Call For Papers and Creative Works

This call for papers is now closed.


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 – Associate Professor 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 focus on 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.

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 all those 0s and 1s obscured behind user interfaces, but also as a cultural framework navigated and understood socially and performatively, as is the case with legal, social and behavioural codes. As an operative principle, code’s significance thus extends far deeper than its current digital manifestation. For this conference, we invite submissions of papers and creative works that consider the role of code as a simultaneously material and semiotic force that operates across the wider cultural, social and political field, with particular emphasis on media, games and art.

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

We welcome submissions related to any aspect of code in all its diversity. Possible considerations might include, but are not limited to:

  • Code and the in/visible: what are the technical, ideological and academic aspects that work to obscure codes? And what might be the strategies for making codes visible again? Topics: ‘screen essentialism’ (Kirschenbaum 2008); race and/as technology (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’s relationship to ideology? Topics: Black-boxing; the fetish of visualisation (Chun 2011); ‘there is no software’ (Kittler 2005); code as social frame; encoding/decoding.
  • Coding the disciplines: media and games studies. How do these closely related disciplinary formations account for their existence? What epistemological and methodological insights might they share or contribute to one another, perhaps through emergent fields like software studies and platform politics? Or should they remain distinct?
  • The deeper history of code: as a principle of information exchange, code’s centrality in media and communications technologies goes beyond the digital. What is the role of code in the deeper history of media, and what are the media archaeological resonances or links between ‘old’ and ‘new’ forms of code? Can their emergence often be traced back to the military-industrial complex? Topics: Prehistory of code; Morse code and semaphore; encryption and cryptography; cybernetics and early computing; pre- and non-digital games.
  • Code and the public/private: What are the historical, legislative, technological and cultural settings for the emergence of ‘public privacy’, in which public signifying systems are vehicles for highly personal messages? Topics: public, private and intimate spheres; epistolary networks; social media; reality programming; celebrity; geolocating identity, meaning and destination.
  • Code and other laws of media: the continuities and discontinuities of different codes. Just as legal codes embedded in technical protocols like digital rights management may disastrously overextend copyright protections (Lessig 1999), how else do different codes meet, overlap, extend and come into conflict with one another? Topics: Copyright and intellectual property; distribution; technical, legal, social and behavioural codes.
  • Security codes: Though code often serves to secure and obscure authority, it remains vulnerable to hacking, raising the spectre of a whole new form of risk society operating at the level of code and through its breaches and accidents – how does this play out across networked information, communication and entertainment environments? Topics: phone hacking; Wikileaks; Anonymous and software-based protest; gaming hacks and cracks; data theft.
  • Code and agency: Interactive media, games, art and cultural practice can all deal with the relationship between the interacting participant and the coded system. What aesthetics and politics are at work when the participant’s presumed agency and the coded constraints are in tension? Topics: aesthetics of code-based media; interface; participant experience; emergence/counter-play; proceduralism and performativity.
  • Bodies in code: how do information and code, not only interfaces and devices, reconfigure the social, political and corporeal body, and vice versa? How might we conceptualise the materiality and ontology of code in relation to phenomenologies of embodiment and new materialism? Topics: post-humanism (Hayles 1999); new and vital materialism (Bennett 2010); genetics and other codes for the body; disembodiment and immateriality.
  • Failures of code: Much of code’s power lies in its invisibility, a transparency that allows it to be embedded as the ‘common sense’ of everyday life, but what happens when code fails, socially culturally, politically or technologically, or is exploited? Topics: rules and disobedience; comedy; subversion; disruption; revolution.

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

The CODE conference will include a thematic exhibition. We are seeking submissions of screen-based works, pervasive games, and locative media projects that respond to the conference themes. Projected and performance works will also be considered.

- Individual 20 minute paper presentations: 300 word abstract.

- Panel submissions: panel submission should include three/four individual abstracts of 300 words, a panel title, and a 200 words rationale for the panel as a whole.

- Artists should submit a 250 word outline of the proposed creative work including links to supporting documentation (10 stills or up to 3 minutes of video).

All submissions are due 22 June 2012 and should be emailed to ua.ude.niws|ecnerefnocedoc#ua.ude.niws|ecnerefnocedoc

Please include your name, affiliation, contact details, and a brief bio.

A special journal issue or edited collection on the conference theme is planned.

- Conference website: (includes venue and registration information, venue, thematic discussion, reading list, etc.)
- Contact: ua.ude.niws|ecnerefnocedoc#ua.ude.niws|ecnerefnocedoc

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