Critical African Studies. Call for Papers: Special Issue

RCAF

The role of technology in Africa and the impact of the so-called digital revolution has been well documented in areas such as commerce, communication, agriculture, media, and political activism. One area that has received less scholarly attention is the role of digital technology in the development of creative and cultural practices in Africa. Digital culture, as a ubiquitous feature of modern life, allows us to connect to geographical locations, cultures, histories and people that have previously been much less accessible. The new information age and the global connectivity it has brought has forced us to reassess what we thought we knew about Africa, offering up alternative and much more diverse stories and representations of this large and diverse continent. African artists are utilising this digital space to create, recreate and disseminate new images of Africa. This special issue of Critical African Studies will focus on the proliferation of African digital arts in the 21st century, with digital arts understood in a broad context. We invite scholarly papers addressing topics related to any artistic and creative practice in Africa that falls under the wide remit of digital arts, including, but not limited to:

  • Animation
  • Visual arts
  • Filmmaking
  • Game design
  • Photography
  • Illustration
  • Advertising
  • Graphic design
  • Installation art
  • Video films and video art
  • Political cartooning
  • Comics and graphic novels, digital comics
  • Digital poetry and digital storytelling

Digital art is defined as artistic work or practice that uses digital technologies as an essential part of the creative and/or presentation, dissemination and exhibition process. Since the 1970s, various terms have been used to describe these practices, including computer art and multimedia art, and digital art itself is placed under the larger umbrella term of new media art. It is now understood that the impact of digital technology has transformed activities such as painting, drawing, sculpture and music/sound art, while new forms, such as net art, digital installation art and virtual reality have become recognised artistic practices. While the techniques of digital art are used extensively by mainstream media in advertising and by filmmakers to produce visual effects, digital art is also increasingly used in less mainstream and commercially orientated ways, to produce new media art less concerned with economic factors and more with experimentation and creative expression. Digital art thus includes a wide range of artistic production, including audio-visual production, animation, interactive projects, websites, short films, and graphic art and design.

In an African context, the website African Digital Art (africandigitalart.com) has recognised the increasing importance of digital technologies in artistic practice and serves as a space to collate, document and explore the proliferation of new media art on and from the continent. It has become a platform for innovation and inspiration, highlighting new talent as well as successful designers and artists. ‘Pushing Digital Boundaries’ has become the tagline that is now fused with African Digital Art’s identity. The site sets out to discover new design solutions, artistic expressions and creative talent while striving to foster the emerging and growing technology driven creative community in Africa.

Indeed, examples of digital art and the application of digital technologies in African creative practice abound. African digital collage is a growing art form that utilises technology to produce a range of artworks that incorporate digital video, animation, photography, animated gifs and digital photo manipulation. African digital collagists have taken to the past, using ethnographic images of Africa to recreate and reinterpret visual representations from the pre- and postcolonial eras. Creating alternative historical narratives, websites such as the Nigerian Nostalgia Project have become a popular online resource for collagists to find historical materials including photographs, videos, sound clips and graphic art. Badilisha Poetry is the largest online archive of African poetry and literature. Digital platforms powered through mobile technology inspired the creators of the site to develop an archive with over 400 African poets from 31 countries who share their work in over 14 different languages. Africa Cartoons (africacartoons.com) is another comprehensive digital platform that acts as an educational encyclopaedia of African political cartooning and cartoonists.

Many individual digital artists are emerging from all over the continent, and in the diaspora. Keyezua is an Angolan-born digital artist who explores the African renaissance as a contemporary storyteller. Her work investigates a cross-section of topics such as African culture, sex and religion. She experiments with a wide range of mediums and her latest project, called Stone Orgasms, addresses female genital mutilation and the female body. Kenyan-born Wangechi Mutu is one of the most important contemporary African artists of recent years, whose work has achieved much global acclaim. She employs a variety of mediums including video, installation and sculpture. Her work often centralises the female body and confronts the viewer with organic elements intertwined with abstract patterns to create surreal figures.

How to submit

Articles should be 8,000-12,000 words in length. Please follow the instructions for authors, style guidelines and submission procedures as stated on the Taylor & Francis website.

The deadline for full papers is 30 April 2016. The nature of this special issue would allow for videos, images, photographs, hyperlinks etc. to be included in the online version of the issue. Please contact the issue editor in advance to indicate your intention to submit, to discuss your article proposal or if you have any queries: Dr Lizelle Bisschoff (lizelle.bisschoff/@/glasgow.ac.uk)


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