CFP - CAA, 2018 Alternative Beginnings: Towards an-Other history of immersive arts and technologies

Gabriela Aceves Sepulveda's picture

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Call for Papers
August 14, 2017
California, United States
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Digital Humanities, Latin American and Caribbean History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Alternative Beginnings: Towards an-Other history of immersive arts and technologies.

New Media Caucus Sponsored panel CAA 2018,
Los Angeles, February 21-24, 2018
Gabriela Aceves Sepúlveda and Matilda Aslizadeh, co-chairs

Immersive technologies have a long history. As Oliver Grau puts it our current desire for immersive experiences did not make its first appearance with the invention of computer-aided virtual realities (Grau, 2014). Following Grau’s seminal study on virtual art, significant advances in the history of immersive technology have led to a broader understanding of our current fascination with techniques and practices of illusion. Currently, the critical history of immersive technology tends to focus on a) genealogies of increasingly sophisticated systems of display that impact the affective senses of the individual viewer and b) the recasting of the Eurocentric art historical canon as providing instances of immersive experience, thereby extending the definition of technology. While the above are interesting approaches, we want to bring in more examples that further expand the field of study. This panel seeks to explore alternative pathways to contextualize our current obsession with virtual environments and to question our conceptions of what counts as immersive technologies. Bringing together recent insights by media archaeologists (Parikka and Huhtamo, 2011) and decolonial thinkers (Mignolo, 2011) we seek presentations that explore suppressed, neglected and forgotten histories, alternative conceptualizations of immersive technologies that break with the Eurocentric canon as well as contemporary expressions that address such gaps through new media practices.

Some topics may include:

  • Expanding the history of immersive technology through consideration of the complex interaction between performer, participant, object, and environment in non-western rituals. Also, contemporary performance artists whose work bridges the gap between this traditional form and new media technologies could be foregrounded.
  • Exploring the manner in which oral traditions, storytelling and generic narrative tropes intersect with the different genealogies of the immersive.
  • While interactivity is associated with a Utopian impulse and the tradition of the avant-garde, the state of being immersed has appeared as a dystopian motif in film and literature. One line of inquiry could unpack the dialectical relationship between interaction and immersion through other perspectives outside the binary of active/passive that is perpetuated by the tradition of the European Avant-garde. Another related line of inquiry could question the notion of authorship in relation to whether and how the Other (audience or machine) is conceived as co-creator of immersive/interactive experiences.


Deadlines and Requirements:

  • Send an abstract of your paper/project (i.e. performance, art project, etc…) to both session chairs: Matilda Aslizadeh ( and Gabriela Aceves ( by August 14, 2017.
  • Abstract should be no more than 250 words in length. Also include a shortened CV with current affiliation of no more than 2 pages, and work documentation (if necessary).
  • Presenters need to be individual CAA members and register for the conference.

To become a member: <>.

  • Online early registration begins October 2, 2017 and ends December 15, 2017. Advance registration ends February 7, 2018. Early and advance conference registration fees will not change from CAA 2017.

To register: <>.

  • Selected panellists will be responsible for the attendance and travel expenses. Organizers cannot cover any travel or accommodation costs.
  • Notification of acceptance will be e-mailed on August 25, 2017.
  • Presentations should be between 15- 20 minutes.

Event proceedings will be included in the annual CAA edition of the Media-N, a scholarly electronic and print journal. Media-N’s summer edition is devoted to showcasing NMC ‘s onsite and offsite proceedings during the College Art Association’s annual convention.

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