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The Zoom Function

Published on 2/4/2020 12:00:00 AM
Call for papers for a special issue of
The International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media
Guest Editors: James R. Ball III, Weiling He, Louis Tassinary

Technology zooms. This brief phrase points to its kinetic dimensions (automobiles zoom across our landscape), its temporality (microchips advance and processing power proliferates exponentially), and the ways it modulates space and scale (zooming in, a molecule becomes a mountain; zooming out, a planet becomes a pea). Zooming links senses of sight (magnification), sound (onomatopoeia), and touch (movement), key dimensions in which performance proceeds and through which art--especially technologically mediated art--addresses its audiences. Zooming draws together fields as varied as aeronautics, optics, and economics, and it calls to mind unique bodily effects, including frenetic gestures, droning sounds, and the energies that indicate vivaciousness itself. And zooming reverberates politically: it names the speed of progress and progressive desires; it undergirds the logic of anarchist, Marxist, or post-humanist accelerationism; it prompts the protests of those who call for slow food, slow medicine, slow travel, and so (slow) on. The zoom function can be found at work at diverse interfaces between science, art and architecture, and philosophy; it appears implicitly or explicitly in the writings of scholars as varied as Richard Feynman, Donna Haraway, and Paul Virilio to name a small sample. The zoom function provides a framework to understand our relationship to technology in the 21st century.
Technology zooms, and the dimensions in which these zooms function have consequences for the arts: from renaissance optics to Futurist manifestos, from bio-art to robotics, and from harried choreographies to frenetic devising processes. To zoom or not to zoom contains further questions of speed, space, and spectatorship; with consequences for bodies, politics, and regimes of knowledge. This special issue seeks to generate, pose, contextualize, and answer questions such as: 
  • How do zooming technologies impact creative processes? 
  • How does the zoom in art create, transform, and situate its audiences?
  • What bodies are imagined or obscured by the zoom function? How does the body and its senses experience and respond to the zoom function?
  • What networks can be mapped by zooming between scientists, technologists, and artists? What terrains do these maps reveal?
  • What new epistemologies can the zoom function point us to?
  • What critiques of rhetorics of scale might the zoom function invite?
  • How can art intervene in zooming social and technological systems?
  • Does the zoom function herald new utopias or new nightmares?
  • What are the advantages and limits of taking the zoom function as a framework for investigating the relationship between art and technology in the 21st century?
We call for articles and documents on the zoom function as a unique conjunction between art and technology, one that can link varied disciplines and practices, including performance, dance, music, architecture, cinema, photography, psychology, literature, philosophy, and others. A wide variety of artistic practices and themes have inspired this call, and we seek papers that investigate similar work. Our inspiration has come from: 
  • Artists working at molecular scales (e.g. Anna Dumitriu and Alex May), artists working with slowed time (e.g. James Turrell, or Arthur Ganson), and artists working at high speeds (e.g. Chris Burden);
  • Artists connecting immediate experience to global concerns (e.g. Olafur Eliasson);
  • The cinematic zoom (e.g. in the films of Charles and Ray Eames, or Michael Snow);
  • Zooming on stage (e.g. in the works of Big Art Group, or similar intermedia devisers);
  • Dancers that hustle (e.g. Abby Z and the New Utility);
  • Literatures of speed (e.g. J. G. Ballard);
  • Fast music (e.g. Speedcore) and slow (e.g. “Justin Bieber 800% Slower”);
  • Pop culture zooming (e.g. the music videos of OK Go, or Ant-Man & the Wasp);
  • and arts investigating psychology, perception, phenomenology, and the experience of the zoom function.
Research articles should be between 6,000 and 8,000 words. Documents can take a wide variety of forms: from practice-as-research reports, to interviews, photo essays, multimedia essays, reflections, and so on; documents may be as long as research articles or they may be significantly shorter.  Speculative or historical, creative and experimental documents are strongly encouraged.
The guest editors (James R Ball III, Weiling He, and Louis G Tassinary) of this special issue (16:3) represent broadly interdisciplinary research interests and methodologies drawn from the fields of performance studies, political science, architecture, psychology, and neuroscience. The guest editors are representatives of the Academy for Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA) at Texas A&M University, an organization that focuses on artistic experimentation in wide-ranging fields. In recent years, artists in residence with the AVPA have emphasized the impact of digital media and technology on their work and disciplines, proliferating the scholarly conversations from which the present CFP has emerged. We seek to foster further conversations regarding the zoom function at the international level.
Please submit your contribution through the journal’s website, by 24 April 2020: Instructions for Authors.
Questions can be sent to the special issue’s guest editors, at,, and