Reviewed by: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University
Culture Machine is “a series of experiments in culture and theory… [whose] aim … is to seek out and promote the most provocative of new work, and analyses of that work, in culture and theory from a diverse range of international authors. Culture Machine is particularly concerned with promoting research which is engaged in the constitution of new areas of inquiry and the opening of new frontiers of cultural and theoretical activity. It is also committed to the generation of possibilities for new scholarship and research. Other than these founding aims (which are themselves, along with the very concepts of 'founding' and of 'aims', possible themes to be analysed), Culture Machine has no specific agenda, no project or programme - cultural, theoretical, political, social or ethical - it intends to see worked out in its various manifestations. Culture Machine is instead endeavouring [sic] be to cultural studies and cultural theory what 'fundamental research' is to the natural sciences: open ended, non-goal orientated, exploratory and experimental in approach. Culture Machine's experiments in culture and theory are currently taking the form of: an open access journal, the Open Humanities Press Culture Machine Liquid Books series, and the LivBL: Living Books about Life project, “a sustainable series of electronic open access books about life - with life understood both philosophically and biologically - providing a bridge between the humanities and the sciences.” [description is from Wikipedia] Acting as additions or supplements to the Culture Machine journal are: Culture Machine Reviews and Culture Machine InterZone. The journal is currently accepting submissions only on specific themes as announced in its regularly issued calls for papers.
Perhaps the best way to try to understand Culture Machine, the online journal, is to take a look at an issue. The most current available at the time of this review is Volume 16 (2015), whose theme is Drone Culture. Articles in this issue include: “As Above, So Below: Triangulating Drone Culture,” “Drone Metaphysics,” “Provocation: Unmanned Aerial Realtors,” “Perspective: The Drone: God's Eye, Death Machine, Cultural Puzzle,” “Dancing to a Tune: The Drone as Political and Historical Assemblage,” “Drone Media: Unruly Systems, Radical Empiricism and Camera Consciousness,” “The Control Room: A Media Archaeology,” “Drone It Yourself! On the Decentring of ‘Drone Stories’,” “Provocation: A Prairie Drone Companion,” “Perspective: Vague Ideas, Clear Images,” “Educative Power: The Myth of Dronic Violence in a Period of Civil War,” “Vaporents: Inhuman Orientations,” “Welcome to the Electrocene, an Algorithmic Agartha,” and “Monarch Drone Communiqué.” A perusal of these articles reveals fascinating studies and examinations of a host of aspects surrounding drones: considered, insightful study and writing that is exceptionally scholarly, yet accessible.
In addition to Culture Machine Reviews, InterZone, and Living Books noted above, the Culture Machine journal site provides direct links into Culture Machine Live (a podcast series dedicated to discussions of culture, theory and new media), and Photomediations Machine, a “curated online space where the dynamic relations of mediation as performed in photography and other media can be encountered, experienced and engaged.” Safe to say that Culture Machine is a cultural phenomenon, rather than just an Open Access journal – so do please make sure any researcher interested in cultural studies from any perspective knows about this title / site / phenomenon.