- December 2015
3 December 2015 - Sussex Humanities Lab Inaugural Lecture, RSA
The SHL inaugural lecture was given by guest speakers Lorna Hughes (Professor of Digital Humanities, University of Glasgow) and Jonathan Sterne (James McGill Chair in Culture and Technology, McGill University, Montreal). The speakers each gave a different perspective on transformations in the humanities arising as culture and societies become more digital – and as the tools of study change. Prof Lorna Hughes, a leading digital historian in the UK, related her own research to questions concerning infra-structural needs for the new humanities. Jonathan Sterne, a leading media studies and sound scholar, used his own research into sonic histories to question what we really mean when we talk about ‘the digital’ – and also what we mean when we talk about the humanities.
The two speakers thus addressed key areas of concern to the SHL, raising debates we want to join. Our own concern is to think about how to develop an expanded field for the digital humanities; one in which new kinds of empirical work can be done, and new forms of cultural critique, regarded as a necessary response to the version of ‘digital culture’ offered by the digital industries, can be developed.
Held at the RSA in London, approximately 180 people attended the event from UK and international academic and cultural institutions, including representatives from the British Library, Tate, our CHASE partners, JISC and the AHRC.
7 December 2015 - Federica Frabetti: "Deconstructing Big Data: Memory and Ethics in the Age of Datasets" (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
It is widely acknowledged that today we live in the age of ‘big data’: the extensive use of ever larger quantities of data and the growing reliance on algorithms to analyze them and make decisions raises urgent epistemological, ethical and political questions, such as those concerning the opacity of digital technologies, their affordances and limitations, as well as issues of surveillance, security, censorship, filtering and contents control, the right to be forgotten, and even information warfare. ‘Big data’ has become a pivotal concept in contemporary academic and non-academic discourses on digital technologies and media. In this paper I look at 'big data' as a fuzzy concept emerging across technical, scientific, social and business contexts seemingly related only by the enormous size of the datasets being considered. Borrowing from a deconstructive tradition of thought that draws mainly (but not exclusively) on the work of Jacques Derrida and Bernard Stiegler and that has been named the tradition of ‘originary technicity’, I look at ‘big data’ as a conceptual and technological system that constantly undoes itself. I examine some of the current literature in fields as far apart as business intelligence, biomedical research and so-called Critical Data Theory to show how technologies and methodologies based on big data continually transgress and reassert their own presuppositions. I argue that the ethics and epistemology of big data cannot be thought by remaining within the framework of instrumentality and that thinking big data as an unstoppable and never entirely predictable process of material self-differentiation that involves both the technical and the human helps us reconceptualize some of the urgent ethical and political issues raised by big data today.
Federica Frabetti is Senior Lecturer in the Communication, Media and Culture Programme at Oxford Brookes University. She completed an MRes and PhD in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has a diverse professional and academic background in the humanities and ICT and has worked for a decade as a Software Engineer in telecommunications companies. She has published numerous articles on the cultural study of technology, digital media and software studies, cultural theory, and gender and queer theory. She is an editor and translator of The Judith Halberstam Reader (in Italian) and the author of Software Theory: A Philosophical Study (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2015).
7 December 2015 – Book launch: Postdigital Aesthetics: Art, Computation and Design – David M. Berry and Michael Dieter (Palgrave)
The book launch of Postdigital Aesthetics: Art, Computation and Design (2015) edited by David M. Berry and Michael Dieter, with a response from Beatrice Fazi.
Postdigital Aesthetics presents a constellation of contributors who seek to unpack, explore and critically reflect on the questions raised by the notion of the postdigital and its relation to our computational everyday lives. Through a number of interventions, each chapter subjects the concept and ideas that surround our ideas of an aesthetic of the postdigital to critical examination to understand the new asterism of material digital culture in the twenty-first century. From Minecraft to post-internet art, each contributor offers an original perspective on network culture and its distinctive aesthetics and politics, and the relations between art, computation and design.
8 December 2015 - Laetitia Sonami: Following My Ears in Dreams of Wires
Demonstration and discussion held in the Meeting House.
Presented by the Sussex Humanities Lab, the Centre for Research in Opera and Music Theatre and the Music Department.
8 December 2015 – Laetitia Sonami: “Your Presence is Required: Performance, Control, and Magnetism” (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
Composer, performer and sound artist Laetitia Sonami presented an overview of work carried out over three decades, including her legendary lady’s glove, wire writings, hijacked plungers and current attraction to uncontrollable interfaces.
The trajectory of Sonami’s research is guided by careful attention to the notion of presence in both the staged performative works and its concomitant gesture of embodiment in installations. Exploring invisible media on the electromagnetic plane, Sonami’s unique approach questions the validity of “efficiency” long associated with the medium. Rather, she poses a series of questions which invite viewers to discover new behaviours through erratic performance, and to project imagined connections onto networks of silent copper.
Laetitia Sonami was born in France and settled in the United States in 1975 to pursue her interest in live electronic music. Recent projects include the lady’s Spring Spyre – an uncontrollable controller for live performance, Sound Gates, a public sound installation on a 2.5 km pier in Rijeka, Croatia, and Sheepwoman, a live film in collaboration with SUE---C, based on a Murakami novel. Sonami has received numerous awards among which the Herb Alpert Awards in the Arts and the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Awards. She currently is visiting faculty at the San Francisco Art Institute, Mills College and Bard College MFA Summer program.
10 December 2015 - Book Launch: London Lives - Poverty, crime and the making of a modern city, 1690 – 1800
At a launch marking the publication of London Lives (CUP), Tim Hitchcock and Bob Shoemaker presented the argument of the book.
- November 2015
9 November 2015 - Benjamin Noys: "Drone Metaphysics" (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
The drone is the signature object of the contemporary moment, incarnating a quasi-theological power to see and to kill. The danger of trying to analyse the drone is that we reproduce the image of this theological or metaphysical power, embracing the discourse of techno-fetishism that surrounds it. Here I analyse this discourse primarily through a series of literary, visual, and philosophical discourses that while pre-drone, predict and probe the metaphysics of drones. This metaphysics toys with the possibility of a fully-automated or subject-less weapon, which integrates and deploys the human. Counter-drone discourses have tended to emphasise the human element in the “kill-chain” to disrupt this discourse of technological perfection. This is necessary, but my concern is with how notions of integration, acceleration, and “loading” suggest the drone “assemblage” is one which constantly includes the human through transforming the human into a dream of transcendence. The attempt to stress the banality of the drone as just another weapon does not counter this metaphysics, which aims to integrate the messy materiality of the human into “autonomous acceleration.” To resort to messy materiality as a counter remains within the ambit of drone metaphysics and instead, I suggest, we have to attend to the disruption and negations at work within the discourse of transformation and acceleration that surrounds and finds its destination in the drone.
Bio: Benjamin Noys is Professor of Critical Theory at the University of Chichester. He is the author of Georges Bataille: A Critical Introduction (2000), The Culture of Death (2005), The Persistence of the Negative: A Critique of Contemporary Theory (2010), Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism (2014), and editor of Communization and Its Discontents (2011). He is currently writing Uncanny Life, a critical discussion of the problems of the vital and vitalism in contemporary theory.
11 November 2015 - Academic Book Week
What is the future for the academic book? The Library organised an event as part of an AHRC-funded project to explore the future of the academic book. This seminar discussed what the academic book of the future might look like and what its purpose might be. It explored the transformation of the academic book, including a panel discussion with questions.
