Announcing our Summer 2019 Research Award Recipients

11 Apr, 2019

Announcing our Summer 2019 Research Award Recipients

Congratulations to this year's Summer Research Award recipients! We are thrilled by the ambitious and innovative work they're all completing, and are pleased to be able to provide summer funding to support their research initiatives.

Brian Bartz

Brian Bartz seeks to interrogate object-recognition computer vision algorithms that proliferate in our daily lives both for commercial and militaristic/security purposes. He is interested in approaching the subjectivity of this technology in a way that gets beyond questions of data bias, instead asking: what are the deeper ontological beliefs embedded into computationally systematizing vision, and how might we identify them? In order to do so, he is interested in breaking down the mechanisms on which they operate, examining what are essentially processes only legible to machines in a way that would improve human literacy around this technology. In order to develop an art about machine algorithms that is relatable, Brian will intern with BCNM alum Trevor Paglen’s studio this summer, where he will work on a forthcoming iteration of his Sight Machine performance with the Kronos Quartet, a work which deals with precisely these topics.

KC Forcier

This summer, KC's research will examine the technological loop in moving image culture to map shifting notions of temporality in the digital age. A central concept in computer programming languages, the loop is essential to algorithmic culture, arising across multiple platforms and mediums, from the animated GIF and cell phone formats such as Instagram’s Boomerang effect and the now-defunct Vine video, to motion graphics in computer games and film. Her work will center on an analysis of three contemporary artists producing looping moving images in a variety of digital formats. These works – in installation, video art, animated GIFs and computer games – engage with the indefinite temporality of the network and its relation to the iterative logic of computer code. I will consider how these works articulate co-existing attitudes towards the indeterminacy of networked temporality: on the one hand anxiety about the pressures of the “always on,” “24/7” temporality of the network, and on the other a curiosity about a contemplative and expansive visual culture based on code.

Tory Jeffay

Tory Jeffay is a second year PhD student in Film & Media whose research centers on questions of evidence across film and law. This summer she’ll be attending two summer seminars, the Surveillance Studies Summer Seminar at Queen’s University and the Princeton-Weimar Media Studies Summer Seminar in Weimar, Germany. There, she will be presenting a paper that explores how that the beeping sound emitted by body cameras operates as a locus where different tensions in the act of mediated witnessing intersect. While the beep is described as a prompt to remind the officer that the camera is recording, patents reveal it to be a tool to facilitate increasing automation, delegating the moral weight of bearing witness to algorithmic operation. She’ll also be undertaking archival research at the archives of the New York City Police Department Photo Unit housed in the New York City Municipal Archives, researching early uses of photography in policing. Current new media practices of surveillance have roots reaching back to the origins of photography. By uncovering the practices from which these technologies emerge, she hopes to better understand our enduring fascination with visual evidence.

Juliana Friend

This summer Juliana will conduct follow-up dissertation fieldwork in Dakar, Senegal, exploring the ethics, politics, and material cultures of sexually explicit images. In historically persistent yet contingent ways, the Wolof ethics of sutura (glossed as privacy, modesty, or discretion), have predicated one’s honor and, co-constitutively, legible gender identity on proper management of public/private boundaries (Mills 2011). When the Senegalese press widely reported a cybersecurity team’s search for the founder of the first porn website advertising content “made in Senegal,” this brought the question of sutura and digital media to the forefront of debate. Through a working concept of “virtuous vulgarity,” she will explore two sites within erotic economies where images considered to violate sutura - and thus undermine normatively gendered honor – bolster practices of ethical self-making. Her dissertation explores how subjects differently positioned in relation to gendered norms of sutura renegotiate relationship to and definitions of sex, digital media, and privacy when faced with unexpected “leaks” or ambiguities in projected boundaries between concealment and revelation, virtue and sin. This research responds to the need for porn studies research outside Euro-American contexts. It also responds to the need for “on the ground” porn studies research. However this requires expanding and interrogating the ethnographic “ground” on which porn can be apprehended. Furthermore, by reading new media practices through gendered legacies of sutura, I look to African ethical concepts for theorizations of digital circulation, in order to analyze practices and understandings of exposure that exceed established analytics of “publics” and “publicity.”

Rebecca Levitan

Rebecca will be embarking on a systematic study of preserved polychromy (ancient paint, usually invisible to the naked eye) on fragments of architectural sculpture of the 5th century in the Athenian Agora using XRF and UV fluorescence photography. This initiative will be conducted as part of the larger research project on the High Relief Frieze from the Temple of Ares by Andrew Stewart. The Agora staff and Rebecca will begin a large-scale search for preserved color amidst the storerooms of the Agora and identify those pieces that would require further analysis. As of June 2018, the director of the Agora excavations has also granted her permission to study about a dozen examples of figural graffiti, including depictions of mythological figures, portraits, and sculpture. Because this material does not fit neatly within the categories of scholarship present in the Agora Volumes (the graffiti are neither epigraphical/letterform nor are they statues themselves), this group of objects has never been subject to systematic study. However, recent studies of representational graffiti at other sites in the Roman world has been valuable in understanding later interpretations of classical monuments and changing use practices of public spaces.