CfP: CODE- A Media, Games & Art Conference – 21-23 Nov 2012, Swinburne University of Technology Melbourne, Australia

Call for Papers and Creative Works
CODE – A Media, Games & Art Conference
21-23 November 2012
Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia

Jussi Parikka – Reader,Winchester School of Art
Christian McCrea– Program Director for Games, RMIT University
Anna Munster – AssociateProfessor at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW

Code is the invisible force at the heart of contemporary media and games, routinely obscured by the gadget fetish of breathless tech marketing and scholarly focuson more visible social and technical interfaces. With the recent material turn in media studies and the refinement of new approaches including software studies and platform politics, which emphasise interrogating the formal characteristics and underlying technical architecture of contemporary media,the time has come to bring
code out into the open.

(more after the jump)

Code can be defined in two distinct but related ways: as an underlying
technological process, a set of rules and instructions governing, for
instance, the permutations of allthose 0s and 1s obscured behind user
interfaces, but also as a culturalframework navigated and understood
socially and performatively, as is the casewith legal, social and
behavioural codes. As an operative principle, code’ssignificance thus
extends far deeper than its current digital manifestation.For this
conference, we invite submissions of papers and creative works
thatconsider the role of code as a simultaneously material and semiotic
force thatoperates across the wider cultural, social and political
field, with particularemphasis on media, games and art.

The conferencetheme is also an opportunity to reflect on how, as
academics and creative practitioners,we often participate in but can
also challenge the disciplinary andinstitutional codes that can
arbitrarily separate these domains. CODE will be atransdisciplinary
event that brings media studies, media arts and games studiesinto
dialogue through individual papers, combined panels, master classes and
anincluded exhibition.

We welcomesubmissions related to any aspect of code in all its
diversity. Possibleconsiderations might include, but are not limited to:

– Code and thein/visible: what are the technical, ideological and
academic aspects that workto obscure codes? And what might be the
strategies for making codes visibleagain? Topics: ‘screen essentialism’
(Kirschenbaum 2008); race and/astechnology (Chun 2009); glitch and
error; programming activism; DIY coding;game exploits.

– Code and/as ideology:as something that both carries and obscures
meaning, what is code’srelationship to ideology? Topics: Black-boxing;
the fetish of visualisation(Chun 2011); ‘there is no software’ (Kittler
2005); code as social frame;encoding/decoding.

– Coding thedisciplines: media and games studies. How do these closely
related disciplinaryformations account for their existence? What
epistemological and methodologicalinsights might they share or
contribute to one another, perhaps throughemergent fields like software
studies and platform politics? Or should theyremain distinct?

– The deeperhistory of code: as a principle of information exchange,
code’s centrality inmedia and communications technologies goes beyond
the digital. What is the roleof code in the deeper history of media, and
what are the media archaeologicalresonances or links between ‘old’ and
‘new’ forms of code? Can their emergenceoften be traced back to the
military-industrial complex? Topics: Prehistory ofcode; Morse code and
semaphore;encryption and cryptography; cybernetics and early computing;
pre- andnon-digital games.

– Code and thepublic/private: What are the historical, legislative,
technological andcultural settings for the emergence of ‘public
privacy’, in which publicsignifying systpersonal messages? Topics: public,private and intimate spheres;
epistolary networks; social media; realityprogramming; celebrity;
geolocating identity, meaning and destination.

– ‘Code andother laws of media’: the continuities and discontinuities of
different codes.Just as legal codes embedded in technical protocols like
digital rightsmanagement may disastrously overextend copyright
protections (Lessig 1999), howelse do different codes meet, overlap,
extend and come into conflict with oneanother? Topics: Copyright and
intellectual property; distribution; technical,legal, social and
behavioural codes.

– Securitycodes: Though code often serves to secure and obscure
authority, it remainsvulnerable to hacking, raising the spectre of a
whole new form of risk societyoperating at the level of code and through
its breaches and accidents – howdoes this play out across networked
information, communication andentertainment environments? Topics: phone
hacking; Wikileaks; Anonymous andsoftware-based protest; gaming hacks
and cracks; data theft.

– Code andagency: Interactive media, games, art and cultural practice
can all deal withthe relationship between the interacting participant
and the coded system. Whataesthetics and politics are at work when the
participant’s presumed agency andthe coded constraints are in tension?
Topics: aesthetics of code-based media;interface; participant
experience; emergence/counter-play; proceduralism andperformativity.

– Bodies incode: how do information and code, not only interfaces and
devices, reconfigurethe social, political and corporeal body, and vice
versa? How might weconceptualise the materiality and ontology of code in
relation tophenomenologies of embodiment and new materialism? Topics:
post-humanism(Hayles 1999); new and vital materialism (Bennett 2010);
genetics and other codesfor the body; disembodiment and immateriality.

– Failures ofcode: Much of code’s power lies in its invisibility, a
transparency that allowsit to be embedded as the ‘common sense’ of
everyday life, but what happens whencode fails, socially culturally,
politically or technologically, or isexploited? Topics: rules and
disobedience; comedy; subversion; disruption;revolution.

:: For furtherdiscussion, please view the conference website:

Code operates,as if by stealth, beneath the materiality of networked
media performances,software art, games, mobile apps, locative and social
media. But code alsopresents artists, performers and creative
practitioners with opportunities toconstruct innovative hybrid media
forms that can extend our understanding ofcontemporary art practice.
From video installations in the 1960s, through tosophisticated
interactive media and augmented reality applications, artistshave
arguably been at the forefront of innovation, adopting the language of
thecomputer to forge new creative frontiers. We invite contributions
that examinethe creative potential of code, including but not limited
to, the implicationsof code for contemporary art/ists, code as art
and/or performance, code asavant-garde, virus and anti-art.

The CODE conference will include a thematic exhibition. Weare seeking
submissions of screen-based works, pervasive games, and locativemedia
projects that respond to the conference themes. Projected and
performanceworks will also be considered.

– Individual 20minute paper presentations: 300 word abstract.

– Panelsubmissions: panel submission should include three/four
individual abstracts of300 words, a panel title, and a 200 words
rationale for the panel as a whole.

– Artistsshould submit a 250 word outline of the proposed creative work
including linksto supporting documentation (10 stills or up to 3 minutes
of video).

All submissionsare due 31 May 2012 and should be emailed to

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