Seth has provided the preface for the recently published book LEGOfied: building blocks as media (New York: Bloomsbury 2020), edited by Nicholas Taylor and Chris Ingraham.

A draft of the preface, ‘An imaginary system,’ is here.

The book “offers a multi-faceted exploration of LEGO fandom [and] the role of hobbyist enthusiasts and content producers in LEGO’s emergence as a ubiquitous transmedia franchise […]

The major aim of this edited volume, and what makes it a compelling project for media scholars, is its rigorous, mutli-dimensional articulation of how LEGO functions not just as toy, as cultural icon, or as transmedia franchise, but as a media platform. LEGOfied is centered around their shared experiences, qualitative observations, and semi-structured interviews at a number of LEGO hobbyist conventions. Working outwards from these conventions, each chapter of the book engages additional modes of inquiry — media archaeology, aesthetics, posthumanist philosophy, feminist media studies, and science and technology studies — to explore the origins, permutations and implications of different aspects of the contemporary LEGO fandom scene.”

Refuturing creative work and remixing creative education

In early September, Dan attended the 3rd CAMEo conference in Leicester. Dan was part of a panel on “Re-Futuring Creative Work” with Professor Susan Luckman, Professor Stephanie Taylor, and Associate Professor George Morgan. Dan’s talk was linked to the “Unexpected Enterprises” project (details of past workshops are here). A chapter (co-authored with Emma Agusita) linked to this project and talk will be published within an edited collection that is part of Palgrave’s new series, “Creative Working Lives”.

Some of the Twitter posts on this:

New Publication: Gothic Remixed

We are pleased to announce the imminent publication of Gothic Remixed: Monster Mashups and Frankenfictions in 21st-Century Culture, by ‘Transforming Creativity’ researcher Megen de Bruin-Molé.

The book explores the boundaries and connections between contemporary remix and related modes, including adaptation, parody, the Gothic, Romanticism, and postmodernism. De Bruin-Molé argues that popular remix creations are the ‘monsters’ of our age, lurking at the limits of responsible consumption and acceptable appropriation. Taking a multimedia approach, case studies range from novels like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series, to television programmes such as Penny Dreadful, to popular visual artworks like Kevin J. Weir’s Flux Machine GIFs.

Gothic Remixed will be published by Bloomsbury Academic on Halloween 2019. Join us for launch events at Winchester School of Art on Thursday, 31st October (5pm in LTA; booking via Eventbrite), and on 14th November at The Second Shelf bookshop in London.

Arts audience segmentation

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New article by Dan Ashton and Ronda Gowland-Pryde on ‘Arts audience segmentation: data, profiles, segments and biographies’ in Cultural Trends.

This article critically examines how segmentation is used to identify, understand and engage arts audiences. Policy reports and academic publications are reviewed to establish the priorities of arts policymakers and practitioners for understanding arts audiences and their continued focus on audience data and segmentation. This article then makes two contributions. Firstly, critical perspectives on the use of data for audience profiling are applied to arts audience segmentation. Secondly, research using biographical methods is introduced as a new approach for critically evaluating arts audience segmentation. This research, employing biographical methods, shows the exploration and negotiation of audience identity positions. This article takes these insights to critically examine the implications of how profiles and segments are used to define and understand audiences for the arts. The conclusion addresses the implications of segmentation in terms of the design and communication of cultural experiences, the complexities of aligning audiences’ identities with segments, and the seemingly inevitability of exclusion. This article will be of relevance in the scholarly study of arts audiences and for arts and cultural organisations and policymakers in reflecting on the implications of quantitative and qualitative approaches in designing and undertaking audience research.

handheld cinema

The Bill Douglas Museum at the University of Exeter has uploaded ‘Handheld cinema, or the other successful toys that move,’ Seth’s report on his recent study visit to their archive of twentieth- and twentieth century cinema toys. Studying toys and games marketed as models of, or merchandising for, mainstream cinema, he asks:

Could these toys be seen […] not as the evolutionary beginnings of cinema, nor as harbingers of future digital media, but rather as fully part of cinematic culture. Or, more ambitiously, how might our understanding of the emergence, development, and future of cinema be advanced if we regarded cinema itself as a subset of a toy culture rather than the other way around? If we picked up and ran with Iona Opie’s playful suggestion that cinema was merely ‘the most successful of the toys that move’: what other material, technical, imaginative and experiential dimensions of a para-cinematic genealogy of ‘toys that move’ might we find?