We’d like to welcome you to Sensate, a journal for experiments in critical media practice.
Sensate is an online, media-based journal for the creation, presentation, and critique of innovative projects in the arts, humanities, and sciences. Our aim is to build on the current groundswell of pioneering activities in the digital humanities, scholarly publishing, and innovative media practice to provide a forum for scholarly and artistic experiments not conducive to the printed page.
New forms of scholarship: Web-based publications and resources expand the traditional paradigm of academic discourse and open new possibilities for scholarship and artistic creation. Fundamental to this expansion is reimagining what constitutes a ‘piece’ of scholarship or art. Some of the work featured in Sensate might take the form of audiovisual ethnographic research, multimedia mash-ups, experiments in media archaeology, participatory media projects, or digitized collections of archival media, artifacts, maps, or objects. Due to the diversity of accommodated forms (many of which surely have not yet been imagined), works published in Sensate are not conventional articles but aim to become convergences of collaborations that can evolve over time.
Audiovisual media production as epistemology: Audiovisual media have a different relationship to (and reveal different dimensions of) the world from linguistic systems. Sensate serves as both a tool and venue for the expression and critique of these modes, fostering the experimentation necessary to better understand them. Scholars have posited the inherent excess of meaning in an image, or the capacity for evocation and embodied perception through sound, but Sensate seeks to further this analysis by putting it to critical practice—foregrounding inquiry through the very processes of making. Our project goes beyond audio interviews and photo essays—which often still maintain and privilege the verbal, didactic decorum of the academy—to assert and explore the productive differences, overlappings, and gaps between the written word and other mediums of academic and artistic expression.
Form+Content: A key assertion of our mission arises from the desire to attend to both form and content, discourse and depiction, signifier and signified, where meaning does not end with what is written or shown but persists through process and iteration. With Sensate, we highlight processes of knowledge production which in turn give significant weight to the meaning potential of images, sounds, and juxtapositions of various media. We hope to foster emergent and generative scholarship.
Innovations in publishing: Since first dreaming up the journal over a year ago, we have been working to develop our own experimental, open-source publishing platform, Zeega. The name Zeega is inspired by Dziga Vertov, the pioneering media artist whose work radically reconfigured the possibilities of film, radio and collaboration through such classics as Man with a Movie Camera. (And this platform truly is an experiment, so we ask your patience in navigating the work, as there certainly might be the occasional bug). Zeega aims to afford new models of multimedia authorship, seamlessly integrating audio, video, text, and maps from across the web and enabling nonlinear exploration.
Sensate is an issueless journal: Not bound by the organizational structure of issues, volumes, or tables of contents, an issueless journal provides new ways of experiencing published media. Sensate intends to foster new modes of relational thought, as it is structured around tagclouds and networked associations rather than constrained by conventions of chronology. Content is accessed through advanced search queries and linked through related tags, thus making browsing more intuitive and driven by novel configurations of content, form and method.
Free and open-access: In an effort to render more permeable the walls of academia, Sensate is free and open to the public. A central premise of our work is expanding the domain of public knowledge production and sharing, blurring the boundaries between the traditionally segregated worlds of academic work and other public spheres. Work featured in Sensate is published under a Creative Commons license, and we will be making Zeega itself available as a tool with which to experiment in these new forms of scholarly publication.
Online+Offline: Integrating events, seminars, film series, and workshops into the online portion of the journal, we contend that digital media is not inherently place-less, nor “virtual” but provides a new tool with which to connect with physical locales, spaces, sites and people.
We hope that you will find many ways to engage with not only the content, but the growing network of Sensate collaborators. We welcome any feedback, provocations, and invitations for collaboration. As with any experiment, many results are unknown.
Julia, Jesse, Anh-Thu, Peter, Phil, Joana, Ben, Kara, James, Matt, Jeremy, and Tom
Special thanks: Countless individuals and organizations have made Sensate possible. The Sensory Ethnography Lab and metaLAB (at) Harvard are vital spaces of incubation. And we’d like to especially thank the early-stage critics who joined us in March to provide feedback on the first draft of the project: Lindsey Lodhie, Rekha Murthy, Robert Gerard Pietrusko, Matt Shanley and Karen Stein.
Sensate is made possible in part by the generous support of the Provostial Funds Committee, Office of the Dean of Arts and Humanities, at Harvard University.