“The Machine,” they exclaimed, “feeds us and clothes us and houses us; through it we speak to one another, through it we see one another, in it we have our being. The Machine is the friend of ideas and the enemy of superstition: the Machine is omnipotent, eternal; blessed is the Machine”. . . and in theory the Machine was still the creation and the implement of man, but in practice all, save a few retrogrades, worshipped it as divine.
- E.M. Forster, The Machine Stops
We declare that the splendour of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing automobile with its bonnet adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive breath, a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.
The Futurist Manifesto
Nyx, a noctournal calls for abstracts and new work for its forthcoming spring/summer 2012 issue on MACHINES. Critical theorists, writers, artists, photographers, revolutionaries and wage-slaves are asked to consider: what do contemporary relationships and uses of machines reveal about popular culture; political structures; shifts in social or economic systems? What possibilities or dangers do they present? Have machines liberated us, as the early 20thCentury Modernists and social reformists dreamed of, or have human beings become bound by machinery, tangled up in digitised information and intensive demands for productivity in the modern precarious workplace, made redundant by automation or reduced to passive cogs in a vast autopoietic network over which they no longer have any control?
Each era is defined by its usage and experience of machinery. Produced to wage war or save time, the machine is laden with exciting and horrific possibilities. What if the machines malfunction or revolt? Are machines a threat to the poor worker, as Marx feared, or is access to cheap electric goods a hallmark of the contemporary consumer social contract? What new sensations, perils and experiences of time have video games, smartphones, televisions, cars, gym equipment, e-books, the Internet and other machines brought? Is the organic obsolete, another health-food fad paid on credit card at a self-service checkout?
In A Thousand Plateaus Deleuze and Guattari warn of “machinic enslavement”, but at the same time affirm that modernity “provides so many weapons for the becoming of everybody/everything, becoming-radio, becoming-electronic, becoming-molecular. . .” Heidegger feared that unfettered technology could sideline humanity into a diminished form of being. Futurists, Cyberneticians, Computer Hackers, Capitalists and Communists alike have all embraced the machines in their own ways; Luddites have smashed them. Science Fiction has sown machine fantasies of both utopia and terror, from Jules Verne to The Terminator; few subjects grip the imagination so well as the march of the machines and their impact on humanity.
Email artwork, images, abstracts or ideas of no more than 300 words with a short bio to firstname.lastname@example.org by 1st February 2012. Please send as .doc or .jpg