::fibreculture:: The Fibreculture Journal—Call for Abstracts/Papers—Exploring affect in interaction design, interaction-based art and digital art

Andrew Murphie andrew.murphie at gmail.com
Fri Dec 10 01:11:02 CET 2010

[please circulate]

CFP- Special Issue for the Fibreculture Journal: Exploring affect in
interaction design, interaction-based art and digital art


Please note that for this issue, initial submissions should be abstracts

Guest Editors: Thomas Markussen (Århus School of Architecture) and Jonas
Fritsch (Århus University)

abstract deadline: February 27, 2011
article deadline: June 30, 2011
publication aimed for: October, 2011

all contributors and editors must read the guidelines at
before working with the Fibreculture Journal

email correspondence for this issue: Thomas dot Markussen at aarch dot dk/
jonas dot fritsch at gmail dot com


"The notion of affect does take many forms, and you’re right to begin by
emphasizing that. To get anywhere with the concept, you have to retain the
manyness of its forms. It’s not something that can be reduced to one thing.
Mainly, because it’s not a thing. It’s an event, or a dimension of every
event. What interests me in the concept is that if you approach it
respecting its variety, you are presented with a field of questioning, a
problematic field, where the customary divisions that questions about
subjectivity, becoming, or the political are usually couched in do not
(Massumi, Of Microperception and Micropolitics, p. 1)


This special issue of the Fibreculture Journal addresses some of the
contemporary challenges involved in working with affect. The issue is
particularly focussed on working with affect across disciplines and
practices involving interaction design, interaction-based art and/or digital
technologies and digital arts. The pivotal question is this: How do we
explore the “field of questioning” that arises when you approach the
affective within interaction design and digital art? What is the use of
disciplinary goals when the affective has proven to be most valuable in
trans-disciplinary theory? Where do we go from here, i.e. how can we
continue working with the notion of affect—develop it in new theoretical,
analytical and practical domains? What key concepts might emerge from this
continued trajectory? How would they resonate within and with-out existing
disciplines, creating novel links and assemblages?

We are especially interested in the way in which changing concepts of affect
are taken up within interaction design, interaction-based art and digital
art. The editors are generally interested in concepts of affect that go
beyond (or run beside) many of the given assumptions of interaction design,
including those grounded in phenomenology. So, for example, we would be
interested in concepts of, and work with, affect that goes beyond the
"personal" interaction with the technical. Here affect might be understood
as an impersonal—as much as or even sometimes as opposed to an
intimate—dimension of relational capacity. This is affect as proposed in the
work of Deleuze and Guattari, and  more recently, in very different ways,
the work of Brian Massumi, Patricia Clough, Nigel Thrift, and others (see
below). Here affect is comprised of intensities and speeds, in which the
living and nonliving, human and nonhuman differentially affect and are
affected by each other. Such new understandings of affect have consequences
for both thinking about, and designing for, interaction. They often meet
other concepts of affect and interaction in interesting ways.

We are interested in how such concepts, and meetings of concepts, feed into
the practices that we find in interaction design, interaction-based art and
digital art. How do you design affectively, for instance? How can we use
insights from and around the affective turn while going beyond it,
mobilizing the engagement with affect in a dynamic way, creating new
relational events across disciplines and practices, feeding into new ways of
thinking and acting? If the concept of ongoing change is so integral to the
understanding of affect, how might we actually start “living” by
it—academically, or in the manner of research-creation? What kinds of
politics does the concept of affect offer? If, as Massumi states, it is
possible to talk about the affective as bringing about an expanded empirical
field in various disciplines, how might we continue an exploratory politics
of radical change pursued by other than philosophical means?

How do such questions come into interactive design, or the more general
meeting of technology and the social?

