[Air-L] CFP Mediating Scale - conference June 2022

Magdalena Krysztoforska krysztoforska.magdalena at gmail.com
Sun Mar 13 05:02:36 PDT 2022

*Mediating Scale: Online Conference 16-18th June 2022*

*Deadline for extended abstracts:* Sunday April 3rd 2022

*Conference website: *www.mediatingscale.com

*Confirmed keynote speakers:*

Prof Benjamin Bratton (University of California, San Diego)

Dr Joshua DiCaglio (Texas A&M University)

Dr Zachary Horton (University of Pittsburgh)

Dr Bogna Konior (NYU Shanghai)

Dr Thomas Moynihan (University of Oxford)

Laura Tripaldi (University of Milano-Bicocca)

The problem of scale has historically been discussed primarily within the
confines of specific disciplinary contexts (biology, geography,
mathematics, etc.), however it is increasingly emerging as a
transdisciplinary concern. Similarly to the ways in which contemporary
problems exceed disciplinary boundaries, and require heterogeneous
approaches in order to be productively understood, the future orientation
of our strategies for addressing those problems must engage with the full
scalar spectrum of our planetary existence. Global crises such as pandemics
or climate change disturb the human comfort of the mesoscale and require us
to grapple with the underlying material reality, including molecular as
well as global processes.

The COVID-19 pandemic proved that the biological, chemical, and
epidemiological reality is indifferent to the cultural and political
narratives conjectured by the human vectors of transmission. A
post-pandemic world needs to learn the lessons from this ‘revenge of the
real’ (Bratton, 2021) and recognise the complexity of the world which
cannot be reduced to myopic projections and illusions. As global society is
affected by ‘mega processes’, our orientation towards the future should be
guided by reason, and a planetary politics which exceeds the logics of the
nation-state and includes the whole physical universe (Mbembe, 2019).

In order to access different scalar perspectives, humans have always
constructed mediating devices. Instruments such as the telescope or the
microscope provided an insight into the scale of reality beyond human
visual perception, and demonstrated that ‘the invisible makes up a
continuum of reality with the visible’ (Blumenberg, 1987, p. 618). More
recent examples of scalar media include the James Webb Space Telescope,
mediating the spatial and temporal scale of the universe through an
analysis of infrared light, as well as potentially shedding light on the
local condition of far-off planets. It contributes to a wider process in
which scientists use numerical data from telescopes and satellites to help
imagine worlds and places which can be made sense of on a human scale
(Messeri, 2016). Computational technologies also help us conceptualise some
of the most pressing scalar problems. Inequalities related to labour
relations and the distribution of resources can be traced through the
mineral materialities of media devices and the cartographies of electronic
waste (Parikka, 2015), whilst the concept of ‘climate change’ is an
epistemological accomplishment of planetary-scale computation (Bratton,
2019). The history of media and technologies is a history of evolving modes
and scales of perception and knowledge, and cultural texts such as *Powers
of Ten, Fantastic Voyage, Alice in Wonderland*, and *Gulliver’s Travels*
have been discussed as motivating thinking about scale (Horton, 2013, 2020;
DiCaglio, 2020, 2021). Recent scholarship has also emphasized the necessity
for developing a theory and a vocabulary of scale itself, foregrounding the
ongoing negotiations between scalar alterity and scalar access (Horton,
2020), and placing scale ‘at the intersection of a transformation of the
world and a transformation of ourselves’ (DiCaglio, 2021, p. 9).

With this conference, our ambition is to map the broad spectrum of
frameworks and attitudes towards scale, reflecting on how scalar thinking
should orient our visions towards the future. We are interested in the role
of scalar media, technologies, scientific theories, models and concepts in
confronting the scalar disjunction between human sensory and cognitive
capacities, and the scale of reality independent of our perception. We
believe these questions are crucial to developing the multi-scalar thinking
required to address some of the most urgent global issues including
automation, planetary governance, or the climate crisis. This conference
will therefore explore ways of framing the problem of mediating scale, and
the stakes involved in addressing epistemological barriers to facing
contemporary problems at an appropriate scale.

We welcome contributions from across disciplines whose work is relevant to
the question of mediating scale.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

   - approaches to scale in media studies
   - history and archaeology of scalar media
   - politics of scale in visual cultures
   - scale and political tactics (including local vs global organising)
   - planetary politics and governance
   - existential risks, including climate change
   - the science and politics of geoengineering
   - scientific models and model-world relations
   - reductionism, antireductionism, and complexity theory
   - theories of scale, rhetoric of scale
   - timescales, geologic time, deep time, longtermism

*Submission guidelines:*

We are inviting submissions for 30-minute talks in English that address the
conference theme.

Please send an extended abstract of 600-900 words and a short biography to
mediatingscale at gmail.com. The deadline for submissions is Sunday April 3rd
2022. Responses will be sent out in mid-April.

*Conference details:*

This online conference will be free to attend but registration will be
required. The conference will be streamed live with recordings of the
keynote presentations available afterwards on YouTube. For more
information, please see the conference website: www.mediatingscale.com and
if you have any questions, please email mediatingscale at gmail.com

Organised by Dr Oliver Kenny (Institute of Communication Studies (ISTC),
Université Catholique de Lille) and Magdalena Krysztoforska (University of

The event is hosted and funded by the Institute of Communication Studies
(ISTC), Université Catholique de Lille.

*Bibliography: *

Blumenberg, H. (1987). *The Genesis of the Copernican World*. MIT Press.

Bratton, B. H. (2019). *The Terraforming*. Strelka Press.

Bratton, B. H. (2021). *The Revenge of the Real: Politics for a
Post-Pandemic World*. Verso.

DiCaglio, J. (2020). Scale Tricks and God Tricks, or The Power of Scale in*
Powers of Ten*. *Configurations*, 28(4), 459–490.

DiCaglio, J. (2021). *Scale Theory: A Nondisciplinary Inquiry*. University
of Minnesota Press.

Horton, Z. (2013). Collapsing Scale: Nanotechnology and Geoengineering as
Speculative Media. In K. Konrad, C. Coenen, A. Dijkstra, C. Milburn, & H.
van Lente (Eds.), *Shaping Emerging Technologies: Governance, Innovation,
Discourse* (pp. 203–218). IOS Press / AKA.

Horton, Z. (2020). *The Cosmic Zoom: Scale, Knowledge, and Mediation*. The
University of Chicago Press.

Mbembe, A. (2019). Bodies as Borders. *From the European South: A
Transdisciplinary Journal of Postcolonial Studies*, 4, 5–18.

Messeri, L. (2016). *Placing Outer Space: An Earthly Ethnography of Other
Worlds*. Duke University Press.

Parikka, J. (2015). *A Geology of Media*. University of Minnesota Press.

*Magdalena Krysztoforska* (she/her)
*AHRC/M4C Doctoral Candidate in Critical Theory*

Dept. of Cultures, Media & Visual Studies

Room B57, Trent Building
University of Nottingham

University Park

Nottingham, NG7 2RD


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