Resources
Conference Grants

Conference Grants

Next deadline – October 1, 2022

We’re proud to support our students as they share their scholarship across the globe. Each semester, the BCNM is able to offer a small subsidy for students attending the premiere conferences in their fields. To be eligible to apply, students must be presenting a paper or poster on their research at a professional conference. Grant amounts depend on the location of the conference and the number of applications received.

Interested in other BCNM resources? Check out all the graduate opportunities here!

Application Requirements

If you are interested in applying, please fill in this form with the following information:

  • your name, email, and department
  • the conference name, date, location, and description
  • the title and abstract of your paper
  • any other resources you will receive to support your travel

Our Spring 2022 awards are now closed. Fall 2022 applications are due by October 1, 2022.

Past Awards

Spring 2022

See the awards here.

Elnaz Bailey

The 2022 ACM Symposium of Eye Tracking Research & Applications (ETRA) | Seattle

Insight XR: Integration of Eye Tracking in Computational Architectural Design in Augmented Reality

InsightXR is an augmented reality application that enables expert and non-expert users to visualize 3D designs and provide feedback to designers using AR technology. Our proposed system currently has two major aspects: an AR platform and Grasshopper components in Rhinoceros. The Grasshopper components facilitate the designer with user feedback results visualization as attention maps and 3D fixation points, by helping designers understand areas with highest attention. In InsightXR users’ feedback is collected using two methods: direct feedback as markups on the 3D model and users’ eye tracking data. In order to understand the user’s attention towards 3D geometries and what spatial elements attract attention we conducted user studies. Our results showed that a high percentage of user’s fixation points are in proximity of their provided feedback. In future, user-generated feedback will be used to inform the generation of new designs using interactive genetic algorithms (IGAs).

Katherine Song

ACM CHI (Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems) / New Orleans

Towards Decomposable Interactive Systems: Design of a Backyard-Degradable Wireless Heating Interface

Sustainability is critical to our planet and thus our designs. Within HCI, there is a tension between the desire to create interactive electronic systems and sustainability. In this paper, we present the design of an interactive system comprising components that are entirely decomposable. We leverage the inherent material properties of natural materials, such as paper, leaf skeletons, and chitosan, along with silver nanowires to create a new system capable of being electrically controlled as a portable heater. This new decomposable system, capable of wirelessly heating to >70°C, is flexible, lightweight, low-cost, and reusable, and it maintains its functionality over long periods of heating and multiple power cycles. We detail its design and present a series of use cases, from enabling a novel resealable packaging system to acting as a catalyst for shape-changing designs and beyond. Finally, we highlight the important decomposable property of the interactive system when it meets end-of-life.

Haripriya Sathyanarayanan

2022 Planetree International Conference on Person-Centered Care / Anaheim

Poster: Supportive Pediatric Healthcare Built Environment: Value of Co-Design

Statement of Need: About 1.3 million of children and adolescents are hospitalized yearly with a mean length of stay ranging from 4.2 to 5.3 days. Designing healthcare environments that are optimal for young patients of all backgrounds is challenging with its complex technology-intensive environments and ever evolving interactions between people and the environment. It is well understood that Patient Experience and Care are affected by the healthcare built environment with growing evidence linking favorable room design elements to patient satisfaction, stress, and patient health outcomes. Stakeholder engagement is key for operationalization of patient experience, a multi-dimensional construct, and there is a need for increased involvement of children as participants and co-researchers. Hospitalization can cause specific difficulties for young people due to separation from their peers, school, and family with pediatric healthcare facilities having a critical role in offering a supportive healing environment to the vulnerable population, with age-appropriate environments that can address the unique needs and concerns of this age-group.

Impact: The patients’ voice is needed in design mock-ups, simulation, and feedback to meet functional and emotional affordances, and address diversity and equity. The expected outcomes are knowledge on perspectives of hospitalized children to capture their uniquely different perspectives and preferences on design and opportunity to create solutions that resonate equitably with children of all age groups. This research engages directly with children on spatial design and a supportive hospital environment filling critical gaps on children’s potential to serve as agents of architectural knowledge. The study also includes parents and staff to capture their uniquely different and collective perspectives on the pediatric patient room design and patient experience. This study adopts a mixed methods study design with qualitative methods using art-based methods and interviews, and quantitative method of surveys on design.

Practical take-aways: (1) How to engage with children to understand needs that can be supported through design of the healthcare built environment (2) To understand the differences in needs and preferences among the key stakeholders (3) To understand what makes children feel better when in a patient room or what may cause anxiety and stress.

EDRA53 Health Nn All Design / Greenville

Presenter in two workshop sessions and 1 Poster

Behind the Curtain: The Latest in Practice-Based Research
1. PARTNERSHIP MODELS BETWEEN ACADEMIA AND PRACTICE: The aim of this panel is to speak from multiple perspectives—academic, student, practitioner, and industry outsider—about the opportunities and challenges involved in Academic-Practice partnerships, through case studies that share experiences, successful models, and research practice, to initiate the development of a resource guide/toolkit through the Researchers in Professional Practice Knowledge Network.
2. TRANSLATING RESEARCH INTO PRACTICE: Lightning talks will address the understanding of research and practice-based research methods, barriers for the application of research in design practice, and how research methods can be plugged into various stages of the design process to address different needs. Following the talks, pairs of researchers and practitioners (and/or academic and practice-based researchers) will participate in a facilitated conversation on knowledge sharing and research application in their domain. The aim is to address access to and consumption of research, application of findings in design practice, and methods used for communication and presentation. The session will acknowledge challenges in the translation of research into accessible formats for practitioners, capture the perspectives of researchers and practitioners, and address strategies (an action plan) for effective communication and translation of research knowledge in design practice.
3. Poster: Spatial and Environmental Design of Pediatric Inpatient Rooms: Performance Simulations and the Patient Perspective

Molly Nicholas

CSCW / Taipei, Taiwan

Friendscope: Exploring In-the-Moment Experience Sharing on Camera Glasses via a Shared Camera

We introduce Friendscope, an instant, in-the-moment experience sharing system for lightweight commercial camera glasses. Friendscope explores a new concept called a shared camera. This concept allows a wearer to share control of their camera with a remote friend, making it possible for both people to capture photos/videos from the camera in the moment. Through a user study with 48 participants, we found that users felt connected to each other, describing the shared camera as a more intimate form of livestreaming. Moreover, even privacy-sensitive users were able to retain their sense of privacy and control with the shared camera. Friendscope's different shared camera configurations give wearers ultimate control over who they share the camera with and what photos/videos they share. We conclude with design implications for future experience sharing systems.

Creativity and Cognition / Italy

Creative and Motivational Strategies Used by Expert Creative Practitioners

Creative practice often requires persevering through moments of ambiguity, where the outcome of a process is unclear. Creative practitioners intentionally manage this process, for example by developing strategies to break out of creative ruts, or stay motivated through uncertainty. Understanding the way experts engage with and manage these creativity-relevant processes represents a rich source of foundational knowledge for designers of Creativity Support Tools. These strategies represent an opportunity for CST research: to create CSTs that embody emotional and process-focused strategies and techniques. Through interviews with expert practitioners in diverse domains including performance, craft, engineering, and design, we identify four strategies for managing process: Strategic Forgetting, Mode Switching, Embodying Process, and Aestheticizing. Understanding tool- and domain-agnostic creative strategies used by experts to manage their own creative process can inform the design of future CSTs that amplify the benefits of successful strategies and scaffold new techniques.

