Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart
Deadline: Jan 29, 2018
Responding to the continued and accelerating rise of algorithmic culture, this journal special issue and corresponding symposium will explore critical intersections between creative practice and recent efforts to re-imagine the concept of ‘affordance’ for the digital.
Theoretical considerations of ‘affordance’ originate at the intersection of perceptual and cognitive psychology, specifically within the context of J.J. Gibson’s work from the mid-60s onwards. According to Gibson, ‘affordance’ sought to account for the actionable properties of a physical object or environment. An object’s affordances, in other words, describe its phenomenological qualities, projecting potential uses, delimiting possible actions, and signaling perceived functions. While discontinuities between established discourses on ‘affordance’ and its contemporary deployment have been widely identified and problematized (e.g., Evans et. al. 2017; Davis & Chouinard 2017; Samson & Soon 2015; Nagy & Neff 2015), the theoretical parameters of specifically digital affordances remain under-examined. As a result, despite its frequent application within the domains of, for example, HCI, media studies and contemporary design, ‘affordance’ continues to operate within a conceptual framework that largely ignores the specific grounds of contemporary computation, resting instead on the physicality, phenomenological accessibility, and perceived liveliness of objects (e.g., Wells 2002; Morineau et. al. 2009). Importantly, each of these defining characteristics are fundamentally incompatible with what are increasingly referred to as the processual, ‘deep,’ and unperceivable realities of algorithmic systems (Lovink 2014; Parisi 2013; Zielinski 2009). Deploying the concept of affordance without a reexamination of its digital specificity (for example when it comes to interaction design, user experience design, or software development) ultimately means to foreclose opportunities for generative critique, limiting the potential for creative, alternative, subversive, and radically different uses of digital artefacts and processes. Continue reading “CFP: Rethinking Affordance, special issue: Media Theory (Stuttgart, 8-9 Jun 18)”