[csaa-forum] Transformations CFP: Concepts for Action in the Environmental Arts

Erika Kerruish Erika.Kerruish at scu.edu.au
Tue Sep 13 10:56:57 ACST 2016

Special Issue CFP: Issue 30
Concepts for Action in the Environmental Arts

Co-editors: Grayson Cooke, Warwick Mules, Erika Kerruish and David Rousell

This special issue seeks contributions from scholars who are developing innovative conceptualisations, strategies and practices for the environmental arts. Such critical reconceptualisations of the field are urgently called for in response to mounting evidence that we have entered the Anthropocene epoch, a time typified by climate change, catastrophic loss of biodiversity, ecological instability, resource depletion, ubiquitous digitisation and rapid advances in biotechnology and computer science. In revealing the profound entanglement of human culture and natural phenomena in the contemporary world, the advent of the Anthropocene has had a destabilising effect on dualistic philosophies and binary logics that have upheld rigid barriers between the human and the nonhuman, the organic and the inorganic, the natural and the artificial, the social and the material. New concepts are called for that can mobilise creative thinking and action outside of such anthropocentric and humanistic frameworks, and mobilise new practices that are both attuned and responsive to the rapidly changing environmental conditions of everyday life.

This special issue further aims to establish a theoretical toolkit of conceptual resources that can provoke, incite and in-form experimental practices in the environmental arts. We define the environmental arts broadly for this purpose, with a particular emphasis on modes of thinking, feeling, sensing, designing, making, performing and composing that are attuned to environmental change and are inherently collective in nature. In this respect environmental artists have often been years and even decades ahead of others in responding to the conceptual and practical challenges of the Anthropocene. Since the 1960s, artists such as Robert Smithson, James Turrell, Robert Irwin, Helen and Newton Harrison, Joseph Beuys and Suzanne Lacy have enacted visionary environmental practices, while also conceptualising these practices within the broader fields of social theory and philosophy. The capacity for environmental artists to effectively respond to the Anthropocene is also apparent in the direct modes of address through which they are able to materialise new philosophical concepts in public space. For instance, rather than attempting to change public opinion about the environment and thus alter people's behaviour, artists tangibly create new environments, artefacts and encounters that directly affect social perception, imagination and experience. jan jagodzinski (2015, p. 127) has described this as the unique capacity for the arts to operate as an 'avant-garde without authority', working at the cutting edge of social, political and environmental transformation without making claims to disciplinary authority or truth.

In this spirit, we invite abstracts that may address the following areas of theoretical and conceptual inquiry:

  *   Posthumanist conceptualisations of the environmental arts that account for the multiple ecologies of everyday life in the Anthropocene (Braidotti, 2013) and avoid reduction to subject/object schemata (Benjamin, 1999).
  *   Theorisations of matter and materiality as agentic in relation to creative practice, thought and experience (Barratt & Bolt, ed. 2013; Barad, 2007).
  *   Responses to the geological turn in the environmental arts (Ellsworth & Kruse, 2012), including those influenced by geo-philosophy (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) and the geology of media (Parrika, 2015).
  *   The environmental arts as an applied and activist philosophy involving the composition, activation and mobilisation of concepts (Massumi, 2011).
  *   New conceptualisations of technology, technique and technicity through the environmental arts, including those associated with social technologies (Stengers, 2005), virtual technicities (Manning, 2013), and technics (Steigler, 1998) and technologies of the self (Foucault, 1986).
  *   The capacity for speculative fictions and geo-poetics to evoke new social worlds and a politics to come (Shaviro, 2014; Bogue, 2011; Negarestani, 2008).
  *   Interspecies communication and collaboration in and through the environmental arts (Garoian, 2012).
  *   The changing nature of public participation through and with the environmental arts, including their pedagogical affordances as places of learning (Ellsworth, 2005).
  *   Concepts for new formations of sense (Ranciere, 2010) to break from neoliberal, market-based world views of the environment predicated on ecological sovereignty.
  *   New concepts of being-with and care (Nancy, 2000; Foucault, 1986) to replace the control and efficiency models of biopolitics and governmentality that currently define environmental policies and public debate.


Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Barrett, E., & Bolt, B. eds. (2013). Carnal Knowledge: Towards a 'New Materialism' through the Arts. London, UK: I.B. Tauris.

Benjamin, W. (1999). 'Little History of Photography', trans. Edmund Jephcott and Kingsley Shorter in Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, Volume 2, part 2, 1931-1934, ed. Michael W. Jennings, Howard Eiland, and Gary Smith, The Bellknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., pp. 507-530.

Bogue, R. (2011). Deleuze and Guattari and the Future of Politics: Science fiction, protocols and the people to come. Deleuze Studies, 5, 77-97.

Braidotti, R. (2013). The Posthuman. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Ellsworth, E. (2005). Places of Learning: Media, architecture, pedagogy. New York: Routledge.

Ellsworth, E., & Kruse, J. (Eds.). (2012). Making the Geologic Now: Responses to the material conditions of everyday life. Brooklyn, NY: Punctum Books.

Foucault, M. (1986). The Care of the Self: the History of Sexuality, Volume 3, trans. Robert Hurley, Penguin, London.

Garoian, C. R. (2012). Sustaining Sustainability: The pedagogical drift of art research and practice. Studies in Art Education, 53(4), 283-301.

Jagodzinski, j. (2015). Affirmations and Limitations of Ranciere's Aesthetics: Questions for art and its education in the Anthropocene. In Snaza, N., & Weaver, J. (Eds.). Posthumanism and Educational Research (pp. 121-133). New York, NY: Routledge.

Manning, E. (2013). Always More Than One: Individuation's dance. Durham: Duke University Press.

Massumi, B. (2011). Semblance and Event: Activist philosophy and the occurrent arts. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Nancy, Jean-Luc. (2000). Being Singular Plural. trans. Robert D. Richardson and Anne E. O'Byrne, Stanford University Press, Stanford.

Negarestani, N. (2008). Cyclonopedia: Complicity with anonymous materials. Melbourne: re.press.

Parrikia, J. (2015). A Geology of Media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Rancire, J. (2010). Dissensus: on Politics and Aesthetics, trans. Steven Corcoran, Continuum, London.

Shaviro, S. (2014). The Universe of Things: On speculative realism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Steigler, B. (1998). Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technics_and_Time,_1>. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Stengers, I. (2005). Introductory Notes on an Ecology of Practice. Cultural Studies Review. 11 (1), 183-196.

Abstracts (200-400 words) are due 18st November 2016, with a view to submit articles by 31st March 2017.

Abstracts should be forwarded to:

editor at transformationsjournal.org<mailto:editor at transformationsjournal.org>

View Transformations online:


Dr Erika Kerruish I School of Arts and Social Sciences I Southern Cross University I Locked Mail Bag 4 I Coolangatta Qld 4225 I Ph: 07 5589 3172 I Email: erika.kerruish at scu.edu.au<mailto:erika.kerruish at scu.edu.au> I CRICOS Provider No:01241G

Co-editor:  http://www.transformationsjournal.org<http://www.transformationsjournal.org/>

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