Vincente Perez

SILLY MEDIA 2022 / The University of Chicago

Life Is Like A Party Shawty: Teezo Touchdown on Respectability, Quality, and Representation

Teezo Touchdown relies on an eccentric persona and elements of surrealism during his 2021 “Rid the Mid” campaign. To promote his music and address the rampant issue of “mid” music, Teezo dips into politics and becomes Mayoral Candidate Touchdown. In this presentation I will examine a few videos from this campaign as well as interviews on his work to argue that Teezo’s music is a chance to engage with Black artists who attempt to wrestle Black meaning away from whiteness and white meaning-making structures via silly and absurdist work that directly addresses its intended audience: Black people. I build upon Raquel Gate’s theorization of the concept of “negativity” and assert that Teezo Touchdown employs “Strategic Negativity” by donning the persona of a mayoral candidate and running a campaign to rid the streets of mediocre music. I want to build upon Gate’s argument that trashy reality television represents a “metaphorical gutter” and argue that Hip-hop, especially the music video, represents the storm drain, a fecund site for exploring culture and life that does not cater to the white gaze. Teezo revels in the Ratchet and employs various negative images to support his inversion of high/low quality measures that could not comprehend how “mid” music represents a crisis.
Taking Teezo Touchdown’s use of “strategic negativity” seriously requires understanding how he intentionally disturbs the notion of the Real by promoting his absurdist work through seemingly serious channels. In other words, silliness is the necessary register to effectively explore who Teezo is addressing, why he uses the political campaign as a mode of address, and how Teezo uses silliness to create Black texts that can challenge white cultural hegemony. If “life is like a party shawty”, then perhaps, whiteness, respectability, and other forms of antiblack affective structures are temporary and more importantly, maybe we can “rid the mid” and let Black meaning be, otherwise.

Fall 2021

See the awards here.

Elisa Giardina Papa

International Art Exhibit

Title Redacted

Elisa Giardina Papa's work will be exhibited at a major international art exhibition. Announcements are forthcoming and we are excited to share the work with the BCNM community once the emabrgo is lifted! Get excited for this new media art installation on humanness and womanhood.

William Morgan

Source Code Criticism: Hermeneutics, Philology, and Didactics of Algorithms | Basel, Switzerland

Epigenomics and the Xenoformed Earth

In Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy, technical means make possible the transformation of alien spaces into human-recognizable and -habitable ones: terraforming procedures. This article contends that in the present we are witnessing the emergence of a scientific-philosophical revolution that is having the opposite effect. Rather than the transforming the strange into the familiar, the epigenomic revolution erodes the familiar to make way for the strange, the alien: xenoforming procedures. Xenoforming, this article argues, because the epistemological consequences of epigenomics as bioinformatic codification of epigenetic mutations are not limited to the scientific arena, but instead form an epigenomic epistemology that has already begun to inflect both corporate and quotidian ways of apprehending life’s vital processes, producing, whether we have noticed it or not, profound augmentations in contemporary understandings of subjectivity, time and trauma.

Vincente Perez

The 22nd annual conference of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) | Philadelphia

ANAGRAMMATICAL (DIGITAL) BLACKNESS: BLACK TWITTER, SIGNIFYIN', AND THE MUNDANE

The primary goals of media literacy are laudable: active and critical thinking about the messages we receive and the messages we create. In practice, media literacy standardizes limited ways of knowing and normalizes built-in biases. Subsequently, its narrow emphasis on skill development, particularly the role of fact-checking, content creation, and independent research are all practices that can be exploited, oftentimes leading to the amplification of misinformation. Homogeneous media literacy also assumes that platforms are neutral – codifying a dominant, neoliberal, racist lens as a competency. Social media literacy in particular assumes the norms of proprietary algorithms, arming users with the skills determined by Silicon Valley’s corporate, individualist, white supremacist values. Contemporary high school curricula teaches students to ably brand and promote themselves; adept meme creators are rewarded for racial appropriation and fungible performances of Blackness; vanity metrics foster reputation anxiety in social media’s ‘success theatre’; personal data protection is an arguably futile lesson in privacy that preaches paranoid gated communities; fascist media pundits easily exploit conservative media literacy practice of “doing your own research” to naturalize misinformation. What are the implicitly raced, classed norms of reading "correctly"? What are mundane emancipatory reading practices? What alternative literacy practices do users deploy to reject these individualistic, racist standards? What does interpretive media literacy look like? This panel offers a portrait of what’s missing in media literacy and explores visions of interdependent practices that offer alternative methods of active and critical thinking about the messages we receive and the messages we create. The paper looks at Black Twitter users who refuse to read the platform "right" in a racist antiblack digital civic sphere. The paper focuses on “anagrammatical” praxis (Sharpe, 2016) wherein Black Twitter users engage in hacking virality, covert publicity, and Black vernacular signyfyin’ to create a multifaceted and adaptive strategy of making sense of the incomprehensible nature of antiblackness.

Juliana Friend

Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) | Baltimore

Wearing Illicit Images: Fabrics of Pornography and Citizenship in Senegal

In the open-air markets of Dakar, Senegal, vendors keep draps porno (“porn sheets”) discreetly tucked under stacks of colorful fabrics. Draps porno are bedsheets or lingerie screen-printed with screenshots from porn films. The white fabrics feature glossy photographs of sex acts between Black, white, or interracial couples. Vendors sell these fabrics to married women or to mothers as gifts for their daughters’ wedding nights. When it’s time to use them, customers smooth porn images onto their beds. Or they wrap the images around their hips, creasing photographs of women in the sex industry against their own bodies. Many vendors consider draps porno simply a more graw (“hardcore”) technique of mokk pooj, the art of seduction. Women often cultivate Muslim piety and claim economic negotiating power vis-à-vis sexual partners through mokk pooj (Gilbert 2017). Yet the introduction of photographs to its material culture demands new negotiations of personhood and citizenship. The ethics of buying and selling draps porno often hinge on what I call the “double bind of digital intimate citizenship;” in complex relation to colonizing projects, moral citizenship and social personhood depend upon the ability to manage the circulation of one’s digital data and image. Yet only those construed as belonging to the moral community of the nation can claim the agency to determine how, with whom, and how much their data circulates. Within this framework, vendors position women who appear in pornography outside the national community due to their acts of illicit digital exposure. When women are positioned as moral non-citizens, recirculating their acts of illicit digital exposure through fabric can more easily be justified. For wearers, moral personhood and eroticism are materially co-constituted by the intimate labor of those positioned outside the national community, as wearers affix images of transgressive women to their beds or their own bodies. By embedding porn images in new material forms and performance contexts, vendors and wearers naturalize nationalist interpretation frameworks for illicit image-making.

Spring 2021

Lani Alden, East Asian Languages & Cultures

Abby Gao, Architecture

Sophia Huang, Information

Philippe Li, Landscape Architecture

Vincente Perez, Performance Studies

Tina Piracci, College of Environmental Design

Haripriya Sathyaranayanan, Architecture

Yifeng Wang, College of Environmental Design

Shengjie Wu, College of Environmental Design

Fall 2020

Trista Hu, College of Environmental Design

Sophia Huang, School of Information

Michelle Hwang, School of Information

Janet Le, College of Environmental Design

Rebecca Levitan, History of Art

Tina Piracci, College of Environmental Design

Spring 2020

Check out the amazing recipients of our Spring 2020 awards here!

Sarah Sterman

The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems | Honolulu, Hawaii

Interacting with Literary Style through Computational Tools​

Style is an important aspect of writing, shaping how audiences interpret and engage with literary works. However, for most people style is difficult to articulate precisely. While users frequently interact with computational word processing tools with well-defined metrics, such as spelling and grammar checkers, style is a significantly more nuanced concept. In this paper, we present a computational technique to help surface style in written text. We collect a dataset of crowdsourced human judgments of style, derive a model of style by training a neural net on this data, and present novel applications for visualizing and browsing style across broad bodies of literature, as well as an interactive text editor with real-time style feedback. We study these interactive style applications with users and discuss implications for enabling this novel approach to style.

