CONFERENCE | 6-7 JULY 2023 | NOVA UNIVERSITY OF LISBON
Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
Nova Institute of Communication (Lisbon, Portugal)
Transformations stemming from digital technologies are growing with every passing decade, even if the newness of new media is gradually fading. The idea of digital transition evokes a feeling of disruption, but also of inevitability and becoming, mixing the voluntarism or the design of the artificial with new evolutionary narratives. Between a lingering post-historical atmosphere and the spectre of an era of extinctions, the certainty of digital transformation stands out as the only truly foreseeable future – a future where not only capitalism but the co-evolution of nature, culture and technology seem to take the place of history itself. The question concerning the digital (Krämer, 2018; Hui, 2019; Galloway, 2021), which has only begun, is crucial for understanding the anthropological, ecological and cosmological crisis (Latour, 2021) of the present and resisting a one-way universalisation of technology. This crisis makes it urgent that we imagine alternative futures but also that we concern ourselves with the digital (Stiegler 2010, 2019) and critically explore this transient temporality, the transformative and transgressive possibilities opened up by this very being in transit.
The generalisation of computation and algorithms and the planetarisation of information networks and infrastructures reveal the breadth and capillarity of the digital transformation involving the domains of physicality, life, the human, and their various interconnected planes. The crossovers between cybernetics and environmental sciences, molecular biology and informatics, neurology and robotics expand our knowledge of the human being and lead, at the same time, to the questioning of the singularity and centrality of the Anthropos in all his/her dimensions – perception, cognition, agency and creativity.
In the humanities, the digital has long been characterised as the postmedia or metamedia stage of the history of culture (Kittler, 1997; Bolter&Grusin, 2000; Manovich, 2005) and often understood as a culmination of the long history of the symbolic and the alphabets (Kittler, 2009; Krämer, 2018), making it possible to expect changes as fundamental as the ones related with the emergence of language in human history. Media theory, digital studies and the philosophy of technology have been the source of a fundamental anthropological questioning (Stiegler, 1984; Kittler, 1997; Hayles, 1999) by showing the co-constitution of the human and the technical environment, namely concerning cognition and other superior capabilities of the human spirit. The view that the human is defined by his/her interactions with the environment and with the non-human is as central to media theory as to ecological thinking, which is why they coincide today in the claim of a post-humanist turn of the humanities (Braidotti, 2019). Accordingly, one of the main challenges of the humanities is that of conceiving a critical cosmology, where a techno- or media ecology, which inevitably sets a cognitive ecology or an “ecology of spirit” (Stiegler, 2010), might be included in the general ecological task. (Hörl, 2013; Hayles, 2017).
The initiative of this conference is indebted to these interrelated questionings as well as to the paths opened up by the digital humanities and the digital arts, which have increasingly surpassed a mere disciplinary view of their own fields. In the last decade, the discussions about the cognitive and epistemological implications of the widespread use of AI and computation have cast new critical themes within Digital Humanities themselves (Burdick et al. l, 2016, Berry and Fagerjord, 2017; Dobson, 2019). Likewise, discourses and practices around digital arts moved beyond the aim of establishing a specific media genealogy and procedural field to think how the digital is penetrating aesthetic, affective and political experience, as well as creative and collaborative practices in ways more fundamental or also more indirect (Zielinski, 2006; Bishop, 2012; Weibel, 2019). Thus, the scope of this conference is that of a broad epistemic, cultural, political and artistic reflection on the transformation of knowledge, creativity, praxis, literacies, cultural techniques and institutions in an era increasingly characterized by the distribution of capabilities and agencies between humans and technology.
Adding to a new stage of the industrialisation of culture and the arts, we are now witnessing the emergence of an industry of knowledge built on the accumulation of data, automatic analysis, AI, machine learning, and information visualisation (Negri & Vercellone, 2008; Boutang, 2012; Zuboff, 2019; Manovich, 2021). The new cognitive industries threaten to trigger a general dispossession of cognitive practices, learning and “savoir vivre” (Stiegler, 2019), and the replacement of the civic mission of institutions and practices related to knowledge transmission by infrastructures, platforms and algorithms (Bratton, 2016; Srnicek, 2016). However, the digital condition and the new cognitive ecology allow, in turn, for an explosion and dissemination of knowledge on a scale that is unprecedented in human history, the strengthening of diverse forms of connectivity and collaboration (Castells, 2012; Gerbaudo, 2017) and, for the first time, the sharing of a common language between the sciences, the humanities and the arts.
Establishing a political cosmology and ecology for the digital transition emerges as a new task of critical thought, a fundamental epistemic, cultural and creative task of the humanities and the arts in the XXI century. This call for proposals invites participation in this task through topics such as, and not restricted to, the ones below. In addition, we welcome the exploration of themes from the extensive work of Bernard Stiegler in homage to his intellectual legacy and his influential contribution to the understanding of the relationship between culture and technique and of the digital condition.
Submission: Abstracts for individual papers should be written in English and have a maximum of 300 words, including a title and up to 5 keywords. The submission form allows the upload of a short biographical note (word file, max. 100 words).
Please submit your proposal to AH-DT 2023| Arts and Humanities in Digital Transition https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=ahdt2023
Extended deadline for submission: 15th March
Notification of acceptance: 30th March
Early Bird Registration: until 30th April (120 €)
Deadline for Registration: 10th June (200 €)
Publication: After the conference, authors will be invited to submit full papers to a special edition of a journal indexed in Scopus.