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Call for Papers, ZfM Nr. 8 (1/2013) _ Special issue: Media aesthetics

“The aesthetic power of feeling”, wrote the late Félix Guattari, seems to
be “on the verge of occupying a privileged position within the collective
assemblages of enunciation of our era.” In discerning a “new aesthetic
paradigm” he was not anticipating something along the lines of the primacy of
the institutionalised arts within the social field, but rather a kind of
“proto-aesthetic paradigm”, traversing all universes of value and
existential territories, from the arenas of science and the ethico-political,
to the modalities and practices of subjectivation. This general
aestheticisation which Guattari had in mind at the end of the 1980s may be
regarded as one of the first descriptions of a fundamental upheaval in the
history of technology and sensation, a change taking place during the second
half of the twentieth century, but especially since the 1990s, and one which
potentially shifts the meaning of aesthetics as such: under the new
conditions we observe a proto-aesthetic dressing of the present. This means a
prioritising of the problem of perception and ultimately of all the sensations
and affects which underpin the faculty of perception – such that media
aesthetics may well become a fundamental problem of media studies. At the same
time, the aesthetic question thereby proves increasingly to be a
techno-ecological question of the networked and sensory environments in which
sensation occurs.

The possible sensorial and sensational facts which characterise the new
aesthetic – or more
precisely, media-aesthetic – regime, range from streams of time-objects, as
they spread hyperindustrialised and technologised audiovisual objects on the
basis of numerical transfer standards, to the rise of sensory milieus (e.g.
RFID), to the algorithmic environments of the software agencies of ubiquitous
media, ubiquitous computing, ambient intelligence and calm technologies. We are
witnessing the transformation of the “technological unconscious” (Nigel
Thrift), and with it the transformation of the aesthetic conditions and means
by which the world appears – the general backgrounds of existence and
experience, and thus the meaning of the world.

This special issue of ZfM sets out to clarify the historical-systematic
contours as well as the
political implications of the new aesthetic paradigm. This necessitates
focusing on the key
technical-medial scenes of the current sensorial caesura, outlining the
associated conceptual challenges and issues of politics of terminology, in
order thereby to contribute to the redescription of media-aesthetics under
technological conditions, in particular those of the new era of social and
mobile media in the network age.

The following central questions are to be addressed: What are the core problems
of media aesthetics that are associated with the technical-medial
transformation of the present, and what are the corresponding media-aesthetic
perspectives? What is the meaning of experience, perception, sensation,
subjectivity under these new media-aesthetic conditions? Does the outline of an
original media-aesthetic question emerge, on the ground of the new facts of
perception emergent in digital, networked media systems and algorithmic
milieus, which would contrast with the now traditional philosophical
aesthetics? What scenes should be considered, and which semantic frames are
required, in order to seize the media-aesthetic question in its specificity and
its urgency? How does the new conceptual politics relate to traditional
aesthetic conceptual regimes – where are the
possible connections, and where do we find a need for other conceptual
strategies? What
genealogical scenes for the new media-aesthetic paradigm can be discerned in
the twentieth century? What are the political challenges of the new aesthetic
condition? How should we assess previous attempts to redefine aesthetics under
these radical media-technological conditions?


Text submissions (around 25,000 characters, notes and spaces included), by the
end of August 2012,
to: erich.hoerl@ruhr-uni-bochum.de
This special issue of ZfM will be published in April 2013.
The language of publication is German. Papers are accepted in German, English
and French; papers
will be translated after peer-review and acceptance.
Guest Editors: Erich Hörl (Ruhr-Universität Bochum), Mark B. N. Hansen (Duke