Tina Piracci

NCECA the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts | Richmond, Virginia

Clay 3-D Printed Water Filtration Device

Background: Every year 1.7 million people, mainly children under the age of five, die from illness which is caused by drinking unsafe water. Currently, traditional terracotta water filters are being produced by Potters for Peace. The objective of this nonprofit’s water filter project is to make safe drinking water available by helping set up workshops that will produce ceramic water filters made from locally sourced materials, utilizing clays natural filtration properties. Produced at over 50 independent factories in over 30 countries, these colloidal silver-enhanced ceramic water purifiers are able to bring clean water to the masses, however, after discussing with the Director of Potters for Peace at the annual clay conference in 2019 (NCECA), I realized there is an opportunity to increase the efficiency of the filter, thus being able to provide more filters to those who do not have access to clean water. (For more info on these filters please visit https://www.pottersforpeace.org/ )

Project: Due to their manufacturing techniques, they end up discarding 17% of their filters due to inadequacy. Currently, I am enrolled in an on-going directed study as a research affiliate at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab investigating the ways we propose these filters will improve. At the lab, I have the tools necessary to make a comparative analysis of my proposed filter and the pre-existing filter they are currently using. Using computational tool-path strategies, the infill within these filters is proposed to yield a more effective device. After several discussions with one of the directors for Potters for Peace, Robert Pillars, he too is confident that 3-D printing these filters could potentially increase the amount of clean water supplied to people in crisis situations by allowing more filters to be made efficiently and effectively while also creating a reductive in the production cost leading to more filters. Mr. Pillars has personally invited me to share my prototypes at their gallery during the NCECA 2020 conference. (For more info on NCECA, please visit https://nceca.net/ )

William Morgan

Encountering the Social: Masquerades, Fluidities, and Becomings of Postcapitalism | Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, India

‘What is (Machine) Philosophy?’: Machine Learning and the Digital Realization of Deleuze

Rather than a humorous quip or a remark about Deleuze’s intellectual legacy, what would it mean to change our understanding of Foucault’s oft-quoted remark, “perhaps one day this century will be remembered as Deleuzian” to a serious observation about the oncoming fulfillment of Deleuzian qualities in the future? That is, what if we were to think about the 20th century as the “coming true” of a Deleuzian ethos and think the 21st as its aftermath?

This paper argues that this “coming true” of Deleuze is in fact what we are witnessing today when we encounter the fluidities and becomings of postcapitalism. Digital technology has to a degree realized the spirit of Deleuzoguattarian process philosophy, succinctly conveyed in A Thousand Plateaus as “it doesn't matter what it means, it's still signifying.” With machine learning specifically the content of what a thing means matters very little compared to the fact or form of its carrying meaning, to begin with: training data.

This paper takes up the provocation of a digital realization of Deleuzian notions of process, becoming and difference in the context of machine learning to ask anew the question, ‘what is philosophy?’ What kind of philosophy is it (if it’s philosophy at all) that renders the human as dividual, code, or information? What is machine philosophy? If machine learning is a philosophy in the Deleuzian sense, what concepts does it create? Against the creep of a Heideggerian line shepherding one towards technodeterministic understanding of the digital, this paper argues for understanding the multiplicity of concepts and conceptual personae that animate the work of machine philosophy.

Focus on the philosophical activity of machine learning reveals that there is not just one digital and that even “control”, the seemingly now-omnipresent distinction of the late-career Deleuze is, like segmentary, statehood or striation before it, merely the epiphenomenal appearing of one of a multiplicity of ways of responding to the metaphysics of becoming.

Following digital theorist Luciana Parisi, this paper asks that we think with machines to understand the conjugations or connections their particular asymmetric syntheses of the sensible make possible. In the spirit of Deleuze, it is here argued that we know not yet what a machine body can do. In order to ask this question, we need to change our point of view similar to how Deleuze in Pure Immanence describes Nietzsche doing in relation to sickness and health. Thinking from machines’ point of view unveils an inhuman philosophy or set of concepts that were always with us, but which is only now with machine learning becoming visible. Importantly, machine concepts are neither homogenous nor synchronous, but often in conflict, competing for the right to render the world.
This paper concludes by attempting to take seriously the global political implications of machine learners’ renderings as philosophy. Taking inspiration from Benjamin Bratton’s “stack” and Yuk Hui’s “cosmotechnics”, the paper asks what opportunities or challenges await us as the new nomos of the Earth is not only increasingly digitized, but also manufactured not by humans, states or even the simple computers Deleuze prophesied about, but now by automatic machine learners, machines that this paper argues are characteristic of our society’s episteme.

Lashon Daley

American Literature Association | San Diego, CA

Breaking the Illustrated Color Line

By bridging dance studies and literary studies, “Breaking the Illustrated Color Line” explores how the black female dancing bodies of Misty Copeland, Michaela DePrince, Debbie Allen, and Janet Collins are not only rupturing the color line that has been long withstanding within the industry of children’s literature, but are also being used to propagate what dance scholar Thomas DeFrantz (2011, 58) terms as “collective subjectivities.” As evidence, I explore five children’s picture books, including Copeland’s Firebird: Ballerina Misty Copeland Shows a Young Girl How to Dance Like the Firebird, DePrince’s Ballerina Dreams: A True Story, Allen’s Dancing in the Wings, Michelle Meadow’s Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins, and Kristy Dempsey’s A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream. By situating the black female dancing body in children’s picture books, “Breaking the Illustrated Color Line” emphasizes the importance and complexities surrounding children’s picture book production of black female dancing bodies in American literature. Thus, this paper hinges upon conversations about diversity in children’s literature and the value placed on the materiality produced by the black female dancing body. By formulating theories around why these biographic texts are a part of society’s desire to consume black bodies, “Breaking the Illustrated Color Line” highlights how these texts carry the burden that is often placed on black cultural expressions to educate the populace. In addition, this paper acknowledges that there is a kind of performativity that becomes enacted as images of these black female dancing bodies are converted to fixed children’s book illustrations. What children’s literary scholar Robin Bernstein (2011, 165) terms as “script” or “scripting” in order to understand the gap between literature and material culture, I, in turn, reveal in this paper, scripting as a method to apprehend the intersection of literature, material culture, and dance.

Rebecca Levitan

Mediterranean Studies Association | Gibraltar

Mutability in Roman Copies of Greek Sculpture

Panel: Replicas/Replication in/of the Ancient Mediterranean
Abstract: In this paper, I examine why the Hellenistic motif of the recovery of the fallen soldier appealed to later audiences. In doing so, I will argue that the monument’s inherent compositional mutability allowed the statue to serve as an effective catalyst for dialogue in both popular and elite Roman contexts, ranging from the very center of imperial Rome to provincial hubs. I will present a geospatial analysis of these patterns. An examination of the metamorphosis of one statue type through modern tools provides insights into Roman reception and the changing priorities of viewers of ancient monuments.