Caroline Bassett, Professor of Media and Communications and Director of the Sussex Humanities Lab, University of Sussex
Kiren Shoman, Executive Director, Editorial Books, SAGE Publications UK
Martin Eve, Senior Lecturer, Birkbeck, University of London and Director of the Open Library of the Humanities
Chair: Kitty Inglis, Librarian, University of Sussex
Venue: The Meeting House, University of Sussex
The event was supported by the Sussex Humanities Lab and SAGE publications.
14 November 2015 - My Object Stories Hackathon
A special one-day Hackathon event hosted by the recently launched Sussex Humanities Lab in partnership with the Mass Observation Archive. On Saturday 14th November (10:30am - 3pm) a special one-day Hackathon event was hosted by the recently launched Sussex Humanities Lab in partnership with the Mass Observation Archive. This event was aimed at 13-16 year olds and involved making a new digital archive of young people's everyday objects. The workshop was free and open to all young people in the Brighton and Hove area. For more information see here.
19 November 2015 - Patrik Svensson: "Space, Knowledge Production and the Digital Humanities" (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
Does one need an attractive and well-designed space to do the work required to get a Nobel Prize or to be an excellent teacher? Probably not, but space is more closely connected to knowledge production than we often acknowledge. For example, the traditional classroom has certain assumptions about learning built into the architecture and presentation software such as PowerPoint provides a specific mechanism for making spatially enacted arguments (scholarly and others).
A central concern in my work is ideas/concepts and their manifestations as a negotiation between intellectual arguments, institutional agendas, technologies, and events. There is no one-to-one mapping between these levels, but it can be helpful to employ notions such as conceptual cyberinfrastructure and intellectual middleware to shed light on the conditioning of knowledge production we are embedded in and to help us imagine spaces, infrastructure and software.
In this talk, I focus on the digital humanities as an ideational underpinning. I look at four mini case studies to discuss the relation between the digital humanities and its spaces-infrastructures-people: HUMlab at Umeå University, a specific academic event carried out at HUMlab in December 2014, recent work on presentation software (with Erica Robles-Anderson), and some new research based on spaces for media studies and the digital humanities in New York City.
Bio: Patrik Svensson is a Professor of Humanities and Information Technology at HUMlab, Umeå University, and the former Director of HUMlab (2000-2014). He is currently a distinguished visiting fellow at the Graduate Center, City University New York (fall semester of 2015). His current work can be loosely organized under two themes: Digital Humanities and Conditions for Knowledge Production. The first theme includes research and practice in relation to the intersection of the humanities and information technology with a particular focus on the history, role and place of the digital humanities. The second theme addresses research infrastructure, spaces for learning and knowledge production, intellectual middleware, presentation software and academic events. His work seeks to be critical and interventionist. Recent publications include Between Humanities and the Digital (co-edited with David Theo Goldberg, MIT Press, 2015) and “Close Reading PowerPoint” (online publication). He is currently working on a project on space and knowledge production.
- October 2015
6 October 2015 - Alessandro Ludovico: "Distributed Infrastructures for Post-Digital Publishing" (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
The distributed nature of most contemporary processes can reinforce social initiatives and circulation of media. The negotiation of content distribution through these networks can be substantially enhanced, creating smaller infrastructures, who can act locally and be significantly aware of what is globally developed and experimented. Furthermore, looking back to some forgotten parts of specific media history gives a clear sense of technologies and techniques that have created different and fruitful social spaces in the distribution of content. Traditional publishing in its evolution towards hybrids through software and networks is at the centre of these processes and can play a strategic role in the re-appropriation of networks and content infrastructures.
Bio: Alessandro Ludovico is an artist, media critic and chief editor of Neural magazine since 1993. He received his Ph.D. degree in English and Media from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge (UK). He has published and edited several books, and has lectured worldwide. He's one of the founders of Mag.Net (Electronic Cultural Publishers organisation). He also served as an advisor for the Documenta 12's Magazine Project. He teaches at Parsons Paris School of Art & Design and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara, and he's Adjunct Professor at the OCAD in Toronto. He is one of the authors of the Hacking Monopolism trilogy of artworks (Google Will Eat Itself, Amazon Noir, Face to Facebook).
6 October - Media History Lab Reading Group
Media History Lab is a reading group that aims to be a place of experimentation and informal debate. It draws on Sussex’s tradition of interdisciplinary research with the aim of moving ‘media history’ away from conventional institutional and medium-centric approaches. It aims to discuss new ideas and methodologies emerging from a range of disciplines, including media, film, history, psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and digital humanities – in fact, from any source that might help us to think about media history in novel and exciting ways.The Media History Lab reading group is convened by David Hendy in MFM (email@example.com) and Tom Wright in English (firstname.lastname@example.org) - but welcomes staff and research students from across the Arts and Humanities and beyond. If you wish to be added to the mailing list please contact David Hendy.
9 October 2015 - TAG Laboratory Open Morning
The Text Analysis Group (TAG) laboratory held an Open Morning. We offered demonstrations and poster presentations of a number of technologies that we have developed while collaborating with Humanities researchers, businesses and other organisations over the past five years. The TAG lab develops new technology to help answer research questions and tackle real-world challenges in the Humanities fields. Over the next four years, several TAG lab members are working as a part of the Sussex Humanities Laboratory.
13 October 2015 - Gleaning, ‘Detournemont’ and the compilation film: Some thoughts on "Un’ora Sola Ti Vorrei" (dir. Marrazi 2002)
The distinguished film scholar and film-maker Laura Mulvey visited Sussex and discussed her latest work. On Tuesday 13th October, the highly distinguished film scholar and filmmaker Laura Mulvey visited the Sussex campus and kindly agreed to give a talk on her latest work. The event took place between in the new Sussex Humanities Lab. The title of the talk was: Gleaning, ‘Detournemont’ and the Compilation Film: Some thoughts on "For One More Hour With You / Un’ora Sola Ti Vorrei" (Alina Marrazi 2002). There was an on-campus screening of the 55 minute long film in Silverstone SB327 -- FOR ONE MORE HOUR WITH YOU / UN’ORA SOLA TI VORREI (ALINA MARRAZI 2002).
20 October 2015 - 3D and the history of the criminal justice system
This workshop explored the issues and possibilities for historical research created by 3D representations of historical courtrooms. Part of the Digital Panopticon project, this workshop explored the spatial and aural configuration of the courtroom. In doing so, it helped to illuminate the lived experience of trial. Hundreds of thousands of men and women were forced to stand in unfamiliar spaces, to listen to authority voiced in a strange and new language - to stand trial for their lives, in a new theatre of justice. This workshop explored how engaging with the physical configuration of courtrooms helps us to better understand that experience and the relationships it encodes. Speakers included Linda Mulcahey (LSE), Valeria Vitale (King's) and Tim Hitchcock (Sussex).
20 October 2015 - Open Access: What lies ahead?
With momentum gathering around Open Access, traditional channels of scholarly communications are being redefined. Universities are faced with new challenges in dealing with the changes across all disciplines. This seminar explored two areas where these changes are being felt:
- the potential use of metrics to support the transition to a more open and accountable research system
- and how the shift to open access might impact on the authors of scholarly monographs.
