CFP – CAA New York 2015 New Media Caucus Special Session

Technologies of Wonder

Panel Chair: Aleksandra Kaminska (Postdoctoral Fellow, Simon Fraser University and York University)

Technologies are often remembered for the sense of fear they originally provoked: photography, cinema, and the history of media technologies on the whole, is filled with accusations of magic and wizardry, while reactions to inventions such as the hot air balloon and telescopy were those of both wonder and terror (Holmes 2009). Discovery and innovation continue to bring this sense of both hope and dread into the world. While the contemporary condition is marked by information overload, we still reach limits of comprehension and imagination. For example, nanotechnologies innovate at what has been described as the “incomprehensible” scale of the nano (Robinson 2012) where the future becomes “unimaginable” within the limits of human perception (Milburn 2008). And yet these building blocks of all things are becoming reachable and controllable, and we must find ways to access and join the conversation, and creation, of this unknowable future.

This panel is an inquiry into wonder as a fruitful mode through which artists and the worlds of the non-scientist engage with the technological, and explores the question of whether there is value in approaching technologies as ‘wonderful’. How do we comprehend, represent, manipulate, imagine and question the ‘wondrous’? To what extend is wonder still possible, and what is its relationship to mystery and knowledge? Can it generate something outside of itself to provide entry points towards critique and beyond skepticism? As the frontiers of media art are pushed and artists are working with increasingly complex technologies like 3D printing, AR, AI and developing fields like bioart and molecular aesthetics, how do we engage with the feelings of ‘wonder and terror’ that emerge in the push towards ‘progress’?

Possible areas or subject matters:
- Projects that engage with ‘wondrous’ technologies or generate ‘wondrous’ experiences
- Spaces of technological contemplation and the future of wonder
- Wonder as a category of engagement, tool, value, process
- Wonder in collaborative/transdisciplinary work; the wonder of different worlds
- Wonder in relation to participation, interactivity, immersion, play
- Wonder in relation to mystery, discovery, imagination, enthusiasm, criticism, skepticism, knowledge
- The productive value of the other, the unknown and the misunderstood
- The fear/wonder of the new and the old (e.g. old techniques, processes and technologies)
- The wonder of scales, systems, infrastructures
- Technologies that explain and technologies that conceal; technologies of invisibility or ephemerality
- The materiality and archaeology of wonder
- Wonder in the context of the ‘mainstream’ and ‘media’ art worlds

Please send a 350-word abstract for a 15-18 minute paper, along with affiliation and short bio by October 15, 2014 toaleks.kaminska@gmail.com

Acceptance notifications: November 1, 2014
Final Paper due: January 30, 2015