ReClaiming Participation | Technology, Mediation & Collectivity Conference, Zurich University of the Arts, May 7 – 9, 2014
DFG-Network “Media of Collective Intelligence” | Institute for Critical Theory, Zurich University of the Arts | Research Initiative “Media and Participation”, University of Konstanz
Participation has become the key issue in popular, economic, and academic notions of New Media. The conference seeks to examine and unravel the debates of the “Participation Age”, rejecting a mere appraisal of the impact of contemporary media on participation. Instead of perpetuating euphoric visions of social “all-inclusion”, web democracy and collaboration as well as pessimistic views of exclusion, top-down hierarchy and the “digital divide”, we aim to reclaim collectivity as an effect of technological, historical and political conditions and practices.
We are seeking papers that offer a wide array of perspectives on the processes of collectivization and individuation in media environments. Topics may range from analyses of participatory objects and technological arrangements to the reciprocity and entanglement of formerly theoretically separated positions. We are welcoming contributions from theoretical considerations to case studies and examinations in the field of the arts. We particularly encourage PhD candidates and early career researchers to submit proposals.
Jean-Luc Nancy (Professor emeritus at Marc Bloch University in Strasbourg, France) and Claus Pias (Professor at Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany) have confirmed as two of the three conference’s keynote speakers. The program includes three thematic sessions and closes with a final report by the members of the DFG-Network “Media of Collective Intelligence”:
1. Participation and the Claims of Community
2. Participatory Practices and Digital Media
3. Art and Media: Theory of Partaking
4. Final report and outlook of the DFG-Network “Media of Collective Intelligence”
Session I. Participation and the Claims of Community
As media policy, participation is accompanied by visions of being related or tied to something larger and superior. Claims for participation are often implicitly or explicitly connected to a certain idea of a greater unity: an imagination of collectivity or even collective intelligence. This session will question the claims of community in a double sense: if participation can be staged as a promise and a duty at the same time, what are the utopias of participation and what may be their dark sides? Which desires, attractions, and impositions are implied in requests for participation? Thinking of participatory processes as mediations between disparate human and technical entities also means reconsidering the obstacles of coordinating and matching these entities. What are the interface-processes supporting or impeding the building of communities?
Session II. Participatory Practices and Digital Media
New apps, internet platforms and software codes seem to enhance forms of distributed productivity and to open new possibilities to share ideas. Simultaneously, these media conditions, and hence the knowledge of (non-)participation, are inscribed in media and technical objects or devices. Based on this, the session will explore to what extent digital media and the rise of networks re-conceptualize user practices and vice versa. How can we address the reciprocal relations and transformational processes between technical objects predetermining socio-cultural practices in the same way as they are shaped by them? The aim of this session is thus to critically rethink digital participation. In addition to analyzing displays and interface designs, it aims to scrutinize the operations of software agents, bots, and hardware components, which contribute to and determine the possibilities of participation. Consequently, the central question to be discussed is, how can participation be thought of as a socio-technological process?
Session III. Art and Media: Theory of Partaking
This session will focus on theoretical and experimental approaches to the media conditions of participation. This concerns technological prerequisites, practices and techniques, as well as fundamental outlines of participatory being while anticipating a media theory of partaking. Considerations that focus on relational thinking have gained new urgency regarding the fundamentally relational concept of participation. This includes ecological approaches, relational ontology, and postulates of a technological milieu of individuation. By questioning the interconnection of technology, aesthetics, and philosophy, art has become a favored field for experiments with participation. Art and techniques thereby shall be considered in a wider sense as skills, tactics, and practices that might provide a possibility to subvert ideologies of inclusion and exclusion, demonstrating alternatives to the claims and impositions of participation.
We accept abstracts up to 500 words that should address topics and questions relating to one of the sessions. Please add a short CV to your proposal. The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 31 December 2013. Please send abstract and CV to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions please refer to our Blog at http://reclaimingparticipation.com or send an email email@example.com.
All presenters chosen for the conference are welcome to apply for a travel grant. Please fill out the form regarding refunding, also available on our Blog, to apply for a grant.