CalArts produces the journal Sublevel in house. Many other publications arise from Critical Studies’ research projects as faculty find creative ways to partner with presses.

Construction Site for Possible Worlds

Construction Site for Possible Worlds, edited by Amanda BeechRobin Mackay, and James Wiltgen 2020.

Perspectives from philosophy, aesthetics, and art on how to envisage the construction site of possible worlds.

Given the highly coercive and heavily surveilled dynamics of the present moment, when the tremendous pressures exerted by capital on contemporary life produces an aggressively normative “official reality,” the question of the construction of other possible worlds is crucial and perhaps more urgent than ever.

This collection brings together different perspectives from the fields of philosophy, aesthetics, and art to discuss the mechanisms through which possible worlds are thought, constructed, and instantiated, forcefully seeking to overcome the contemporary moment's deficit of conceptualizing alternate realities—its apparent fear of imagining possible new and compelling futures—to begin the arduous task of producing the political dynamics necessary for actual construction.

Implicit in this dynamic between the imaginary and the possible is the question of how thinking intertwines with both rationality and the inherited contingencies and structures of the world. With no ascertainable ground on which to build, with no confidence in any given that could guarantee our labors, how do we even envisage the construction site(s) of possible worlds, and with what kind of diagrams, tools, and languages can we bring them into being?


  • Amanda Beech is an artist and writer based in Los Angeles
  • Robin Mackay is a philosopher, Director of the UK arts organization Urbanomic, and Associate Researcher at Goldsmiths University of London.
  • James Wiltgen is a Lecturer at the California Institute of the Arts.

Contributors: Elie Ayache, Bassam El Baroni, Amanda Beech, Adam Berg, Mat Dryhurst, Anna Longo, Matthew Poole, Patricia Reed, Daniel Sacilotto, Christine Wertheim, Inigo Williams, James Wiltgen.

Publication arises from: the work of the Language and its Possible Worlds Research Group.

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Contrapuntal Media (CPM)

Contrapuntal Media (CPM) is a pamphlet series published through the MA Aesthetics and Politics program housed in the School of Critical Studies at the California Institute of the Arts. CPM seeks to be an aesthetic medium for provocative, polemical points that incite counterpoints. CPM features research-in-progress that is presented publicly with minimal editorial intervention or attention to the formalities of scholarly publishing.

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Contapuntal Media

Cold War/Cold World: Knowledge, Representation and the Outside in the Cold War and Contemporary Art

Cold War/Cold World: Knowledge, Representation and the Outside in the Cold War and Contemporary Art, eds., Amanda Beech, Robin Mackay, James Wiltgen, London: Urbanomic Press, 2017.

If the term 'Cold World' describes a world of infinite complexity, algorithmic capital, and the technological sublime, in many ways the dread experienced during the Cold War, when clear oppositions were laid out between nation states, is echoed in the hall of mirrors that is contemporary globalization. In this Cold World, whose repercussions in many ways amplify, relay and replay those of the Cold War, our collective consciousness is being overtaken by a flood of difference, uncertainty, and the dread of the incompatibility of an alien yet constructed world. Technological subjectivation, political malaise, cultural dysphoria, and ecological crisis abound against an experiential and experimental horizon that prompts many to pose, and to stage, in myriad forms, a fundamental question: 'What will we make of ourselves?'

Contributors: Éric Alliez, Maurizio Lazzarato, Amanda Beech, Robin Mackay, Christine Wertheim, Brian Evenson, Reza Negarestani, Joshua Johnson, Patricia Reed.

Publication arises from: the work of the Cold World/Cold War Research Group.

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Bernard Stiegler: Amateur Philosophy

Bernard Stiegler: Amateur Philosophy, ed., Arne De Boever, Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. (Special issue of boundary 2

This issue brings together three lectures on aesthetics delivered by the French philosopher Bernard Stiegler in Los Angeles in 2011 with articles by scholars of Stiegler’s work. Aesthetics, understood as the theoretical investigation of sensibility, has been central to Stiegler’s work since the mid-1990s. The lectures featured here explicitly link Stiegler’s interest in sensibility to aesthetic theory proper as well as to art history. In “The Proletarianization of Sensibility,” “Kant, Art, and Time,” and “The Quarrel of the Amateurs,” Stiegler expounds his philosophy of technics and its effects on human sensibility, centering on how the figure of the amateur—who loves what he or she does—must be recovered from beneath the ruins of technical history. The other contributors engage the topics covered in the lectures, including the figure of the amateur, cinema, the digital, and extinction.