Speakers: Prof James Wilsdon - Professor of Science & Democracy, University of Sussex - "The MetricTide: How can we use responsible metrics to support open science?" / Dr James Baker - Lecturer in Digital Humanities, University of Sussex - "Open Access monograph publishing for Arts, Humanities and Social Science Researchers" / Chaired by: Prof David Hendy - Professor of Media & Communication, University of Sussex.
- September 2015
7 - 20 September 2015 - Familiars
Familiars, an immersive sound and visual installation that was part of Brighton Digital Festival (7th - 20th September).
The first major collaboration between technology anthropologist Georgina Voss and critical sound artist Wesley Goatley, Familiars expanded on their individual exploration of technology, culture and society, and drew on their shared interest in socio-technical systems.
Developed as a response to our increasing dependence on the large-scale infrastructures that haul commodities to us from around the world, Familiars transformed data broadcast from the major harbours, airports and railway hubs surrounding Brighton into a visceral visual and audio experience. Immersed in real-time visual projections of cargo vessels, while listening to their data-mapped sounds, the audience experienced an intimacy and familiarity with the dynamics and textures of a logistics system that is designed to be invisible – one which we are rarely aware of, and only notice when its malfunction directly affects our lives.
Familiars was supported by Brighton Digital Festival as one of their major Arts & Technology Commissions, designed to enable artists and creative technologists to make ambitious interdisciplinary work that explores the intersection of arts, technology and society. Find out more on the BDF15 website.
12 September 2015 - Unfamiliar Matter
"Infrastructures are matter that enable the movement of other matter... They are things and also the relation between things." - Brian Larkin, The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure
As part of the exhibition of their new installation FAMILIARS, Georgina Voss and Wesley Goatley (Sussex Humanities Lab doctoral researcher) hosted an evening of talks and films which reflect on the politics, power, visibility, and familiarity of infrastructures and systems.
We live with increasing dependence on large-scale infrastructures and logistics systems which are exceptionally important to our lives whilst being intentionally designed to be invisible and overlooked. Originating from military terminology to describe fixed facilities such as airbases, we think of infrastructures as being material, solid, reliable; responsible for some sense of ambient stability of life in the developed world. Long-standing and ephemeral, infrastructures shape our sense of time, providing the sense that things work and will go on working. Trains, planes, and boats; roads and railway lines; wind farms, oil refineries, and solar fields; cables and pipelines; generators and wires; sewers and water treatment plants; we only tend to notice these massive dynamic systems when they fail.
In UNFAMILIAR MATTER, our speakers looked at the politics, power, human roles, and hidden relations around infrastructure. As resources necessary for the common good, infrastructures raise questions about public goods and collective resources. Despite the inhuman 'infrastructural sublime' of their enormous, looming, beautiful forms, these systems depends wholly on people for their planning, execution, use, and interpretation. And whilst infrastructures are coded as separate from society, their fluxes and failures can only truly be understood by understanding the interplay between the people, systems, and social expectations involved.
Alice Bell is is a writer, campaigner and researcher interested in the intersections between science, technology and society. She will talk on energy infrastructures.
Ingrid Burrington writes, makes maps, and tells jokes about places, politics, and the weird feelings people have about both. She will talk on internet infrastructures.
Georgina Voss is an anthropologist of technology and innovation, whose work centres on the interplay between technologies, politics, and social systems. She will talk on logistics infrastructures.
Wesley Goatley is a critical sound artist whose work explores opaque processes and hidden power in technologies. He will open the event, with a short introduction on sound and infrastructure.
29 September 2015 - Paper Versus Pixels
An evening of talks about comics in print, on-screen and everything in between. Whether you like it or not, digital technology is having a big impact on comics and graphic novels, and they’re mutating as a result… A series of speakers talked about comics in print, on-screen and everything in between.
Aces Weekly - David Lloyd, widely known for V for Vendetta and other work, spoke about Aces Weekly, the multi-award winning, exclusively on-screen comic art magazine.
When is a comic not a comic? When it’s an app - Comic artist Jaime Huxtable related his experiences illustrating Think Like Churchill (Touchpress, 2014), an app that mixes comics, animation, historical archive and gameplay into a new breed of graphic narrative.
Jade Sarson - Jade Sarson, author of For the Love of God Marie!, to be published by Myriad Editions in 2016, presented her work and challenged the stigma that digital art is easy...
The comic page as time machine – panel based time travel and simultaneity in From Hell, One Soul and Here
All comics are a form of time travel. Comic journalist, podcaster and film critic Alex Fitch explained how the paper page of the comic can create a transcendent experience that more interactive formats (such as tablet computers) can only hint at.
Chloe Pursey and Nye Wright - Chloe Pursey, Editorial Director at Sequential, was in conversation with Nye Wright, author of Things To Do in a Retirement Home Trailer Park.
Supported by the Sussex Humanities Lab.
- July 2015
2 July 2015 - Always Already: Impact and the Everyday
The Sussex University Creative and Critical Practice Research Group (CCPRG) held an event at the SHL to explore the relationship between creative practice and research, inside and outside the academy and interrogated the manner in which experimental practice/critique/research partnerships address impact as an ‘always already’ present aspect of creative and social practice. The event included papers, performances, films and workshops from across a broad range of disciplines, including music, law, sociology, maths, performance art, and more.
4 July 2015 - Sussex Humanities Lab Performance Night
Wesley Goatley and Danny Bright put on a special show of performers from in and around Sussex in the SHL. Performers included Signal To Noise, Rachel Blackman, of Stillpoint Theatre and Thor Magnusson.
13 - 15 July 2015 - First International Conference on Live Coding
ICSRiM, School of Music, University of Leeds. Sussex and Leeds joined up to run the first International Conference on Live Coding, as part of the AHRC funded Live Coding Research Network. The SHL's Professor Sally-Jane Norman gave one of the conference's three keynotes. Live coding turns programming languages into live interfaces, allowing us to directly manipulate computation via its notation. Live coding has great potential, being used for example to create improvised music and visuals, to allow developers to collaborate in new ways, to better understand computational models by making fundamental changes to them on-the-fly, and to find new ways to learn and teach programming. Since the beginning of the TOPLAP movement in 2003 (building on an extensive but hidden pre-history), live coding has grown fast, attracting interest from many people in artistic, creative, scientific, educational, business and mixed contexts. After a good number of international events, the time is right to bring these people together for an academic conference, exchanging ideas and techniques, and enjoying dozens of peer reviewed papers and performances. The conference also opens up the field for people new to live coding, so they may develop and contribute their own perspectives on this emerging field. See the website for details of the programme: http://iclc.livecodenetwork.org/ ICLC was organised by the Live Coding Research Network, which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
- June 2015
2 June 2015 - Cultures of Sound and the War without End
The symposium explored cultures of sounds as connected to unending war through a series of talks and installations. Convened by Dr Malcolm James in collaboration with the Public Culture Hub and Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies, the event was held in the SHL and was comprised of a series of talks and installations.
Developed as part of a series of workshops designed to explore the relationship between quantitative data and music research, this symposium was the culmination of an AHRC Collaborative Skills Project on Quantitative Data for Music Researchers. Run by the University of Sussex, in partnership with the Institute for Musical Research at The University of London School of Advanced Studies, the event was convened by Danny Bright and held in the SHL.
