Category: Art

A&SM#5/Sensorium registration open, full programme published

The organisers of the 5th Affect and Social Media/Sensorium Conference and Art Show (25-26th June 2020) are very pleased to announce that registration is now open.

The confirmed full programme for A&SM#5 MORE-THAN is published here:

There is also a link to registration on this official UEL event page:

As with previous events, we have tried to keep costs down so that the conference is affordable to colleagues from other institutions on hourly paid or fixed term contracts, students and artists. The event is free for all UEL staff and students.

Logo2More than

Very best wishes,


A&SM#5/CfP Closed/Registration Open

A&SM#5 International Conference and Sensorium Art Show

Logo2More than

25-26th June 2020

University of East London, Stratford Venue USS Building.

Registration Now Open

Link to Registration: £20, Concessions £10, free for UEL staff and students:


Confirmed Keynotes

Carolyn Pedwell


Carolyn Pedwell is Reader in Cultural Studies at the University of Kent. Her research focuses on affect, habit, embodiment, digital culture and social transformation. Carolyn is the author of Transforming Habit: Affect, Assemblage and Social Change in a Minor Key (forthcoming, McGill-Queens UP), Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy (2014, Palgrave) and Feminism, Culture and Embodied Practice (2010, Routledge). Her new research project, ‘Digital Media and the Human: The Social Life of Software, AI and Algorithms’, examines the production of the human, non-human and more-than-human in the context of emergent media ecologies.

Tero Karppi


Tero Karppi is Assistant Professor at the ICCIT & Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. A Finnish-born new media scholar, his book Disconnect: Facebook’s Affective Bonds was published by the University of Minnesota Press in October 2018. In it Karppi contends that platforms like Facebook see disconnection as an existential threat — and have undertaken wide-ranging efforts to eliminate it— Karppi’s focus on the difficulty of disconnection, rather than the ease of connection, reveals how social media has come to dominate human relations.

Keynote Panels

In addition to a full programme of presentations and sensorium performances (tbc), there will be a keynote panel, including responses and discussion with Amit S Rai (Queen Mary), Rebecca Coleman (Goldsmiths), Ian Tucker and Darren Ellis (UEL). Chaired by Tony Sampson.


Coming Soon!















A&SM#5 CfP deadline fast approaching

Senior researchers, ECRs and PGRs all welcome.

Call for Papers and Artworks Deadline 21st Feb 2020

Affect & Social Media#5 & Sensorium Art Show



Stratford, East London: 25-26/06/20

Confirmed Keynotes

Carolyn Pedwell (Kent)


Tero Karppi (Toronto)


Keynote Panel: Amit S Rai (Queen Mary), Rebecca Coleman (Goldsmiths), Ian Tucker and Darren Ellis (UEL). Chaired by Tony Sampson.

Full details of CfP on the theme of More-Than:

Call for papers and artwork deadline to A&SM#5/Sensorium Fri 21st Feb

The deadline for submission to Affect and Social Media#5 and the Sensorium Art Show is fast approaching.

Call for Papers and Artworks Deadline 21st Feb 2020

Affect & Social Media#5/Sensorium


Stratford, East London: 25-26/06/20

Confirmed Keynotes

Carolyn Pedwell (Kent)


Tero Karppi (Toronto)


Keynote Panel: Amit S Rai (Queen Mary), Rebecca Coleman (Goldsmiths), Ian Tucker and Darren Ellis (UEL). Chaired by Tony Sampson.

Full details of CfP on the theme of More-Than:

Logo2More than

Keynotes confirmed for A&SM#5 – and a Sensorium Song is on its way!

Very pleased to announce that Tero Karppi joins Carolyn Pedwell as our second keynote at Affect and Social Media#5: More Than (East London, June 25-26th 2020). Check out his excellent book: Disconnect: Facebook’s Affective Bonds

Tero Karppi
Carolyn Pedwell

Sensorium Song

We are expecting to announce soon the release of this year’s Sensorium Song. Attendees at A&SM#4 will remember Mikey Georgeson’s Kindness is a Virus was centre stage at the after conference Sensorium performances.

