BCNM is delighted to welcome four PhD and one MFA candidate into the Designated Emphasis and Certificate program. Applications this semester were phenomenal and we’re thrilled by the unique perspectives each of our new students will bring to the Center.
Miyoko Conley, TDPS, examines transnational fan studies and affective technologies, with a focus on East Asian popular culture. Zooming in on the digital and online fan practices around anime, manga, K-pop, and theater, and these objects’ flow between Japan, South Korea, and the United States, she analyzes how fans use specific technologies to not only create knowledge, but also perform affect. Through fan studies, Miyoko hopes to illustrate that the relationship between user and technology is one that is embodied and affective. Coming from the field of Performance Studies, Miyoko’s work more broadly deals with intersections between theatre and popular culture, and examines how media phenomenon impact theatrical practices in traditional theatre spaces, and also how online space might be considered theatrical. Her current project is an expansion of the research she did for her Master’s thesis at New York University, in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Miyoko is a playwright and theatre-maker, and new media technology not only plays a large part in the staging of her work, but also conceptually in content, and she continually engages with what it means to perform with and in digital technology. “I wish to pursue a Designated Emphasis in New Media because my work explicitly deals with digital technologies, and their imbrication with social practices.”
Kaitline Forcier, Film and Media, focuses on time-based audio-visual media in the digital age. Her work is centered around the intersections of moving images and contemporary technologies, including digital cinema, vernacular video practices, surveillance, war and cinema, post-broadcast television and Web cinema, technology and perception, theories of time, cyborgs, and the ontology of the digital image. Her research has included an exploration of the temporality of the animated GIF, placing the format in conversation with other looping media: from early moving images such as the zoetrope and actuality films to the looping structure of videogames and computer programming. Kaitlin’s Master’s dissertation at the University of Warwick (U.K.) explored convergences of military and popular visual technologies as represented in films about the Iraq War. In examining the functions of the many screens in such films (soldiers’ amateur videos, news reports, security cameras, videogames etc.), it becomes clear that cinema about modern warfare is endeavoring to understand profound changes in visual technology. Since completing her degree, she has written a paper analyzing the jihadist beheading video and the U.S.’s campaign of remote targeted killings (drone strikes) as two modes of warfare mediated by the screen.
Colin Ho, Mechanical Engineering, responds to how accelerating technological progress is changing societal power relations. He seeks to help balance this shift in power relations by democratizing access to robotics research and creative expression tools. Colin is currently developing haptic feedback interfaces that can emulate the sensation of tactile slip, which would enable more intuitive and effective telerobotic operation. He is also researching methods to easily teach robots how to conduct complex tasks through human demonstration by creating lowcost opensource human robot interfaces that can capture human task demonstrations in high fidelity. Another domain of his research is design methodology for collaborative design for multimedia art experiences. He recently collaborated with Capacitor Dance in their production “Synaptic Motion,” which premiered at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The production’s goal was to humanize abstract neuroscience concepts and explore our relation with our mind space and creativity. Through an iterative design for the dance process and rapid prototyping and fabrication techniques, he created a light sculpture that pulsed with the intensity of the dancer’s movements and responded to specific interactions, serving as a tangible metaphor for neuroplasticity. Colin has opensourced his design for the sculpture to serve as a reference for others.
Félix Treviño is one of our first PhD candidates from the Spanish and Portuguese department. Félix hopes to bring back to his community and to the marginalized people in Mexico the knowledge that will allow them not just to understand the new ways of literary production, but to become producers of literature and knowledge. To this end, he has studied Nauhtl at Yale University. Prior to beginning at UC Berkeley, Félix served as a consultant in charge of strategic communications at a large Mexican corporation. There, he realized the impact his words had on his immediate surroundings through technology. He intends to further his digital literacy by attending the Digital Humanities Summer Institute in June 2015. Félix is also an accomplished author and has been published both in Mexico and abroad.
Lark Buckingham, Art Practice, has a background in animation and video production, often used in conjunction with live performance and music. Lark’s current research focuses on interactive media — she develops games that function as therapy tools for trauma survivors. Traumatic experience damages not only a person’s emotional landscape, but also disrupts the physical self, causing changes in structure and function across multiple systems in the body. A growing body of research suggests that the most effective treatments for PTSD begin with the body, as opposed to traditional models of talk therapy. Biofeedback is a method of training individuals how to better regulate their internal systems by feeding back data of their heart rate and respiration. Lark plans to develop more engaging interfaces for these tools, while exploring ways to introduce creative output and expand upon channels of user interaction.