22 - 23 June 2015 - NCRM Training Event on 'Capturing Everyday Temporalities through Qualitative Longitudinal Research'
Led by Prof Rachel Thomson, Dr Liam Berriman and Fiona Courage (Mass Observation Archive), and with guest speaker Prof Julie McLeod (University of Melbourne), this advanced methods training workshop explored new strategies for capturing the temporal rhythms of everyday life and understanding them in sociological and historical contexts. The event combined hands on access to both physical and digital/multimedia archived material from Mass Observation, as well as from the ESRC funded projects Inventing Adulthoods, Making Modern Mothers and Face 2 Face.
- May 2015
12 May 2015 – Curating Childhoods Diary Day
Traditionally the Mass Observation Archive has invited people to record a written diary of their day each year on May 12th. This year, the AHRC-funded Curating Childhoods project organised a 'Diary Day' that invited children and young people to record a digital diary of their day for the Mass Observation Archive. The event was convened by Prof Rachel Thomson (SHL Co-Director) and Dr Liam Berriman (SHL Member).
21 May 2015 - Understanding Territoriality
This one day conference explored Territoriality and its manifestations as a core human behaviour. Convened by Mary Agnes Krell in collaboration with Fabrica Visual Arts, the event was held in the SHL.
23 May 2015 – ‘Your Life in A Day’ family workshop
Developed in conjunction with the ‘12th May Diary Day’, the AHRC-funded Curating Childhoods project co-hosted the 'Your Life in a Day' family workshop with the Mass Observation Archive. The workshop was designed to help families and children learn more about recording and archiving a record of their day, and included members of the Everyday Childhoods project, sharing examples from our ‘day in a life’ studies, as well as Cameraheads from the Youth Photography Project. Convened by Dr Liam Berriman (SHL Associate) and Prof Rachel Thomson (SHL Co-Director) at The Keep, as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival.
- April 2015
8 April 2015 – Showcasing the Digital
The British Library in collaboration with the SHL showcased recent developments in digital scholarship. Convened by Prof Tim Hitchcock (SHL Co-Director) and Cornelis J Schilt at the Attenborough Centre Creativity Zone.
- March 2015
Part of the University of Sussex Library Research Hive Seminar series, Dr David Berry (SHL Co-Director) spoke about his experience of Book Sprints in relation to academic writing.
- January 2015
12 January 2015 – Re-thinking the Digital Humanities: Critical, Expanded, Material
A jointly organised symposium between the SHL and the Helskini Collegium for Advanced Studies. Convened by Prof Caroline Bassett (SHL Director) and Mikko Tolonen (HCAS), the event took place at HCAS, Helsinki, Finland
Directory of Past Events
Here you will find details of past SHL events
Coding Otherwise for SOFTer futures with Winnie Soon
Coding Otherwise suggests a focus on cultural and collective imaginaries of coding and building for SOFTer futures, which is more gentle, fluid, healing, loving and intimate than corporate systems of surveillance, optimisation and exploitation. Inspired by many organisations, artists and practitioners, for example, Digital Love Languages by Melanie Hoff, Softer Digital Futures by Ida Lissner and Nicole Jonasson, as well as Queering Damage by The Underground Division, SOFT practice emphasises care and love to express, question, reflect, imagine and intervene cultural life forms. The talk proposed the notion of SOFT practice as a way to engage with socio-technical materials to open up ways of doing coding and computing otherwise.
Winnie Soon. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Winnie is an artistic coder, designer and researcher interested in the cultural impact of digital infrastructure that addresses wider power asymmetries, engaging with themes such as Free and Open Source Culture, Coding Otherwise, artistic/technical manuals, digital censorship and minor technology. With works appearing in museums, galleries, festivals, distributed networks, papers and written forms, including co-authored books titled Aesthetic Programming and Fix My Code. Winnie is the co-initiator of the art community Code & Share [ ], Processing Community Day in Aarhus, and the co-editor of the Software Studies Book Series (MIT Press). They are currently working as Associate Professor at Aarhus University and visiting researcher at the Centre of the Study of the Networked Image (CSNI), London South Bank University.
To celebrate CreaTures (Creative Practices for Transformational Futures) Sussex research team Ann Light and Lara Houston and special guests, including Lucy Neal, author of the handbook on collaborative art “Playing For Time: Making Art as if the World Mattered”. Invited attendees to share some results, experiences and hopes from the EU Horizon 2020 CreaTures project which had 3 years exploring how creative practices contribute to transformed futures.
During the afternoon, there was a chance to experience and discuss work designed to inspire new eco-social relations. CreaTures researchers and guests were able to offer stories of how futures can be (un)made, followed by discussions on the link between sustainable futures, creative practice and activism.
CreaTures – Creative Practices for Transformational Futures is a EU Horizon 2020 research project investigating the potential of creative practices in art, design, and related cultural fields to support positive eco-social change. Recognising that a major role in fostering this societal change is played by the cultural sector, CreaTures brings together diverse creative practices that aim to support eco-social change and examines their transformational processes and strategies. CreaTures UK node is run by Professor Ann Light of the University of Sussex with Dr Lara Houston. https://creatures-eu.org/
About Lucy Neal and Playing for Time - Making Art As If The World Mattered
Lucy Neal is an artist and writer, currently engaged with Walking Forest, a 10 year artwork linking forest ecology with women and activism. She is an initiator of Transition Town Tooting, a creative collective response to the climate and ecological emergency at grass roots level looking at resilience building and practical activism. Lucy worked with 60 artists to produce Playing For Time, a definitional book exploring the role artists play in re-thinking the future; re-inventing and re-imagining our world at a time of systemic change and uncertainty. Currently out of print after 7 years, the book is an early and enduring text on shifting society’s rules and values away from consumerism and commodity towards community and collaboration. Lucy is currently investigating possibilities to relaunch the book and will be talking about her plans. Lucy was joined by a few of Playing for Time’s collaborators including the book’s editor and writer Charlotte Du Cann, who is co-director of Dark Mountain.
Disrupting AI - with Dan McQuillan
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is everywhere, yet it causes damage to society in ways that can’t be fixed. Instead of helping to address our current crises, AI causes divisions that limit people’s life chances, and even suggests fascistic solutions to social problems. McQuillan provides an analysis of AI’s deep learning technology and its political effects and traces the ways that it resonates with contemporary political and social currents, from global austerity to the rise of the far right.
We were pleased to welcome Dan McQuillan who calls for us to resist AI as we know it and restructure it by prioritising the common good over algorithmic optimisation. He sets out an anti-fascist approach to AI that replaces exclusions with caring, proposes people’s councils as a way to restructure AI through mutual aid and outlines new mechanisms that would adapt to changing times by supporting collective freedom.
Dan is Lecturer in Creative and Social Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has a degree in Physics from Oxford and a PhD in Experimental Particle Physics from Imperial College, London. After his PhD he was a support worker for people with learning disabilities and volunteered as a mental health advocate, informing people in psychiatric detention about their rights. In the early days of the world wide web, he started a pioneering website to provide translated information for asylum seekers and refugees. When open source hardware sensors started appearing he co-founded a citizen science project in Kosovo, supporting politically excluded young people to measure pollution levels and get the issue of air quality onto their national agenda. After a stint working in the NHS he joined Amnesty International and created their first digital directorate. Dan has been involved in many grassroots social movements such as the campaign against the Poll Tax in the UK, and in environmental activism. He was part of the international movement in Genoa in 2001 which was protesting against the G8 and calling for an alternative globalisation that included justice for both people and planet. During the first wave of Covid-19 he helped to start a local mutual aid group where he lives in North London
Organised in collaboration with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), and the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU).