Nicholaus Gutierrez

Society of Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) Annual Conference |Denver, CO

The High Cost of Hyperreality: Economizing Immersive Experience in 90’s-Era Homebrew VR

The Virtual Reality Creations guidebook (1993) begins with a call to imagine the fantastical: "You're bicycling through a wooded area beside a lake. Off to one side, you hear birds chirping in the trees; to the other, you hear a dog barking as it splashes through the water...You bicycle up a steep hill...then go zipping down the other side. You travel along the road a little farther, picking up speed; when you're going fast enough, you suddenly leave the ground and begin cruising among the clouds, waving at your fellow 'cyclists.'" It's an image of a complex virtual world, with varied terrain, 3D audio, a physical input system (riding a bicycle), and physics that both mimic the natural world and exceed it. But this ideal program, which articulates the dream of total immersion common with early-90's VR but doesn’t actually exist, stands very much at odds with the practical realities of achieving simulations that could suspend users’ disbelief. In fact, this description is at odds with the VR software described in this guidebook, which excludes audio in order to focus on 3D graphics.

In this paper, I examine a series of 90’s-era VR “engines,” software suites designed to streamline the development of virtual worlds. From the “homebrew” community of VR enthusiasts using the REND386 virtual world interface to corporate software packages like Virtus VR, the VR engine became an imagined means of achieving the ideal experience of VR—total immersion, perfect simulation—even as so many its objects required technical compromise in the form of reduced frame rates, lower polygon counts, or the exclusion of haptics. By tracing the tension between what I call VR’s “virtual imaginary” and the technical constraints of these VR engines, I show that they represented a set of creative practices that was ultimately more about managing available resources to establish development techniques than achieving the purported dream of total simulation. From this perspective, the drive to make VR development widely accessible, and the necessary economizing of VR’s hardware and software elements, marked a shift from the naïve metaphysical fantasies of so much VR development during that era to possible forms of creative practice.

Bélgica del Río

Bodies as Archives Symposium | UC Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara, CA on Chumash Territory

The Performativities of Anishinaabe Water Songs in My Body

Honour Water is an Anishinaabe singing video-game that teaches songs to heal the water. I demonstrate how Honour Water creates Anishinaabe space within digital territories to allow Indigenous, de-Indigenized, or, non-Indigenous people to listen deeply to Anishinaabe voices and water songs. I position how I enter Anishinaabe space as a de-Indigenized person in order to share my gameplay experience with “Miigwech Nibi” (Thank you water), one of the three water songs gifted for the game. Using embodied descriptions, theory from my body, and a practice of 'atendiendo' (a responsibility of attending to and caring for each other as I have learned in my family), I highlight how the performativities of Anishinaabe water songs touch and heal my own body and ripple onto Ohlone waterways in Xučyun, the ancestral territory of the Ohlone People. In this context, performativities are the enactments created through the motion and resonance of embodied practices such as singing. Within Indigenous ways of being, I also understand performativities to be a way of attending to relationships between human and more-than-human beings, bodies, or worlds. I demonstrate how these performativities create connection and bodily grounding as a direct intervention in settler colonialism’s embodied structures. While I believe that Anishinaabe water songs within digital space heal relationships within and across Indigenous, de-Indigenized, and non-Indigenous bodies, I also trouble the settler colonial materialities that underpin the production of digital territories. This presentation offers an embodied approach to Indigenous new media that expands how Indigenous knowledge systems interact through and beyond digital media while also furthering a discourse of settler colonialism in its embodied, performed, and behaved structures.

Miyoko Conley

Association for Asian American Studies Annual Conference | Washington D.C.

Troubling Games: Putting Politics into Play (roundtable)

I will be presenting on a roundtable that takes up video games not as purveyors of hate, as they are often thought, but as an expressive and algorithmic medium that trouble attachments to one’s nation, belonging, race, and identity. In a forthcoming book, Amanda Philips uses the term “Gamer Trouble,” similar to Judith Butler’s “Gender Trouble,” to understand how video games trouble us not because they promote violence, but because they trouble coherent categories of identity, as well as our fidelity to the imperial nation-state, to emerging technology, and to the discourses and academic forms that we choose to engage with (Asian American Studies included). How do games trouble coherent categories of race, nation, and political identity? How have games expressed new and radical ways of seeing difference as well as imperial power? My presentation will examine Chance Agency’s Neo Cab (2019), which is an emotional survival game about the last human contract driver (similar to Lyft or Uber) in the futuristic city of Los Ojos, where nearly every service is automated. I will show how Neo Cab critiques not only the technology and service industries, but also how the game binds race and gender to them through its core mechanic of managing the protagonist’s emotions against their "star rating" as they pick up a variety of passengers.

Juliana Friend

Society for Linguistic Anthropology Spring Conference 2020 | Boulder, CO

Sutura 2.0: Queer Biocommunicabilty and Communicative Inequality in Senegalese Digital Health Practice

The Wolof ethic of sutura (“discretion”) has, in historically contingent ways, conflated perceived communicative excess with bodily contagion and associated both with queer subjects. Media ideologies about digitally-networked communication as unruly and excessive amplify anxieties about queer bodies rooted in the history of sutura. For HIV/AIDS programs enmeshed with the Senegalese state, online dating among gay Senegalese men presents two risks to sutura: contagious sex and contagious discourse. In 2011, an eHealth initiative hired gay Senegalese men to send HIV/AIDS prevention messages through Facebook and online dating websites in order to contain HIV and, invoking sutura, contain queer communication and bodies. This state-NGO collaboration projects a heteronormative metapragmatic model of digital health communication, casting information as instrument of containment, and a unitary, de-eroticized digital self as informational messenger. I devise the term “queer biocommunicability” to describe how both legible gender identity and claims to health citizenship become predicated on one’s ability to implement (hetero)normative metapragmatic models of health communication. A form of queer biocommunicability, eHealth activists create erotically seductive digital personae incongruous with offline characteristics. Construed as communicative-bodily excess, digital seductions actually facilitate information exchange. Informational exchange in turn ensures fulfillment of the global health metrics on which aid funding depends. This instrumentalization of queer biocommunicability resonates with Wolof nobles' dependence on the communicative labor of géwél ("griot"), figures of queer contagion in the precolonial social order. My paper traces historical underpinnings and ethical-political implications of heteronormative biocommunicability’s dependence on queer transgression. Queer activists glean leverage from the necessity of their digital erotics to global health projects. They make claims on the state-NGO nexus, contesting communicative inequalities. I consider what queer theory –especially queer theory grounded in postcolonial history and regimes of care– can contribute to understandings of communicative inequality and global health.'

Renée Pastel

Society for Cinema and Media Studies | Denver, Colorado

Fact-Checking Fiction: Historical “Fake News,” Assumptions of Knowledge, and Second-Screen Viewing

Internet cultures increasingly facilitate a necessary task: fact-checking the things we see and hear. Accusations of ‘fake news’ and the circulation of partisan spun stories spur a significant mode of second-screen viewing of television that focuses on questions of authenticity and truth. While second-screen viewing broadly describes the act of using two screens while watching a program—one to watch and one to interact with social media—the fact-checking mode is notable for the questions it raises around viewers bringing real world expectations to their viewing, as audiences extend a similarly skeptical eye for truth to fictionalized historical dramas. While scholarly interest in the impact of historically set media often invokes concern about collective memory created by fictionalized recreation, when applying this stance to contemporary television, the viewers’ ability to ‘fact check’ while they watch has been undervalued. Yet second-screen viewers fact-check both to enrich their experience of period-set dramas to further historical knowledge and to enjoy catching slip-ups in the show’s production.

