Closure: The Kiel University e-Journal for Comics Studies #6 (November 2019)
In the fall of 2019, CLOSURE will once again offer a forum for all facets of comics studies. From literary, cultural, media, social and image research to the sciences and beyond: the sixth edition of CLOSURE continues our ongoing search for the best and most innovative articles and reviews representing the state of the art in comics research. We welcome detailed close readings as much as comics theory and pioneering approaches to the medium — our open section comprises a diverse range of interdisciplinary studies of all things ‘comic’.
Thematic Section: “A.I”
Androids, algorithms, artificial intelligence: more than ever, A.I. is a hot-button issue in public debates. The scope of current approaches ranges from playful experiments like The Next Rembrandt (2016) to the sombre predictions of imminent singularity-induced apocalypse (Elon Musk or Stephen Hawking) or the controversial accounts of A.I. in publications by Thomas Runge (2018), Manuela Lenzen (2018), or Yuval Noah Harari (2015). While literary and filmic visions of robotic machines, androids, and supercomputers have received ample attention, comics studies have lagged behind. Despite the proliferation of synthetic intelligent agents in all manner of graphic literature, the representation of artificial humans and algorithmic intelligence in sequential art has not received its scholarly due. This is bound to change with CLOSURE #6, which sets itself the goal of approaching the A.I.-shaped blind spot in current comics discourse. We invite contributions that investigate robots, androids and cyborgs, transhumanism and forms of artificial intelligence in all manner of comics, manga, bandes dessinées or graphic novels.
Possible objects (or subjects?) of inquiry include Astro Boy (1952-1968), Magnus, Robot Fighter (1963), 2001 Nights (1984-1986), Descender (2017), Pluto (2014), Symmetry (2016), Alex + Ada (2013-2015), Injection (2015-) or Lescheks Flug (2012). What is specific about the way comics approach these representations, and what sets apart A.I. in panels and sequences, images and texts? How can we relate medially particular, historical, systematic, or culturally specific observations to social, technological, political, ethical, or even mythological discourses? How do comics interact with the approaches to A.I. in disciplines like computer sciences, mathematics, linguistics, psychology, or information engineering?
Possible topics include but are not limited to:
– Transhumanity and Posthumanity: How do current digital/electronic/biological developments impact the medium of comics?
– Gödel, Escher, Astro Boy: How do comics take up and visualize recursion and self-reference in the context of A.I.? Which formal affordances does the comic offer to visualize/narrate/represent/inflect artificial intelligence or algorithmic processes? How do the forms of comics relate to concepts and visualisations of A.I. in the sciences? – Information and Dissemination: Digital comics, comics platforms, social networks – Fetish and Eros: the robot as project and projection; artificial embodiment and incorporation; panels, projections, interfaces – Asimov’s Laws: ethics and A.I.; moral implications, responsibility, the rights of A.I.
– Autonomy and Agency: independent actions, linearity, and choice – Utopias and Dystopias: scenarios of danger and fascination of an A.I.-based future; which types of cultural or civilizational criticism are presented?
– (Non-)corporeality: how do comics visualize the materiality and embodiment of A.I.? What is it like to be an A.I., according to comics?
– Learn to draw, Skynet: production and reception in the time of A.I.; overcoming the human in comics; the potential of AI-generated comics; artificial creativity
Please send your abstract for the open section or the thematic section (~ 3000 chars.) as well as a short bio-bibliographical blurb to firstname.lastname@example.org until December 15th, 2018. The contributions (35.000-50.000 chars) are expected until March 30th, 2019. For more information about the e-journal CLOSURE and our previous issues, please visit www.closure.uni-kiel.de