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Analog Afterlives: Obsolescence / Mediation / Re-Collection

Melbourne Conservatorium of Melbourne
Organization: The University of Melbourne, Australia
Categories: Digital Humanities, Interdisciplinary, Popular Culture, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Food Studies, History, Philosophy, Engineering, Miscellaneous
Event Date: 2020-08-21 to 2020-08-22 Abstract Due: 2020-03-31

Analog Afterlives

Symposium Supported by the Macgeorge Fellowship at the University of Melbourne

Convened by Dr Nicholas Tochka (U Melbourne) and A/Prof Kyle Devine (U Oslo)

Abstract Deadline: 31 March 2020

Notifications: 30 April 2020


21-22 August 2020

Melbourne Conservatorium of Music

University of Melbourne, Australia


Call for Proposals

In recent years, technologies once viewed as obsolescent have surged back into the mainstream. Contemporary consumers collect not only secondhand vinyl records, but also cassettes, VHS tapes, reel-to-reels, film cameras, slides, and prints; they purchase and use refurbished or newly produced record players, cassette decks, Polaroid cameras, and Super 8s. Meanwhile, contemporary artists and musicians engage once-obsolete formats and techniques in their practice, releasing albums on cassette, for instance, or using 16mm film.

Why are these media formats and technologies experiencing such a resurgence? How do consumers and artists creatively engage them? And what do these contemporary engagements mean? This interdisciplinary symposium invites theoretically informed proposals for work drawing on ethnographic, historical, and practice-led approaches to these questions. Participants may address (but are not limited to) the following themes:

·       Contemporary cultures of collecting and practices of production

·       The diverse influences of race, gender, age, and/or social class

·       The aesthetics, politics, and social significance of these technologies

·       The analog-digital binary in cultural thought and practice

·       Capitalism and the political ecology of formerly obsolescent technologies



We invite proposals for individual papers, film screenings, lecture-demonstrations, and roundtables on the multifaceted afterlives of analog media and technology. Abstracts (250 words) should also include title of the presentation, presenter name(s) and affiliation(s), email address contact, and a short biography (100 words).

Please send your proposal as a Word attachment to analog.afterlives@gmail.com; you can address any preliminary queries to Dr Nicholas Tochka (nicholas.tochka@unimelb.edu.au). The deadline is 31 March; all applicants will be informed of the outcome by 30 April. Symposium participants may be invited to contribute to a publication co-edited by A/Prof Kyle Devine and Dr Nicholas Tochka.


Thalia Laughlin