What is to be done with the arts?

A public talk hosted by John Hansard Gallery. Full info here.

Professor Julian Meyrick (Flinders University, Australia) will be introduced Laboratory Adelaide, a research project based in South Australia looking at the problem of evaluating cultural organisations and events. Since 2013, the project has investigated principles-based approaches to value reporting that emphasises integrated narrative, multiple time horizons, informing context, direct experience, and meaningful language use, as against “the metric tide” of abstract, quantitative data gathering.

Following introductions from Dianna Djokey (John Hansard Gallery) and Dan Ashton (Transforming Creativity), Julian offered suggestions for principles for assessment and evaluation and explored ongoing conversations with public administration, environmentalists, and science communicators. This was followed by responses by Dr Ronda Gowland-Pryde and a group discussion.

More on Professor Julian Meyrick here. More on Laboratory Adelaide here.

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Shock! and Rumble…

The Transforming Creativity group, in association with AMT, were thrilled to host two electrifying talks on technology, sensation, shock and haptics. David Parisi (College of Charleston, SC) presented on his very recent experience of testing the Teslasuit, a full-body haptic system, setting it in the context of his ongoing research into the archaeology and current developments in imaginary and actual haptic technology. Darshana Jayemanne (Abertay) explored the conceptual distinction between mimesis or semblance and shock in scholarship on Walter Benjamin. Both speakers made (reluctant) reference to Spielberg’s Ready Player One as a recent popular example of the technological imaginary of virtuality and sensation.

Darshana (l), David (r)

research-practice: creative coding

Transforming Creativity’s open programme of creative research / practice workshops was kicked off in fine, generative style at Winchester School of Art by Andy Lapham. An initially apprehensive-looking group of staff and postgraduate researchers from across the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Web Science were soon tweaking RGB values and alpha channels and sending lines, circles and sine waves bouncing all round their laptop screens.

researching the superblock

In June Seth Giddings was invited to participate in a two day workshop at RMIT Europe in Barcelona. Cities as Playgrounds: new models for urban play, civic engagement and sociality, organised by Larissa Hjorth and Clancy Wilmott, aimed to ‘consider the possibilities of action research and co-design experiments’ in and around the Superilla located next to RMIT Europe’s HQ. Superillas are urban developments in Barcelona that reroute car traffic and open up the streets for pedestrians, playgrounds and socialising. This workshop took the idea of the superilla, and some direct research engagement (i.e. games) in and with them, as a starting point for considering playful futures for the city.

Other participants included Ellis Bartholomeus, Andreas Rosales Climent, Jill Didur, Emma Fraser, Larissa Hjorth, Troy Innocent, Sybille Lammes, Colleen Macklin, Tomasz Majkowski, Roger Paez, Miguel Sicart, Bart Simon, Manuela Valtchanova, and Clancy Wilmott.

My own contribution included a short provocation, ‘The city is already a playground’, and a presentation on my microethnographic study of children’s postdigital play in playgrounds, and the Lightbug project.

shock and rumble

The Transforming Creativity Research Group is hosting a seminar with two leading scholars in the fields of game studies, haptics and digital media. All welcome!

Shock and Rumble: environments, bodies, VR and other postdigital media
with David Parisi (College of Charleston) and Darshana Jayemanne (Abertay)

Monday 8th July 3-5pm in the Harvard Lecture Suite (Winchester School of Art)

Darshana Jayemanne:  ‘Expanding Mimesis: Embodying V.R.’s Uneven Developments in “Ready Player One” and “Ra-One”‘.

“He’s a nerd from a different century” proclaimed Time Magazine about then Oculus CEO Palmer Luckey in 2015. The magazine devoted its cover to an image of Luckey floating amniotically and strapped into the VR apparatus before an idyllic beach scene. The image clearly sets an agenda for the technology: a powerful effect of similitude (being somewhere more like a beach than has heretofore been possible), and a normative idea of which bodies and whose desires will be most appropriate for such transportation. In this paper, I will complicate this agenda of similitude with Walter Benjamin’s concept of mimesis which, as Miriam Hansen has argued, is in fact comprised not only of similiarity and concentration but also play and distraction. This underwrites Benjamin’s historical perspective on mass media, in which the human body is not unproblematically incorporated as in the Time cover image but through processes of ‘volatilisation and recomposition’. Two films which envisage the relation between V.R. and the body – “Ready Player One” (2018) and “Ra.One” (2011) – will be read to show how V.R.’s potentials are unevenly distributed, and how culture is a formal problem for research on the form.”

Darshana Jayemanne is Lecturer in Games and Arts at Abertay University and the author of Performativity in Art, Literature and Videogames (Palgrave MacMillan 2017) and a Co-Investigator in the AHRC/ESPRC-supported “Reality Remix” project on the Next Generation of Immersive Experiences. Recently, he was a jurist for the International Games Festival’s Award in Narrative Excellence and has appeared on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinkers.

David Parisi: ‘Before and Beyond Rumble: The Perpetually Deferred Dream of Hyperreal Haptics in Videogames’ 

Since its beginnings in the late 1960s, the project of bringing touch feedback to computing has aimed at the wholesale transformation of the mediated sensorium, serving as an attempt to upend vision’s hegemony by building interfaces that bring the tactile body into computer-generated worlds. Such a transformation depends on not just the development and design but also the domestication of haptics technologies–the steady spread of digital touch out from research labs into the home. Thus far, in the project’s fifty-year history, it has fallen far short of achieving this goal. We still seem to be waiting, perpetually, for haptics to arrive. However, while we’ve waited, videogame controllers, smartphones, and wearables have quietly smuggled haptics technologies into the sensory fabric of daily life, with subjects continually decoding and deciphering a range of vibratory messages. In this talk, I detail the goals imagined for haptics by first generation researchers in the late 1960s and 1970s, marketers of videogame controllers in the mid ’90s, and developers of next-generation haptic gloves and bodysuits for VR today. These narratives imagine a haptic interface that would mimic audiovisual technologies in capturing and simulating the real. Against this backdrop, I show how rumble has consistently been described as an imperfect and soon-to-be-overcome instantiation of haptics that fails to deliver on the categorical promise of haptics. I suggest that, due to this perceived failure, we have downplayed rumble’s significance as a technology of digital touch, overlooking the ways communicative subjects have already to adjusted themselves to a new regime of tactile semiotics.

David Parisi is an Associate Professor of Emerging Media at the College of Charleston, South Carolina. His book Archaeologies of Touch: Interfacing with Haptics from Electricity to Computing (University of Minnesota Press, 2018) investigates the past, present and possible futures of technologized touch, weaving together accounts of tactility from psychophysics, cybernetics, electrotherapy, virtual reality, cybersex, and mobile communication to provide a comprehensive overview of the ways that touch has been radically transformed by its encounters with technoscience. He is also the co-editor of the Haptic Media Studies issue of New Media & Society. His research on haptics has been featured in Game StudiesThe Wall Street Journal, VicePlayboyLogic MagazineImmerseand the podcast Stroke of Genius.

Please contact Seth Giddings if you have any questions: s.giddings@soton.ac.uk

Photos from “how does your city work?”

On Thursday 20th June, the Transforming Creativity research group joined up with Solent University’s Culture, Media, Place research group to participate in the How does your city work? interactive trail. Part of the Solent University Festival of Ideas, the trail is organised by members of another Solent research group, Work, Inequalities and the Lifecourse. More information on trail here.

We discussed culture, urban regeneration, architecture, employment, and walking methodologies. And almost solved the trail!