CFP: Thermal Objects, special issue of Culture Machine


Thermal Objects – Theorizing Temperatures and the Social, Special issue of Culture Machine, Vol.17 (2018)
Edited by Elena Beregow (University of Hamburg, Germany)

This special issue of Culture Machine, a peer reviewed and open access journal, will address thermal processes, bodies and media from interdisciplinary and international perspectives. When heat and cold appear in the humanities and social sciences, they are often treated exclusively as metaphors—think of Ferdinand Tönnies’s description of the modern, urbanized society as a cooling process that freezes the warm, authentic community; or Marshall McLuhan’s distinction between hot and cold media. While thermal metaphors turn out to be useful—perhaps even constitutive—tools that make abstract notions imaginable and tangible, recent discussions on the materiality of the social offer a productive background for new theorizations of temperatures that exceed their metaphorical valences.

This special issue aims to rethink the relation of metaphor and materiality: How can we theoretically account for thermal mechanisms as balance, transfer or collapse? What does it mean to perform hot or cool critical theoretical interventions? These and other questions will be investigated across three temperature-related dimensions: the senses, thermic media and thermopolitics.

Sensory studies has addressed experiences that are not explicitly listed in the classical five senses, such as the sense of motion and the sense of temperature. But is thermoception only an additional field for sensory studies, or does it also inflect our understanding of the social? In contrast to the sense of sight, which separates the seeing body from the object world, the thermal sense challenges the subject/object divide. When we move away from the human body, the question of thermoception gets even more complicated, since there is no subjective position from which temperature could be sensed. How can we theoretically think more-than-human thermal objects and elements? When we grasp thermal phenomena as media, their material characteristics and properties become visible; for instance, their rhythms and movements, and their capacity to store, transfer, and conduct, but also their relatively short half-life.

The biological notion of homeostasis, which is crucial to cybernetic thought, turns us towards important questions related to the measurement, control, and regulation of temperature, which not only takes place on the level of internal organization, but on a broader political scale (think of new thermal technologies of sensory control, as well as thermally organized biopolitics). While the special issue aims to focus attention on the importance of temperature and thermal objects to questions of climatic change, it also seeks to foreground the intrinsic thermic qualities of the social that have led to global warming’s proliferation.

Contributions are invited though not limited to the following topics:

Tempered senses

- Thermoception and the anthropology/sociology of the senses
- Skin-topologies and thermal bodies: the (dis)organization of vital energy 

- Architectural thermic spaces and tempered atmospheres
- Thermal pleasure and delight

Thermic media

- Hot and Cool in media theory
- Temperature problems of media infrastructures (e.g. heat as computing-power and engineering problem)
- Data storage and freezing information


- Figures of thermal control in utopian and dystopian fiction
- History of the sciences: historical discourses of temperature, thermodynamics and cybernetics 

- New thermal technologies: sensors, surveillance and control
- Thermal practices of resistance

Please submit your contributions to Elena Beregow (

The deadline for submission of articles of 4000-6000 words is 19th January 2018. If you wish to discuss potential contributions ahead of submitting completed articles, please feel free to contact the editor.

Please consult Culture Machine's Guidelines for Authors: 


OHP in The House That Heals The Soul exhibition at Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow

Some images from the The House That Heals The Soul exhibition, held over the summer at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow.

Open Humanities Press was included in the form of a usb stick dead drop.


The House That Heals The Soul - Nick Thurston, Sean Dockray and Benjamin Forster, Publication Studio Glasgow, OOMK, The Book Lovers, The Serving Library, Temporary Services Library, Emily Jacir, Mybookcase, Curandi-Katz and Beatrice Catanzaro.

This summer’s exhibition at CCA (22 July– 3 September) focuses on the practice of publishing, and the political and social status of the Library. Programmed in collaboration with artist Nick Thurston, CCA’s exhibition spaces will be opened up to house a selection of library and self-publishing resources and artworks, looking at the radical potential of library collections and collecting.

Public libraries have become one of the last remaining spaces where people can gather without expectation or requirement. With the future and financing of libraries and library buildings becoming increasingly precarious, this exhibition aims to explore the radical potential of libraries as sites of resistance, shelter, sharing and knowledge exchange. The show will support a dialogue around the importance of librarians as interlocutor and curator, as well as giving access to CCA’s spaces for reading and viewing of work.

Alongside library resources, the exhibition will include a series of artworks examining relationships to books, access to libraries and the technologies of reading. Digital projects such as will also have a presence in the space, and there will be series of talks by artists and radical librarians throughout the show exploring alternative sites for knowledge sharing.

Publication Studio Glasgow will also move into the gallery spaces as an open-source resource for self-publishing. CCA and the Publication Studio partners will run a series of workshops and inductions allowing any member of the public to design, print and bind their own book edition.

This exhibition marks the beginning of a series of summer exhibitions in CCA’s main galleries that open the rooms up as spaces for meeting and exchange, providing resources and facilities for more autonomous activity.

