CFP – CAA 2022 NMC Affiliated Panel – Making Media Social: A examination of media art in the history of political activism

Media archeology and social justice are rarely found in the same sentence: they are uneasy allies. Media archeology decenters the role of the human as the primary source of action, while social justice centers on human action, posing questions about the ideal ways to redistribute resources and organize social and political institutions to achieve social parity. 

The papers in this session seek to bridge methods in media archeology and social justice to defamiliarize the histories of now-common forms of media utilized in art practice and thus further shed light upon our own contemporary networks of injustice. By problematizing familiar forms of media, the works in this panel provide further recourse against the drive of the digital to focus on the new, rather asking what are the ways in which technologies of the past influence how we perceive and conceptualize ourselves and others.

As WJT Mitchell writes in “The Violence of Public Art: Do the Right Thing”: “What many of our contemporary artists wish to provide, is a critical public art that is frank about the contradictions and violences encoded in its own situation, one that dares to awaken a public sphere of resistance, struggle, and dialogue.” What would a critical assessment of past technology oriented toward social justice look like? How can archaeological perspectives bring to the fore these social ghosts in the machine, the potential violence but also acts of resistance inherent in the adoption and later normalization of new technologies?

Please contact Corinna Kirsch to submit or for additional information:

Key words: media archeology, digital, media history and theory, social justice, video

Panel organizers: Corinna Kirsch, PhD Candidate, Stony Brook University; Brock Lownes, PhD Student, Stony Brook University