The cfp for More Than is live here: Deadline is 21st Feb.

A&SM#5 cfp

A&SM#5 presents:


Cfp and artworks 21st Feb 2020


International Conference and Sensorium Art Show

25-26th June 2020

University of East London, Stratford Venues: USS Building and The Dome Stratford Campus

Confirmed Keynote: Carolyn Pedwell

Registration opens early next year: £20, Concessions £10

>Call for Papers and Artworks>200 word abstract DEADLINE: 21st Feb 2020

Please email 200 word abstract to t.d.sampson[at] Be sure to include your name, any affiliations and contact email in the same text.


The call for the 5th international, interdisciplinary Affect and Social Media conference and Sensorium Art Show asks established academics, postgraduate writers, artists and media practitioners to broadly conceive of a more-than social media.

>More-Than Connectivity

The corporate rhetoric of digital enterprise has often couched connectivity in celebratory terms. There can never be too much connectivity! Expanding on the ambitions and tools of Web 1.0, the social technology paradigm promised to (as Tim Berners Lee put it) connect users to everything and everybody. A social media business model swiftly followed that monetized too much connectivity by way of platform architectures designed to persuade users to spend increasingly more time connecting to each other. Users would now produce more and more relational data through linking to friends (more friends than they had offline!), building groups and communities, posting, sharing, and liking, liking, liking!

>More-Than Data Power

Social media is a corporate Empire of Like. It extracts value made from these abundances of connectivity and data. This is an empire that knows no bounds. An empire of excess wherein the endless accumulation and surveillance of all this data seems to be infinite. There can never be too much data. There is so much of the stuff that marketers and consumer researchers often ponder over what exactly to do with it all. What do Facebook really know? Do they know more than we think they know or do they know too much to compute?

>More-Than Information

Counterintuitively perhaps, these information excesses do not equate to user empowerment. The surpluses of connectivity and data have not produced the assumed information fuelled age of enlightenment. This is a dark age of social media in which James Bridle contends, we may well ‘know more and more about the world,’ but at the same time we are ‘less and less able to do anything about it.’

Platform architectures are designed to do more than make more information available. The behavioural data science teams behind the scenes claim to produce predictable user performances. But more than this, social media developers, researchers and marketers want to stir up a profusion of emotion, feelings and mechanical habits. They want impersonal affects to overflow their threshold points and spread contagiously through transmedia communities. These are viral flows and contaminations that produce affective bonds (Karppi, 2018), keeping users engaged in the process of making more and more sharable data. It is indeed these affective bonds of social media which become entangled with a more-than-human user experience (Clough, 2018).

>More-than User Experience

Much attention has been paid to the negative effects social media can have on a user’s emotions and mental health. Social media addictions and potential overdoses are endemic to a discourse of care. Are We All Addicts Now? Systems of withdrawal, detox, and disengagement have been proposed as an antidote. Yet, as personalities and technologies collapse into Clough’s impersonal user experience (and Chun’s YOU), what kinds of care system can ease the pain of identity loss? What happens when the “I” of the user collapses into these impersonal experiences to become a Facebook lookalike audience?

The failure to produce mass disconnection shows the extent to which digital dependencies are produced by a kind of Skinner’s Box. It is the seemingly endless circulation of impersonal affects in these boxes that bring users together in involuntary acts of collective mimicry, and keeps them pecking for more.

A New Syntax for User Experience by Mikey B Georgeson

>More-Than Design

Should we be surprised? Social media appears to have been predesigned for More-Than. As Vaidhyanathan (2019) argues, Zuckerberg’s original design intentions have been dramatically supervened by unanticipated uses of the original Facebook architecture. The overproduction of online harms, hate speech, rumours, conspiracy and fakery are surplus platform productions that algorithms churn and digital immune systems struggle to frustrate. This is a design that has proven to be the perfect environment for a divisive populist politics with further excesses of hate and online harm.

