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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Introduction and Acknowledgements

The DAC conference series is internationally recognized for its progressive interdisciplinarity, its intellectual rigor and its responsiveness to emerging practices and trends. I am honored to have the opportunity to continue this tradition. My choice of title for this conference: After Media: Embodiment and Context captures a set of issues which I believe are of central concern to contemporary Digital Cultural Practices. After Media questions the value of the term Media Arts - a designation which in my opinion not only erroneously presents the practice as one concerned predominantly with manipulating media, but also leaves the question of what constitutes a medium in this context uninterrogated.

Embodiment and Context focuses on biological, cultural, geographical and material specificity. Embodiment emphasises the fundamentally embodied nature of our being as the ground-reference for digital practices, and Context emphasises the realities of cultural, historical, geographical and gender-related specificities. Embodiment is deployed not only with respect to the biological, but also with reference to technology, as a corrective to the tendency within computational discourses towards largely uninterrogated Cartesianisms and Platonisms. Such concerns are addressed in contemporary cognitive science, anthropology and other fields which attend to the realities of the physical dimensions of cognition and culture. Context brings together site-specificity of cultural practices, the understandings of situated cognition and practices in locative media. The re-emergence of concerns with such locative and material specificity within the Digital Cultures community is foregrounded in such DAC09 Themes as Software and Platform Studies and Embodiment and Performativity.

My goal for DAC09 was to create an event which was maximally responsive to the community, was intellectually rigorous and attentive to new trends and new voices. So prior to any call for paper proposals, we organized a call for proposals of Themes, offering the DAC community the opportunity to shape the internal thematics of the event. The Themes chosen for DAC09, around which this Proceedings is organised are: Embodiment and Performativity; After Mobile Media; Software/ Platform Studies; Environment/ Sustainability/ Climate Change; Interdisciplinary Pedagogy; Cognition and Creativity; Sex and Sexuality; Space-Time of Ubiquity and Embeddedness; and Present and Future of Humanist Inquiry in the Digital Field. These themes identify key concerns contemporary practice and theory in Digital Cultures. Along with exploring dimensions of each of these Themes, the papers submitted to the Themes exhibit interesting crossovers between themes and some meta-themes emerge including a preoccupation with design and a concern with interdisciplinary historicisation and the development of relevant historiographical methods. The conference structure includes morning plenary sessions which have been designed to introduce the various themes and to draw out emergent meta-themes.

Administratively, I aspired to a flat, distributed and horizontal structure which leveraged web based automation and supported anonymous peer review. We built an ambitious online automated peer review process for two successive review processes. 400 paper proposals were reviewed, and from these, around 150 papers were invited and subject to a similarly rigorous review/editorial process. The efforts of the Theme Leaders: Nell Tenhaaf, Melanie Baljko, Kim Sawchuk, Marc Bhlen, Jeremy Douglass, Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Andrea Polli, Cynthia Beth Rubin, Nina Czegledy, Fox Harrell, Susanna Paasonen, Jordan Crandall, Ulrik Ekman, Mark Hansen, Terry Harpold, Lisbeth Klastrup, and Susana Tosca; in this process was substantial and in many cases the authors benefited from valuable editorial support, the result of which is demonstrated in this excellent collection.

Around the conference proceedings proper are situated three specially organized events showcasing various realms of practice relevant to DAC. The Beall Center for Art and Technology offer an exhibition of Artificial Life Art Emergence curated by Simon Penny and David Familian. Michael Dessen and Chris Dobrian organised Latent Potentials, a telematic music performance night, and Mark Marino and Jessica Pressman organised a night of Electronic Literature Performance.

The DAC events are known for a convivial scale which promotes meaningful exchange in and around the conference venues. I am therefore grateful to Alan Terricicano, Dean of the Claire Trevor Schools of the Arts, for the opportunity to situate the event in the Maya Lin Plaza, which centers the event tightly around Winifred Smith Hall and the Beall Center for Art and Technology, with the Cyberarts café providing refreshments and a social hub.

The academic and cultural aspects of DAC09 have depended almost entirely on volunteer labor, bases in Southern California and across the country and the planet. This is itself has involved substantial organisation. Like any such extended and ambitious project, events sometimes did not proceed smoothly. The UC budget crisis, the state, national and global economic downturn certainly has'nt helped matters. More than once, circumstances have conspired against us, in the form of technical breakdowns, external management issues and illness. I am grateful for the patience, goodwill and sheer hard work of my colleagues who have persevered in this project with me. I would particularly like to credit my closest partner in this project, Ward Smith, Information Systems Manager for DAC09, who has managed electronics communications from the outset, including web design and the review and paper submission processes. I have nothing but praise for his intelligence, conscientiousness, decorum and goodwill over two years of collaboration. As new members of the local team in recent months, the effort, acumen and commitment of Elizabeth Losh and Sean Voisen has been invaluable. The DAC09 Event Organisers - David Familian, Michael Dessen, Chris Dobrian, Mark Marino and Jessica Pressman - have enriched the conference with a veritable smorgasboard of cultural events. The work of these people, along with the Theme Leaders have made this conference what it is.

I am grateful also to several UCI and UC units and to their leaders for their support in times when University resources are sparse: Larry Smarr, Director of CALIT2; G. P. Li, Director of CALIT2 (UCI Division); David Theo Goldberg, Director of the University of California Humanities Research Institute; Susan Bryant, Vice Chancellor for Research UCI, Mark Warner (Associate Vice Chancellor for Administration, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research); Debra Richardson, Dean of the Bren School of Information and Computer Science UCI; Alan Terricciano, Dean, Claire Trevor School of the Arts UCI, and Vicky Ruiz, Dean of the UCI School of Humanities, UCI. 34 Thanks are due also to Bill Cohen and Cassandra Jue Low of the Bren School Information and Computer Science; to Toby Weiner and Jason Valdry of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, and to many other staff members who have lent support.

My general goal for DAC09 was to present work of the highest possible intellectual quality and relevance to conference attendees, while drawing our emerging concerns and offering exposure to new voices into the community. This document I feel demonstrates some success in that goal, which attests to the expertise and efforts of all involved.

Simon Penny,
Director, DAC09