View Dan's presentation here (27) Disrupting AI - YouTube
SHL Seed Funding Symposium
A symposium that showcased SHL seed funded projects that innovated or critiqued digital technologies at eco-socio-cultural interfaces.
Emile Deveraux (MAH) - “The Material Knowledge of Trees: AI, Libraries, and Immersive Media”.
Andy Phillipides (Informatics) Dave Goulson, Maria Castellanos and Nicholas Balfour (Life Sciences/ EBE) - “Harnessing Digital Citizen-Science Data for Pollinator Conservation”.
Bonnie Holligan (Law) and Jo Walton (MAH) - “Earth Law and Earth Arts”
Evelyn Ficarra,with Co-Is Chris Kiefer and Tim Hopkins (MAH) “Robot Opera”.
Tim Hopkins (MAH) and David Weir (Informatics) - "The Big Reveal - AI driven narrative fiction”
Ed Hughes (MAH) - "Language of live immersive sound and video in a new opera".
A joint SSRP, SHL & MAH event that hilighted the importance of arts and media for sustainability
Dr Scott McLaughlin (University of Leeds) with Dr Ed Hughes (University of Sussex), Dr Sharon Webb (University of Sussex) and Adam Harwood (The Library, University of Sussex)
Practice research is a broad community that covers a range of disciplines including the creative arts, global health, the humanities and social work, and this community is not well-served by current text-focussed repository solutions. Practice research needs a more considered approach to accommodate a wider range of media. Equally, the current repository focus on single outputs is a poor fit for the processual and interconnected nature of practice research.
This session was a chance to explore issues and opportunities on the road toward sustainable practice asset management, from a preservation and dissemination perspective. Dr Scott McLaughlin introduced the SPARKLE project and was joined by a panel of Sussex colleagues with an interest in practice research. https://cepra.leeds.ac.uk/sparkle/
Scott McLaughlin (b.1975) is an Irish composer and improviser based in Huddersfield (UK). Currently, Scott lectures in composition and music technology at the University of Leeds, and co-directs CePRA (Centre for Practice Research in the Arts), as well as convening the RMA Practice Research Study Group. His research focuses on composing for contingency and indeterminacy in the physical materiality of sound. Scott is currently Co-I on the AHRC SPARKLE (Sustaining Practice Assets for Research, Knowledge, Learning and Engagement), and recently completed an AHRC Leadership Fellowship, the ‘Garden of Forking Paths’ project, on composing for contingency in clarinets - forkingpaths.leeds.ac.uk.
This seminar was organised in conjunction with the Library and took place during International Open Access Week.
Listening to water & soils with DIY sensors
Listening can help reveal the ‘health’ of ecosystems & listening itself can help us remember that we are part of nature, not apart from it. The emerging science of ecoacoustics points to the value of acoustic monitoring for biodiversity conservation and the subdiscipline of vibroacoustics is tuning in to the tiny, usually inaudible, vibrations that form a part of nature’s symphony. At the same time, the Rights of Nature movement reminds us that human beings are not the only beings and we all have the right to thrive.
In this workshop we experimented with a range audio transducers and recorders to eavesdrop on these acoustic and vibrational signals and asked what the sounds we heard reveald ecologically and how they made us feel, experientially.
This workshop was led by Dr Alice Eldridge
Soldering is an essential skill for the modern musician, creative practitioner and researcher whose academic interests may lead them to accessing and maintaining electronic equipment. This workshop covered a hands-on introduction to soldering, wiring audio cables and building DIY contact microphones. Contact microphones enable us to access sounds that may otherwise seem hidden, picking up vibrations in material substances. They can also be used in building hydrophones, reverberation systems and for amplifying acoustic instruments.
This open and friendly workshop was aimed at the absolute beginner, but was also helpful to the more advanced.
Traditional Acoustemologies - AuralDiversities
As we enter the UN decade of ecosystem restoration we considered what role listening can play in shaping and serving conservation agendas. Traditional and Indigenous knowledges have successfully preserved and restored biodiversity across the globe for millennia, yet the future, apparently, is digital. In this workshop we considered how these different forms of listening and knowing might respond and complement each other.
Speakers: Leah Barclay, USC Australia, Lyndon Davis (Ind) & Tricia King (Ind)
Paola Moscoso (Ind, Ecuador)
Katrin Losleben (Arctic University, Norway)
Tom Rice (Exeter University)
GUTS (The Enchanted Forest) 2022 - A multimedia installation by SHL Artist in Residence KATE SHIELDS 2-4 September 2022, 12-5pm. Free entry.
Visitors entered an immersive landscape where the internal met the external, creating a liminal space between our bodies and the world outside.
[An] analogy for the digestive system would be a dense, teeming, and enchanted forest that borders two worlds within a single ecosystem, a transition zone between what we call the world and what we call our bodies - Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice by Rupa Marya & Raj Patel
This stage of the project was developed alongside Sussex Humanities Lab at the University of Sussex during a three-month artist residency as part of SHL’s Intersectionality, Community and Computational Technology research strand. It was supported by Laurence Hill, digital art curator, and SHL Visiting Research Fellow.
The exhibition was kindly supported by Lighthouse, a charity supporting artists who use digital technology in their work and helping people succeed within the creative & cultural industries.
This hybrid workshop gave an overview of creative and participatory approaches to working with archived research materials, exploring data 'reanimation' as a qualitative research method. The focus was on innovative ways of working with archived qualitative research materials for the purpose of secondary analysis, historical enquiry, data collection and community engagement, using the Reanimating Data Project as an example.
It was an interactive hybrid workshop that invited participants to experiment with reanimating qualitative data using different methods. We explored different theoretical and disciplinary traditions informing data 'reanimation' and considerd the ethical challenges and possibilities of 'reanimating' qualitative data sets, sharing examples of how this had been done in recent research and community projects. We discussed what data reanimation is and considered the benefits and affordances of utilising this method of enquiry. In particular we considered how this approach:enabled creativity, reflexivity, experimentation and innovation in research; created opportunities to engage non-specialist audiences and communities in collaborative secondary analysis, data collection and/or public engagement; and engaged critically with ideas around social change and continuity.
Alternate Nows: how can the hope and imaginaries of counter cultural communities challenge dominant technocultures and chart alternate trajectories to new pasts and futures?
These series of events took place at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA). Alternate Nows placed old technologies and their unique repurposing within imagined communities to ask how can the hope and imaginaries of counter cultural communities challenge dominant technocultures and chart alternate trajectories to new pasts & futures. It recognised the need for spaces of recognition and identification to share new levels of consciousness on simultaneous lived experiences and how technologies become agents for alternate cultural imaginaries.
