Conference Grants

Conference Grants

Next deadline – March 1, 2020

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 2020 awards are now closed. Fall 2020 applications are due by October 1, 2020.

Check out the amazing recipients of our Fall 2019 awards here!

Past Awards

Fall 2019

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'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

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

Grace Gipson — for the "Intentionally Digital, Intentionally Black" Conference at the University of Maryland. Gipson will be presenting on “Exploring the Black Female in Comics Fandom Culture through Digital Storytelling.” She investigates specific sites that use these blogging and podcasting to promote messages and narratives, as streamlined ways of voicing the thoughts, concerns, and experiences of marginalized communities.

Malika Imhotep — for the "Intentionally Digital, Intentionally Black" Conference at the University of Maryland. Imhotep will be an attendee at the conference, seeking opportunities to build community and thinking of ways BCNM might collaborate with the broader African American Culture and Digital Humanities project. She was originally set to present her paper in a panel, "finding/seeing/being #blackfemme," to address how Instagram acts as a site of black femme self-fashioning.

Joyce Lee — for the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference in Honolulu, Hawai'i. Lee will be presenting her project, "Making Time Tangible: Life in a Minute," which encourages people to reconsider how they spend their personal time through playful, tangible interactions. Participants' lives are embodied by pennies, and must choose wisely how they "spend" these pennies in different "life target jars."

Rebecca Levitan — for "The Strange Case of Franceso Mancinelli Scotti (Merchant of Antiquities and Terracottas from Excavation" International Workshop in Rome. Levitan will be showcasing her research on how archival and digital proof has revealed that Francisco Mancinelli-Scotti and Riccardo Mancinelli were collaborations at numerous Italian excavation sites. In her talk, she also plans on looking at the digital and physical reconstructions of their discovered tomb groupings.

Spring 2018

Ritwick Banerji — for the Joint Meeting of the American Ethnological Society and the Society for Visual Anthropology in Philadelphia, PA. In his paper, "Resembling Repugnance: Beyond the 'Uncanny Valley' in the Algorithmic Ethnography of Human Sociality," Banerji expands upon the age-old idea that the contempt for humanlike technology stems from its failure to emulate humanity through real-time interactions. He proposes, however, that subjects feel repulsed because its behavior simultaneously reminds them of familiar, unfavorable human qualities.

Harry Burson — for the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference in Toronto, Canada. Eschewing vision as an appropriate means to illustrate the complexity of new informational and social structures in "Hearing the Cloud: Sound, Environment, and Representing the Supersensible," Burson dives into how contemporary sound art and audiovisual media fill in the gaps of representing this growing knowledge. To support his argument, he examines the auditory approaches of different sound artists such as Christina Kubisch, Stan Schaff, Amalia Pica, Alexander R. Galloway, and more.

Kaitlin Forcier — for the Society for Film and Media Studies Annual Conference in Toronto, Canada. Forcier will be utilizing her research, "Distant Vision: Archaeology of the Videophone," to explain how the architecture surrounding the videophone suggests "a layer of abstraction and disconnection" despite claims stating otherwise. With history and artworks at her disposal, Forcier hopes to see the broader implications of this research applied to issues of proximity, intimacy, and temporality in digital media.

Noura Howell — for the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing System in Montreal, Canada. Howell sought an alternative to machines interpreting emotions by creating another emotional biosesing display in the form of Ripple: a shirt that changes its patterns depending on the user's excitement. Participants had mixed emotions, but nonetheless demonstrated the biopolitics that gave Ripple its authority in determining how users felt.

Malika Imhotep — for the American Association of Geographers Conference in New Orleans, Lousiana. Imhotep will be a part of a roundtable on "Black Queer Spatialities," speaking with an emphasis to the queer landscape of bounce dancing in New Orleans, Lousiana. She will draw from her research on the connection between the African Diaspora and the global spread of twerk in regards to the black female body.

Yifei Liu — for the Human-Computer Interaction International Conference. In her paper, "Usability Evaluation for Drone Mission Planning in Virtual Reality," Yifei evaluates the usability of VR interfaces used to control drones through working with UC Berkeley’s Immersive Semi-Autonomous Aerial Command System (ISAACS) project, which experiments with new ways for humans to interact with drones in a VR environment. Their experiment setting focuses on the drone mission planning phase and on creating an onboarding experience for new users. They develop a usability evaluation framework for the ISAACS VR system, and use this framework to conduct two iterations of user testing and prototyping with a human-centered design process.