Contributors: Stephen Barker, Ed Cohen, Tom Cohen, Claire Colebrook, Arne De Boever, Benoît Dillet, Alexander R. Galloway, Mark B. N. Hansen, Jason R. LaRivière, Gerald Moore, Daniel Ross, Bernard Stiegler.

The publication arose from a series of lectures and responses organized by Arne De Boever.

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Bernard Stiegler

The Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism: Volume One

The Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism: Volume One, eds., Arne de Boever and Warren Neidich, Archive Books, 2014. 

How have emancipatory politics, art and architecture, and education been refined by semio-capitalism? What might be the lasting, material ramifications of semio-capitalism on the mind and brain? This book brings together an international array of philosophers, critical theorists, media theorists, art historians, architects, and artists to discuss the state of the mind and the brain under the conditions of cognitive capitalism, in which they have become the new focus of laboring.

Contributors: Jonathan Beller, Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, Arne De Boever, Jodi Dean, Warren Neidich, Patricia Pisters, Jason Smith, Tiziana Terranova, Bruce Wexler.

The publication collects papers presented at the conference, “The Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism: Part One,” held in Los Angeles in November 2012. 

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Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism


Feminaissance, ed., Christine Wertheim, Les Figues Press, 2010

Identity is dead. The 21st-century subject is an unstable fiction with no identifiable features or group affiliations. He’s a man without inherent qualities, a post-human ideal. But those who have long been hailed as Other exist in a different relation to this ideal. Unlike those traditionally self-possessed |s, these Others may find themselves split between a yearning to be contemporary and unqualified, and a longing for a continued allegiance to their qualitative, albeit constructed, group identity. With an awareness of this more ambiguous and refined notion of selfFeminaissance approaches questions of femininity and its relation to writing. Topics include: collectivity; feminine écriture; the politics of writing; text and voice; the body as a site of contestation, insurgence and pleasure; race and writing; gender as performance; writing about other women writers; economic inequities; monstrosity; madness; and aesthetics.

ContributorsDodie BellamyCaroline BergvallMeiling ChengWanda ColemanBhanu KapilChris KrausSusan McCabeTracie MorrisEileen MylesMaggie NelsonVanessa PlaceJuliana SpahrChristine WertheimStephanie YoungLidia Yuknavitch.

The publication was generated by a conference of the same name organized by Matias Viegener and Christine Wertheim held at MOCA in 2008.   

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The n/Oulipean Analects

The n/Oulipean Analects, eds., Matias Viegener and Christine Wertheim, Les Figues Press, 2007.

An alphabetical survey of constrained writing in modern English. Editors Wertheim and Viegener gathered and arranged critical and creative pieces from some of the most prominent and influential constraint-based writers – adding the unknown variable n to the great legacy of Oulipo. The result: an excellent mix of introductory basics for those new to constraint-based writing, blended with in-depth exposition and critique for those already avid readers and writers.

Contributors: Caroline Bergvall, Christian Bök, Johanna Drucker, Paul Fournel, Jen Hofer, Tan Lin, Bernadette Mayer, Ian Monk, Joseph Mosconi, Harryette Mullen, Doug Nufer, Vanessa Place, Janet Sarbanes, Juliana Spahr, Brian Kim Stefans, Rodrigo Toscano, Matias Viegener, Christine Wertheim, Rob Wittig, Stephanie Young.

The Publication was generated from the conference n/Oulipo held at REDCAT in Downtown LA, 2005.

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The n/Oulipean Analects


Séanceeds., Matias Viegener and Christine Wertheim, Make Now Press, 2006.

Contributors: Matias Viegener, Charles Berstain, Christian Bok, Eileen Myles, Janet Sternburg, Dennis Cooper, Dodie Bellamy, Christina Rivera-Garza and Jen Hofer, Robert Gluck, Kevin Killian, Kenneth Goldsmith, Shelley Jackson, Madeline Gins and Arakawa, Steven Shaviro, Ben Marcus, Joan Retallack, Christine Wertheim, Jaap Blonk, and Tracie Morris, all of whom contribute writing and writing on writing.

The Publication gathers work presented at the conference Séance: A Two Day Public Meditation on the Condition of Language and Narrative in Contemporary Writing, LA, October 29th and 30th, 2004.

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