By exploring creators’ assumptions of viewers’ attention to detail and audience knowledge of the particularities of their shows’ historical settings, I interrogate how the practice of fact-checking carries over from world events to fiction television. I take three shows as case studies, each of which represents a different nuance of the fact-checking tendency— GLOW (2017-Present) is invested in reintroducing a history unknown to many viewers; Boardwalk Empire’s (2010-2014) DVD commentaries regularly avow semi-festishistic attention to historical fact; and Chernobyl (2019) has a dedicated companion podcast to explain where divergences from reality occurred. This paper carefully considers the tension between 1) concerns about younger viewers learning false histories from fictional representation and 2) creators’ worry about viewers with too much knowledge ruining the ability to build suspense within their storytelling. The latent expectations of faithfulness to history underlying many fans’ antagonistic fact-checking, I argue, arises from real-world conditioning that necessitates fact-checking across all media engagement. Thus, expectations of truth abound in fiction and affect creative license, for creators and audiences alike.

Fall 2019

See the awards here.

Harry Burson

Media Matter: Media-Archaeological Research and Artistic Practice | Stockholm University, Sweden

The Sound of Globalization: An Archaeology of Immersive Media at the World’s Fair

My paper is a media archaeological exploration of the earliest experiments and demonstrations of stereophonic sound at the end of the 19th Century. I argue that these largely forgotten applications of multi-channel sound reveal a genealogy of stereo sound as a part of a formative media environment in which the new technologies reshaped received conceptions of time and space. I examine how this transmission and recreation of space for a performatively modern listener suggests the technology’s imbrication in the colonial imagination of space as an empty resource to be reshaped and consumed in the course of historical progress. In looking at the origins of stereo sound in the technology and culture of the late 19th century, I ask what the early history of the technology can tell us about the ideals and assumptions underlying the creation of stereophonic space. My presentation focuses on the first two public demonstrations of stereo both occurring in Paris in the 1880s, as French inventor Clément Ader presented his telephonic system first at the 1881 Exposition of Electricity and again eight years later at the Universal Exposition of 1889. I explore how these initial demonstrations—along with the related technology of the stereoscope—alternately shape and challenge contemporary conventions of representing and shaping space. Written accounts and illustrations portray the public performance of private, absorptive listening, as visitors to the Expositions took the opportunity to demonstrate both aesthetic discernment and their facility with the latest audio technology. Considering the heterotopia of the Exposition, in which the world is brought as spectacle for a European audience. I ultimately connect this early demonstration of multichannel sound to immersive sound artworks at later World Expos including Le Corbusier’s Phillips pavilion at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, and Karlheinz Stockhausen’s spherical concert hall at the 1970 World’s Fair in Osaka.

Miyoko Conley

Fan Studies Network North America 2019 Conference | Chicago (DePaul University Loop Campus)

How Fanon Becomes Canon: EXO, Free!, and the Nebulous Transnational Fandom Archive

This piece interrogates our methodologies as fandom scholars when studying transnational fandoms, particularly around synergistic events between multiple transnational fandoms. It compares the beginning debut of EXO (2012-present), a K-pop group, and the release of Free! (2013), a Japanese anime. Though different objects, both have large transnational fandoms that significantly impacted the band and show’s initial formation, specifically through the Tumblr blogging platform. While it is not uncommon for fans to contribute to their objects, I note this time as a growth period in transnational, transmedia creation. The events surrounding the co-creation of EXO and Free! reveal just how porous relations are between producer, object, and consumer, between fandoms, and between online and offline, challenging the where and how a transnational product is produced.

However, I am primarily interested in the methodological questions of how to frame an event that is now seven years old, transnational, and stored in an unstable archive (Tumblr). How does one study phenomena that cross borders, without reducing “transnational fandom” to something that is culturally unspecific, as scholars such as Lori Morimoto have previously pointed out? Additionally, as much of transnational fandom activities take place online within platforms that are not efficient archives, how can we as fan scholars historicize important yet fleeting events in these fandoms?

This presentation will provide not only two contemporaneous case studies of important transnational fandoms for K-pop and anime, but also offer one possible trajectory for historicizing nebulous, yet affectively shared, transnational fandom events.

Kaitlin Forcier

THE PICTURESQUE: Visual Pleasure and Intermediality in-between Contemporary Cinema, Art and Digital Culture | Cluj-Napoca, Romania

White Cube, Black Mirror: Reframing Moving Images in the Digital Age

This paper examines a small but compelling trend in contemporary art that fuses traditions of canvas painting with digital moving images. These works involve moving images projected onto painted frames or paint applied directly to screens. In their fusion of moving image and painterly canvas, these works speak to the increased blurring of the White Cube and the Black Box. By invoking the materiality of painting, they insist on their status as unique objects in a digital image economy more often characterized by ephemerality, movement, or flux. In their emphasis on tactile surface, these pieces reveal a friction between the material supports of digital culture, and the moving, distributed, images it produces.

This paper will examine key works in this trend in moving image art to consider the tension between painting and digital culture which they encapsulate. I argue that, although these pieces point to the materiality of the mobile screen, they ultimately reveal a persistent incompatibility between the touchiness of the touch screen and the illusoriness of the image-in-motion. Computing is distinctly material, but it is differently material than previous artifacts of visual culture. By putting the tactility of the plastic arts in dialogue with mobile computing, these works pose generative questions about the particular materiality of the digital image, its status as a commodity, and its imbrication in a global economy with material consequences. This paper presents readings of key works in this subgenre of moving image art, including the work of Josiah McElehny, Albert Oehlen, Ken Okiishi, and Faith Holland.

Juliana Friend

Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA/CASCA) | Vancouver, BC

Algorithms of Immodesty in Senegalese Porn Infrastructures

As on many porn websites, content on Senegal’s first and now-defunct porn site was searchable through race and nationality tags (e.g. “White,” “Mali,” “100% Senegal”). This paper explores how www.seneporno.com's content configuration reifies sexual and moral difference along national lines. This reification remediates Wolof ethics of "sutura," glossed as discretion or modesty. This paper suggests the theoretical value of studying pornography outside Euro-American contexts.

In historically persistent yet contingent ways, sutura has predicated one’s honor, virtue, and legible gender identity on the “correct” management of public/private boundaries (Mills 2011). Seneporno’s nationality tags play on an intransigent prejudice that women in certain West African countries outside Senegal lack sutura or modesty, and co-constitutively, lack sexual restraint. Seneporno advertises videos tagged with these West African nationalities as more “hardcore” than other content. This marketing works through graphic design techniques, meta-linguistic markers of locality, and ironic dissonances between video content and title.

In publicity materials, Seneporno’s team claims to simply connect viewers to “what they want” through an optimization algorithm. This claim to algorithmic objectivity obscures the ways in which intersecting forms of historically contingent marginalization mediated by sutura shape the website's content configuration. Yet, seemingly at odds with claims to algorithmic objectivity, Seneporno’s elusive founder claims the site pursues a moral project. In pop-ups, disclaimers, and “warning” videos directed to young women, the site’s presumed founder addresses viewers and potential contributors directly, calling for them to heed his call for sutura by keeping the "corrupt women" and "pure women" separate. Seneporno alternately obscures and highlights its role in charting moral oppositions and reifying difference. Its meta-discourse frames optimization algorithms and tagging as technological solutions to a perceived social problem (of unruly, foreign female sexuality,) presenting an unsettling appropriation of techno-optimism discourse. This case study points to the potential contributions of porn studies outside Europe or the United States to theorizing the intersection of sex work, algorithms, desire, and capital.

Rebecca Levitan

Archaeological Institute of America Annual Conference | Washington D.C.

The Digital Futures of Ancient Objects: Discussing Next Steps for Collaborative Digital Humanities Projects

The focus of the workshop will be on recent work which leverages digital tools in the study of classical antiquity and the itineraries of ancient objects. As participation in the Getty Institutes and other Digital Humanities-oriented working groups has only been available to a small number of digital practitioners, we aim to share a general overview of the work conducted at the meetings of the Digital Institutes, as well as contributions from scholars presenting a relevant short case study of their own work or thinking-in-progress. We are particularly interested in projects which address the ways that digital tools can help scholars better understand the provenance of ancient objects, as well as how this can be visualized and spatially oriented.

