Call for Proposals

A manipulated image of three human hands pressed against a transparent surface. They are all effected by some distortion. The fingers are elongated and there is pixelation and dithering. The word "touch" is superimposed; signaling FLAT Journal's 2021 issue theme.

To our readers, writers, and passersby,

We are living with the unmistakably eerie feeling that perception has been broken down for parts and recombined into something else.  Something built for and by blue-light screens, tiny monophonic speakers, and just enough tactility to find the right key to press or swipe on a glass screen.

For this year’s issue, we are looking for co-conspirators (despite the dangers of breathing together) to rebuild our understanding of touch and its necessity to perception, bodies, and being in the world. In working through the theme of TOUCH we asked if it is possible to understand Touch as Language, and how to make sense of the loss of that language during COVID? What is the syntax or grammar of touch? Can touch be learned? Is it possible to get better at touching and perceiving touch? Can touch be mediated and transmitted? Does this explain the popularity of viral ASMR and “satisfying” videos? Does resistance to mediation that touch presents indicate a limit to technology’s claims—particularly in VR—to facilitate empathy? What might be the ethical and political implications of decentering vision in favor of touch, or in favor of no particular sense at all? 

As we shake off the past 18 months of HALTing, we are faced with an unprecedented desolation of sense and senses. COVID took our smell and taste—indexed most playfully through scented candle reviews on amazon. ZOOM procured a monopoly on our eyes and ears (not to mention our sense of place)—each of us has been told and told others “You’re muted” while we debate turning the camera on, letting some simulation of vision take form.

And then there is Touch. Touch was not neurologically disrupted, nor was it mediated. It tumbled in a matter of weeks from handshakes to high fives to elbow bumps to socially distant waves to…nothing. Accidental grazes in the hallway and the press of bodies in subways and elevators and dance floors, hugs of joy and love, greeting and desire, all made taboo in a blink.

Our last call for papers inadvertently conjured a HALTed future, though not how we imagined. Perhaps we will be lucky this time, and return to each other in a better future — ready to touch and be touched.

—the editors


Application

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

Your work will be reviewed by our 2021 editorial board for consideration. If your work is chosen for this issue, your content will be included in this year’s online publication, at the designers’ discretion.

Our open call for Issue 0.2: Touch is now closed. Applicants will be notified in late fall. Please check back in the spring for our next open call!

Format

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

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

You may submit up to three works. Past publication or experience is not required. Other content types may be accepted. 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.

How to apply

Applications are submitted online here and 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 that does not expire such as Vimeo, Youtube, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, or Box. (Please note that we review applications towards the end of the open call timeline. WeTransfer and Firefox Send links tend to expire before our editors review them. If we cannot access the link, we may not be able to successfully review your submission).
  • Alt-text descriptions of any visual media

For further information and questions please contact flat@flatjournal.com with the subject line “JOURNAL INQUIRY”

Please note: at this time, this is unfortunately not a paid opportunity. All rights to submitted and published works remain the sole property of authors, artists, and contributors.