Author Archives: communicationplusone

New issue: Afterlives of Systems

* Guest Edited by Florian Sprenger and Christina Vagt *

Under the impression of today’s global crisis and the rise of ecological thinking, confronted with smart, ubiquitous technosystems and the impression of interconnectedness, there appears a new urge to excavate the remnants of the past. The articles of this issue suggest that in order to understand present technologies, we need to account the systems thinking that fostered their emergence, and that we cannot gain insight into the afterlives of systems without exploring their technologies.

The nine contributions ask how these debates and affective states survive and live on in today’s discussions of media ecologies, environmentalism, object-oriented philosophies, computer simulations, performative art, and communication technologies. In this sense, they take the renaissance of systems thinking in the late 20th and early 21st Century as an effect of various system crisis and explore new media technologies as stabilizing ‘cures’ against the dystopian future scenarios that emerged after World War II. The articles of this issue suggest that in order to understand present technologies, we need to account the systems thinking that fostered their emergence, and that we cannot gain insight into the afterlives of systems without exploring their technologies

To the authors we extend our deep gratitude for their contributions. To the readers we extend our invitation for input and suggestions.

The following pages begin a conversation we hope will continue. And it is to those whom have spoken we shall turn.

To access this issue please visit scholarworks.umass.edu/cpo/

communication +1 is an open access journal supported by University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries and the Department of Communication

New Issue: Communication and New Materialism

communication +1 is pleased to present our second issue: Communication and New Materialism 

Given the recent emergence of new perspectives in critical theories, such as Object-Oriented Ontology, Speculative Realism, Alien Phenomenology, Flat Ontology, and associated research programs, this issue seeks to explore the implications of these perspectives for the study of communication and media. We use the term, New Materialism, broadly to include all the aforementioned as well as other related approaches in the hope to be as inclusive as possible and to encourage diverse voices and analytic angles that focus on the forms and processes of mediation across different fields. We are particularly interested in works that engage with the theoretical underpinnings of New Materialism to challenge the text-centered approaches in media and communication studies.

To the authors we extend our deep gratitude for their contributions.To the readers we extend our invitation for input and suggestions.

The following pages begin a conversation we hope will continue. And it is to those whom have spoken we shall turn.

To access this issue please visit scholarworks.umass.edu/cpo/

Call for Papers: Afterlives of Systems

Call for Papers: Afterlives of Systems
communication+1, Volume 3, 2014
Guest Editors: Christina Vagt, Florian Sprenger

 This issue of communication+1 investigates the afterlives of systems since the early 20th century, following Aby Warburgs and Walter Benjamins historiographical concept of afterlife as the transformations and iterations a concept traverses to become productive at a specific moment in time. Under the impression of todays global crisis phenomena and the rise of an ‘ecological paradigm’ (Erich Hörl), we ask for papers that explore these afterlives from a historical or systematic perspective. We are interested in the promises, plausibilities and argumentative resources of system-oriented thinking, holistic or vitalistic worldviews and mechanistic approaches on different fields of knowledge during the 20th century and their current revival in the 21st century.

When system-oriented thinking emerged within biological contexts in the first half of the 20th century, it came along with universal pretensions: The concepts of ecosystems (Tansley) and general systems theory (von Bertalanffy) were both immersed in longstanding struggles between materialism and holism. From this context stemmed the rise of cybernetics and neocybernetics after the Second World War, which incorporated the principles of feedback and self organization (Maturana/Varela/von Foerster/Luhmann). System-oriented thinking in the once new fields of ecology, cybernetics, or systems theory itself seemed to offer an alternative to the futile opposition of mechanistic or atomistic perspective on the one side and holistic, organicistic or vitalistic perspectives on the other side. Nonetheless, underlying this institutionalization of system-oriented thought were diverse models of the relationship between a system and its parts, and alongside with that a renaissance of holistic concepts, e.g. holocoen (Friedrichs), biosphere (Vernadsky), noosphere (Teilhard de Chardin), synergetics (Buckminster Fuller), or Gaia (Lovelock).

How do these debates and affective states survive and live on in today’s discussions on new materialisms, object-oriented philosophies, media ecologies, or environmentalisms? Was the renaissance of holism in 20th century thought an effect of various system crisis, taking new media technologies such as television, computers, satellites and space shuttles as stabilizing ‘cure’ against dystopian future scenarios after World War II? Or should we understand the afterlives of systems within a broader perspective of new media induced models of subjectivity and agency that still have to be explored? Which role does the figure of the observer play in all this? Are there notions of systems in arts and architecture that are not incorporated in the historical struggles? What does it mean when materialisms today become holistic again? What is systemic in assemblages?

Please submit short proposals of no more than 500 words by November 25th, 2013 to afterlivesofsystems@gmail.com.

Upon invitation, full text submissions will be due March 31st, 2014, with expected publication in July, 2014. Although there is no set word limit, suggested length for the final submission is between 4500 and 7000 words.