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Arts and Media [clear filter]
Thursday, May 12


Migration, the Refugee crisis and Video Games for Change
The Mediterranean has become one of the deadliest border crossings of the world. While the refugees and asylum seekers migrate en masse and in dire circumstances, the global context of safety shifts in dramatic ways making the migrant crisis an issue that truly matters to contemporary lives of everyone along the way. This paper is a case study of a November 2015 game jam that took place in Istanbul within the context of amberPlatform arts and technology festival where developers and designers had 36 hours to create video games on the theme “göçüyoruz!” (means both “We are going down!” and “We are migrating.”). The participants had already attended a panel on Syrian refugee crisis in Turkey organized in conjuction with the game jam. The result was 6 video and 3 analogue games.

This paper is a case study of the process of creating this game jam –I curated both the panel and the game jam- where code writers and game developers look into a current event through the angle of empathy and political involvement. Can video games really change the world? Can we play with lives, so to speak? While games for social change is already a genre, the scope of this work involved listening to first person accounts from activists, lawyers and refugee artists about the larger questions at hand regarding the day to day lives of migrants, and the point of view of those who are living in bureaucratic limbo in Turkey.


Thursday May 12, 2016 10:30am - 10:45am
COOR 195 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Session Location COOR 195


Speculative Practices as Critical Making: Designing Rituals, Situations, and other Tangible Imaginaries
While both Critical Making (Ratto 2011) and Design Fiction (Bleecker 2009) are techniques that provoke speculation about practices, such psychological “effects” are often treated as epiphenomena of the design object rather than as structured experiences which themselves might be available for creative manipulation. But as scholars from ritual studies will tell us, humans have a long history of designing rituals (Bell 1992; Grimes 1995, Tambiah 1981, Hobsbawm 1992), and we can similarly understand a range of communication practices as the outcome of designerly intervention, including: Roberts Rules of Order, feminist Consciousness Raising conversation groups, AA meetings, couples counseling, and Occupy Human Mic rituals. Indeed, some of the most significant cultural transformations in human history have involved the invention, or creative reimagining, of rituals, situations, and routines. This talk approaches the mechanics of human practice itself as a topic of Critical Making, not only through explicit decisions about material interfaces but also through speculative manipulation of tacit rules of engagement—thus, expanding the notion of “making” to treat the mechanics of practice as if it were a kind of material structure. Rituals, routines, situations, encounters, etc. are all embodied, procedurally structured, and spatiotemporally bound performances. In their prospective or prototype form, I call these phenomena ‘tangible imaginaries’ as a nod to their dual status as both embodied experience and imagination space. Tangible imaginaries recast Goffman’s notion of the interaction-ritual (1967) through the lens of Butler’s conception of the “doer… constructed in and through the deed” (1990) and open up the implicit mechanics of “deeds” (encounters with social-action) as if they were available for critical redesign. This approach adapts the methodology of Critical Making by drawing from a variety of techniques, including: Ronald Grimes’s Ritual Lab pedagogy (1995), the breaching experiments of ethnomethodology (Garfinkel 1967), Lawrence Halprin’s RSVP cycles (1970), as well as design methods of bodystorming (Oulasvirta et al. 2003) and experience prototyping (Buchenau & Suri 2000).

Thursday May 12, 2016 10:45am - 11:00am
COOR 195 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Session Location COOR 195


Critical (of) Games in an Art School Context, a Narrative Case Study
Critical (of) Games is a new co-taught course launched in the Fall of 2015. Course material is designed to address cultural issues in art and games, while enabling students with a range of fundamental technical skills for designing and developing their own projects. Conversations about gender, economics, and access are balanced with asset design and computer programming assignments.

Video games are, by profit and reach, the most popular art form. There is growing hostility within video game communities toward games focused on topics or approaches other than entertainment, and our previous students' have been reluctant to share their games and interactive art work on the internet. Where do these art forms intersect with established art worlds and what impact do they have on social and political action? Interactivity and open narrative structures can be used critically and experimentally. This course investigates the lack of exploration in the video game industry and covers instances of and culture around more critical games.

We are in the middle of the first semester of this two course sequence. This first course prepares students for developing games, studying narrative, character, environment, 3D animation, coding, and distribution. In the Spring course, Students will form teams that collaboratively design, develop and release a game with a decidedly social or political focus.

We will present the course structure and outcomes as a narrative case-study on the potential subversion/engagement that can be developed by offering art and design students agency with new media tools and an atmosphere that supports critical discussion of tools, approaches and culture around video games. We will also present student projects from the two semesters.

Thursday May 12, 2016 11:00am - 11:15am
COOR 195 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Session Location COOR 195


Critical and Collaborative Digital Ethnography: Studying Social Surveillance and the Marginalization of Black Girls on YouTube
This paper examines the social surveillance of watching tween black girls "messing around" while twerking on YouTube. The purpose is to unveil its unintended consequences on marginalized youth in new media ecologies. The paper will meet this aim by: (1) exploring the phenomenon of black girls’ twerking in the YouTube archive; (2) explaining how twerking as bedroom vlogging is read (or misread) by unintended audiences; and (3) discussing the implications of social surveillance for marginalized girls in YouTube's specific new media ecology. 

In 2013 I stumbled upon this adventure in marginalized tweens' online sexuality and play. Ironically it was also International Women's Day. Rapper/pop star Nicki Minaj was featured in a new music video titled "Freaks" by male rapper French Montana. In less than 24 hours, the video went viral with over 1 million views and the top demographic among those views were females 13-17 or 18-24. The partial nudity of Minaj's possibly surgically-enhanced breasts surely keyed young girls' attention towards her privileged celebrity status and persona as a "bad bitch”—doing whatever she wants and owning it. I wondered how little black girls were mirroring the squatting and popping of her ass towards the camera as Minaj was ”seated" with her back to the audience on a lavish gold throne chair. The image was fitting. Minaj is one of wealthiest and most powerful emcees of all time, especially among women. 

With the help of over 100 students in various sections of an introduction to cultural anthropology course and a few anthropological analysis capstone courses, we watched and coded over 600 videos of tween and teen black girls twerking in the blurred privacy of a bedroom or other living spaces in their homes. Their millennial eyes and interpretations offered new insights that my baby-boomer eyes could not see. I discuss the implications for ethnography as a form of “compassion studies” for marginalized groups online. 


Thursday May 12, 2016 11:15am - 11:30am
COOR 195 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281


Reading Speech: Virginia Woolf, Machine Learning, and the Quotation Mark
This presentation offers preliminary findings and future plans for a text analysis project that examines Virginia Woolf’s irregular uses of quotation marks throughout her corpus as the moments in which her interests in heard sound, print text, and the politics of recording intersect. Most digital text analysis protocols treat punctuation marks as extraneous information, focusing on the vocabulary itself as the tokens of interest. My project explores just these often-overlooked markings as the most representative examples of the human voice in a text and, accordingly, deeply embedded in questions of power, politics, and what it means to be human. The preliminary findings show a sharp decrease in the proportions of text that Woolf devotes to quoted speech over her career, and I argue for an analogous stylistic shift in her work from more Victorianist prose to more modernist aesthetics. This general trajectory is accompanied by a shift away from interests in society and towards the individual, and I argue that this decline corresponds to a considerable increase in the amount of speech that Woolf does not flag with quotation marks, moments that closely mirror modernist experiments in narrated thought. By adapting machine learning and natural language processing techniques, the project trains the computer to identify speech-like moments where no quotation marks appear. Bringing such unpunctuated speech to the surface stands to reshape our understanding of Woolf’s writing practice as one as much centered on the radical inscription of sound as on a new aesthetics of the text.


Thursday May 12, 2016 1:00pm - 1:15pm
COOR 195 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Session Location COOR 195


Countermapping Dangerous Geographies
As part of a research project entitled "Dangerous Geographies: The social abandonment of racialized women in South LA and Vancouver's Downtown Eastside", I am experimenting with different mapping software in order to counter some of the crime mapping trends in mass media web platforms (specifically, the LA Times' Homicide Report). 'Dangerous Geographies' analyzes the fact of and response to the murder of over 100 African-American women in South LA and 60 women (majority Indigenous) in Vancouver between 1987 and 2010). I analyze these cases mostly in terms of two things: 1. how they tell a story about city life and social abandonment - i.e. the withdrawal of social services and the increase in crime-seeking policing, the absence of addiction care, the criminalization of sex work - and 2. how they draw out public narratives of the disposability of Black and Indigenous women. At HASTAC 2016, I would like to talk about how countermapping practices - e.g. annotating crime maps with multimedia content, drawing out data that lays out structural obstacles to living a less threatened life - might push back against the way that crime mapping reinscribes a fatalistic collapse of blighted neighbourhoods and ruined women.


Thursday May 12, 2016 1:15pm - 1:30pm
COOR 195 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Session Location COOR 195


Modeling a National Media Conversation: Agent-based models, Sonification, and the case of “Mark Twain”
This paper uses agent-based models (ABMs) and sonification to investigate media coverage of “Mark Twain” as it has been preserved in a digital collection of historic 19th and early 20th century newspapers assembled as part of the Chronicling America Project at the Library of Congress. I argue that the combination of ABMs and sonification offers a somatic alternative to the reliance on visualization that characterizes much digital humanities work on textual corpora: this embodied perspective, part of a movement toward what has been called data "perceptualization," provides access to a greater array of sensory experiences a dataset may provoke and invites the creation of exploratory, experimental, experiential narratives that are no more or less defensible than narratives produced by more widespread approaches to data analysis.

I begin my discussion by outlining the creation of an AMB that invites users to adopt the perspective of an agent navigating a digital environment in which “Mark Twain” is a central topic of interest. I then demonstrate that occupying space within the model provides users an opportunity to experience the conversation surrounding “Mark Twain” as it unfolds in real-time; and, I show how sonification may be employed to enhance this experience by providing as sense of the sonic environment created by conversations as they unfold. I conclude by comparing insights obtained by visualizing my dataset with those produced by modeling the same data.


Thursday May 12, 2016 1:30pm - 1:45pm
COOR 195 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Session Location COOR 195


Technoliterate Lives
Nearly 30 years after the genesis of the world wide web, internet and computer literacies are still often conceptualized through an all-or-nothing binary. 15 years after its publication, Marc Prensky's 2001 framework of "Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants" remains a powerful metaphor frequently employed to describe this binary opposition: users are either "digital natives" born into a wired world, or "digital immigrants" who struggle to learn to navigate the land of the internet and communicate in its strange new language as non-native speakers of tech.

This presentation aims to complicate the conception of a digital native/immigrant divide by examining the technoliterate lives of older adults—articulating the preliminary results of an ongoing ethnographic study of computer and internet users, age 60+, in a Florida retirement community. The data and reflections gathered thus far reflect that digital literacy development and practice continues across a lifetime, and, as the speaker will argue, is an integral component of the civic, intellectual, social, and cultural participation of older adults in American society. With this study, the speaker adds to the understanding of digital literacy and engagement by starting inquiry from the lives of an important community that has remained largely un(der)examined by both humanities and technology scholars. To conclude, the speaker will make a case for a broader understanding of intersectionality, that encompasses not only race, gender, class, and sexuality, but also age as an important element of identity and category of analysis, particularly within a constantly wired and increasingly aging American population.


Thursday May 12, 2016 1:45pm - 2:00pm
COOR 195 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Session Location COOR 195