Issue #0.1 HALT

A Letter from the Editors

Dear readers, clickers, lookers, and listeners,

Imagine the letters and lines of the journal’s inaugural eponymous issue topic, FLAT, rearrange themselves. It happens slowly at first, seemingly without intention, like passengers shuffling to take seats on a bus. L lazily lowers itself below A, nudging them a bit. So A moves over to their left, to make room for L to take their place. But suddenly, the driver of the bus, F, pulls itself apart, foregoing its haughty modern cantilever penthouse deck for a supporting second wall on its east side. What was once a lazy plateau of an un-curved landscape becomes a call to action. Well, inaction. HALT! Who goes there? Our second issue.

Before we explain Halt, let us first explain why our second issue is actually our first. Retroactively, we have changed our first issue, Flat, also the name of our Journal, to issue #0. It only makes sense that we begin there. We had some kinks to work out. Our second issue, with a new interface, will be our beta release, version 0.1. We hereby reserve the right to change all issue numbers to whatever we want from here forward. Other changes to the way FLAT journal is released? They are numerous, and we are still working on them. One of our favorites is to incorporate more sound and visuals, and to figure out an easier way to browse text works and artworks. Another idea we’ve had -- to dissuade you from spending any more time staring at this glowing blue screen for only the visually literate, and to increase our readership to a listenership -- is to record a few of this issue’s essays as audio files. Let’s see how it goes.


Why this sudden call to inaction? You tell us. The decade concluded with authors like Jenny Odell (How to Do Nothing), Jia Tolentino (Trick Mirror), Astra Taylor (from The People’s Platform to Democracy May Not Exist…), Jaron Lanier (Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right now), and Ted Chiang (Exhalation), subtly or not so subtly telling us to turn around and look at ourselves. How can we reflect on what we have done with the last ten years without slowing, turning, and halting -- our eyes wide and mouth agape, as though goosenecking past an accident on the highway?

Since the year 2010, Facebook has gained 2 billion users worldwide; a youtube video reached 200 million views in 24 hours; Instagram has redefined celebrity in the attention economy, causing over 259 selfie deaths; and over 200 million people have been displaced due to disasters worldwide. Americans perceive that the continued development of automation technologies will result in decreased numbers of job opportunities, and similar fears abound in a world in which, as Paul Virilio puts it, social technologies are used to synchronize mass emotion.

Ideas of progress and the impacts of a globalized world have reached a point of saturation. Our reverence for technology has automated media, politics, financial markets, and the movement and meaning of our daily lives. The promise of economic, political, and cultural progress rely on constant, short-term agitation for the sake of productivity. The traces of these actions reinstantiating unconscious ideologies back into the public domain while neglecting what a condition of infinite progress may imply.

An expanding animation is matched with an anxiety to contract inwards or to slow down. Whether it be millions of striking participants demanding politicians make crucial considerations over our climate or the gestating populist nationalism armed with wicked rhetorics championed by demagogues: The future masquerades, mutates, and retreats.

Data proliferation now sets the stage for increased surveillance, misinformation, and the power to purchase public opinion. Civil unrest exemplified by uprisings in Hong Kong, Iran, Iraq, Chile, Lebanon are met with violent suppression or ostensible concessions.

We begin the new decade with an interruption.

Our question may be temporal. With the ever increasing fragmentation of time enabled by technologies and enforced culturally by the market, is halting this acceleration of reality possible? Is opting-out an option? Can we really just prefer not to?

What would halting mean to you?

Sincerely, Isla Hansen, Chandler McWilliams, Dalena Tran


We invite proposals that specifically, broadly, or abstractly, address the theme of “halt.” All submissions must be received by May 1st, 2020.

In general, FLAT journal looks for works relating to the intersection of visual and conceptual art, technology, and / or media.

The following types of original, new or previously published works are welcome:

  • Theory / criticism / scholarly research in writing or writing with images
  • Interviews
  • reviews of art works, software, films, television, or other media
  • Fiction, poetry, sound
  • Photo essays, photography, digital images
  • Illustrations, animations, videos
  • Instruction based works, software, interactive media

Past publication or experience is not required. Other content types may be accepted. Direct questions to with subject line “JOURNAL INQUIRY”

Final Submissions Due May 1 should include:

  • Abstract (100 - 500 words)
  • Full plain text document (.rtf, .doc, .html, or google doc are preferred)
  • Artist’s or Author’s short bio
  • Links to author’s site or other published relevant works
  • Any useful supporting images / media
  • Images should be jpg, 1200px on one side (if your work is chosen, we will request high resolution images at 3000px)
  • For videos or interactive media, please provide a link

Your work will be reviewed by our 2020 editorial board for consideration. If your work is chosen for this issue, your content will be shared on our web-based platform (see our first issue), at the designers’ discretion. If you have specific requirements to make your work viewable in the ideal fashion, please let us know, we can work with you collaboratively, especially for interactive or complex media types.

Submit your work here.


FLAT is a platform for theoretical and critical texts, interviews, reviews, projects, and experiments that engage with contemporary conversations surrounding emerging media in the arts. FLAT is open to submissions of writing, images, video, interactive works, and almost any possible form of web-based content from writers, artists, and thinkers around the world. Please see open calls for specific information about what themes and media we are accepting at this time. Contributors to FLAT include theorists, technologists, and artists from the UCLA community, the greater Los Angeles area, and beyond. At this time, FLAT publishes content online in both a themed issue and on a rolling basis and prints one physical publication a year. FLAT is designed, curated, and produced by faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates from UCLA’s department of Design Media Arts.

FLAT is made possible through the support of the UCLA Department of Design Media Arts and the UCLA Arts Conditional Studio.