Mute is an online magazine dedicated to exploring culture and politics after the net. Mute combines biannual issues dedicated to specific topics (Precarious Labour, The Knowledge Commons, etc) with regularly updated articles and reviews. The site also features ongoing coverage of relevant news and events contributed by ourselves and our readers.
Mute magazine was founded in 1994 to discuss the interrelationship of art and new technologies when the World Wide Web was newborn. But, as mass participation in computer mediated communications has become more integral to contemporary capitalism, its coverage has expanded to engage with the broader implications of this shift. Mute’s investigation of the social, economic, political and cultural formations of ‘network societies’ maintains an accent on the relationship between technology and the production of new social relations. At the same time, the magazine’s remit has grown broader and now includes analyses of geopolitics, culture and contemporary labour that, while necessarily inflected by contemporary developments in technology, go far beyond this.
While Mute was born out of a culture that celebrated the democratising potential of new media, it becomes ever more apparent that we need to critically engage with the ways in which new media also reproduce and extend capitalist social relations. Mute invites its readers and writers to consider new possibilities for resistance to hegemonies wherever they find them, from socio-economic and technical structures, to codes of representation and enunciation, to the production and articulation of psychic experience and beyond. We also welcome critiques of the contemporary fetishisation of ICT as either inherently progressive or entirely reactionary. Finally, Mute hopes to stimulate approaches to art and politics that challenge the orthodoxies of both the constituted left and ‘critical’ new media culture.
Mute in context
From its inception, Mute* has regarded message and medium, content and carrier as inherently linked. This approach has forced a constant reinvention of our publishing format (we are now on our sixth!) and, more generally, never taking theory's relationship to practice for granted. As a collaborative entity operating within the network paradigm, Mute has a tacit function as a test site: we feature and review innovative and radical cultural practices, but also participate in them, court infection and reflect their evolution within our own.
One promise of 'many to many' media was that it would upturn the traditional broadcast model of mainstream media and deliver unto the world a multitude of active producers, narrowcasting personalised media to each other and cutting out the middleman. For all their associations with empowerment, participation, and the agency of the small, the 'prosumer' figure associated with this discourse is an infinitely ambiguous entity - certainly no guaranteed counterforce to capitalism-as-usual. Other standardbearers of democratisation, to be found travelling under banners like 'Grow Your Own', 'DiY media' and 'citizen journalism', have done more to alter the media power im/balance, even if their often homogenous social composition troubles any ultimate claims for a revolution.
Mute Books – is the new imprint of Mute Publishing. The series specialises in cultural politics, providing a new, expanded space for the kinds of distinctive voices Mute magazine has hosted since its inception in 1994. In keeping with the magazine's editorial practices, Mute Books will pursue an interdisciplinary publishing policy, working experimentally and with a wide variety of individuals and groups to provide the kind of sustained focus their contribution to contemporary culture deserves.
Post-Media Lab – a project within the Digital Media Center (EU Innovation Incubator, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany), organising residencies, publishing projects and public events in collaboration with Mute magazine.
*The present Mute magazine could not have existed without a predecessor and namesake published through the Slade School of Art from 1989-1992. 'Mute v. 01' was an open contributions publication in a variety of formats, edited by Simon Worthington, Daniel Jackson, Helen Arthur and Stephen Faulkner.