Word, Image, Digital Symposium Report

1 November 2016, Cardiff University

The interplay between word, image and the digital is one of the most pertinent and topical areas for research and discussion in the humanities. Whilst important work has been done previously theorising word and image (see, for example, W.J.T Mitchell’s Picture Theory), the addition of the digital to this already complex relationship problematises, amplifies and disrupts our understanding of what it means to be human and consequently challenges us to re-think how we understand visual culture. On 1st November, Cardiff Digital Culture’s Network held its first symposium that interrogated this very subject and in the process acted as kind of prelude for the discussions that the rest of the world would be having a week later when, as result of Donald Trump winning the American Presidential election, concerns were raised over the way the digital allows for the widespread dissemination of words juxtaposed with images in the form of memes to denigrate, abuse and often tell outright lies about political opponents.
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Gender and Digital Cultures Conference Report

Cardiff University, 17th November

On the 17th November 2016, Cardiff University hosted its first postgraduate conference on Gender and Digital Cultures. Conceived by members of the University’s Gender and Sexualities Research Group and Digital Cultures Network, the conference aimed to provide space for postgraduate researchers to share and debate emerging interdisciplinary scholarship on Gender and Digital Culture as well as build capacity amongst postgraduate students in digital research practice.
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Enter the Medium

In this blog piece, Joachim Buur, who has just completed his MA in English Literature at Cardiff University discusses his work on Andrew Hussie’s webcomic Homestuck and the implications it has for fans in the digital world. 

I’m honoured to be here as a rookie scholar and a fan to tell you a bit about the paper I gave at the Word. Image. Digital. Symposium, whose full title is ‘The Symbionic Cybertext Machine: Andrew Hussie’s Homestuck and its Fans as a Cyborg Collective’. Unfortunately I don’t have nearly enough room here to make the title make sense, so instead I hope to give you some idea of the general thrust of my paper. Shortly put, it’s about the webcomic Homestuck and the ways in which its author Andrew Hussie and his fans have gone through a co-evolution process, together working to create a narrative experience which could only have arisen (and only makes sense) in an online social context.
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Rough Magic

The Royal Shakespeare Company have been working with Intel and Imaginarium Studios on a new production of The Tempest that uses technology to blur the line between reality and the digital. This piece briefly explores why The Tempest has been so attractive to film-makers over the past century.

On 28th December 1895 Georges Méliès, a Parisian magician, sat in amazement at what he was witnessing.[1] He was attending a demonstration of the Lumière brother’s new invention: the cinématographe. It was a machine that allowed both the recording and the projection of moving images. In a darkened room at the Salon des Indien, the audience were transfixed, especially Méliès, who instantly saw the potential of this new machine: ‘We were positively stupefied. I immediately said “That’s the thing for me…an extraordinary trick!”’ The films that were projected onto a makeshift screen can only be described as short documentaries – workers leaving a factory, a locomotive arriving at a station – but Méliès recognised the creative and imaginative potential of this new medium.[2] He would eventually go on to use cinema he said ‘not for the servile reproduction of nature, but for its spectacular expression of artistic and creative ideas of all kinds.’[3] Soon after, Méliès built his own camera and the world’s first film studio and set about making his own idiosyncratic films which would incorporate special effects with traditional theatre techniques that evoked a ‘dreamlike atmosphere’[4] and an ‘unreal world wholly obedient to the whims of the imagination’.[5] Through cinema Méliès had, like Shakespeare’s Prospero three hundred years earlier, created and discovered his own ‘rough magic’.[6]

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The Poetry Storehouse: An Experiment in Collaboration and Ekphrasis

As part of our recent Word. Image. Digital. Symposium, Othniel Smith presented a brilliant paper on The Poetry Storehouse. You can read the full paper here and watch the videos.

The Poetry Storehouse opened its metaphorical doors in October 2013.

A website put together by a panel of poets and literary academics, mostly in the US, its twin aims were (a) to utilise online technology to attempt to find a wider audience for contemporary poetry which might otherwise remain restricted to small-press print editions and (b) to stimulate creativity in other artists – whether they be actors, photographers, painters, filmmakers or composers – who might feel inspired to respond ekphrastically to the poems which were showcased.

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Are Tweets a New Form of Poetry?

