Office for Postdigital Research

The Office is open for research! Watch this space for a formal launch event, but contact myself or Jussi if you are interested in using it.

OPRmontage

The Office for Postdigital Research is a research collection and a space for experimental digital media research.

As a research space the Office houses contemporary gaming and VR hardware and software. It is used for small-scale and experimental research on digital gameplay and for testing interactive art installations. At present it is equipped with a PC and Vive VR and games, a PS4 Pro – also with VR headset and software.

The Office also holds a growing collection of visual media technologies from pre-electronic immersive media such as stereoscopes to mobile game devices, camera-drones, digital toys, and interactive art. The parameters of the collection are set by research interests and curiosity rather than taxonomical rigour, more Wunderkammer than museum.

These two aspects share a concern with alternative and experimental trajectories in digital media art, design, and play, with the theory-practice continuum, and with the material and embodied character of postdigital media culture. The Office space and collection emphasise the interplay between information environments, their physical manifestation, and their embodied use.

The Office is managed by the AMT and Transforming Creativity research groups at WSA but welcomes PhD students and other colleagues to collaborate on project-based partnerships.

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media archaeology in the cinema museum

Media  Archaeology in the Cinema Museum PhD seminar and discussion

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Clockwork Harold Lloyd toy, Bill Douglas Cinema Museum. Video: Penny & Seth Giddings

From History to Literature, Design to Philosophy, Art History to Film Studies, archival research has been central to scholarship in the arts and humanities. In recent years, media archaeology has recast the archive as both a resource and a concept, questioning which objects and texts it might collect, and what kinds of knowledge it can offer. Media archaeology digs up the relationships between technical objects and documents and the intangible operations of power, discourse and imaginaries that constitute their materiality and conditions of possibility. In this seminar, Seth Giddings and Jussi Parikka will take Seth’s recent research in the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum’s archive of cinematic and pre-cinematic toys as a case study to explore the philosophy, practicalities and possibilities of media archaeological archive research. Seth will be showcasing some interesting discoveries from the archive and they will lead a discussion about the collections in relation to media archaeology and working with archives.

31st October, 14.00-15.30, Winchester School of Art, PGR study room/studio, East Building. Campus map.

Digital Suzhou

The Transforming Creativity group is taking a lead on Winchester School of Art’s liaison and collaboration with the city of Suzhou, near Shanghai in Jiangsu province. WSA has set up a collaborative research project on the Creative Industries and Creative Cities with the Suzhou government starting in September 2018 for 3 years. Part of the dissemination of research from this project is through the launch of the Digital Suzhou Festival of which WSA is the main international educational partner, led by the Head of School and the Transforming Creativity co-directors. Digital Suzhou is a development platform that brings together world-class digital culture and art with digital cultural and creative industries and intelligent manufacturing.

Dan visited earlier this year, giving a paper titled ‘Participatory place, heritage and future: the role of creative entrepreneurs in culture-led regeneration’.

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state of play

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Children playing Star Wars videogames in an adventure playground, Bristol, c.2008 (photo/diagram: Seth Giddings)

Seth Giddings’s chapter ‘The state of play: the work of Iona Opie in the postdigital era’ opens a recently published book. Edited by Julia Bishop and June Factor, The Lifework and Legacy of Iona and Peter Opie: research into children’s play (Routledge 2018), is based on a special issue of The International Journal of Play in 2014. There is an extended version of the chapter here.

Iona and Peter Opie were twentieth-century pioneers. Their research and writing focused on the folklore of British children – their games, rhymes, riddles, secret languages and every variety of the traditions and inventions of the children’s collective physical and verbal play. Such closely observed, respectful, good-humoured and historically attuned writing about the traditions of childhood was a revelation to English-language readers around the world. Their numerous books were a rare phenomenon: they attracted a popular readership far beyond the professional and academic communities. For those who work with children, their collaborative research was a powerful influence in confirming the immense capacities of the young for cooperation, conservation, invention and imagination. Their books challenged – then and now – the bleak and limited view of children which focuses on their smallness, ignorance and powerlessness.

mahjong research

Here is some initial visual microethnographic material from Seth’s recent fieldwork on the technocultural contexts of mahjong in Hong Kong. Led by Hanna Wirman of Hong Kong PolyU, the team played the traditional game (Hong Kong rules, with the demanding 3 fān scoring), mobile and PC versions. We visited a mahjong club, played in a domestic setting on Peng Chau island, in a videogame arcade and were refused entry to a mahjong parlour. We also discussed console versions and mahjong films.

 

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postdigital mahjong

Seth Giddings has been invited by Dr Hanna Wirman to participate in a series of workshops at Hong Kong Polytechnic University that will develop a research proposal for Hong Kong government’s general research fund, about the cultural importance of the game Mahjong. A key emphasis will be understanding the relationship of new digital forms of the game to traditional forms played at homes, in game parlours, casinos and at game arcades.