Call for contributions: #IV. the medium is the message?

Image: ”the medium is the message”, Open AI, 2023.

the medium is the message?

In the fourth issue of Differens Magazine, we’ve set out to investigate the “middle” that takes place between message and messenger or message and recipient, often referred to as medium, media or mediation. With this, we wish to explore the boundaries or possibilities of specific mediums, ethical implications of media strategies, and mediation processes out of the ordinary.    

As an example from the artworld, art historian Lars Bang Larsen writes in the anthology Not Without My Ghosts, published by Hayward Gallery in relation to their 2021 exhibition with the same name, that:

Mediumism, in the sense used here, has two sides: on the one hand, it relates to spirit mediums narrating and imaging ghosts by claiming to manifest messages from the dead in writing or in drawing; on a more abstract level, it concerns how artists have employed channelling as a method to depict the unconscious or other non-human agents that defy form and reason. Mediumism is a method or a tool that allows its practitioners the interpretation of larger cosmological, social or artistic systems.[…] It has thus typically been an expression of worldviews that are widely deemed irrational and spirituous. Only since the end of the twentieth century have historians begun to acknowledge the enabling power of mediumism in terms of social critique, for instance, as a fulcrum of mid-nineteenth-century feminism. […] This is how we must try to make it make sense, as a method for producing meaning that places itself in the middle of the major questions of modernity. This ‘middle’ is the site of displacements of the normal, and is neither a center nor a telos. For instance, the mediumism author does not claim to be inspired by artistic fervor or inner necessity, those staples of romanticism: expressivity is turned inside out to embrace something other, which arrives from elsewhere.

In the upcoming issue, “#IV. the medium is the message?”, we also want to explore various philosophical takes on the relationship between messages and mediums. While some – typically idealists – may view mediums as passive conduits for messages or ideas that originate outside and independently of them, others  – most notably Marshall McLuhan or Friedrich Kittler – propose that mediums play an active or even determining role in shaping what is possible to communicate within a given framework.

Taking inspiration from the varied perspectives within media theory and the long-standing tradition of mediumism in the art world, we hope to address questions surrounding dependencies and independencies between messages and mediums, criterias for distinguishing a good medium from a bad one, and the potential role of currently emerging mediums in shaping interhuman communication and meaning-making.

If you want to contribute, send in your text, poetry or portfolio to our mail:

Deadline July 15th, 2023.

If you would like to send us a pitch (to receive feedback on an text idea before you start writing), the pitch should preferably include answers to the following questions:

  • What is your contribution about? Please provide us with a short summery.
  • What type of contribution are you offering?
  • How extensive do you expect your contribution to be and in what language will you present it? We accept contributions in Swedish and English. If your native language is German, French, Romanian, Italian, Chinese or any of the Scandinavian languages, and you would like to write a text in English but feel uncomfortable doing so, help can be provided by our editors.
  • How is your text related to the theme and to questions of philosophical or aesthetical nature?

We are very much looking forward to your contribution!