- Workshop 01 . Access to Video Art synthesis technologies and aesthetics with Andrew Duff + Alex Peverett
- Workshop 02. Queer Imaginaries with Irene Fubara-Manuel + Farah Way + Amina [This workshop was designed by and for anyone who identifies as a queer person of colour][
- Dead Tech Social . Alternate Nows
The Sussex Humanities Lab Inaugural Annual Lecture delivered by Professor Tim Hitchcock
The Worlds of the Dead Reimagined: Close reading, humanist understandings and the challenge of data science
In the creation of a new digital version of the archive – of print and image, maps, space and place – we have turned all the objects of study that pre-occupy the humanities into data. Each word can now be mapped, each building reconstructed in three dimensions, and each image projected onto the space it purports to depict. The boundaries between types of data have collapsed, and we are challenged to rethink how we understand the worlds of the dead. At the same time, how we organise that data has itself changed out of all recognition. We have moved beyond the human conceit of universal order that preoccupied post Enlightenment thinking, and replaced it with dynamic systems that designate meaning on the fly. This lecture asked, how these developments have changed the humanist project. And how we can bridge the divide between humanistic close reading of inherited data, and data science's dependence on data at scale.
A recording of the lecture will be available here soon.
Law and Art Beyond the Human
An event hosted in the Sussex Humanities Lab for provocations and discussion at the intersection of art, law, and the more-than-human.
• Helen Dancer introduced the UK Earth Law Project, and Bonnie Holligan and Jo Lindsay Walton launched the Wildlaw Judgment Generator
• Sabrina Gilani on AI and nonhuman agency
• Sandra Nelson on law, tech, and transgender bodies
During this session we asked where do legal and aesthetic perspectives on "the human" overlap or diverge and how should we think about the creative accomplishments of increasingly sophisticated AI and automation. We asked how is gender produced and transformed within networks of technologized culture. We also considered what might an algorithm and a river have in common. We also dicussed how we might foster greater collaboration, across arts and law, across the human and more-than-human, in the service of social and ecological justice.
Peculiar Signs: The Symbol Between Computer Science and AI
The symbol is a crucial concept in the history of computer science and artificial intelligence, the very backbone of the digital revolution. Computer science itself was the empirical treatment of physical symbol systems, argued Herbert Simon and Alan Newell, and "symbolism" was tantamount to intelligent behaviour as such. Strange then that the semiotic dimension of computing goes nearly uncommented across a wide range of contemporary critical approaches to digital technologies.
This talk argued for a digital semiotics on the basis of an exploration of an alternative genealogy of the symbol-concept in the early computing movement, with special attention to Alan Turing and Warren McCulloch. The mixed-mode AI that has recently become widespread in the form of "neural nets" is the legacy of this non-symbolist understanding of the role of symbols in computation.
Queer, Feminist Archives and Digital Humanities
In this session Dr. Sharon Webb, Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities and Co-Director of SHL, introduced participants to queer, feminist digital archives and explored the ways digital humanities can support community groups and initiatives and build digital archives. It considerd the creation of community archives within identity groups as a way to reclaim or promote hidden, lost and/or oppressed histories. It then considerd some tools to support the creation of digital archives, particularly, Omeka, and provided an introduction to metadata and the concept of feminist ethics of care in archiving.
Participants were asked to bring a digital image of an object/document/photograph/etc., that they would add to an archive, and to think of the reasons why. Participants also had access to primary source material stored in the Lab.
During the session participants wrote metadata to upload to a live archive and contributed to one, or both, of the following archives
Neurodivergent Art Jam
These workshops were part of the programme organised by our SHL PhD Advocates during Spring 2022.
During the months of March, April, and May, the SHL was host to a series of weekly art-making and creative writing workshops for PhD researchers who identify as neurodivergent (autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, anxiety, depression etc.), which was funded by the University’s Researcher-led Initiative Fund.
The Art Jam was primarily intended to be a way of creating access to a safe and validating creative space where neurodivergents are among other individuals with similar experiences, fostering a sense of community and support. Neurodivergent people are often forced to mask their true selves in public and in learning environments for fear of discrimination and oppression, which, of course, is both exhausting and detrimental to our mental health and wellbeing. But a dedicated community such as this can render masking unnecessary for its activity duration, and it’s super fun!
Read all about it in this SHL blog entry by PhD Advocate Hanna Randall, Postgraduate researcher in Creative and Critical Writing.
Embedding Sustainability in Media, Arts & Humanities - FOCUS Group session (work in progress)
SHL is creating a toolkit to support Sussex staff in MAH to embed sustainability themes within our teaching. With this aim in mind SHL hosted a focus group to find out:
• what colleagues would like to see from a Sustainability Educator Toolkit,
• what colleagues are doing in teaching presently
• challenges and ideas for the future.
This discussion was for open to anyone interested in the importance of embedding any dimensions of sustainability in education (climate justice, biodiversity, UN Sustainable Development Goals, post-growth, systems thinking, rights of nature, the environmental humanities, and more), and was also an opportunity to say hello to Alice Eldridge, Joseph Walton and Adaora Oji who are working to create the toolkit.
This is a small project from the Sussex Humanities Lab Experimental Ecologies group. There are a lot of sustainability and climate related toolkits out there, but the work we've done so far suggests there is an interesting gap to be filled.
The Embodiment Hackathon - 2 day event
In April 2022, a group of the curious gathered in the Sussex Humanities Lab was home for the Embodiment Hackathon, facilitated by SHL’s visiting artist-researcher Sissel Marie Tonn along with Dominique Savitri Bonarjee, Emilie Giles, Sam Bilbow, Fiona Miller, and Jonathan Reus.
Conceived of as a weekend of shared curiosity and experimentation, the Embodiment Hackathon (EH) set off with a question: how can sensor technology expand or complicate an embodied sense of selfhood? This question resonates across a spectrum of interests and disciplines ranging from computer programming, electronic sound arts, cognitive science, neuroscience, and other forms of data-driven research interests, to embodied and somatic practices in dance, performance, craft and art studio practice. The hackathon as the name suggests, approached this question with a hacker’s ethos. According to Mitch Altman, one of the early founders of and an expert on the hackerspace movement, that means ‘wanting to share your enthusiasm and skills in what you do with those around you’. This means we focussed on practices that helpd us to explore this question.
The EH’s inquiry had a two-sided focus that intervened on both sides of what has typically been regarded as two very different, even sometimes opposed types of knowledge: phenomenological and empirical knowledge. The ambition of the EH was to see what can come from taking a practical approach to both kinds of knowing. The EH welcomed a wide field of researchers and practitioners, with inventive somatic practices and prototyped technology. Working together over the two days, attendees created with soft sensors, handcrafted technology, game environments and movement research methods and through this built upon the University of Sussex’s rich and fascinating tradition of embodied cognition.
Read more about the event in the SHL blog: https://sussexhumanitieslab.wordpress.com/tag/sissel-marie-tonn/
Machine Learning and Authorship
This online workshop explored tools and debates at the intersection of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and authorship. During the workshop we looked at:
- How AI is being used to generate texts, to attribute authorship, and to obfuscate authorship?
- Does the increasing sophistication of text generation tools complicate what an ‘author’ is, and what might this mean for how universities identify, assess and nurture learning and intellectual accomplishment.
- How should we think about bias in training data and outputs, and is “bias” always the best way to frame questions around truth and justice in the use of synthetic text? And do new ways of writing texts mean we also need new ways of reading them?
This was an exploratory and interactive workshop. It situated recent ML-based text generation within a much longer history of automated writing, introduced the contemporary landscape, and looked together to glimpse the future. No coding experience was necessary to attend the workshop.
