Welcome to the second issue of Ctrl-Z!
With Issue #1 we sought to sketch, by way of speculation and permutation, a promising ‘field’ of inquiry, and to do so without seeking to force any identity (in terms of disciplinary objects, approaches or genealogies—nor, indeed, of genre or mode of presentation) upon it. This second issue, #2, presents less a refinement of the field than a continuation of that inaugurating impulse, throwing further into question the journal’s orienting terms: ‘new’ ‘media’ ‘philosophy’.
Hence ‘innovation’, ‘ideation’ and ‘information’—no more definitive than our original terms of inquiry, no doubt, but hardly mere arbitrary place markers for all that.
Our first section, INNOVATION, approaches Ctrl-Z’s animating questions predominantly through the medium and example of ‘art’. While art can hardly be said to hold a monopoly on innovation, nevertheless something like art, or perhaps the poetic impulse that art is thought to embody, often stands out as a practice or a space heralding ‘the new’. Thus Benjamin Forster’s mixed media art—a sample of which appears as our cover image for this issue—is showcased here for the new uses that it makes of the apparently ‘old’ medium of ‘writing’, raising questions along the way about the very media through which aesthetic questioning, in the so-called age of new media, may be pursued. We might say that, as ‘art’, Forster’s work raises these questions ‘performatively’, which begs the question of how the inanimate materials which feature in his installations may be said to ‘perform’. Concepts of performance are at the heart, too, of Ken Miller’s ‘film’ Graphology Relapse, which as a ‘film’ of a John Kinsella ‘poem’—two poems, in fact—likewise presents novel thoughts about the impossible purity of aesthetic media, as we argue in our own contribution to this second issue, an exploration of the ‘research value’ of art (as ‘creative production’) and humanities inquiry more generally. For where there’s art, there’s reflection on art, and so what might be called ‘art criticism’ plays its part in the production of the ‘new’ that aesthetic innovation brings into the world. Hence Martin Štefl’s contribution to this issue, and its work in drawing out the new concept of ‘the body’ presented in—literally embodied by—performance artist Stelarc and his extensive ‘corpus’.
The contributions gathered under the heading of IDEATION find their way into this issue by way of a call for submissions, predating the inception of Ctrl-Z, for a project intended to revisit Jacques Derrida’s Specters of Marx, especially with regard to his work on ‘spectrality’. The notions of ‘spectrality’, ‘hauntology’ and ‘the ghost’ seem to us particularly pertinent to the field of new media philosophy (see, for instance, Tony Thwaites' piece in Issue #1), not only owing to Derrida’s place (however ambivalent and contested) in a tradition of continental philosophy, but also for their radical reconceptualisation of ‘time’ and ‘timeliness’, as well as their potential to transform analyses of simulation, mediated public spheres, political economies of the media, and so on. In different ways, the contributions from Nicole Pepperell, Jane Mummery and Glen Fuller demonstrate the continuing conceptual returns to be derived from Specters, connecting notions of politics, justice and loyalty to the conditions that define ‘today’.
As if to prove the point, the two contributions to our final section, INFORMATION, clearly demonstrate (albeit, without ever using the term) the spectral nature of contemporary information flows and the role of new media in transforming the relations between information technologies and information users. Tero Karppi takes up this issue in the context of the emerging technology of ‘augmented reality’ (AR), exploring the ways in which the cutting-edge technology, which superimposes ‘online’ information over the physical world, ‘rewires’ users through its privileging, hence fostering, of a kind of ‘schizophrenic’ disposition. Touching on this same technology, the piece from Tama Leaver, Michele Willson and Mark Balnaves brings Karppi’s observations home by identifying the processes of information filtration that underpin not just seemingly science fictional technologies like AR, but also those information platforms—search engines, for example—that pretty much every reader of this journal is likely to use on an everyday basis.
Undoubtedly, this organisation risks appearing to conform to a traditional taxonomy—as though innovation as such belongs to art; as though only philosophy can do anything meaningful with ideas; and as though information falls under the domain of media criticism exclusively. But it should be clear that, even after only its second issue, Ctrl-Z has no interest in settling for (or into) the solace of established forms. These organising categories, then, are intended not so much as revealing terms, but as terms under erasure—unavoidable, perhaps, but far from indispensable.
Our thanks to all of our contributors and anonymous reviewers.
Keep an eye on our website for details of our next Ctrl-Z event, to be held in Melbourne next year.
RB & NL
Ctrl-Z: New Media Philosophy
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