tools and technologies as mediating the imagination in artistic practices, both present and past. We are keenly interested in case studies about the relation between artists and the tools and technologies they use, but also welcome historical contributions and more theoretical reflections.

Proposals (200-300 words) with attached résumés can be submitted until 07-07-2017 via redactie@tijdschriftkunstlicht.nl. Selected authors will be invited to write a 2,000-3,000-word paper (excluding notes). Alternatively, we also welcome short reflections focusing on a specific tool or technology. In these 500 word-contributions, the tool or technology may feature as muse, as companion, as intimate part or as inevitable nuisance. Short reflections may be written in full (max. 500 words) and can also be submitted until 07-07-2017.

Papers may be written either in English or in Dutch. Authors who publish in Kunstlicht will receive three complementary copies. Kunstlicht does not provide an author’s honorarium. Two years following publication, papers will be submitted to the freely accessible online archive.