This workshop was part of a CHASE Doctoral Training Programme with Birkbeck & The Sussex Humanities Lab
New ways of analysing conceptual variation
Numerous linguistic changes which were motivated by the pandemic are already well-recognised in everyday language use, such as changes to the uses of lockdown, mask, virus, and frontline. Our research focuses on identifying less intuitive expressions and ideas in order to capture less salient changes between different phases of the pandemic in the UK. In order to achieve this task we explored narratives contributed to the Mass Observation Project (MOP) (http://www.massobs.org.uk/). MOP is a life-writing project that solicits narratives on a range of topics, from a panel of c.500 members of the public. Since 2020 three of the MOP calls have specifically focused on Covid-19.
This seminar explored these narratives using new computational linguistic and visualisation techniques developed in Spring-Summer 2021 as part of a HEIF-funded project “Post-COVID visualisation tool to analyse socio-economic and demographic data in the UK”.
Reflexive Re-Tooling: Alternative Workflows for the Feminist Researcher
Who do your research tools really work for? What kinds of networks do they encourage? What data legacy do they build? In this full-day workshop, we appied feminist reflexivity to our research workflows in the humanities, examining our tools and alternative and accessible methods that bring others in instead of walling them out of academia.
This was a full day hybrid event. That started with a group discussion about our research practices. Irene Fubara-Manuel led on a workshop entitled, 'The Power of Plain Text: Moving from Proprietary Tools'. Sandra Nelson led on a workshop entitled, 'Intro to Command Line: Immediacy, Automation, and Batch Workflow'.
Both workshops were interactive, and participants were encouraged to experiment with software.
This event was supported by the CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership and the Sussex Humanities Lab.
A Research Conversation across Disciplines: History and Data Science with David Weir, Gerhard Wolf and Tim Buchen
This conversation brought together two perspectives. The first provided by Gerhard Wolf and Tim Buchen; historians working on the history of mid-twentieth-century migration. And the second, provided by David Weir, co-director of the Tag Lab in the School of Engineering and Informatics and SHL member. Together they explored both the unique body of evidence that forms the basis of Wolf and Buchen’s project, and the approaches that could be applied from informatics.
At the end of the Second World War, more than 12 million Germans found themselves on the wrong side of newly drawn borders and were expelled westwards. Some of them left Europe for good with more than 50,000 ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe emigrating to the US within the context of the 1948 DP Act. To be eligible, however, they not only had to provide a job sponsor in the US, but also undergo a thorough political screening process. Interestingly, this process was not entirely unfamiliar to them. When following the call of the Nazis to leave their homes in Eastern Europe and settle in the occupied territories of Poland they had also been presented with a questionnaire to establish their suitability for citizenship. One might think that the criteria that the Nazi state applied to judge whether applicants could become members of the German Volksgemeinschaft would be radically different to those applied by a liberal US government and would not be entirely wrong. More unsettling are the many similarities, however, that we will argue point to the population policies of modern states at the middle of the 20th Century.
A number of data science methods were discussed that could potentially be applied to an available dataset of 10,000 questionnaires (8,000 successful and 2,000 unsuccessful applications). Perhaps the most fundamental of these involves the use of massive pre-trained language models that can be used as the basis for assessing the ‘semantic distance’ between words, phrases, sentences or documents. This can be useful for clustering, classification and any other tasks involving textual data. A number of text analysis tools could be considered, performing tasks such as named entity recognition, named entity linking and geoparsing.
Masakhane – pioneering participatory approaches to African languages processing, for Africans, by Africans
Masakhane is a grassroots organization whose mission is to strengthen and spur NLP research in African languages, for Africans, by Africans. Despite the fact that 2000 of the world’s languages are African, African languages are barely represented in technology. We are then committed to working with linguists, content creators, AI researchers, engineers, and others to build technologies that not only understand African languages but also incorporate African culture and diversity.
Main projects discussed included:
• OkwuGbé : End-to-End Speech Recognition for Fon and Igbo
• MasakhaNER: Name Entity Recognition system for African languages
• MMTAfrica: Multilingual Machine Translation for African Languages
• Unnatural Dataset: Advocating for Natural African Languages datasets
• LAFAND MT : Leveraging Pre-trained Models for African News Translation
• African XOR QA: A Cross-lingual Question Answering system for African languages
Bonaventure Dossou is a 2nd-year Master's Student at Jacobs's University Bremen. He is a Drug Discovery Research Intern at Mila, Pharma Technical Analyst at Roche Canada, and Graduate Student Researcher at Google AI. He is the creator of FFRTranslate (A Neural Machine Translation for Fon), co-creator of Okwugbe (a python library to build ASR techniques for low-resourced languages), and co-founder of Lanfrica and NeverGivApp.
Chris Emezue is a master’s student at the Technical University of Munich, studying mathematics in data science. His research areas include deep learning, reinforcement learning, knowledge-graph representations, and speech and language processing. He works with Masakhane on NLP for African Languages and is a founder of Lanfrica, a project to preserve African languages.
Olanrewaju Samuel has a BA and MA Linguistics with an interest in creating and solving NLP model inadequacies with natural datasets. His primary research interests are Phonetics and Phonology, Fieldwork, Corpus and Computational Linguistics, and Statistical approaches to Phonology. He is an annotator with Masakhane and Huggingface. He is a Transcriber with Academic Audio Transcription, UK where he uses Facebook wave2vec. He works with projects that build corpora and analysis as a panacea for NLP and NLP Practitioners.
Gilles Hacheme is a Machine Learning Research Engineer with a strong interest in NLP, Time Series, Statistics, and Computer Vision. He is an active member of Masakhane. He is also the co-founder of Ai4Innov, a non-profit organization working for inclusive AI.
SHL and SPRU Workshop ‘Discovering AI-Driven Discovery: Artificial Intelligence and Novelty Generation’
On 18 January 2022, the Sussex Humanities Lab hosted the research workshop ‘Discovering AI-Driven Discovery: Artificial Intelligence and Novelty Generation’. The event was organised by Dr Beatrice Fazi and Dr Simone Vannuccini, as a collaboration between SHL and SPRU. Experts from a wide range of disciplines (including geography, chemistry, data science, informatics, literature, art, philosophy, cultural theory, law, economics, digital humanities, mathematics and politics) met to study and discuss together the modes in which artificial intelligence affects scientific production, innovation and the concept of ‘discovery’. The event was part of the activities of SHL’s Philosophy of AI priority area, led by Dr Fazi.
- Workshop 01 . Access to Video Art synthesis technologies and aesthetics with Andrew Duff + Alex Peverett
Full Stack Feminism is Digital Humanities funded by UKRl·AHRC and the Irish Research Council (2021-23) launched their new two-year funded research project, The launch was a hybrid event co-located between the Sussex Humanities Lab (Brighton, UK) and Maynooth University (Ireland). The event introduced both the project team, and the Full Stack Feminist "stacks", which provide the intellectual framework and rational around the need for digital humanities to explore the ways in which it integrates intersectional feminist praxis into research and work practices, highlighting current work in this area and the ways in which we will intervene and inform this space. Details of planned activites were shared and will provide space and opportunity for the wider community to engage with the project.
Dr James Dyke (University of Exeter) - Out of control: how humanity built a civilisation hell-bent on destroying itself.
Humanity has become a geological force. The amount of sediments and rocks moved by humans exceed that transported by all the world’s rivers. How and why have humans become such a destructive species? In this talk I will advance the hypothesis that rather than being in control of our technological civilisation, humans may currently have very limited agency to control it.