We invite scholars, researchers and practitioners from the fields of
interaction design, interaction-based art and digital art to contribute
articles that help continue to develop the notion of affect beyond the
affective turn. Possible topics/questions that can be addressed include, but
are in no way limited to:

•    In what ways might the concept of affect challenge dominant notions of
”user experience”, ”interface”, ”interaction” and ”aesthetics of
interaction” in interaction design and digital art?
•    Wherein lies the difference between affective interaction and emotional
•    How do media and technology engage the transition from pre-cognitive
affective forces to emotions, and vice versa?
•    In what way does affective interaction through media and technology
relate to the construction of identity, gender, power or politics?
•    What is the role of the affective in the redistribution of the sensible
as it comes to the fore in interaction design, interaction-based art and
digital art?
•    How can analytical and philosophical frameworks of the affective be
taken further within experimental and artistic practice?
•    How can insights into the affective expand the empirical field in the
design of media and mass communication and their effect on individual and
social bodies?
•    How do the social, political and aesthetic come to together in the way
media and technology affectively attune our bodies?
•    To what extent can affect, and practices consciously working with
affect, be brought into trans-disciplinary frameworks?
•    What are the ethics, the forms of evaluation in terms of modes of
living, implied by the consideration of affect?
•    Félix Guattari notes, after Gregory Bateson, that there is an "ecology
of bad ideas, just as there is an ecology of weeds" (Guattari, 2000: 27).
What about destructive ecologies of affect?
•    Are there critical limits to the cultural leverage provided by theories
of affect, or does affect make us rethink the limits of critique?
•    What are the relations between practice and critique, for example, in
interaction design, when affect is taken into account?

Below, we shall quickly outline some of the diverse approaches that inform
our interests here. Please note, however, that this issue of the
Fibreculture Journal is not concerned with the "affective turn" per se.
Rather, assuming the importance of considering affect across a number of
disciplines, we are particularly concerned with affect as it is worked with
in interaction design, interaction-based art and digital art. On the other
hand, we welcome explorations of theoretical issues related to the questions
and practices involved.


Having emerged in the mid-90s, the “affective turn” marked an increased
cross-disciplinary research interest in pre-cognitive bodily forces, notably
in how these forces are involved in the construction of human subjectivity,
identity and our engagement with other people and technology. We have now
reached a point where analysis of the affective has been shown to enrich the
understanding of human existence—from the micro-perceptual to the
macro-political. Brian Massumi has described affect as a “world-glue”,
bringing together different levels of experience and working across
traditional dichotomies. It seems that affect also has a further role to
play as a kind of “disciplinary-glue”, making disparate practices resonate
through the conceptual development and practical exploration of affect—and
derived concepts and analyses.

Patricia Clough’s introduction to “The Affective Turn” from 2007 is
explicitly concerned with how “the affective turn is necessary to theorizing
the social” (Clough 2007). Most recently, in an afterword to a special issue
on affect published by the journal Body and Society, Clough offers
interesting ideas about the future of affect studies but leaves the question
of technology relatively unaddressed (T. Clough, 2010). In the field of
Human-Computer Interaction, however, a range of technologically—oriented
experiments have been carried out in the name of Affective Computing (e.g.
Picard, 2000) or Emotional Design (Norman, 2004). These approaches ,
however, have been criticized for reducing the complexity of the affective
in an attempt to make it formalizable and structurable in computational and
informational terms. Recently, this informational approach to understanding
affect has been countered with what has been termed an interactional
approach. Here, an alternative model of emotion as interaction is
introduced, allowing for the way in which interactive systems are
experienced, culturally mediated and socially constructed (Boehner, DePaula,
Dourish, & Sengers, 2005). However, the relation between the affective and
emotional remains relatively unexplained.
All this leaves us with a possible space of resonance for many of the
concepts and practices arising from the affective turn.