Molly Nicholas — for the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Montreal, Canada and the Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interactions Conference in Stockholm, Sweden. Her research for the conferences, "AlterWear: Battery-Free Wearable Displays for Opportunistic Interactions" and "HäirlÖ: Human Hair as Interactive Material" respectively, explores the wearable technology space by developing applications in ways that were previously unthought of.

Will Payne — for the American Association of Geographers Conference in New Orleans, Lousiana. Payne will be presenting his work, "Indexing the Urban: Location-Based Services as Smart City Platforms," where he will look at the political economy of services such as Foursquare, Yelp, and Google Local and their roles in smart city urbanism.

Sovaris Prakkamakul — for the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Montreal, Canada. Through his project, SoundGlove, Prakkamakul reimagines sound with a tangible, physical form. The tool allows users to record and mix sounds by "grabbing" them in an empty space and dropping them in a bowl. In the bowl, users can create or manipulate the sounds.

Yairamaren Román Maldonado — for the Latin American Studies Association Conference in Barcelona, Spain. Maldonado's paper, "Mobile Memory, On/offline culture and Transgressions to the Nation in Archivo by Jorge E. Lage," analyzes new media metaphors in relation to Cuban nationalism. She uses this work of fiction to take a closer look at Cuba's contemporary technological infrastructure and how it fuels the reality of a powerful surveillance state.

Fall 2017

Harry Burson – for Sounding Out the Space 2017: An International Conference on the Spatiality of Sound, in Dublin, Ireland. In his paper, "Lost in Stereo: Stereophony, Stereoscopy, and the Construction of Virtual Spaces," Burson examines the relationship between sound and 3-D image to contrast the 'hyperreal, staged space of stereophony' and 'the uncanny, irreal space of stereoscopy.' Further, he considers how their intersections complicate existing theories of specialized listening, immersion, and presence.

Malika Imhotep – for the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) Conference 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland. Imhotep brings a new media perspective to relevant conversations surrounding black women's rights activism, self-articulation, and social media in her paper, "Black Women’s Time(line) : #DefendBlackWomanhood as a site of black feminism’s continued conversation." To do so, she studies mission statements by organizations such as the Black Feminist Futures (2015), The Combahee River Collective (1974-7) and The Sojourners for Justice and Truth (1951) alongside black women’s reflections from their respective socio-cultural moments.

Will Payne – for The Future of Food Studies Conference, in St. Louis, Missouri. His paper, “The Zagat Survey as Class Strategy: Quantified Consumption and Urban Change in 1980s New York,” delves into one of the first forms of user-generated content (UGC) in Zagat's aggregation of ratings and reviews, and its effect on urban change and gentrification. In his research, Payne tracks Zagat's spreading of a "professional-class vision for the gentrification of the city’s post-industrial neighborhoods" and draws inspiration from Sharon Zukin, Richard Ocejo, and Neil Smith. He previously received a Spring 2017 grant for the American Association of Geographers (AAG).

Yairamaren Roman Maldonado – for the Imagining America Conference, in Davis, California. Following her Spring 2017 appearance at the Latin American Studies Association Conference: “Dialogues of Knowledge” in Lima, Perú, Roman Maldonado will be presenting her work in “Literatura y Narrativa Digitales en Puerto Rico” in a digital storytelling media session among other scholars. Roman Maldonado and the other scholars will also be discussing community-based research and its challenges, trust-building, and audiovisual objects, presenting digital storytelling as both method and genre.

Spring 2017

Justin Berner, Ph.D. Student in Spanish and Portuguese Department, DE in New Media – for the NYU, Columbia Graduate Conference | Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literature. “Waking up to a World in Color: Spanish Television Advertisements during La Transición” speaks to the evolution of Spanish television advertisements with the advancement of color television. Berner traces the trajectory of Spain’s shift to a democracy with consumerism as its core.

Lashon Daley – for the 2017 National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) Annual Conference: 40 YEARS AFTER COMBAHEE: Feminist Scholars and Activists Engage the Movement for Black Lives, in Baltimore, MD. Daley, in “Black/Girlhood Imaginary,” presents a multidisciplinary analysis on young Black girls’ experiences in relation to “intersectionality.” Daley’s roundtable – which will discuss African American folktales and performance, the criminal justice system, and the Black-girl affect, among other topics – works to “disrupt the silences and illuminate the space between Black girlhood and Black womanhood.”

Kaitlin C. Forcier – for the 2017 Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference in Chicago, IL. Forcier will participate on a panel, “Media Archaeologies: Theorizing the Elemental.” In her paper, “Smell-O-Vision Then and Now: theorizing olfactory cinema,” Forcier addresses the manifestation of scent in film, such as in 4DX cinema, and how the study of smell influences studies of form, temporality, and spectacle.

