Grant Bollmer

is a theorist and historian of digital culture.

I am a Senior Lecturer in Digital Media at the School of Communication and Arts at the University of Queensland. My research investigates a wide range of topics related to digital media, including emotion recognition, selfies, memes, influencers, terrible videogames, motion capture, virtual reality and empathy, among many other topics. 

I am the author or coauthor of five books. Inhuman Networks: Social Media and the Archaeology of Connection (2016),  examines the history of connectivity in Western culture as it crosses the development of technological, biological, financial, and social networks. Theorizing Digital Cultures (2018),  provides a model for the study of digital media that synthesizes British and German approaches to media and culture. Materialist Media Theory: An Introduction (2019), attempts to update and revise the claims of Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis in relation to a variety of recent theoretical innovations, especially New and Feminist Materialisms. The Affect Lab: The History and Limits of Measuring Emotion (2023) is a history of the American psychology of emotions through the lens of specific tools used to identify and produce emotion, using this history as a critique of any neurological or biological foundations of “affect theory.” A book coauthored with Katherine Guinness, The Influencer Factory: A Marxist Theory of Corporate Personhood on YouTube, will be published in 2024, which uses the backgrounds of YouTube influencer videos to examine the infrastructures of contemporary capitalism.

Among other awards, I’ve been the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, a residency at the Media Archaeology Lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and was a contributor to an issue of the magazine esse: Arts + Opinions on “Empathy,” which received an honorable mention for “Best Editorial Package” from the Canadian National Magazine Awards/Les Prix du Magazine Canadien. Formerly, while I was employed at NC State, I was an NC State University Faculty Scholar, a recipient of the NC State CHASS Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in the Humanities, and recipient of the Robert M. Entman Award for Excellence in Communication Research.

This, however, is perhaps my proudest achievement. The above image is a meme by @cyborg.asm on Instagram, referencing the article “Do You Really Want to Live Forever,” which I coauthored with Katherine Guinness. The original meme can be found here and the article can be found here.


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Networked Liminality

parallax, volume 26, number 1 (2020), edited by

Yiğit Soncul and Grant Bollmer

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“Networked Liminality” is a special issue of the journal parallax I co-edited with Yiğit Soncul, a Lecturer at the University of Winchester in the United Kingdom. As we state in the introduction to the issue, the idea of “networked liminality” is explicitly there to oppose “networked connectivity:”

In spite of any assumed ‘smooth’ or ‘frictionless’ connections attributed to their form, networks are inherently uneven... This issue of parallax [is inspired by calls to] look for, examine, and theorise how networks produce subjects who only partially connect, liminal subjects that do not abide by normative demands of connectivity. This issue focuses on the liminal spaces and figures that enact the multiple subjectivities associated with networks. These figures help us imagine political conflicts that undermine the seeming flatness of networked relation, looking to liminality - rather than a more simplistic fetishizing of connectivity - as a potential space over which networked power is maintained, contested, undermined, and enacted.

In thinking through these “liminalities,” this issue contains contribitions from renowned and emerging researchers and theorists who live at the border of digital culture and contemporary art: Sean Cubitt, Ingrid Hoelzl, Tony Sampson, Tero Karppi, Jim Hodge, Katherine Guinness, Alex Anikina, Philip Glahn and Cary Levine, and Mihaela Brebenel.

The introduction of the special issue can be found here, and the entire issue can be found here.