December, 2015

#3 Unstable Infrastructures – Call Closed

Open Call for Contributions

For our third is­sue of spheres we in­vi­te po­ten­ti­al cont­ri­bu­tors to con­sider the si­gni­fi­can­ce of un­sta­ble in­fra­struc­tu­res. In­fra­struc­tu­res have long been an in­stru­ment of power, an as­pect that has be­co­me pa­ra­mount with di­gi­tal in­fra­struc­tu­res – as de­ba­tes around the di­gi­tal di­vi­de, sur­veil­lan­ce and net neu­tra­li­ty at­test to. As our world is co­ve­r­ed by cop­per and fib­re op­tic ca­bles and elec­tro­ma­gne­tic wa­ves en­ab­ling a near ubi­qui­tous net­wor­ked com­pu­ta­ti­on,  di­gi­tal me­dia in­cre­a­sin­gly be­co­me the en­vi­ron­ment we live in. Con­tests over this in­fra­struc­tu­re pur­sue, no doubt, yet it is striking how much di­gi­tal in­fra­struc­tu­re re­pro­du­ces old and crea­tes new forms of power. The big data eco­no­my is only the tip of the ice­berg here. At the same time di­gi­tal in­fra­struc­tu­re chal­len­ges us to de­ve­lop new con­cepts and un­der­stan­dings of in­fra­struc­tu­re not re­du­ced to tech­no­lo­gies but per­haps even na­tu­ral or so­ci­al me­dia.

In­fra­struc­tu­re is cha­rac­te­ri­sed chief­ly by its ca­pa­ci­ty to disap­pe­ar – un­der the ground, in the air, or be­hind in­ter­faces. Yet even ‘cloud com­pu­ting’ re­qui­res vast amounts of in­fra­struc­tu­re, which can only be hi­d­den with new kinds of ideo­lo­gy and mas­quer­a­de. How is in­fra­struc­tu­re made to disap­pe­ar to­day, and how can we un­co­ver it, re­veal its ideo­lo­gi­cal mask, or tra­ver­se the fan­ta­sies as­so­cia­ted with it? How can we ex­plo­re, un­co­ver and chal­len­ge the mi­li­ta­ry-po­li­ti­cal do­mi­nan­ce over di­gi­tal in­fra­struc­tu­re? How can we crea­te and sustain al­ter­na­ti­ve in­fra­struc­tu­res, for ex­amp­le through me­shworks? What could a tac­tical (ab)use and ap­pro­pria­ti­on of in­fra­struc­tu­re look like? Our star­ting point for ad­dres­sing all the­se ques­ti­on is that in­fra­struc­tu­re is al­ways al­re­a­dy un­sta­ble, and the­re­fo­re open to evo­lu­ti­on and misap­pro­pria­ti­on.

We par­ti­cu­lar­ly in­te­rested in cont­ri­bu­ti­ons from the Glo­bal South. If you are in­te­rested in cont­ri­bu­ting, plea­se wri­te to editors@spheres-journal.org with a short ab­stract (up to 500 words).