Nigel Thrift identifies five different schools of affective thinking in
“Turbulent Passions” (Thrift, 2007). Coming out of psycho-geography and
non-representational theory, these schools bring new theoretical assemblages
into being. Brian Massumi offers another affective trajectory. Massumi’s
work moves from Spinoza’s basic notion of affect as the ability to affect
and be affected, through the writings of Gilles Deleuze, to Gilbert Simondon
and Alfred N. Whitehead, at the same time deploying work in developmental
psychology carried out by Daniel Stern, as well as William James’ notion of
radical empiricism. For Massumi the notion of the affective has been central
for re-conceptualizing the emergence of subjectivity (which is not a
pre-given entity). One aspect of this is  and the way in which interactive
media and technologies may open up new territories for engaging
preindividual forces, for instance in pre-cognitive sensations and feelings
in bodily experience. This re-conceptualization has not only been valuable
for understanding the aesthetics of interaction as it is continuously
explored in interaction-based art, digital art, design and architecture (see
e.g. Massumi, 1998, 2007). It has also made it clear that we need to include
the political and ethical in the notion of the aesthetic, which in
Guattari's terms becomes the aesthetico-political. Bodies always find
themselves affected by fields of forces— forces of ideology, techniques and
practice— that attune these bodies to certain regions of action or
potentialities for action (Massumi, 2008, p. 6).

With the advent of new media and technologies, artists and interaction
designers are offered rich opportunities for exploring the many
intersections between affect, sensation and action—at the level of the
individual and social body. For example, imaging technologies allow artists
such as Olafur Eliasson or Bill Viola to explore microscopically affective
layers of sensation, of which we may not usually be consciously aware. Or,
in what has become known as tactical media, surveillance technology  has
been subversively in public space, either to enhance affective social
attunement between bodies—as in projects by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer or Ben
Rubin—or as an instrument for micro-political acts of resistance that
disrupt existing systems of control and power in order to liberate the body
and construct counter-publics—as seen most vividly in iSee, by The Institute
for Applied Autonomy or Roderico Dominquez’s Transborder Immigration Tool.



Boehner, K., DePaula, R., Dourish, P., & Sengers, P. (2005). Affect: from
information to interaction. In Proceedings of the 4th decennial conference
on Critical computing: between sense and sensibility (pp. 59-68). ACM.
Clough, P. T. (2007). Introduction. In P. T. Clough & J. O. Halley (Eds.),
The Affective Turn: Theorizing the Social. Duke University Press.
Clough, T. (2010). Afterword: The Future of Affect Studies. Body & Society,
16(1), 222.
Massumi, B. (1998). Sensing the virtual, building the insensible.
Architectural Design (Profile no. 133), 68(5/6), 16-24.
Massumi, B. (2007). The thinking-feeling of what happens. In J. Brouwer & A.
Mulder (Eds.), Interact or Die! NAi Uitgevers/Publishers.
Massumi, B. (2008). Of Microperception and Micropolitics. Inflexions: A
Journal for Research-Creation, Inflexions, 3.
Norman, D. A. (2004). Emotional design: Why we love (or hate) everyday
things. Basic Civitas Books.
Picard, R. W. (2000). Affective computing. The MIT Press.
Thrift, N. J. (2007). Non-representational theory: space, politics, affect.


"A traveller, who has lost his way, should not ask, Where am I? What he
really wants to know is, Where are the other places" - Alfred North

Andrew Murphie - Associate Professor
School of English, Media and Performing Arts, University of New South Wales,
Sydney, Australia, 2052
Editor - The Fibreculture Journal http://fibreculturejournal.org/>
web: http://www.andrewmurphie.org/  http://dynamicmedianetwork.org/

fax:612 93856812 tlf:612 93855548 email: a.murphie at unsw.edu.au
room 311H, Webster Building


"A traveller, who has lost his way, should not ask, Where am I? What he
really wants to know is, Where are the other places" - Alfred North

Andrew Murphie - Associate Professor
School of English, Media and Performing Arts, University of New South Wales,
Sydney, Australia, 2052
Editor - The Fibreculture Journal http://fibreculturejournal.org/>
web: http://www.andrewmurphie.org/  http://dynamicmedianetwork.org/

fax:612 93856812 tlf:612 93855548 email: a.murphie at unsw.edu.au
room 311H, Webster Building
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