Zuckerberg thinks the solution to these immunological breaches will be AI. And yes, AI is of course a More-Than production of experience. It produces digital emotions which portray, detect, and manipulate predictable patterns. In the social media behaviourist labs, the psych-corps are able to clandestinely experiment on users as if they were Skinner’s pigeons. Users become caught up in a teleological suspension of ethical research. This is a More Than production of pecking subjectivities.

Peck! Peck! Peck! Peck!

Like! Like! Like! Like!

Peck! Peck! Like! Like!

Skinner Box Head by Milos Rajkovic aka Sholim


>More-Than Atmospheres

But at least this overproduction is kept to online phenomena only. It all seems so clean. The user experiences of social media is a world away from the smog filled streets and bush fires of climate disaster. Up here in the fluffy whiteness of the digital clouds, it would appear that the only waste users have to manage is the limitless waste of time these platforms offer for thumb exercises.

But of course, digital clouds are not fluffy white areas for excess data storage. The cloud is itself a more-than atmosphere. It is an ideological avatar. More precisely, these clouds are not virtual, but are toxic clouds that obscure the actual dirty heat of the corporate social media server centres. What we find, then, in the cloud, is a user experience of time wasting readily aligned to the excesses of digital junk and the toxic sludge of the Anthropocene.

>More-Than Human

But after all this dystopian media theory dirge is expended, could there not be a more promising More Than, yet to come? Can the user experience be wrestled back from the clutches of the dark refrains of corporate social media and poisonous populisms? Or will the finite overproductions; the endless acceleration of more thans, reach a point where perhaps endless accumulation turns in on itself. A point where more thans become other thans or more than more thans, perhaps? Like Deleuze and Guattari’s final affirmative more than in What is Philosphy? is there a new people yet to come. We might already be seeing the start of a new ‘intuitive digital subjects’ (Serres, Pedwell) whose habits and addictions are not steered by way of behavioural marketers any longer, but instead delegated and synthesised to digital technologies, opening up cognitive capacities and affective atmospheres in which users might experience ‘intuitive’ modes of being-in-the-world.

Evidently, the list is endless, but here are some other More-Than topics to ponder…

More-than connectivity>More-than data power>More-than information>More-than user experience>More-than democracy>More-than words>More-than feelings>More-than art>More-than design>More-than atmospheres>More-than human>More-than-more-thans>More-thans, yet to come

  • The light and dark ages of social media data excesses
  • Surplus affect
  • Breaching thresholds
  • Frustrating immunological systems
  • Anomalous overproduction
  • Too much harm, too much hate!
  • Designed excess
  • Time/waste management
  • Waste/time management
  • Viral architectures
  • Virality/growth
  • More-than atmospheres
    • Dirty clouds
    • Toxic sludge
  • Psychologies of the more-than-human
  • More-than-human strategies
  • More-than potentialities
  • Other more than, more thans


Logo2More than
More Thans by Mikey B Georgeson

Emerging Affinities – Possible Futures of Performative Arts

I have an article (introduction copied below) in this edited collection on the possible futures of performative arts. It adopts a Deleuzian method to critically address the buzzword of the silo. There are further reflections on Lancel/Maat’s E.E.G. KISS, Kuai Shen’s experiments with zombie ants (Ecologias Virales), Mikey Georgeson’s Wall Stains, Chris Salter, TeZ and Valerie Lamontagne’s Ilinx, and others.
Emerging Affinities – Possible Futures of Performative Arts

Emerging Affinities – Possible Futures of Performative Arts

The Blurb

This volume is a response to the growing need for new methodological approaches to the rapidly changing landscape of new forms of performative practices. The authors address a host of contemporary phenomena situated at the crossroads between science and fiction which employ various media and merge live participation with mediated hybrid experiences at both affective and cognitive level. All essays collected here move across disciplinary divisions in order to provide an account of these new tendencies, thus providing food for thought for a wide readership ranging from performative studies to the social sciences, philosophy and cultural studies.