Grace D. Gipson – for the National Council of Black Studies in Houston, TX. Gipson’s paper, titled “She Is Here!!: Black (Female) Bodies in the Future,” highlights Afrofuturists and their deep-set foundations in science fiction, historical fiction, technology, and spirituality. With an emphasis on female voices of the African diaspora, Gipson analyzes creative and popular mediums, such as Twitter hashtags, video, and visual art.

Jennifer Higgs, Doctoral student in Education – for the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX. Higgs questions the integration of new media in K-12 spaces, identifying tensions between learning and digital talk. Her paper is titled, “A National Study of Talking to Learn Across Digital and Face-to-Face Contexts in K-12 Classrooms.”

Ryan Ikeda – for the Digital Humanities Summer Institute in Victoria, BC, Canada. In his paper, “The Inescapable Digital,” Ikeda posits the avant-garde, for contemporary media artists and digital humanists alike, as arrested in its development given the separation between technology and aesthetics. Ikeda examines technology’s influence in determining the position of art and “our sense of aesthetic judgment” in the 21st century.

Molly Nicholas – for the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) in Denver, Co. Nicholas underscores the creative materiality of light in the design of electronic objects. She and her team will introduce a computational design and fabrication process they developed that stimulates new kinds of interactions with physical light such as the creation of custom luminaires.

Will Payne – Ph.D. Student in Geography, DE in New Media – for the American Association of Geographers (AAG) in Boston, MA. His paper is titled “Location-Based Services Avant La Lettre: The Zagat Survey and Quantified Lifestyles in 1980s New York.” Payne traces the contradictions inherent in the first “crowd-sourced” restaurant guide, the Zagat Survey, showing how New York City professionals adopted social science survey methods and microcomputing technology to consolidate their cultural power and reshape the city. Payne is also organizing a three-session series of papers on the topic of “Real Estate Technologies: Genealogies, Frontiers, & Critiques.”

Yairamaren Roman Maldonado – for the Latin American Studies Association Conference: “Dialogues of Knowledge” in Lima, Perú. Roman Maldonado’s paper investigates themes of contemporary colonialism and identity in stories of everyday life by analyzing discourse among authors of contemporary literature, specifically Jose Raul “Gallego” and Eduardo Lalo, and young people’s digital narratives. This past summer, Roman Maldonado completed a pilot workshop on contemporary literature and digital storytelling offered to Puerto Rican youth at a community-based organization. The participating youth were trained to critically use digital storytelling to formulate their original narratives about everyday life in their communities. This article will present preliminary analyses of the group discussions and a close reading of a collective digital story. Furthermore, Roman Maldonado discusses the scope and limitations of using a methodology that develops scholarship rooted in cultural agency from the field of Puerto Rican literary studies. Hence, considering not only the island’s lettered class views but also placing the importance of popular voices and future generations at the center of the discussion regarding decolonization.

John Scott – for the IMS Global Learning Impact Leadership Institute in Denver, CO. Scott utilizes gamification and social learning analytics in online learning to detangle the configurations of a social activity leaderboard tool called the “Engagement Index.” Scott provides reflections on the usage of the Engagement Index as a grading system and how it can become situated in course experiences as a gamification component.

Fall 2016

Ritwik Banerji – Ph.D. Candidate in Ethnomusicology – for the International Computer Music Conference in Utretcht, Netherlands, to present a paper, “Balancing Defiance and Cooperation: The Design and Human Critique of a Virtual Free Improviser.”

Bélgica del Río – PhD Student in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies – for the American Society for Theater Research (ASTR) as part of a group presenting on Video Games and Gaming: Towards a Transmedial Analysis, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her paper is “The Performance of Avatars in Video Games and Motion/Performance Capture”.

Juliana Friend – PhD student in Anthropology, DE in New Media – for 59th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association: “Imagining Africa at the Center: Bridging Scholarship, Policy, and Representation in African Studies” in Washington, DC. Her paper is “Cure/Contagion: Redefining the “health” in public health through online gay activism in Senegal.”

Grace D. Gipson – Doctoral student in African American and African Diaspora Studies – for the Superhero Identities Symposium at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, in Melbourne Australia. She’ll be presenting “Road to Recovery: Fighting through Trauma and Abuse in Netflix’s Jessica Jones series”

Jennifer Higgs – Doctoral student in Education – for the Digital Media and Learning Conference, in Irvine, California.

​Cesar Torres – PhD student in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science – for the User Interface Software and Technology Symposium, in Tokyo, Japan. His paper is “Ellustrate: Designing, Sketching, and Fabricating Circuits through Digital Exploration.”