THE OFFICIAL Volume 4, Number 1, 2020 

Toni Ross: Slow aesthetics and deanthropomorphism as ecocritical strategies in David Claerbout’s ​The pure necessity​ (2016)

Keywords: David Claerbout, video art, ecocriticism, wildlife documentaries, Disney’s The Jungle Book  

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his paper analyses the portrayal of wildlife in ​The pure necessity (2016), an experimental video by Belgian artist David Claerbout that re-imagines Disney’s famous animated film ​The Jungle Book (1967). Aesthetic features of the video will be contrasted with the depiction of wildlife in the Disney film and recent ‘blue-chip’ natural history documentaries. I will argue that the adoption of a slow aesthetic and a retreat from anthropomorphism in ​The pure necessity presents a stark contrast to modern anthropocentric attitudes embedded in contemporary wildlife documentaries and ​The Jungle Book​. In this respect, Claerbout’s video will be interpreted as a significant contribution to ecocritical thinking and art making.

Joshua H. Adams, Damian Schofield: It’s the End of the World and You Watch It: A Brief History of Disaster Themed Media

Key words: Disaster media, history, pandemic, cinema, video games, COVID-19

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This paper aims to present a brief history of disaster themed media, in particular focusing on cinema and video games. Specific sections also discuss pandemic themed cinema and video games. The media under discussion is mainly from the United States and this paper predominately predominantly discusses the media from a western cultural perspective. The paper posits that the prevalence of disaster themed media in popular culture is closely correlated with ‘real world’ events. These disaster and post-apocalyptic narratives provide the consumer with safe spaces where they can metaphorically deal with the tensions and anxieties of the present world. This paper intends to discuss disaster themes in popular culture, specifically cinema and video games, and to provide some insight into the consumption of disaster themed media during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. This paper is the first in a set of two publications, a more focused examination of media consumption during the COVID-19 outbreak can be found in the companion paper, “It’s the End of the World and You Watch It: Media in the Time of COVID-19.”

Joshua H. Adams, Damian Schofield: It’s the End of the World and You Watch It: Media Consumption in the Time of COVID-19

Key words: Disaster media, consumption, pandemic, experiment, cinema, video games, COVID-19

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This paper presents the results of an experiment undertaken by the authors to capture media consumption trends during the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak. These results are correlated with the demographics, and individual situations of the experimental participants. The overall aim is to correlate the media consumption reported by the experimental participants with national viewing trends and historical data to show that there is an increased consumption of disaster themed media during times of crisis. The research intends to differentiate this increase in disaster themed media consumption by correlating it with the differing circumstances of the viewers. Specifically, whether they watch movies and/or play video games on their own and whether they currently have more free time to consume media. This paper is the second in a set of two publications, a history of disaster themed media consumption can be found in the companion paper, “It’s the End of the World and You Watch It: A Brief History of Disaster Themed Media.”

Shaun Wilson: Representing Climate Activism through Digital Media before and during COVID-19 lockdowns

Key words: Climate activism, digital media, design, internet, COVID-19

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Climate activism in the digital space is recognised as a mechanism active since the late 1980s yet it is only in recent times that the academy is coming to terms with its presence through digital media with any serious measure of analysis and enquiry. This paper acknowledges the contributions made on the topic over its forty year digital history but will instead focus on the recent considerations through the contributions of activism in the online space. Of interest in this regard is to understand the presence and role of climate activism in social and digital media at a more meaningful level through the two periods of before and during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

THE OFFICIAL Volume 3, Number 1, 2018

Phil Edwards: The Sound Recordings of Tony Woods

Keywords: Tony Woods, Contemporary Art, Australian Art

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This article is a personal reflection of the relationship between artist Tony Woods sound recordings and his visual art practice. Complimenting Tony Woods’ predominantly painting based visual art practice were his parallel sound compilations of often unnoticed background noises of the natural world and community activities. Used in conjunction with his Super-8 film practice and paintings these recordings emphasised his use of shadows in his work to explore themes of time passing and mortality. These recordings form a rich parallel contribution to the history of abstractions role in Australian painting by an often overlooked yet major artist.