In this fascinating post, Jannat Ahmed, an MA student in English Literature at Cardiff University, asks us to think about a new kind of poetry… 

In our digital age, are tweets a new form of poetry? This is a question I have asked myself after seeing how people engage with specific types of posts on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. While tweets themselves have their own restrictions (their 140 characters, interestingly, can remind us of the restrictive 14 lines in a sonnet, for example), it is not the straightforward 140 character restriction of a tweet that I correspond with an idea of poetry, but another kind of post prevalent on social platforms that offers poetic engagement: Having gathered force for several years as MSN Messenger statuses, the phenomena of inspirational quotes and narrative posts has found its way onto all kinds of social media channels.

From stories about real people on the “Humans of New York” page on Facebook to @PoemsPorn on Twitter, today the poetry and stories consumed by the world are comprised of short quotations and screenshots that evidently speak to, and resonate with, people. Comparing the personal impact and function of modern day quotation/narrative posts with the social importance and function of poetry from poets like Pope, Montagu and Shelley, I ask whether it is possible to start thinking seriously about these new genres of writing (or rewriting?) produced through the new medium of the digital.
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Word, Image, Digital: Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for our Word, Image, Digital, Symposium on November 1st. You can register here: https://word-image-digital.eventbrite.co.uk

And click on the following link to download the programme for the day:word-image-digital-1

 

Play for Today: Digital Archive as Theatre

In her book, Computers as Theatre, Brenda Laurel attempts, though a ‘poetics of human-computer activity’, to provide designers of websites (and other interactive media), with ‘a conceptual framework and a vocabulary that are strongly focused on human experience.’[1] According to Laurel:

Buried within us in our deepest playful instincts, and surrounding us in the cultural conventions of theatre, film and narrative are the most profound and intimate sources of knowledge about interactive representations. A central task is to bring those resources to the fore and to begin to use them in the design of interactive systems.[2]

In her focus on human experience in relation to digital design, Laurel echoes Jaron Lanier when he writes about the importance of the human-centred approach to computer science. Laurel’s central thesis is that computers and interactive design are, fundamentally, theatrical, performative and the latest instance of a medium where audiences can engage meaningfully with representations. Just as, for example, the theatre of Shakespeare (which allowed far more interaction between actors and audience members in the Early Modern period than it does today), provides us with characters and a space (a playhouse) for thinking through complex ideas, so computers, in the twenty-first century, are providing us with that space for thought.[3]

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CFP: Gender and Digital Cultures

Cardiff University’s Gender and Sexuality in Policy and Practice (GASP) research group and Digital Cultures Network, with the support of the Doctoral Academy, invites abstracts to a one-day postgraduate conference on ‘Gender and digital cultures’.

Thursday 17th November, 9.30am – 4pm, Cardiff University

How do digital technologies shape, and become shaped by, the production of gender? How do we use digital technologies in our gendered self-expression and identity negotiation? The answers to these questions become increasingly complex as the role of digital technologies grows in our lives. Digital technologies including the internet, mobile communication devices and social media are gaining increasing attention from academics, policy-makers, practitioners and the media.

This one-day conference on ‘gender and digital cultures’ is an opportunity for postgraduate students from all institutions to explore the intersections of gender(s) and digital cultures with workshops, talks and poster presentations; to build interdisciplinary peer networks; and to make contact with researchers from other departments and institutions.

Abstracts are invited for workshops (30 mins), presentations (15 mins) and posters. We welcome sessions exploring empirical, theoretical or methodological aspects of digital gender(s). Topics could include:

  • Gender, sexualities and gaming
  • Social media and sexism
  • Feminist activism online
  • Gender based violence and cyberbullying
  • Gender based violence and hate crime
  • Streaming platforms and representation
  • Gender equality and the digital industries
  • Digital and networked identity performance
  • Digital research methodologies, methods and ethics

We welcome presentations of alternative/innovative formats such as pecha kucha and performance. Abstracts may be written (<300 words), audio or video.

Please email all submissions to TurneyC@cardiff.ac.uk by Friday 30th September, including the following: name(s) of presenter(s), title, type of session, institutional affiliation, and contact email. We will respond to all submissions by 14th October.

Registration for the conference will open in October. Attendance is free and open to all postgraduate students, and includes lunch and light refreshments. A small fund is available to support travel costs for students who would not otherwise be able to attend the conference. To apply for one of these, please email TurneyC@cardiff.ac.uk by 30th September, specifying:

1) where and to you are travelling from

2) a quote for the cost of your travel

3) a few lines about how the event is relevant to your work/research

4) why the bursary is necessary.

We look forward to hearing from you!