Introduction to chapter in Emerging Affinities: Possible Futures of Performative Arts (please note this is a pre-published version of the text)

Collapsing Boundaries: Ambivalence and Interference

Although the collapsing of disciplinary boundaries might appear to be a theoretically promising move it is not necessarily a goal to aim for without concern for what might eventually emerge. To be sure, perhaps the desire for disciplinary mixture needs to be approached more ambivalently. For example, when art mixes with science the outcome is not always ‘great art’. There is always the potential for much methodological confusion to arise in the relation between art and science in which the aesthetic can become tainted by the rationalizing expression of scientific functions. Indeed, as boundary crossings in neuroaesthetics evidence, scientists can often objectify the aesthetic as a brain function: ‘There it is, inside the brain! Beauty itself!’ If this function is not located in the neuroimage, then ‘how can it possibly be good art?’ Herein the boundary crossings of art and science become part of a particular version of human rationality, which is given as the only starting point and end goal. The problem with neuroaesthetics becomes apparent, as such, in its claim to be able to discern between an objective aesthetic of beauty and the ‘dubious’ imposters of Conceptual Art (Ramachandran 2011: 192– 93). Marcel Duchamp is, as follows, presented as an absurd figure who, as any child in an art gallery can apparently see, parades himself in the emperor’s new clothes. Surprisingly perhaps, it has also been argued that art is not immune to the philosophic concept since when the aesthetic mixes with the concept some of its affective political potency is lost (Deleuze and Guattari 1994: 198). Sure, art and philosophy radicals can always try to subvert the rational brains of science, but if this attempt to disrupt function by bringing together concepts and sensations is rumbled as a critique rather than productive rapprochement, then where will the next funding stream come from?

We must further consider the ambivalent politics of collapsing boundaries. On one hand, capitalism works more effectively, it would seem, in the fluidity of borders and often encourages disciplinary mixtures if they offer more value for money. Collapsing boundaries can, like this, become part of an evil stratagem of neoliberal funding mechanisms that close the funding door to shut out criticality in favour of interdisciplinarity and industrial impact. Nonetheless, on the other hand, protective boundaries (from broader disciplines to categorized subject genres) are often negligible lines that are inexorably breached by the erosive flow of events. We cannot ignore these unrelenting events. They come at us like waves, carrying with them a multitude of novel objects that crash into (and often overwhelm) disciplinary defences. It is the interferences caused by these waves that are, at once, like Joseph Schumpeter’s (1976) mutational model of capitalism in the 1940s, creative and destructive. What should we do when we are all out to sea? Should we build new disciplinary defences or surrender ourselves to the ambivalence of the waves while trying to desperately hold on to criticality that might challenge the status quo?


Following such an ambivalent line of flight, this chapter begins by problematizing the notion of collapsing boundaries, focusing on the dilemma it poses in the institutional context of the neoliberal university. In short, the desire for interdisciplinary experimentation has to be considered in light of current conditions in which mixtures are supposed to take place outside of so-called silo mentalities. It is therefore important, before any boundaries collapse, to examine the extent to which disciplines can (or should) productively mix outside of these silos. That is to say, before taking the radical step of replacing boundary thinking with a Whiteheadian inspired notion of nonlocalized interferences, the discussion needs to step back a little to explore the Deleuzian inspired method of the interference which offers various experimental traversals between art, science and philosophy, via the interventional potential of disciplinary giants, conceptual personae, aesthetic figures and swarming demons.

Silo Mentality and Criticality

A man that is born falls into a dream like a man who falls into the sea. If he tries to climb out into the air as inexperienced people endeavour to do, he drowns. . . The way is to the destructive element submit yourself, and with the exertions of your hands and feet in the water make the deep, deep sea keep you up (From Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim, 1961 [1899]: 160)


Before challenging boundaries and genres, and the disciplinary methodologies and theoretical frames in which they are conceived, there is a need to provide some institutional context. Indeed, there is a new business buzzword that urgently needs our attention, and it is coming to a university near you soon: The silo! We have been told that we have been working in disciplinary silos for too long and it is not good for innovation and productivity. The pressure is on. We need to work across silos and get to the nexus that connects everything to everything else (Stirling, 2014). But the nexus is full of threats. Our internal disciplinary power structures and ways of doing things will be made visible to all, risking exposure to the peril of alien methodologies and external metrics. In times of budgetary cuts and precarious academic labour, being outside of your silo, and consequently wide-open to these threats, could potentially lead to career death.

