IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies Vol. 3, No. I, 2018

Editor's Introduction

Welcome to the latest issue of the IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies. This is a special issue with a focus on art and artistic cultures in the “digital world”.

The future of art is unknown – any future is. That is its exact definition. Of course, there always exist attempts to bind the future; oftentimes, they are made in the way of norms or predictions, which, given the complexities of the modern world, can hardly make any greater claim to authority than the prophecies of Pythia. The Oracle of Delphi was inspired by the spirit of Apollo, today’s prophets are possessed by statistics. But any statement made about events to come happens in the present, the former past, not in the future.

The future of art is unknown because art is autonomous or “free”. If it is not, we refer to propaganda or design. This does not mean that there are no structures that regulate the selectivity of art. Its operations are synthetically determined, they can only take place in the framework of existing structures. However, they are analytically undeterminable, because every single work of art is able to change these structures. This is the reason why art can surprise not only us, but also itself: Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain”, Joseph Beuys’s “Fat Chair”, Andy Warhol’s coke bottles, Damien Hirst’s shark and Rosemarie Trockel’s knitted pictures all moved the entire ensemble in such a way that a new, different dynamic state of art arose.

Art is autonomous but it does not happen in a vacuum. In other words, art is a social enterprise. It gets irritated by external factors – by technology, politics, economy, the law and by the bodies and minds that create it, but cannot control it. Art is dependent on them, as is its need for freedom in conceptualising, commenting on and transforming them. This is why anyone who analyses art also analyses the society in which it takes place.

This issue will discuss art and aesthetic theory from a very specific moment in time, from the here and now, when the situation of art is once again changing rapidly – changing so much that even the here and now becomes relative as demonstrated, for example, by Gould and Sermon. The contributors to this issue have set themselves the task of highlighting some of the more pertinent of these changes …

The texts in this issue are not so much about providing conclusive answers but rather about producing a variant in theoretical practice that facilitates follow-up discussions. Just like art, science is also free. And just like art, it is in a constant flux, transforming irritations into its own operational mode. While the impact of the digital is far too new and on-going to warrant an overall, grand analysis, there are several points from which these developments can be viewed and assessed. As the articles in this issue show, prominent among them are aesthetic, technical, demographic and interactive nodes. I am especially proud that we were able to combine views from art insiders (Sermon, Gould) with those from the outside, that is, science. My special thanks go to German artist Florian Meisenberg, who provided us with the cover art for this issue which demonstrates how art transforms the external irritant digitality into its own circuit of reproduction.

It is hoped that this issue will act as a springboard for further discussions and developments, and thereby help us find better ways of describing these emerging cultural shifts and suggest new ways to enrich our lives.

Markus Heidingsfelder

Karachi, March 2018


Shifting Spheres

Call for Papers to a special issue of Kybernetes (Clarivate Impact Factor: .980)

Guest Editors:

Markus Heidingsfelder, Xiamen University, Malaysia*
Holger Briel, Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University, PR of China
Steffen Roth, La Rochelle Business School, France, and Yerevan State University, Armenia
*Corresponding guest editor. Email:


The concept of publicity as a sphere was first introduced to scientific discourse by Jürgen Habermas in the 1970’s and has had a remarkable career ever since. In this special issue of Kybernetes, we want to turn our attention to three thematic spheres surrounding the concept of the sphere:

The concept. This may include its origins, its history, and its potential, as well as its limitations. At this meta-theoretical level, comparisons between the ostensibly antagonistic theoretical perspectives of systems theory and the theory of communicative action of the two become possible. As a consequence, the concept of sphere may create a theoretical sphere for discussing the extent to which the central aspects of both perspectives are compatible, and further, at which junctures they might even be coupled.
The question of which structural and semantic transformations the so-called ‘public sphere’ and ‘private sphere’ have undergone in recent decades, particularly with regard to globalization and the digitization of society.
The idea of transformation. What is it exactly that defines change in contrast with its opposite—i.e., the perseverance and consistency of structures?

Submission Procedure:

Submissions to this journal are through the ScholarOne submission system here: Please visit the journal’s author guidelines for further details on the submission procedure. In submitting, please ensure you select this special issue from the relevant drop-down menu.


The deadline for submission of full papers in the range of 4000 to 7000 words is on 15 March 2020. Authors will receive reviewers’ feedback no later than 1 June 2020. Revised versions must be submitted by 1 September 2020.