Informal discussion of works in progress and discussions of problems of methodology are welcome, with the understanding that this is meant to be a constructive Forum for thinking through problems, rather than a formal academic presentation of any complete academic project. In addition to surveying the most recent advances in digital research relating to mapping, modeling, and analysis of ancient objects and spaces, we hope to discuss questions such as "what should happen when a digital project is complete?" and "how can we plan for the future stewardship of digital projects - especially those with multiple authors?" Although we might look towards examples of text-based projects as examples for best (and less-than-stellar) practice, the scope of the panel would be limited to tools developed to solve the particular problems posed by material culture of classical antiquity and charting its' past and future itineraries.

The ultimate goal of the workshop is to open the work of small groups of DH practitioners to the larger archaeological community in order prevent research replication, as well as facilitate possible collaborations and a larger conversation about key issues in Digital Humanities in relation to objects from the Ancient Mediterranean.

Will Payne

North American Cartographic Information Society Annual Meeting | Tacoma, Washington

Neither Pin Map nor Network Visualization: Liminal Mapping With Pseudo-Spatial Charts

In the migration of cartographic practice to GIS and web-based tools, commonly used in digital humanities (DH) projects and data journalism, important vernacular use cases have been lost in the "democratization of cartography," which too often requires strict Cartesian spatialization. While network visualizations solve some problems, many analyses require rough concepts of distance and bearing. Sometimes a qualitative or non-linear scale of distance can provide a more meaningful and layout-efficient visualization. We will demo our lightweight "pseudo-spatial" chart engine, where relative orientation is preserved, but distance is transformed in accordance with underlying scalar relationships, concluding with a series of use cases to take relational spatial analysis beyond the pin map. (with co-presenter Evangeline McGlynn, University of California, Berkeley)

Rashad Timmons, Lian Song, Bryan Truitt, Eleni Oikonomaki

2019 Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (UABB) Exhibition | Shenzen, China

Collective Obscura

At the 2019 Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (UABB), our group will produce and curate an exhibition that explores the ways fabrics and critical fashion design can be used to counter the ubiquity of surveillance technologies.

Attuned to the ways surveillance and various forms of biometric data capture are used to target, criminalize, and dox people, especially those within vulnerable communities, our exhibition showcases designs of our wearable technologies—sewn garments that mobilize the material properties of various fabrics to achieve tactics of camouflage, obscurity and opacity. Through our garments and modes of fabrication, we emphasize the use of textile craft as a subversive tactic of embodied resistance against centralized, mechanistic surveillance. Rather than reading our collection of wearables as nontechnical, we assert that the fabrics themselves inhere a suite of technological affordances that can be activated through the strategic inflection of their material properties and are quite effective when directed against facial detection software.

Our exhibition also will include a series of mini-workshops where participants will learn accessible and easily reproducible methods of fabrication that can undermine facial detection systems. We feel it is crucially important to equip participants with the tools to utilize some of these strategies in their everyday lives. The workshops will include how to quickly transfer subversive prints onto apparel and accessories, instruction on useful fabrication techniques, and how to use light and gesture to impair facial detection systems.

Xiaowei Wang

The 2019 Annual Meeting of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts | Irvine, CA

Let's Have a Pearl Party: Style and Livestream in the Making of Subculture

Why do we ask about the future of work, when we could instead ask, when will work end? In this paper, I look at the phenomenon of pearl parties on Facebook Live to examine how artifice and style form a subculture that is against the dominant neoliberal ideology of hard work. In pearl parties, hostesses draw on a combination of nostalgia and campiness to open oysters that contain pearls for a live audience. These hostesses are typically in geographic peripheries, with a concentration of hostesses in states such as North Dakota, Iowa and Wyoming, leading pearl parties as a source of necessary, extra income. The pearl oysters themselves are a form of high camp: the pearls originally grow in a larger oyster, the pearls are then implanted into these smaller oysters, and then the smaller oysters are vacuum sealed and then shipped to the US from China. I draw upon Dick Hebdige and Stuart Hall's work on subcultures to examine how this type of informal work has created its own subculture enshrined in refusal, how pearl party culture articulates the jubilant failures of neoliberalism and the difficult contours of representing the actually existing working class. It is through this subculture that we might understand one path for failure and refusal as a way to counter and put an end to work as we know it.

Spring 2019

See the awards here.

Jessica Adams

American Association of Applied Linguistics | Atlanta, Georgia

Envisioning the Globe: Symbolic Competence in 360-Degree, Virtual Reality Narratives

This paper presentation reports findings from an innovative digital storytelling exchange, where high school students in India and the U.S. filmed 360-degree virtual reality stories. Virtual reality stories are films that capture 360-degree space around the camera, and the stories are viewed immersively through headsets. The study asks: “How did students enact symbolic competence to construct 360-degree stories for a “global audience”? How did students across school sites respond to these alternative realities.

Through a multimodal analysis of the videos (Kress 2003), I uncover how students enacted symbolic competence, attending to their use of language and 360-degree modalities. This presentation theorizes what it means to speak with power in global, school-based exchanges and through 360-degree stories, and it extends symbolic competence to narrative exchanges.

Harry Burson

Society for Cinema and Media Studies 2019 Conference | Seattle, Washington

Stereo in the 19th Century: Space, Audition, and the Théatrophone

My paper is a media archaeological exploration of the earliest experiments and demonstrations of stereophonic sound at the end of the 19th Century. I argue that these largely forgotten applications of multi-channel sound reveal a genealogy of stereo sound as a part of a formative media environment in which the new technologies reshaped received conceptions of time and space. Histories of multichannel, or stereophonic, sound tend to focus on its widespread popularization in post-WWII America, especially in its relation to the spectacle of widescreen cinema and the conspicuous consumption of domestic hi-fi enthusiasts. Such accounts of stereo as a postwar phenomenon ignore its longer history as part of early audio technologies including the phonograph, telegraph, and telephone.

I explore how these initial audio experiments—along with the related technology of the stereoscope—alternately shape and challenge contemporary conventions of representing and shaping space. Drawing on the work of Emily Thompson’s work on sound in modernity, Stephen Kern’s history of the transformation of space at the end of the 19th century, and the methodologies of media archaeology, my paper questions predominantly visual approaches to questions of the mediation and construction of spatiality at the turn of the 20th century. My work contributes to contemporary discourse in new media, sound studies, and media environments by examining how sound technology has reshaped perceptions of lived and virtual spaces.

Miyoko Conley

Society for Cinema and Media Studies 2019 Conference | Seattle, Washington

Designing a K-pop Audience: Asian American Performance in KPOP the Musical

My paper looks at how transnational audience performance is framed within K-pop media, through the award-winning musical KPOP (2017). Produced by the Ma-Yi Theatre Company and Woodshed Collective in New York City, KPOP is about the industry’s foray into the American music market. The show strove to reproduce K-pop’s total entertainment approach, by incorporating catchy music, spectacular dances, and music videos. It also created an interactive experience, as the audience followed three K-pop groups through a behind-the-scenes tour of the industry. While influenced by theatre “experiences” such as Sleep No More, KPOP also took inspiration from its subject and combined digital media with audience interaction.

This paper examines how the multimedia design of KPOP the musical strives to turn its American audiences (assumedly not K-pop fans) into K-pop fans, while situating its Asian American audience in the in-between space of audience and performer. While many Hallyu scholars have focused on K-pop idols themselves or global Asian audiences, I will show how making an American audience into K-pop fans becomes a performance with political implications for Asian Americans. Though focused in one object, the themes in the show speak across disciplines, connecting theatre and media studies, transnational transmedia circulation, embodiment within media, audience participation, and how race intersects with these topics.