The collapsing of disciplinary boundaries and the opening up to interdisciplinarity cannot be seen as a simple elixir. This was a point well understood in the university well before the current fashionable idea of escaping silos took hold (Benson 1982: 38-48). In effect, there has always been a well-intentioned, if not somewhat confused concern that we might find ourselves metaphorically emerging from the depths of the silo only to wade about in the shallows of interdisciplinarity. On one hand, in real practical terms, without investment in the time and resources necessary to master the discrete methodologies in which functions, sensations or concepts become manifest, it is argued that academics risk exposure to pedagogical and even intellectual limits (ibid). Indeed, divestment, not investment, is the institutional norm in the arts and humanities today, so we need to consider the argument that the production of so-called shallow interdisciplinarity is increasingly used by the neoliberal university as a marketing tool to promote low-cost content that lacks intellectual depth since it is neither in this nor that silo. On the other hand though, it is perhaps surprising that Deleuze and Guattari (1994), once the masters of disciplinary mixture, similarly contended, in their final collaboration together, that methodological limits are imposed on mixtures between art, science and philosophy. That is to say, by allowing mixtures we risk creating methodological confusion. The neuroaesthetic intervention into art risks, as such, confusing the sensation of artistic practice with a function of science. There is, inversely, a potential methodological limit imposed on art when an artist tries to make a sensation out of a function.
In spite of this methodological confusion, perhaps we also need to concede that it is often outside of the silo, in the inevitability of mixture, that we experience novelty. This is a contrasting sense of creativity that renders the notion of shallowness an ineffective metaphor. It is, as follows, outside of the boundary line, in nonlocations, where many novel genres, methodologies and theoretical frameworks are made. If this is indeed the case, then, the problem is how to collapse boundaries without entirely jeopardising the protection boundaries offer from the current neoliberal condition. One way to proceed is to step outside the discipline and advance with relations of suspicion (Summer 2003). Here I think the mixture of critical theory and interdisciplinarity provides some valuable resources since it interestingly occurs by way of a creative-destructive interference. In other words, via its alien-like presence, this ambivalent mixture might, at very least, disrupt the political status quo in the university. As Jennifer Summer (ibid) argues:

There are a number of commonalities that critical theory and interdisciplinarity share. To begin with, both paradigms are academic outcasts, interdisciplinarity for its disciplinary violations and critical theory for its critique of the status quo.

The notion of allying these two academic “outcasts” promises to imbue the relations established between, for example, art and science, with suspicion. Given the current neoliberal context such an allegiance of outcasts is clearly of use, but here I would like to move on from a mode of criticality established in the distancing function of a conventional critical theory that remains aloof from other disciplines to consider relations in terms of nonlocation. Indeed, what is proposed in this chapter is not a collapsing or distancing between disciplinary lines, but the transversal cutting of lines, or making of new patterns, understood here by way of a theory of wave interferences.

Significantly, wave interferences take into account a new materialist infused approach that does not look to distinguish between science and art in terms of a culture/nature artifice or indeed riven between human ideas and the nonhumans that we encounter in certain scientific experimentations. On the contrary, what might be referred to as non-art, non-science or non-philosophy must all welcome a blurring of the lines between nonhuman interventions into culture, and vice versa, raise concerns about Anthropocenic incursions into nonhuman worlds. To fully grasp the utility of nonlocation in this nonhuman context, it is important not to therefore mistake the relation of suspicion with the idealist’s traditional critical confrontation with a kind of science that is only concerned with natural forces. This is because, in many ways, the critical distance established between the arts and humanities defined, on one hand, by a cultural worldview of human ideas, and by the experiments into nature by the hard sciences and technologists, on the other, has led us to a wasteful theoretical impasse. Any slippage, we are told, toward a nonhuman paradigm in the arts and humanities threatens to open the door to rampant science and technological forces, and will, it would seem, lead to the ruination of human ideas (Krystal, 2014). Yet, as Katherine N Hayles (2017: 130-31) argues, it is surely the aloof position humanists adopt with regard to scientific and technological projects that in many ways ensures that important early collaborations and prior discussion of ethical considerations are missed out on. What is needed now is an alternative to the impasse of scientific and idealist determinism. As follows, wave interferences are not so much a new critical theory of distance established in disciplinary depths or shallows as they are a new method of doing criticality on the surface.

