York journal offers critical perspectives on technology and culture

In a special issue on technology and culture, Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies features new critical perspectives from current scholars in the field.

Scholarly examinations in the issue include: technology, space and power in the 20th century office (Dale A. Bradley); video games as moral universes (Neal Thomas); the network society and experimental ecologies (Andrew Murphie) and finally; creative industries, comparative media theory and the limits of critique from within (Ned Rossiter).

Bradley’s “Dimensions Vary: Technology, Space and Power in the 20th Century Office” offers an analysis of the historical development of the North American office with particular emphasis on the role played by communications and information technologies in office design and practices. He argues that the corporate office constitutes a micro-level social mechanism that manifests and supports broader space, knowledge and power relations.

Thomas’s “Video Games as Moral Universes” analyzes video game interaction with an emphasis on agency and the communication of human values. The authorial, technological, and economic constraints in construction and design, he argues, tend toward depicting a world and its inhabitants in purely instrumental terms. He concludes by highlighting the ways in which video games might be made more compelling through alternative models of game design.

Murphie’s “The World As Clock: The Network Society and Experimental Ecologies” explores the emergent aspects of our networked media ecology. In making the case for a transdisciplinary response, he describes recent ecological/electronic/digital art works and media processes. These include Lars Von Triers’ 1996 production of Verdensuret (The Worlds Clock), the digital video work of Joyce Hinterding and David Haines, and the nightly news. He concludes by suggesting that, in a post-media world, experimental media ecologies are crucial to the affective, ethical and ideo-diversity of the network society.

Lastly, the “creative industries” have emerged across the UK and Ireland, United States and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Europe and Asia as the new idiom by which governments, the culture industries and the higher education sector engage in the management of populations.

Rossiter’s “Creative Industries, Comparative Media Theory and the Limits of Critique from Within” analyses how a “constitutive outside” functions within the creative industries as a result of the exploitation of the intellectual property generated by labour-power. Overall, he argues that a political theory of media-culture is one that addresses how the outside operates as an affirmative force that holds the capacity for transformation.

For more information on Topia 11, contact editor Jody Berland at jberland@yorku.ca, or visit the Topia Web site.