Issue #3 / Autumn 2024
Guest Editors: Louise Carver and Jamie Allen.
Submission deadline: April 30, 2024
For 19th Century economist and merchant Silvio Gesell, the whole planet was to be conceived as a giant stomach, pre-preparing photosynthetic energies and unpalatable matter to be absorbed into our digestive system, our bloodstreams, our organs and neural tissues. Gesell writes how “plants and the space they occupy are just as much a part of man as his mouth, his teeth or his stomach… The whole globe in splendid flight around the sun is a part, an organ, of every individual human.”
Ecofeminist activist and scholar Val Plumwood — a portion of whom was once eaten by a crocodile — for her part, speaks of eating and drinking as “flowing on into an ecological and ancestral community of origins.” How we eat and avoid being eaten and keeping ourselves on top of the food chain(s) constitutes the metabolic anthropocentrism, or metabolic privilege, that has forever precipitated and supposedly authorised disproportionate acts of extraction, engineering, harvest, integration and excretion: acts that are fundamentally communal in the most radical sense of common, as they condition the universal medium and possibility for planetary life, and its predication on death..
Metabolic processes, at almost every scale, go largely unnoticed through inattention and abstraction: beating hearts, water treatment plants, breathing, policy-making and other infrastructural processes. These “autonomic” processes are unmediated mediations, amongst the most important yet least attended to aspects of lives. We seldom become aware of the myriad exchanges, transfers and transformations of materials and energy that occur, continuously, through environments, between beings and among political entities toward maintaining life and living, extravagance and impoverishment. Creative practices, artistic and design research, media makers and others enlist appropriately myriad ways of making these activities visible, otherwise palpable, changeable and renewed.
A set of peculiar activities characterise metabolic practices: putting plant, animal, or fungi into holes in living bodies or microbial communities of growing media directly in the earth or clay pots; devising elaborate, creative traditions of preparation, feeding ourselves and populations, cooking and eating; farming poultry at a scale that they now make up 70% of the biomass of all birds on Earth; technospheric energetic infrastructures, (solar energy) trade and economic policies entraining productivist agri-cultures, mono-cultures and necro-cultures fomenting revolts and revolting fermentations and full-scale wars. Metabolic integrity, privilege and awareness return to the fore, in particular, when the environments and beings doing all this exchanging start to, rather radically and quickly, change. Anthropogenic transformations of climates and ecosystems force us all, increasingly, to become metabolically aware.
If media are about representation, connectivity and relationships, this special issue of the HUB - Journal of Research in Arte, Design and Society is dedicated to the intimacies, interfaces and connections that can be made with our metabolic condition.
For the next Autumn issue of HUB, we are interested in broadening the understanding of METABOLIC MEDIA through the launch of this open call. We invite you to think about artistic, scientific, research and technological practices that consider how we show, communicate, store, transmit, analyse and experience metabolic information, as well as how these processual phenomena are taken up by creative practitioners in media, art and design.
Both media and metabolism, as epistemological categories, allow for the conflation of the signified and asignified, creating lines of engagement between the biological lifeworlds of earthly beings and their technological intermediations, as these increasingly co-constitute one another. Metabolising media, or media metabolics (Geraldine Juárez), is an inversion that serves as a way of rendering palpable the messy, domestic, seeping, oozing organic materiality flows directed and unsuccessfully dominated by technoscience (Hannah Landecker, Desiree Foerster).
Metabolic media likewise takes into consideration ongoing ‘logistical’ (Ned Rositter), ‘elemental’ (J. D. Peters, Wickberg & Gärdebo), ‘geological’ (Jussi Parikka), ‘thermal’ (Nicole Starosielski), ‘economic’ (Harold Innis, Herman Daly) studies of media, infrastructure and nature.
In the context of shifting, strained or even pathological metabolic relations across scales, forms, zones and bodies, we ask after projects, reflections and interventions at the intersection of media and metabolic flows, systems and processes.
What are the tools we have used to characterise metabolism through individual, collective, urban structures, nation-states and planetary scales?
How best to creatively intervene in, analyse and account for the repercussions that media bring to metabolic regimes?
What kinds of aesthetics and designed media are modulating metabolic systems and processes, and in what ways?
Which speculative possibilities for healing, repairing or shifting metabolic relations do media practices offer?
How might metabolic media help make sense of actual, grounded, material interactions between the living and nonliving?
Can metabolic media tie together and multiply new ways of recognising, describing and promoting either life-affirming and life-deleting local, regional, urban, rural and planetary situations?
The HUB issue on Metabolic Media is guest edited by Louise Carver and Jamie Allen, and edited by HUB’s Fabrício Fava, Filipa Cruz, Manuela Bronze, Pedro Amado, and Orlando Vieira Francisco.
Issue #4 / Spring 2025
Editors: Filipa Cruz, Fabrício Fava, Manuela Bronze, Orlando Vieira Francisco and Pedro Amado.
Submission deadline: September 30, 2024
HUB receives open-themed articles aligned with its research areas on a continuous base.
Submissions received by September 30 will be reviewed for the Spring Issue to be published in May next year. Articles received after that date will be considered for the following Spring Issue.
Articles will be published using the Research Catalogue (RC). RC is an artistic research platform that allows each author to adopt the type of media and visual structure that best suits the research objectives and process.