KC Forcier

Society for Cinema and Media Studies 2019 Conference | Seattle, Washington

Endless Images: Looped Media, Digital Temporality, and the Gallery

It is my contention that the endless loop in contemporary video art constitutes an exploration of attitudes about temporality in the digital age. Fredric Jameson and Jonathan Crary, among others, have articulated a belief that temporality in globalized, late capitalist society is characterized by a pervasive never-ending present, in which the rhythmic cycles of day and night give way to a sense of perpetual ongoingness. The “24/7” temporality of the digital age is enabled by the looping code of computer software, which operates outside of organic time. This paper will focus on the video installations of Jennifer Steinkamp (b. 1958) whose digitally animated seamless loops, I argue, engage formally with the iterative structure of code. Steinkamp’s animations, which depict flora rhythmically moving and abstract shapes subtly mutating, make legible, I argue, the repetitive loops of computer programing languages. Her works thematically engage with digital temporality through explorations of repetition, organic cycles, feedback, and entropy. Often placed in public contexts such as the lobby of the Athenaeum at Cal Tech (Einstein’s Dilemma, 2003) or a pedestrian walkway in Las Vegas (Aria, 2000), Steinkamp’s ambient screens critically participate in the media environments the digital age.

Drawing on theories of temporality of visual media and of the digital age, as well as scholarship on expanded cinema, this paper will consider what notions of time are represented in the loop, and how they relate to discourses about temporality and technology in the twenty-first century. It is my belief that this research will have broader implications for the study of temporality in the digital age, for critical engagements with the structure of code, and for the expansion of moving images into non-cinematic contexts.

Grace Gipson

Michigan State University Comics Forum | Lansing, Michigan

Marvel Comics Misty Knight's Technological (Dis)Ability: Combatting Fear and Prosthesis

In the wake of the popular second season of Netflix series’ Marvel Comics Luke Cage and the introduction of a revamped Misty Knight, along with the featured role of Cyborg in the DC Comics film Justice League (2017), popular media culture has contributed to numerous discussions surrounding the perceptions and treatment of race, technology and disability within our society. This rise in popularity reinforces the need to explore the comic book trope of the “disabled superhero” and the ways in which disability and technology intersect.
Despite recent and evolving academic scholarship on comics and disability, and cyberfeminism, the Black female narrative specifically is not as prevalent. Thus, an examination regarding the intersections of race, gender, disability and technology is needed. Black women superheroes’ experiences with disabilities and transformation offer a fictional opportunity to investigate how they function in day to day situations. This is seen in Marvel Comics character, Misty Knight. With the loss of one arm and the regaining of an enhanced bionic one, we witness (via comic or Netflix) how her narrative provides a new illustration of how technology and disability can be complicated, challenged, and uniquely performed. Furthermore, highlighting Misty Knight’s story also provides an innovative narrative that disrupts the following argument that "female, disabled and dark bodies are supposed to be dependent, incomplete, vulnerable, and incompetent bodies ... portrayed as helpless, dependent, weak." Ultimately, Misty Knight as a comic book character exemplifies how we can approach the representations of disability and technology and the intersections with gender and race.

Nicholaus Gutierrez

What is Technology? | Portland, Oregon

Model Machines: Alternative Programming Paradigms and the Question of Technological Subjectivity

The history of programming languages involves a series of attempts to standardize and normalize development practices that rely on particular assumptions about how best to produce software. But historically, these standards have carried their own ideological assumptions, conflating source code with computation and posing the danger of reifying code as rationality itself. In this paper I will examine attempts in the history of programming to find alternatives to some of its dominant linguistic and epistemological modes, from VR developer Jaron Lanier’s idea of phenotropics, which conceived of programming as an embodied practice using visual and tactile interfaces, to contemporary research in “harmony-oriented programming,” which posits itself as a potential alternative to the dominant Western-centric epistemologies underlying the object-oriented programming paradigm. Using these examples, I will show how the production of code and its consequent ideologies are predicated on epistemological assumptions about what counts as knowing and doing, and will argue that these programming paradigms offer new ways of conceptualizing the subject’s relationship to computers and code as technical objects.

Noura Howell

Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) | Glasgow, United Kingdom

Life-Affirming Biosensing in Public: Sounding Heartbeats on a Red Bench

“Smart city” narratives promise IoT data-driven innovations leveraging biosensing technologies. We argue this overlooks a potential benefit of city living: affirmation. We designed the Heart Sounds Bench, which amplifies the heart sounds of those sitting on it, as well as recording and playing back the heart sounds of previous sitters. We outline our design intent to invite rest, refection, and recognition of others’ lives in public space. We share results from a study with 19 participants. Participants expressed feeling connected to a shared life energy including others and the environment, and described heart sounds as feeling intimate yet anonymous. Finally, we elaborate the concept of life-affirmation in terms of recognition of others’ lives, feeling connection, and respecting untranslatable differences with opacity, as a way of helping “smart city” designs embrace a multiplicity of desires.

Ryan Ikeda

Digital Humanities Summer Institute | Vancouver, Canada

Disrupting Digital Literacy

This essay extends the art critical category of the ‘glitch’ to pedagogies of digital literacy by exploring how teaching electronic literature may disrupt the instrumentalization of knowledge affirmed and established by corporate-sponsored learning outcomes, what Stiegler calls “technoscience.” In doing so, the chapter proposes a more capacious understanding for ‘digital literacy’ to include technics, technical systems, and the location of human learners therein—far beyond its current limited definition as, a mastery of tools.

Malika Imhotep

American Literature Association | Boston, Massachusetts

On Sethe's Back: rememory, cyborgian-goddesses and black feminist ante-humanism

Black women – constructed and employed as ‘god-breathing machines’ since the beginning of the project of modernity – have been cyborgian goddesses + queer assemblages; one need only look closely at the hieroglyphics of their flesh.[1] Black studies has taken several distinct critical approaches to Toni Morrison’s 1987 time-bending narrative Beloved. And New Media studies and Queer Studies have illuminated exciting ground for the study of refigured humanity. Thinking with and against Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto” (1984) and Jasbir Puar’s “I’d Rather Be A Cyborg Than A Goddess,” (2012) I use the work of Toni Morrison as a guide through an engagement with the complex relationship(s) between the black female body and technology. My thinking is enabled by a chorus of black feminist critical theory that challenges the bounds “human” and “body” from the position of the black maternal. Morrison’s seminal theory of rememory is joined by Hortense Spillers’ ruminations on the flesh as I engage contemporary cultural objects that contest the limits of black natality in their assertions of a ‘cyborgian’ presence that is animated by raced and gendered histories of violence and ‘technological’ intervention. Interrogating the racial blind spots of Cyborg theory, I take up the 1998 Johnathan Demme Helmed film version of Morrison’s Beloved alongside the 2016 HBO Sci-Fi drama Westworld.

Tory Jeffay

Society for Cinema and Media Studies 2019 Conference | Seattle, Washington

Body/Camera: Viewing Raw Footage of Policing through the Lens of Early Film

My paper addresses the ambiguity of body cameras’ actual effects in the field and in the courts through a return to early film, comparing new and once-new media to reveal how the aesthetic surplus and ambivalent pleasures of contemporary body camera footage impede its use as transparent visual evidence.

