Guest speaker: Intermediaries in the UK influencer ecology

The Transforming Creativity Research Group and MA Global Media Management are pleased to welcome Dr Sophie Bishop (King’s College, London) to WSA on Thursday 27th February 2-3pm in Harvard Lecture Theatre

Sophie’s talk is titled Intermediaries in the UK influencer ecology – algorithmic experts and influencer management software. Please see below for overview and biography: 

Although influencer content can be presented as independent, ‘DIY’ or ‘amateur’, influencer markets and ecologies are shaped or co-produced by a growing number of intermediary actors and organisations. Examples  include talent agencies, multi-channel networks, brand consultants and many other hopeful stakeholders who hope to take advantage of a professionalising ‘Wild West’. This talk will consider two intermediaries in the UK influencer marketplace – firstly, I look to algorithmic experts, who claim an understanding of YouTube’s algorithms that can be taught to aspiring creators, to ensure visibility and attention on the platform. Secondly, I look at algorithmic tools used to rank influencer ‘employability’ and predict risk of influencer scandal or cancellation. Critically examining both of these cases shows the number of ‘hidden’ stakeholders who co-produce influencer content, and demonstrates how such actors can influence participation, representation and sustain inequalities within influencer ecologies. 

Sophie Bishop works as a Lecturer in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London where she researches and teaches on cultures of content creation, digital marketing industries, and intersectional inequalities and experiences therein.

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posthuman creativity

The Transforming Creativity Research Group hosted a panel at the recent Cultural Histories Creative Futures conference at Winchester School of Art. The conference is the third in an ongoing relationship between WSA and the Culture Industry Research Centre at Nanjing University. A major international conference, it brought together scholars from the UK and China to engage with the past, present and future of scholarship in culture, history and creativity.

The ‘posthuman creativity’ panel argued for the significance and applicability of theoretical debates around critical posthumanism to contemporary creative production and cultural experience. Megen de Bruin-Molé, Danielle Sands, and Matt Hayler sketched out the key aspects of critical posthumanist theory and to their own research and industry networks, focusing on the real-world impact and potential of posthuman thought today. Dan Ashton interrogated assumptions and misassumptions about the role of automation and robotics in creative industries and work today, testing predictions for automation against the material and economic relationships prevalent in creative labour. Seth Giddings argued that everyday life has been posthuman since at least 1979 with the arrival of playful AI in the form of videogames – and that existing relationships with virtual animals offer insights into an emerging human-nonhuman culture.

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.

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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!

What is to be done with the arts?  New perspectives on the problem of value in arts and culture

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John Hansard Gallery and Transforming Creativity Research Group are pleased to host the public talk:

What is to be done with the arts?  New perspectives on the problem of value in arts and culture

Professor Julian Meyrick (Flinders University, Australia)
Thursday 11th July, 6pm at John Hansard Gallery

My talk introduces 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 a 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.  I discuss the work undertaken by Laboratory Adelaide with its main industry partners – the State Library of South Australia, the State Theatre Company of South Australia, and the Adelaide Festival – and the reception of our book What Matters? Talking Value in Australian Culture, published in 2018.  I focus on one thorny issue for the problem of value in culture – how to assess those traditional activities perceived to be both non-commercial and socially exclusive.  Without either defending or attacking “the arts”, I explore why they present in the policy domain in the way that they do, and what can be done to challenge this framing in a robust way.  As the cultural sector expands into new technological and social pathways, what is its relationship to the core activities that once defined it?  What is to be done with the arts?

Biography
Julian is Strategic Professor of Creative Arts at Flinders University, South Australia, the Artistic Counsel for the State Theatre Company of South Australia (STCSA), and a member of both the Currency House Editorial and  CHASS Boards.  He was Associate Director and Literary Advisor at Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) 2002-07 and Artistic Director of kickhouse theatre 1989-98.  He has published histories of Sydney’s Nimrod Theatre and the MTC, and numerous articles on Australian theatre, culture, and cultural policy. He is Chief Investigator for both the AusStage database and Laboratory Adelaide, an ARC Linkage project studying the problem of culture’s value, and a regular contributor to The Conversation.  The Retreat of Our National Drama, his second Currency House Platform Paper was launched in 2014.  He is the director of over 40 award-winning theatre productions, including Angela’s Kitchen, which attracted the 2012 Helpmann for Best Australian Work.  He was a founder member and Deputy Chair of PlayWriting Australia 2004-09 and a member of the federal government’s Creative Australia Advisory Group 2008-10.  His book Australian Theatre after the New Wave: Policy, Subsidy and the Alternative Artist appeared in 2017.  What Matters?  Talking Value in Australian Culture, co-authored with Robert Phiddian and Tully Barnett, was published by Monash University Publishing in 2018.

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How does your city work?

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The Transforming Creativity research group will be informally joining together 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:

Take part in an interactive treasure trail around the city of Southampton. Follow clues and identify landmarks and objects to discover more about the working history of our city, and the challenges we are facing today. This circular walk is approximately two miles long. The treasure trail can be completed individually, but may be more fun as a group!

We will meet at The Spark building (TS on this map) at 1.30pm on Thursday 20th JuneWe expect to finish at the Cultural Quarter by 3pm.

We anticipate that this could be an interesting opportunity to:

– Discuss and reflect on the City of Culture bid (some background here)

– Explore walking as a research method (see for example, ‘Walking, Talking, Making’ methods slideshow by Understanding Everyday Participation here)

– Trace connections between creativity, culture, work, place and equitable participation (in Southampton)
– Meet people, share interests and ideas.