Latest additions to A&SM#4 programme

We are very pleased to announce the latest addition to the A&SM#4 programme appearing in the first session just after 11am.

“In a social media environment awash with fake news and misinformation the Sensorium proudly present Prof Kimey Peckpo, University of Aufklärung: Notifications from the Technological Nonconscious.”

Affect-HighRes (51)

The full updated programme for A&SM#4 can be downloaded here:


So, We Are All [digital] Addicts Now!

Some rather animated images from my talk at Central St Martins last night. This really was an interesting series of talks that made evident a concerning link between addiction and digital capitalism, and explored the potential for resistance from a wide variety of perspectives (philosophy, art and science). A more affirmative, yet critical example of interdisciplinarity interferences than those that simply tick the pervasive neoliberal agendas of impact and productivity. There’s a video on its way too – via the Furtherfield website.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Are We All Addicts Now? exhibition opens on Sat 16th Sept at Furtherfield Gallery

By “succumbing to online behavioural norms we emerge as ‘perfect capitalist subjects’”
Exhibit to go with the book – both recommended!
Are We All Addicts Now? book cover (2017) Stefan Schafer
Details of the Exhibition
Date: 16 September – 12 November 2017

The exhibition and research project Are We All Addicts Now? explores the seductive and addictive qualities of the digital. Artist Katriona Beales’ work addresses the sensual and tactile conditions of her life lived online: the saturated colour and meditative allure of glowing screens, the addictive potential of infinite scroll and notification streams. Her new body of work for AWAAN re-imagines the private spaces in which we play out our digital existence. The exhibition includes glass sculptures containing embedded screens, moving image works and digitally printed textiles. Beales’ work is complemented by a new sound-art work by artist and curator Fiona MacDonald : Feral Practice.

Beales celebrates the sensuality and appeal of online spaces, but criticises how our interactions get channeled through platforms designed to be addictive – how corporations use various ‘gamification’ and ‘neuro-marketing’ techniques to keep the ‘user’ on-device, to drive endless circulation, and monetise our every click. She suggests that in succumbing to online behavioural norms we emerge as ‘perfect capitalist subjects’.

For Furtherfield, Beales has constructed a sunken ‘bed’ into which visitors are invited to climb, where a glowing glass orb flutters with virtual moths repeatedly bashing the edges of an embedded screen. A video installation, reminiscent of a fruit machine, displays a drum of hypnotically spinning images whose rotation is triggered by the movement of gallery visitors. Beales recreates the peculiar, sometimes disquieting, image clashes experienced during her insomniac journeys through endless online picture streams – beauty products lining up with death; naked cats with armed police.

Glass-topped tables support the amorphous curves of heavy glass sculptures, which refract the multi-coloured light of tiny screens hidden inside. Visualisations of eye-tracking data (harvested live from gallery visitors) scatter across the ceiling. On the exterior wall of the gallery, an LED scrolling sign displays text Beales’ has compiled, based on comments from online forums about internet addiction.

Where Beales addresses the near-inescapability of machine-driven connection, Feral Practice draws us into the networks in nature. Mycorrhizal Meditation is a sound-art work for free download, accessed via posters in Furtherfield Gallery and across Finsbury Park. MM takes the form of a guided meditation, journeying through the human body and down into the ‘underworld’ of living soil, with its mycorrhizal network formed of plant roots and fungal threads. It combines spoken word and sound recordings of movement and rhythm made in wooded places. Feral Practice complicates the idea of nature as ‘ultimate digital detox’, and alerts us to the startling interconnectivity of beyond-human nature, the ‘wood-wide-web’ that pre-dates our digital connectivity by millennia.

See full programme: