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Call for papers: Shift Issue 9: Networks

Submission Deadline

All submissions should be sent by email to by March 15 2016. The journal launch will take place 01 October 2016.

This special issue of Shift: Graduate Journal of Visual and Material Culture is dedicated to exploring how the ascendant imagery and language of networks have manifested in the arts and visual culture.

Today, the network takes many forms. While online social networks facilitate ever-accelerating patterns of image dissemination and reformatting, artworks and visual culture objects themselves have recently been conceptualized as interacting in ways akin to the “network.” In response to the “linguistic turn” in the humanities, frameworks such as new materialism, actor-network theory and ecological criticism have allowed theorists to probe questions about the agency and affective power of objects, materials and images, and to consider how such “actants” might influence one another or their environments. Such methodologies can add nuance to our discussions of the ways in which artistic practices and material cultures function within such multivalent contexts as globalization, biopolitics, climate change and the rise of global terrorism.

The “social network” has also emerged as a methodological framework for art historians and curators, who have recently adopted it as a conceptual tool to trace artistic interactions, milieu and influences outside of apparently outdated frameworks like nation-state and style. Likewise some critics have abandoned the discourse of art’s institutionality to describe the art world instead as a vast network organized around peripatetic routes and temporary projects, in which value is measured by quantity of social and professional connections.

Finally, the ways in which digital networks and social media have radically transformed the terrain of activism and social movements cannot be overlooked. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have been integral in catalyzing the Arab Spring, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and viral expressions of solidarity in the wake of political violence. Social media not only accelerate the pace of communication and global awareness, but also facilitate the emergence of iconic visual tropes and new choreographies of protest. Amateur photographs and cellphone videos have become crucial witnesses to global injustice; in what Peter Lunenfeld has termed “the war between downloading and uploading,” such images are thus able to challenge hegemonic narratives.

This issue takes stock of these recent developments by exploring the place of networks in the production and study of visual and material culture. We accept papers, as well as exhibition and book reviews from a range of visually-oriented disciplines that take up such topics as:

– Art institutions versus art networks

– Social network mapping and art history

– Contemporary art and social media

– Activist networks and visual culture

– Curatorial networks, biennales and art fairs

– Art and material culture in the digital age

– Visual economies

– Ecological approaches to visual and material history

– Transhistorical “networks” of art and visual culture

– Globalization in/of art and material culture

– Art and the environment; climate change

The committee welcomes submissions by graduate students working in any discipline. See submission and style guidelines below.

Digital Supplement

In consideration of the issue’s theme of “networks,” we also welcome submissions outside of the traditional article format that incorporate digital research tools or digitally-based means of presentation. Projects should be independently funded, but we are very interested in using the Shift website as a hosting platform.


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