APPS AND AFFECT: October 2013

full name / name of organization: 
University of Western Ontario (FIMS and CSTC)

There has been a palpable shift in the digital world, primarily motivated by the growing popularity of the raise of an app as a new signifier, media object, and technique of ubiquitous computing. Although the term has been in use colloquially since 2009 (following Apple's iPhone ad campaign built upon the slogan "There's an app for that"), the rapid adoption of the term and the tool was unforeseen by media theorists. Nonetheless, many social, cultural and media theorists predict the death of the Web, the reinforcement of control and censorship of the online content, and the end of a general purpose computer (Zittrain). Whereas the logic and environment of the Web is one of open, free, and constantly changing or updating (i.e. mutating) networks, it is argued that mobile computing operates upon semi-closed platforms that are driven by specialty software with single-purpose designs (Anderson and Wolff).

How do apps as 'cultural technique' (Siegert) and 'technics' (Stiegler) channel our ways of maintaining relations with/in media environment? Do the specific and circumscribed operations of individual applications foster or foreclose what media theorists call the transformative and transductive potential of collective technological individuation (Simondon)? Do apps represent "a new reticular condition of transindividuation grammatising new forms of social relations" (Stiegler)? Or do they signal instead the triumph of "regulatory" networks over "generative" ones (Zittrain)? This conference sets out to examine the relations between mobile apps and their networked/internet context.

Possible paper topics / fields of inquiry include (but not limited to):

Apps and affect: connecting technical objects and the constitution of subjectivity, information and feeling, data and desire, as well as organic and inorganic machines. How is the mutual circulation of apps and affects constitutive of new biopolitical assemblages in zones of work and consumption, surveillance and escape, trauma and therapy, laboratory and studio? App 'addiction', and habit-formation (e.i. mnemotechnics and technical prostheses, attentional forms and the psychical effects of application software).

Apps and the networking drive: facilitating the enactment of the loss of symbolic efficiency; assisting the force shared within the network that circulates in order to produce satisfaction despite missing the aim of grasping the desired, yet unreachable object – the setting for our activity as communicating subjects of the network.

Apps and political economy: micro-object of digital labour, virtual consumption and networked value extraction; tether to branded mobile platforms, trading- off openness, to attract developers and consumers, against profit-harvesting, from sales and surveillance; site of new pirate, hacking and jail-breaking practices; a new front line between cognitive capital and communal digitization.

Apps and trans-individuation or disassociation: the fostering and/or foreclosing of technical trans-individuation and new forms of social relations by apps; apps and the implications of ubiquitous computing and digital mediation, especially ambi-informatic 'everyware' (Greenfield). How might we think about the social, political and technical implications of such this movement away from open-ended/trans-individuating networks like the internet towards specific, focused, and individualized modes of computing?

Send abstracts of 250 words to the conference committee at by September 8th, 2012.