Announcing BCNM's Spring 2024 Faculty Seed Grants

20 Apr, 2024

Announcing BCNM's Spring 2024 Faculty Seed Grants

This semester, the Berkeley Center for New Media was thrilled to support three faculty members in their scholarship \ through seed grants that will help catalyze their research in new media. We are excited to congratulate these amazing artists and scholars!

Greg Niemeyer

Predicting the Sacramento River

Hydrocolonialism hinges on predicting river flow, crucial for resource extraction. "Crystal Geyser" bottled water derives from Mount Shasta, its yield linked to winter snowfall. Those wielding advanced prediction tools like TimeGPT and CatBoost shape extraction, marketing, and pricing. Yet, balancing this with Indigenous water knowledge is vital. Leveraging prior research, this project aims to contrast predicted and observed water flows via a paper and three artworks. It prompts reflection on water flow determinism, given models' error-prone nature amid climate change. TimeGPT leans towards mean flow, diverging from Sacramento River's extreme fluctuations, while CatBoost offers accuracy at higher labor costs. Indigenous wisdom and river history highlight the inadequacy of both of these extractive models. Niemeyer will collect oral histories, notions of water futures, and photographs at three sites: Lake Siskiyou, Cliff Lake, and the Delta, CA station. This will be paired and compared with the data, establishing a bi-directional circulating reference from data to source and back again.

Clancy Wilmott & Emma Fraser

Documenting California Forever

Documenting California Forever seeks to better understand the actors, tensions and geographies of the proposed city, with focus on analyzing the emergence of tech-led investment into city imaginaries, and the increasing entanglement between digital technologies and material spaces, asking the questions:
1) In what ways do the urban-, digital- and techno-imaginaries of Silicon Valley inform the production of a purpose-built city in California?;
2) What roles do geographic media and geospatial data representations play in shaping discourses and processes surrounding California Forever?;
3) How will California Forever’s backers and associated developers produce value and manage risk in the development process?
Their methodological approach identifies key stakeholders and areas for research across two key strands:
1) Building an archive of news media, recordings, development proposals, site assessments, parcel data, photography, community meetings and other materials which document the rapidly evolving geographies of California Forever, as well as undertaking geospatial and new media analysis;
2) Undertaking ethnographic and qualitative interview-based research.