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Image: Mena El Shazly

Issue Twelve: Thresholds

Comparative Media Arts Journal | Call for Works

What kind of threshold are you standing on?  

Is it a threshold between grief and healing? Between apocalypse and revolution? Between the nostalgia for lost futures and the exasperation of staying afloat in the present? This state of passage yet anticipation feels at once accelerated yet immobilizing – a liminality sculpted by systems that appear beyond our control. Marc Augé invites us to consider how this thresholdization of supermodernity has displaced and decentered us at three scales. The metropolis, valued by its imports, exports, airports, and highways; the home, in which the goddess of the hearth, Hestia, has been replaced by the god of the threshold, Hermes, in the presence of smarthomes and smartTVs, and; the individual, whose attention is fractured by the netting of personalized digital thresholds – devices designed for the addiction to absence. This is the expansion of the “non-place” — spaces of circulation and consumption — and it has flooded the architecture of our homes and bodies.

This process has another name, specifically in urban design: “the edge condition,” meaning the transition or interface characteristics of a public space with its adjacent land uses and structures. An edge may be 'active', with a building's doors and windows addressing the space, or it may be 'inactive', with blank walls or a barrier edge, such as a water body, high traffic volume road or infrastructure corridor. These thresholds may be home to beauty and intrigue, like waves on a shoreline, but are they home? In this sense we might think of Derrida's evocation of hospitality, or the internally paradoxical hostipitality, a portmanteau of hostility and hospitality. Who can pass that door — who's allowed in?   

So then, what do we mean by threshold? Perhaps the threshold can be thought in many senses. It expresses both a limit and an opening, both possibilities and the foreclosure of opportunities. It might be thought at one moment as a threshold of action. At what point does the scale tip, or the pendulum swing; at what point does the tide of forces give over to a movement.  

Perhaps, we might also think of the threshold as the limit, or as the horizon. Each zone or realm of thought has its own particular limits. You may grow tired of a particular idea or practice, feel as though you've exhausted all its uses. You might go in search of new ideas, new practices.  

Reaching those limits can be exhilarating. It can also be exhausting, like the limit we feel on our bodies and the body of the earth, threatening to turn both into non-places between flourishing and extinction. We can feel this too in the mycelia of the non-fungible, the crypto-melting of all that once felt solid. We can feel it in the collapse of time in old-growth devastation at the Fairy Creek blockade, in the frontlines of Wet’suwet’en land defenders, and in the imperialist thresholds of vaccine diplomacy. The list overwhelms into that Bo Burnham “funny feeling,” sung to mark the air as we grieve for lost futures while defiantly trying to reinvent them in Meta-sized digital panopticons. Where else does the future live? How can we heal while being haunted? What does it look like to plant our feet in the ground and make a place of our struggle?  

We welcome submissions from writers, theorists, and artists that explore these questions, and more: What threshold haunts you, from either the past or future? What does the architecture of grief look like? Which instabilities in your life need resolution and which ones need deepening? Are you on the verge of a new idea, or a new practice (a new concept, a new way of thinking, or a new style of mark making)? What do thresholds offer to the spaces on either side? What do we have to learn from occupying these transitional spaces? What happens when liminal spaces are stretched or collapsed to encompass our whole lives? What is it to think, to feel, to enact the threshold?

Submissions may address but are not limited to:

liminality – intelligibility – instability – grief – edge condition – hauntology – non-places – disturbed stability – emotional architecture – decentering – displacement

We invite the following types of submissions: 

  • Scholarly Papers 
  • Visual Art with documentation
  • Case Studies
  • Exhibition Reviews
  • Performance Reviews
  • Interviews
  • Video/Audio recordings and investigations with written documentation
  • Field notes and creative investigations
  • Documentation of completed artist projects or works in progress

To submit your work:

  • Submissions should be no less than 500 words and no more than 5000 words
  • Submissions should follow Chicago Style in text citation (Author/year)
  • Submission Deadline: Monday April 4, 2022
  • Please submit your paper in MS-Word (*.doc or *.docx) format.
  • Please submit your image files in .jpg format, 300dpi or highest resolution possible
  • Email submissions to cma_journal@sfu.ca with the subject heading ‘Attn: Issue 12’
  • Image rights are the responsibility of the author/artist to secure

 

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