Early in 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration published a photograph of the supermassive black hole at the core of a galaxy called M87. An epochal moment. The first ever visual imaging of this cosmic phenomenon was captured not through a single lens but generated by a breathtaking mathematical and computer interlacing of data from a global network of observatories. Strictly speaking there can be no optics for a black hole; we can only record the last glimmer of the light and the near infinite dilation of space-time swirling like a maelstrom around its edge: the ‘event horizon’. Beyond that, no light and thus no information can escape.

In the late 20th century the philosopher Jean Baudrillard delighted in using the scientific speculation of an ‘event horizon’ figuratively as the frozen panorama of history, politics and culture, a danse macabre silhouetted against the inertial implosion of the myths of progress and revolution formerly driving modernity and modernism, collapsing into the non-event. However, at this moment in the 21st century history, politics and culture hardly seem stalled at a brink of meaning or communication, but accelerating like frenzied quarry at the fatal radius of a hyperobject: whether that is characterised as the anthropocene, the chthulucene, global warming, immanent insect extermination, or the posthuman ascendance of AI. With the publication of the EHT image we can revise the metaphoric power of the 'event horizon', of that eerie halo around the non-visible agent of our extinction. We ask for art and writing that envision that horizon, from science fiction and fantasy to scientific visualization of what is at the limits of our world.

Please submit a short abstract (approx. 300 words) as a proposal for consideration to the editor by 15th December 2019. All essays are requested at around 2,000 words. Successful proposals will then need to be submitted in full by 6th January 2020. A writers fee of $1,000 (plus gst if applicable) will be paid. [PUBLISHED MAY 2020] Email abstracts to ecolless@unimelb.edu.au and vmcinnes@unimelb.edu.au


Edward Colless

Editor, Art + Australia