Sophie Brown: Overcoming the Great Chain of Being: Posthumanism in Young Adult Fiction

Key words: Posthumanism, Transhumanism, Young Adult Fiction

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Originally established by Plato, the Great Chain of Being illustrates the hierarchical system of thought that has dominated Western philosophy for centuries. A tiered system, it places the strong white male on the top of the Chain and posits oppressed individuals sequentially on the lower tiers. This problematic system has been called into question as humanism develops into posthumanism; a theory that seeks to erase the border between hierarchical dichotomies, such as man/woman, black/white, and even human/machine. Posthuman theorists such as Rosi Braidotti and N Katherine Hayles employs posthumanism as a powerful philosophical tool in the overhaul of humanism’s Great Chain of Being, while transhumanists like Nick Bostrom present posthumanism as a means of approaching the technological future. The following essay seeks to establish the difference between the philosophical and technological implications of posthumanism, linking it to contemporary young adult dystopias and science fiction. It is imperative that upcoming generations learn to question social hierarchism and approach the future with care, reducing oppression and enhancing human life.

Mira Thurner: Gender as Constitution: Monsters and Others

Key words: Gender, 'The Other', Monster

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Whether cartoonesque, terrifying or mesmeric, the monstrous has inhabited our world and psyche since the beginnings of humanity. We have loved and hated them, from classical mythologies in the bodies of the Hydra and the Kraken to B-grade offerings such as ‘The Blob’ [dir. Yeaworth, 1958; Russell, 1988] and through to 21st century representation of the ‘Pale Man’ in ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ [dir. del Torro; 2006] and ‘The Babadook’ [dir. Kent; 2014]. In apostrophising the monster, the intention is to dissolve sexual and gender stereotyping and counteract narrowly confined gender definitions. Far from being a reductive approach, the non-human beings discussed here are representative of archetype. Their forms are recognisable as part of a trans-cultural monster canon, a lineage that has followed humans throughout history. They are ‘other’ in as much as they are related to us, and though they can be ‘physically’ separated from us, contextually they are. In this way, despite local referencing they are read as universal figures.  Intended as a precis to a longer paper, an example of monster typology, specifically via Japanese mythology and contemporary anime, will be discussed in examining gender, its limitations and potential.

Shaun Wilson: On Digital Otherness: Being 'of Art' in the Age of the Internet

Key words: Contemporary Art, Digital Media, Internet Art

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This paper will explore the notion of digital otherness by examining creative practice in a 21st century context to art that is neither belonging to or a part of classifiable genres of the academy. Discussion will look to the notion of otherness through art in the proliferation of the internet of things and consider a position of how memes, creative apps, and fan art have replaced contemporary art as being ‘of art’ in a global context through the understanding of the space of social media and browser-based networks to derive at a conclusion which posits Hegel’s Das Absolute as a means of coming to terms with digital otherness in the space of the academy for aesthetic critique.

THE OFFICIAL Volume 2, Number 1, 2017

Mira Thurner: Anonymous Communities: Uploading/Downloading Community arts

Keywords: Community arts, digital uploading, digital downloading

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‘Community Arts’ is a broad and interconnected field. From the local to the global it has created opportunity for countless artists, arts organisations, community groups and individuals. The digital has become a space for community and though often complex and contested, it has taken on a ubiquity and a primary social context on a mass scale. The following paper examines platforms where these two areas overlap and diverge. How successfully can an online platform fulfil the requirements of an artistic community given the constraints of web based interaction? Can community arts sit comfortably in location where time and space are both elastic and hard-coded? What levels of engagement or tools are available for community arts practitioners online? In looking at examples such as the Australia Council's site 'The Platform' of 2013 and the sizeable web entity, deviantArt the research attempts to find a starting point for where more traditional forms of artistic expression and promotion are heading. Many such sites exist and the choice, though not arbitrary, is certainly not definitive of what is possible. Both sites, however, attempt to draw together those who create and those who appreciate art, with possibility for growth and reinvention as technology develops.

Joel Zika: Dark Rides: The Dawn of Virtual Reality

Key words: Dark rides, virtual reality, digital media

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Since the early days of the American amusement park, the ‘Dark Ride’ has been a constant feature.  Whether in the form of indoor scenic railway, spook house or walkthrough haunt, it is a universal experience.  Taking early advantage of electricity, the dark ride became the earliest example of a fully programmed multimedia experience.  It featured elements like triggered sound, lighting and a moving point of view that would not be seen in cinema until years later.  With the growing ubiquity of cinema in the 20th century this once revolutionary entertainment became relegated to a position of nostalgic oddity.  To this day, the dark ride is the most all-encompassing 360- degree immersive experience available to entertainment audiences.  At the turn of the 20th century, the amusement park offered experiences (including the dark ride) that gave access to technological experiences like never before. The sense of embodiment is the common conceptual thread between the user experience of the dark ride and virtual reality.  This paper introduces the importance of the dark ride and amusement park as a technical and conceptual influence on virtual reality. It defines five criteria for virtual immersive experiences and the driving concepts that have been evident since the first electric concessions of the 1900s. The examination defines the dark ride format, its relationship to virtual reality and what this format can teach us about building immersive spaces today.

