Automation Culture:
Intersections between Art, Automation, and Living Systems

17th-19th November 2023
The University of Western Australia, Perth.
Keynotes: Prof. Gunalan Nadarajan (University of Michigan), Carolyn Pedwell (University of Kent) Stelarc.
CFP Submission Deadline: March 6th, 2023

Since the dawn of mechanical automation there has been a desire to explore the creative potential of automated processes. Some of the most note-worthy examples of clockwork automata from the eighteenth century are figures who are made to perform ‘creative’ tasks, such as drawing, writing poetry, or playing a musical instrument. Even earlier, mechanical fountains depicted birds singing and in more recent times we see an interest in AI-generated art, or AI’s seemingly creative approach to games such as chess.

These fascinations are based on the assumption that automation is framed and usually discussed in the realm of the non-living that attempts either to emulate/mimic life-like properties such as movement, the appearance of sentiency/creativity, and metabolism, or express mechanic qualities that goes beyond the abilities of the living. When these categories are hybridised, troubled or blurred, automata seem both remarkable and unsettling.

This conference discusses thought experiments and case studies which metaphorically and literally transgress the relationship between art, automation and living systems (human and non-human), focusing on processes of automation in food systems, care-giving, judgement, and labour. By troubling the categories of art and automation, can we change the way we approach the increasing automation of life and culture?

The event will include papers, performances, workshops, and roundtables.

Topic areas may include but are not limited to:
⦁ Animal Studies
⦁ Biological Arts & Biodesign
⦁ Biopolitics
⦁ Cultural Studies and Literary Studies
⦁ Economic History
⦁ Environmental Humanities, Posthumanism and Extinction Studies
⦁ Feminist, Queer, Race, Post-Colonial and Disability Studies
⦁ History of (Life) Science
⦁ History of Aesthetics
⦁ Indigenous Futurisms
⦁ Law and Technology studies
⦁ Media Studies
⦁ Musicology and Theatre and Film Studies
⦁ Non-Human Biopolitics & Bioethics
⦁ Philosophy and Ethics
⦁ Political Theory and Political Philosophy
⦁ Robotics and Computer Science
⦁ Science, Technology and Society studies
⦁ Science Fiction and Speculative Fabulations
⦁ Synthetic Biology
⦁ Transhumanism and AI

Abstract word limit maximum 300 words (2100 characters including spaces).
Submissions to Sarah Collins: by March 6th, 2023. Presenters will be notified within three weeks past the deadline.

Programme Committee: Oron Catts, Sarah Collins, Elizabeth Stephens, Ionat Zurr.

This conference is a part of a project exploring the cultural and intellectual history of automated labour, with support from the Australian Research Council

Conference Accommodation Suggestions:

There are several options for accommodation which are close to University of Western Australia.

First is UWA’s official short stay options, which are found on the website:

One of the colleges (St Cats) is closed at the moment for renovations so spots might be limited in the remaining places.

Outside of UWA, Kenata on Fairway is a good budget friendly option:

Lastly, another suggestion is to find a hotel in the CBD area. Buses to and from UWA are available from Elizabeth Quay Bus Station, specifically routes 950, 23, 102, 107 which run every 5 minutes during peak times.