In 2018 Dr. Azadeh Emadi and I founded Substantial Motion, an international research network for scholars and practitioners interested in cross-cultural exploration of digital media and philosophy. Dr. Emadi and I met around our shared research interests related to my 2010 book Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art.
SMRN now has about 60 members from 17 countries. We come together around shared interests in media archaeology, the migration of Islamic aesthetics, international contemporary art, media theory, and connections between Islamic and Western philosophy. Our online platform provides a private forum for network members to share work, workshop projects, and collaborate. In monthly video-conference meetings, members present works in progress, both scholarly and artistic, for feedback. On the platform’s
public face you can see members’ research profiles, publications and artworks, and find out about coming events.
After almost four years of collaborating online, SMRN held our festive symposium, exhibitions, screenings and performances, A Light Footprint in the Cosmos, in Vancouver in June 2022. Full program, gallery tours, abstracts, and other documentation
SMRN's podcast channel is at
Creative Disturbance
We hold local workshops in members' cities on themes like "De-Westernizing Your Media Practice"
Emadi developed the concept of the network from her doctoral research that brought together the Persian Islamic philosophy of Mulla Sadrā Shirāzī (1571-1641) with Western process philosophies to investigate the digital moving image. Sadrā’s theory of Substantial Motion (
al-harakat al-jawhariyya) inspired the design of this network. Each member of SMRN contributes to the development of other members and benefits from the input of others in return.

Azadeh Emadi, diagram explaining Sadra's concept of substantial motion
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