Examples of activities include:

Sharing of books

Film screenings


Open discussion groups, debates and reading groups

Public meetings of organisations/agencies

Writing sessions




#postARTandSCIENCE symposium at the Wellcome Collection

#postARTandSCIENCE is a one day symposium on Friday 22 September 2017, from 9.30am to 5.30pm

Venue: Henry Wellcome Auditorium, Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE

Over the last 30 years 'art+science' has grown from a niche interest to a legitimate field of inquiry and experimentation, producing many exciting projects, interdisciplinary collaborations and lively debates across various academic and artistic institutions. At the same time, concerns have been raised that aesthetically engaging art is all too frequently used to illuminate a scientific idea and, in this way, help scientists communicate with a wider audience. Even some of the more collaborative projects between artists and sciences maintain the distinction between the two fields, which temporarily come together in various funded projects. So, is it time to move on from 'art+science'?

#postARTandSCIENCE takes as its main theme thinking beyond 'art+science' -- especially in the sense in which this pairing is conventionally understood. Are we satisfied with the way 'art+science' has operated to date, and, if not, what should come after it? Can art change what we understand by science? Can science itself be considered a form of art? Should the relation be extended to take in other methods and approaches, such as those associated with engineering, geography, anthropology, literature, philosophy or media? Or does #postARTandSCIENCE call for an a-disciplinary approach? 

Speakers include:
Martin Kemp FBA, Emeritus Professor in the History of Art, Trinity College, Oxford University. THE SCI-ART BUSINESS. BACK TO BASICS
Prof. Joanna Zylinska, Professor of New Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London. Biomediations, or does art+science have a blind spot?
Prof Gary Hall, Professor of Media and Performing Arts, Coventry University. The Inhumanist Manifesto: Who's Afraid of the Subject of Art+Science?
Prof Stelarc, Performance Artist and Distinguished Research Fellow, School of Design and Art, Curtin University. EXCESS / EMPTINESS / INDIFFERENCE – FROM NANO SCALE TO TELEMATIC SPACE.
Dr Nina Sellars, Artist in Residence, SymbioticA, The University of Western Australia, funded by the Australia Council. 'A Posthumanist Approach to Art+Science'.
Prof William Latham, Computing Department Goldsmiths, University of London. Mutator VR.
Euan Lawson, Partner at Simkins LLP. Copyright for Collaborators – Law and Practice.
Prof Neal White, Professor of Art/Science, Director - CREAM at University of Westminster. 'The Potential of Destruction in Art & Science'.
Dr Daniel Glaser, Director, Science Gallery London. Genuine jeopardy: how can young people help shape a high-quality arts programme in London’s newest science–art space?
Jen Wong, Director Guerilla Science. The Revolution will not be institutionalised.
Moderated by Luke Robert Mason, Director of Virtual Futures.
Curated by Robert Devcic, Founder & Director of GV Art London.


email to request an invitation


The Digital University in a Neoliberal Age symposium


The Inhumanist Manifesto

'The Inhumanist Manifesto' is taken from the forthcoming inaugural 'manifesto' issue of Media Theory. It is currently available as a blog post on the Media Theory site here.

How I Came To Write A Manifesto

In the spring of 2017 I was invited to help launch a new open access journal, Media Theory. The idea was that a number of authors would each produce a manifesto as to why such a journal was necessary and what they would like to see it do.

I responded by acknowledging that, although the manifesto mode of political writing is associated with some of the themes and topics I’ve engaged with the most--posthumanism, piracy, Marxism, open access, the commons--I was nevertheless hesitant to take up such an invitation. I’m not particularly interested in setting agendas or laying out policies with my work. Nor do I wish to get involved in debates. Yet the reason I hesitated was not just because I’m reluctant to promote new ideas with prescriptive notions about how to carry out those changes I believe need to be made. Nor was my wavering over the writing of a manifesto simply due to a concern that the power of this particular textual form of communication may have waned as a result of too much unthinking repetition, and an associated preference on my part for less obvious ways of acting. Having launched an open access theory journal myself a number of years ago--Culture Machine--I was also aware there was danger of coming across as if I was telling those behind Media Theory what they should do with their journal. 

Sometimes the most responsible decision anyone who has attained even a modest position of authority can make is to step aside after a while. Of course, it can be difficult to relinquish what are often hard-won roles. Neverthless it’s important to do so, regardless of any success, in order to create opportunities and openings for others. Which is why my colleagues and I decided to celebrate Culture Machine’s 15th anniversary by passing editorial control over the journal’s future direction on to Gabriela Méndez Cota and Rafico Ruiz, two early career theorists who are located in Mexico and Canada respectively. And I would no more consider telling the editors of Media Theory what to do with their journal than I would Gabriela and Rafico with Culture Machine.

Still, I wanted to take the opportunity to offer those involed in launching this new open access theory journal my continuing support. So if a manifesto can be understood as a public declaration of the views, motives or intentions of the issuer, I thought I would take the risk of replying to their invitation by briefly making obvious the theory that lies behind the development of Culture Machine and some of the other projects with which I’m involved. I would then leave it to them to decide how much, if anything, of this was relevant as far as their intentions for Media Theory were concerned.  

The rest of 'The Inhumanist Manifesto' is available on the Media Theory site here.