Looking at the design and marketing of body-mounted cameras and the production, distribution, and uses of the footage they produce, I argue that this new technology contains an excess of unexamined meaning at each level that demands critical address. By turning to the actualities through which the public first encountered “raw footage,” as well as early filmmakers’ fascination with motion (through the phantom ride) and criminality (through the caught-in-the act film), I demonstrate that these issues arising in body camera videos are not new, but date to the origins of cinema itself. Like anxious audiences watching the Lumières’ train approach the station, viewers of body camera footage feel physically implicated through their identification with what Vivian Sobchack calls the camera’s “endangered gaze,” encouraged to adopt the wearer’s power and vulnerability as their own. And as early filmmakers drew on audiences’ awareness of events depicted in their films, body camera footage, too, is most often encountered by viewers with preexisting knowledge of the depicted event, circulated in social media and news contexts that color reception of the footage on its own terms.

As body cameras become an ever more common technology of policing and the videos produced fail to live up to the stated aims of transparency, learning to read these objects critically as media becomes politically imperative. By examining the surplus of signification that exceeds their evidentiary value, I question how we should traverse through the scopic pleasures inherent in all acts of viewing and the particular reception contexts in which a video is encountered in order to read these images of police violence inflicted upon real bodies.

William Morgan

APL truth, fiction, illusion: worlds & experience | Klagenfurt, Austria

Nothing is True, Everything is Data: Computational Metaphysics and the Death Of God

This article argues that the God of Western man is being displaced on account of his increasing inability to dialectically negate falsehoods and ground himself as an avatar of Truth. Whether in the case of post-truth, rising populism, information balkanization or technological developments like deepfakes, Western man’s tools for discerning fact from fiction are losing their edge.

As a result, computational metaphysics, the technical-philosophical realization of the world as data, waiting to be discovered as such, is primed to replace Western man in the place of God. Not only does this onto-epistemic system cope with truth’s fragility, it weaponizes it: desire doesn’t have to be true or false to be data-rich (as Deleuze and Guattari put it, “it doesn't matter what it means, it's still signifying”). In terms of clicks, fake news is real revenue. As Western man’s truth becomes more fragile, informatic representations become more attractive, and eventually we start to recognize ourselves in these terms as well.

This article concludes by drawing upon contemporary scholars of new media, computation and capital such as Luciana Parisi, Maurizio Lazzarato, Luciano Floridi and Wendy Chun, in order to ask what modes of political subjectivity and contestation could arise in a world of computational metaphysics, one in which our normal sense of truth and lies has been thoroughly eschewed.

Renée Pastel

Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference | Washington, DC

Viral Videos as Metonymic Homespace in the “War on Terror”: Globalizing American Popular Culture

The all too frequent American misapprehension of the Internet as positive globalizing force in considering the spread of American popular culture is put into high relief in the context of the first phase of the “War on Terror,” giving a strong case study to reconsider how the Internet’s ability to connect is conceptualized and how that conceptualization can function as soft power to reinforce American cultural hegemony. One of the most significant departures of the “War on Terror” from previous wars is the availability of digital, networked media to deployed soldiers, which permits them to participate in American popular culture, especially visible via the circulation of viral videos online. This telescoping of time and distance, bringing a piece of homefront culture into war’s downtime, plays an important role in soldiers’ ability to feel connected to home, even while physically removed.

By examining the ways in which soldiers interact with popular culture memes and contrasting that with the extreme culture shock upon reentry to civilian life many veterans experience, this paper proposes to analyze the ways in which the Internet only seems to connect soldiers to the homefront while distancing them from their immediate war context, while also highlighting how tenuous that connection really is. By drawing upon concepts of imagined community (Anderson) and cultural globalization and Americanization (Appadurai, Crothers), and critically evaluating the discourse around shared viral video culture, I probe beneath the surface of the seemingly superficial fun of viral video exchange in which soldiers can participate even while at war, to reveal the interconnected questions of how the Internet impacts imagined communities and shared experiences, American-centric views of ‘global’ cultural participation, modern warfare, and shifting societal values.

Will Payne

American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting | Washington, D.C.

Crawling the City: Geolocation and/as Free Labor in the Platform Economy

Digital location-based services (LBS) like Yelp and Foursquare market themselves as trusted place-based review and recommendation platforms that help city dwellers and tourists alike to find new places to eat, drink, shop, and spend their time. But these services, and similar offerings by larger technology companies like Google (Maps/Local), Facebook (Places), and Apple (Maps), rely on a combination of in-house technology, public spatial data, and unpaid contributions from their users. By enabling passive location services queries on their phones, checking in to local businesses, updating incorrect information, and leaving tips and reviews, these users maintain a variety of competing and ever-evolving consumption maps of urban space. The geocoded content they produce is also highly valuable to third-party platform developers and services, as seen through the brisk business Foursquare and Yelp do in business development partnerships and data licensing. This paper draws on archival research and interviews with employees at LBS companies and members of the Yelp Elite Squad and Foursquare Superuser programs, which exist to recognize and incentivize the most productive volunteer laborers for these companies. Individuals' motivations for joining these programs vary, as do their understandings of their crucial role in maintaining the market values of these companies through their efforts. I explore how LBS companies deploy gamification, immaterial labor, and social pressure to ensure free access to a continuous stream of accurate spatial data.

Soravis Prakkamakul

Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) | Glasgow, United Kingdom

Exploring Word-gesture Text Entry Techniques in Virtual Reality

Efficient text entry is essential to any computing system. However, text entry methods in virtual reality (VR) currently lack the predictive aid and physical feedback that allows users to type efficiently. The most efficient state of the art methods such as using physical keyboards with tracked hand avatars require special hardware and a complex setup which might not be accessible to the majority of VR users. In this paper, we propose two novel ways to enter text in VR: 1) Word-gesture typing using six degrees of freedom (6DOF) VR controllers; and 2) word-gesture typing using pressure-sensitive touchscreen devices. Our early stage pilot experiment shows that users were able to type at 16.4 WPM and 9.6 WPM on the two techniques respectively without any training, while an expert's typing speeds reached up to 34.2 WPM and 22.4 WPM. Users subjectively preferred the VR controller method over the touchscreen one in terms of usability and task load. We conclude that both techniques are practical and deserve further study.

Cesar Torres

Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction | Tempe, Arizona

A Conversation with Actuators: A Exploratory Design Environment for Hybrid Materials

An exciting, expanding palette of hybrid materials is emerging that can be programmed to actuate by a range of external and internal stimuli. However, there exists a dichotomy between the physicality of the actuators and the intangible computational signal that is used to program them. For material practitioners, this lack of physical cues limits their ability to engage in a "conversation with materials" (CwM). This paper presents a creative workstation for supporting this epistemological style by bringing a stronger physicality to the computational signal and balance the conversation between physical and digital actors. The station utilizes a streaming architecture to distribute control across multiple devices and leverage the rich spatial cognition that a physical space affords. Through a formal user study, we characterize the actuation design practice supported by the CwM workstation and discuss opportunities for tangible interfaces to hybrid materials.

Qian Yu

Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) | Glasgow, United Kingdom

"I Almost Fell in Love with a Machine": Speaking with Computers Affects Closeness and Self-disclosure

Listening and speaking are tied to evolutionary processes of closeness and trust. In this paper, we apply the social psychology of close relationships to explain people's interaction with voice interfaces. We examine what happens when people are asked closeness-generating questions by a computer via text based (GUI) or voice based interfaces (VUI). Through a controlled experiment, we found that people treated both conversational GUIs and VUIs as social actors; VUIs increased the propensity for self-disclosure; and the gender of VUIs affected the tendency to disclose. This research has implications for future design of VUIs and deepens concerns of user privacy.

Fall 2018

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Spring 2018

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Fall 2017

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Spring 2017

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Fall 2016

See the awards here.