BCNM New Media Students showcase Research at Spring Semester Presentation

23 Apr, 2013

BCNM New Media Students showcase Research at Spring Semester Presentation

UC Berkeley graduate students with a Designated Emphasis in New Media, Caitlin Marshall (Theater, Dance, Performance Studies, DE New Media), Andrea Horbinski (History, DE New Media), and visiting scholar, Yngvil Beyer (National Library of Norway, Fulbright Visiting Scholar at BCNM) presented their research on April 17, 2013 in the BCNM Commons to an audience of students, faculty, and members of the public.

Caitlin Marshall (Theater, Dance, Performance Studies, DE New Media)
"Synthesizing the Human: The Cultural Economy of Speaking Machines"

The late 18th century saw a flurry of activity from inventors who rushed to engineer the human voice with machines modeled after vocal physiology. Insofar as speech was the scientific mark of man, these inventors sought to synthesize the human. Feeding mass desire for entertainment both lively and educational, speaking machines circulated trans-nationally at 'scientific,' or traveling dime museum exhibitions into and across the 19th century. Regarded today as simple analogs for speech, as mere prototypes in the quest for a proper theory of acoustics, and as uncanny sideshow gimmicks, speaking machines have been relegated to the historic anecdotal. However, speaking machines were also powerful cultural brokers: Faber's Euphonia, for example, intermittently toured abroad and throughout the U.S. for nearly a 30 year span between the mid 1840's and early 1870's -- a time of tremendous cultural negotiation, upeavel, and (re)formation. During this time the Euphonia was regarded with equal parts awe and disgust. Though ingenious, the speaking machine was also described as monstrous and speech impaired, and was part of the trade in racialized 'freakery' that hallmarked spectacles pedaled by showmen such as Barnum, who on at least two occasions exhibited the Euphonia. In this talk I argue that speaking machines such as the Euphonia were popular stateside precisely because they synthesized the not-quite-human. In an age characterized by struggle over the borders of freedom and democracy, how did speaking machines shore up and delimit access to the category, and rights of 'man'?

Caitlin Marshall applies her practice-based and pedagogical knowledge of voice towards the study of what it meant to ‘sound American’ during the nation’s first independent century. Focusing on ‘Othered’ American vernaculars at the intersections of race, disability, gender, and ethnicity, her dissertation, 'Power in the Tongue’: Crippled Speech & Vocal Culture in Antebellum America, takes seriously the metaphor of voice in American democracy, and works at the confluence of Performance and Disability Studies to mobilize speech impairment as a broad material and theoretical category for investigating how American citizenship was established as an exclusionary vocal limit during the long 19th century. Caitlin also teaches acting at UCB and at the California College of the Arts. When she isn't teaching or writing her dissertation, she enjoys lending her time to her own artistic practice. Upcoming directing projects include 'Kid Simple,' a radio play in the flesh (UCB, Fall 2013). Caitlin has co-led VoxTAP with Robbie Beahrs since 2009.

Andrea Horbinski (History, DE New Media)
"FanData: Visualizing Data from Fan Fiction Archives"

“Fan fiction” is a genre of creative writing authored by fans of mass media texts, such as films, television series, comic books, and video games, in which fans incorporate characters, settings, and/or plot elements from their favorite texts into original works. Fan fiction is published primarily online, and many fan fiction websites are archives, specifically intended to preserve and make accessible fan fiction stories for future readers.

FanData was created in conjunction with Google engineers on a pro bono basis for the Fan Fiction and Internet Memory oral history and data project in the summer of 2012 under the leadership of Prof. Abigail de Kosnik. An extreme alpha release, Fan Data relies on a set of scripts using the Python programming languages to analyze web pages culled by researchers from a diverse set of fan fiction archives. The scraper produces simple spreadsheets that plot such metadata as date of posting, author name, work type, content rating, and various other creator-encoded attributes. The spreadsheets generated by FanData can then be used as a basis to create data visualizations using other applications, particularly the open source application Gephi. This presentation will discuss my work on the "FanData" project, explicating the process from raw data to data visualization. I will consider some of the advantages and disadvantages of visualizing fan fiction archives as networks, and argue that FanData shows that embracing a "Big Data" (i.e. quantitative) approach to internet archives and activities has the potential to greatly enrich scholars' understanding of popular culture production and participation.

Andrea Horbinski is a Ph.D. student in Japanese history with a Designated Emphasis in New Media. She was previously a Fulbright Fellow at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan, researching hypernationalist manga, and is the editorial assistant for Mechademia, a peer-reviewed journal of anime, manga, and fan culture studies. She has discussed anime, manga, and Japanese folklore at cons and conferences including Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits, Otakon, WisCon, Sirens, and the Popular Culture Association. She currently sits on the Board of the Organization for Transformative Works and on the Advisory Board of the Ada Initiative.

Yngvil Beyer (National Library of Norway, Fulbright Visiting Scholar at BCNM)
""@jensstoltenberg Spoke to us on Twitter: Born Digital Objects as Cultural Heritage"

YouTube videos, a 1500 pages document attached to an e-mail, hundreds of thousands of tweets, dozens of Facebook groups, continuously updated web pages, blogs; this constitutes the digitally mediated, immediate documentation of the terrorist attack against Norway on July 22, 2011. In this presentation the mediation of the unforeseen terrorist attack on 22 July is analyzed in order to identify and discuss some of the challenges that are connected to the preservation of new media content. The material is approached from an archival point of view, thus relating it to traditional archiving practices.

Yngvil Beyer is a PhD fellow (2011-14) at the National Library of Norway. She is currently (spring 2013) a visiting scholar at Berkeley Center for New Media as a Fulbright grantee. Yngvil holds an MA from the Department of Media and Communication at the University of Oslo. She has been at the National Library since 2009, where she has worked on digitization and cataloging at the map section as well as contributed to the revision of the national protection plan for moving images. Recent publications include “Using DiscoverText for Large Scale Twitter Harvesting” in Microform and Digitization Review (vol. 41, no. 3-4, 2012) and “@jensstoltenberg talte til oss på twitter, digitalt fødte objekter som kulturarv” in Viden i spil (eds. Høyrup, Helene, Samfundslitteratur, 2012). Yngvil is part of a joint research project (The Archive in Motion) that investigates the ways in which archival concepts and practices have been transformed under the impact of the radical changes in writing and recording technologies that have taken place over the last century, and particularly with the introduction of digital technologies. The working title of her case study for the AiM project is “New Media and the Archive: The Case of the National Library in Norway”.