CfP: Digital Memory Symposium at Plymouth University (16 January 2017)

in Roland Levinsky Building rooms RLB 206 and 207, 10am-3pm

This one-day symposium hosted by the Arts Institute seeks to bring together researchers from across the faculty and beyond who have cognate interests in what might broadly be described as ‘digital memory’, in order to stimulate potential collaborations with an eye to funding opportunities.

Digital memory has been identified as one of the research areas in which we have strength and capacity.

The symposium brings the theoretical context of new materialisms to bear on the media ecologies of the present. How can this range of new understandings of materiality influence how we think about the media communication technologies that have emerged in the last decades and their meaning.

Most specifically, with regards to ontological thinking, does the “the digital” – once lauded as an immaterial and unfixed virtual potential – once more require tactical reconsideration? If the digital is recast as sterile, objective and non-affective, can its power be limited? Given the current ubiquity and malleability of representations enabled through digital technologies, how might we begin understanding them as active interventions?

To what extent can electronic, networked and media spaces be considered as immanent and vital? There are certainly ecological issues raised by the terminologies attached to representations of emerging technologies – such as the ‘cloud’ or ‘smart’ technologies.

Recent discussions that have broken out online about the role of social media in the U.K. referendum and U.S. election offer two examples of contemporary fears regarding the effects of affect and the political consequences of its denial.

What is the vernacular understanding of the potential of the digital? How does the theoretical and scientific description of media forms influence their active potential to influence and suggest?

Beyond new forms of archiving and investigation, the incorporation of a range of new media forms into everyday communication and working practices raises other epistemological issues in how we understand the nature of memory and record, some of these are borne out in recent developments in the sciences, such as intergenerational knowledge and inheritance (epigenetics) and life-time changes in mind and brain such as neuroplasticity.

Models of memory as discrete and episodic have lost currency. How can these changing understandings of the embodied relationship between matter and memory translate to a virtual past?

This one-day symposium seeks to draw attention to the breadth of ideas and experiments in Arts and Humanities research that might help us to explore the potentialities of a post-digital present in which the ontological status of media forms are open to negotiation.

In a time when projections of the future are either banal or unimaginably hopeless, it seems that the past and present have become unstuck. Despite this, the digital commons presents possibilities for ever more freedom in the way in which the historical data is accessed and retold.

By considering historically situated understandings of remembering and memory and their relation to media forms, might we shed light on the malleability of the past in the post-truth era as well as its occult status as memory and experience embedded physically and culturally across many ontological substrates that may resist the flattening of theory?

How can we understand memory in a post-representational ontology – where according to Bruno Latour we move beyond matters of fact to matters of concern? What implications does this have for our understanding of historical agency and future technologies of remembering, be they adjuncts to the human or independent systems of surveillance.

How can we understand the relations of embodied and technical characteristics of remembering and transmission, from procedural memory, to cultural behaviours passed through mimicry and recorded media? What emerging psychological and medical technologies suggest alternative speculations on the past, present and future of remembering? How does our ability to remember change our future, and how does our understanding of how these technologies might change our future, influence how we use them, and how useful they are to us?

We are interested in short-papers of around 6-minutes in duration, which might engage with (but by no means be limited to) the following themes:

– Bio-computer and memory

– digital archives and the politics of memory

– smart technologies, mapping and memory

– gender and digital memory

– early cinema and digital memory

Please send titles and abstracts (200 words) to James Daybell ( and Sana Murrani ( by 16 December 2016.

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