Shaun Wilson: Towards the Simulation of Sensor Networks [Authenticity and Untruthful Practice]

Key words: Authenticity, fake papers, digital media

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This paper will explore the rise of AI generated fake essays and papers created with browser-based software and probe this phenomenon through questionable peer review processes from online journals. It will take the philosophical perspectives of authenticity and truth into a definition from Correspondence Theory derived at a consideration of atomic positive and negative facts. The paper will examine several instances of how this subject is being exploited through commercial applications and also how satire has become a tool for ridicule in both highlighting untruthful authorship but also a mechanism for validating journal and conference peer review processes. 

THE OFFICIAL Volume 1, Number 1, 2016

Damian Schofield: Waiting for a Robot Godot: theoretical musing on cyborg theatre

Keywords: Cyborg, cyborg theatre, Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett

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Recent years have seen an explosion in cinema technology, with the introduction of computer-generated characters becoming commonplace in film. On stage, when we move away from screens and ’filmic’ characters (such as the on-screen narrator played by Laurence Olivier in the 1986 West End production of the musical Time), it is natural to see that ‘physical’ robots are a potential theatrical equivalent of the computer generated film actor. This paper extensively discusses the theoretical implications of cyborg thespians and the way the audience perceives this potential innovation. A follow up paper in this journal briefly describes the technical process involved to produce a well-known play using robots and provides a brief comparative analysis and interpretation of the performance. The initial play chosen for this robot experimentation was a relatively recent example of tragicomedy, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

Damian Schofield: Waiting for a Robot Godot: a cyborg theatre case study

Keywords: Cyborg, cyborg theatre, Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett

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There exists a long and rich history of technology being integrated with theatre, dating back to the ancient Greeks. These have ranged from tools used in the mechanics of theatre (winches and revolves for example), the integration of complex props into performances, the use of realistic mannequins and puppets, to the use of technological themes within the narratives themselves. Historically, following Aristotle’s elements of drama; theatrical forms that rely on technological effects are named as a ‘spectacle’, and are often considered as entertainment rather than serious drama (Lauren, 2013). This paper discusses the use of ‘physical’ robots as a natural next stage of theatre, and describes a case study of a cyborg theatre performance.

Tom Penney: Digital Face-ism and Micro-Fascism

Key words: Fascism, micro-fascism, digital media, online dating, affection images

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The exchange of digital images depicting partial bodies is an iconic feature of online dating and contemporary sexuality. I build on previous writing and concepts explored by Deleuze and Guattari in regards to how such images function as “affection-images” (Deleuze, 1986). I then articulate how employing an affective structure of “faciality” (Deleuze and Guattari, 1988) that not only orients our tendencies towards certain faces, but also bodies and body parts, is of political concern in an era of digital capitalism. The reading of faces and bodies that become “facialised”, that is, communicate degrees of affection through digital interfaces, contributes to an algorithmic averaging-out of desire. The key to this critique is that the digital exacerbates pre-existing “micro-fascisms”. These rules of acceptance or rejection that exist on a personal level in all individuals, in collaboration with the rapid availability and processing of faces and bodies online, allows such averaging-out to occur. The writing also makes significant reference to Sarah Ahmed (2006) and Judith Butler (1988).

Alexander D'Aloia: On the Review of Film

Keywords: Film, cinema, film review, audience

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This paper explores the relationship between the reviewer and their review of feature films, with emphasis on the processes involved in how they go about reviewing. Currently there exists no such formal framework, or format, for reviewers to follow, yet formal reviewers and reviews exist, and endure, both professionally and popularly, as critics. Despite a lack of standardisation of their reviewing methods and techniques, where and when they have been implemented, this article then documents their cause and effect, and the impact they have on a review, its reviewer, the films reviewed in question, and their consumers as audience
members, of said films.

Shaun Wilson: What is Post Neo Modernism?: Absolute, Multiplicity, Post-Truth, Disruption

Key words: Post Neomodernism, multiplicity, new relativism

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This paper is the first of two that seek to propose the establishment of a new singularity for the arts defined as a Post-neomodernism by examining the first five points of the ​Post Neomodernist Manifesto (2015). As the micro movements of Post-postmodernism, Neomodernism, and Metamodernism have established their own positions in an after Postmodernist context, therein lies an absence of a greater contextualisation to which a Post-neomodernism can establish and by this, approach a singularity in more holistic terms. Discussion will examine the context of a new absolute, the role of multiplicity in new relativism, the rise of post truth and the disruption of such instances through digital media.