Sacha Taki (Songs of the Forest)
This is a short documentary about the irrevocable links between biological and cultural diversity in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
In the film members of the Pueblo Ancestral Kichwa Kawsak Sacha (PAKKS), an indigenous organization in the province of Pastaza, describe how their soundscape is a critical point of contact for communication between humans and all other beings in the forest – the animals, weather, forest spirits and their ancestors.
Subverting Digital Spaces
Artists and activists Teresa Braun & Jake Elwes have subverted traditional digital platforms and their public-facing manifestations by building interactive archival spaces, queering datasets and developing digital tools for social intervention. Collectively, they have drawn from Intersectional, Black, Feminist, Queer and Trans activisms to create online spaces that challenge normative social constructs and their omissions. Among other topics, the session explored questions around digital activism, the subversion of digital spaces and the disruption of digital privilege.
This session was organised by the Sussex Humanities Lab in collaboration with Laurence Hill, Visiting Fellow (School of Media, Arts and Humanities) and the 'Full Stack Feminism in Digital Humanities', AHRC-IRC research funded project, and was part of the Brighton Digital Festival’s 2021 programme of events.
Technofem with Professor Patricia Murrieta-Flores
The future of the past. The development of Artificial Intelligence and other computational methods for the study of Early Colonial Mexican documents.
The field of Digital Humanities, and particularly the increasing accessibility of digital resources, has opened a significant number of opportunities for the study of sources that can be highly relevant to history and archaeology. These opportunities include the use of methodologies from the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Computational Linguistics and the application of a diversity of techniques and methods for the large-scale analysis and exploration of collections of historical documents.
In the case of the early colonial history of Mexico, there is an enormous variety of historical documents related to the economic, social and political life at that time. An example of this is the sixteenth-century Relaciones Geográficas de Nueva España (the Geographic Reports of New Spain). Created from the responses to a questionnaire ordered by Philip II's and obtained between 1577 and 1585, the Geographic Reports sought to compile all the information available on the American territories under Spanish rule. Due to its essential content, these reports have been the object of study by a large number of researchers, and are frequently used in the analysis of the political, social, territorial and economic situation at the time. Although numerous studies seek to understand the shifting territorial situation in New Spain, two enormous challenges have remained. The first one is the considerable size or volume of information to be analysed and compared. The second has been the precise identification of the places mentioned in these reports, especially on a large scale.
In this presentation, Patrica introduced the project sponsored by the Transatlantic Platform for the Humanities and Social Sciences (T-AP) called "Digging into Early Colonial Mexico: a large-scale computational analysis of historical documents", and some of its results. Taking as a basis the historical corpus of the Geographic Reports of New Spain, the project main objectives have been: 1) to adapt and develop techniques from Artificial Intelligence, including aspects of Natural Language Processing, Text Mining and Geographic Information Systems for the extraction and analysis of historical information from this source, and 2) to design computational methodologies for the identification of possible large-scale historical patterns. This research is allowing us to clarify some of the essential geographic questions related to the period and the colonial situation in this territory. Patrica also presented a methodology termed Geographical Text Analysis and some of the most critical outputs from the project. These included software developed to carry out this type of analysis, the first sixteenth-century digital gazetteer of Mexico and Guatemala, and the first experiments using Natural Language Processing to automatically annotate the Relaciones corpus.
Also introduced was a new AHRC/NEH project called 'Unlocking the Colonial Archive: Harnessing AI for Indigenous and Spanish American Collections' where colleagues are working to tackle some of the most difficult challenges in accessing archival information.
This event was part of the Sussex Humanities Lab Autumn 2021 Seminar series
Experimental Games: From Theory to Design: Professor Patrick Jagoda
Professor Patrick Jagoda kindly joined us via zoom to introduce and discuss his new book Experimental Games: Critique, Play, and Design in the Age of Gamification (University of Chicago Press, 2020), and to reflect upon his role as co-founder of the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab and the Transmedia Story Lab.
Digital games alone engage an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide as of 2020, and other forms of gaming, such as board games, role playing, escape rooms, and puzzles, command an ever-expanding audience. At the same time, “gamification”—the application of game mechanics to traditionally nongame spheres, such as personal health and fitness, shopping, habit tracking, and more—has imposed unprecedented levels of competition, repetition, and quantification on daily life. Drawing from his own experience as a game designer, Professor Jagoda argues that games need not be synonymous with gamification. He studies experimental games that intervene in the neoliberal project from the inside out, examining a broad variety of mainstream and independent games, including StarCraft, Candy Crush Saga, Stardew Valley, Dys4ia, Braid, and Undertale. Beyond a diagnosis of gamification, Jagoda imagines ways that games can be experimental—not only in the sense of problem solving, but also the more nuanced concept of problem making that embraces the complexities of our digital present. The result is a game-changing book on the sociopolitical potential of this form of mass entertainment.
Professor Jagoda is the author of The Game Worlds of Jason Rohrer (MIT, 2016) and Network Aesthetics (University of Chicago Press, 2016).
This event was part of the Sussex Humanities Lab Autumn 2021 Seminar series
Building a Feminist Chat bot
To celebrate Ada Lovelace day, the Sussex Humanities Lab hosted one of its Open Workshops Building a Feminist Chat bot which was a collaboration between the Feminist Approaches to Computational Technology Network (www.fact.network), the Reanimating Data Project, and Suze Shardlow, winner of the Rising Star in Tech 2021 award.
This session introduced attendees to work that was developed to reuse an important social science dataset, the Women's Risk and Aids archive, created over 30 years ago, when a group of researchers interviewed young women in London and Manchester, UK, about aspects of their lives and how they felt about love and relationships. The voices of these women exist on audio cassette tapes and transcripts recorded at the time and, now, these voices from the past meet us in the present via a chatbot powered by Flask, a Python framework.
This project shows how the more things change, the more they stay the same as we "chat" with the original subjects about their backgrounds, cultures and intimate relationships.
In this session, we looked at the architecture of a chatbot, how to determine and respond to user intent and how we can use AI to do this. We also examined the changes we needed to make to the 30-year-old data so that it was suitable for use with code, and the need to capture and treat interview data to make it easier to create similar projects going forward.
This was an introductory session, so no coding experience was required.
This workshop is part of the Sussex Humanities Lab, 'Intersectionality, Community, and Computational Technology', priority area see here for more details.
Full Stack Feminism in Digital Humanities project is funded by UKRl·AHRC and the Irish Research Council under the UK-Ireland Collaboration in the Digital Humanities Networking Call (AH/W001667/1 and IRC/W001667/1).
This event was part of the Sussex Humanities Lab Autumn 2021 Open Workshop series
Sussex Humanities Lab event Past, Present & Future at the Sussex Festival of Ideas
Wednesday 28 April
SHL Open Workshop: Reference Management with Zotero
Zotero is a free and open source tool that automates the tedious work of managing your bibliography and references. It can automatically grab publication details from a variety of online databases, which saves you having to type in that information yourself. From that stored information it can then generate in-text references, bibliographies or footnotes in any one of 9000 bibliographic styles. It can also do a lot more than that. For example, it can organise your collection of pdf papers, provide full text search over all those articles or essays and extract text you have highlighted in pdfs in the form of notes. It can also be a very useful tool for managing collections of data for a research project.
This workshop covered the basics of
1. Setting up zotero
2. Getting bibliographic information into a zotero collection
3. Pulling references out of a collection in an appropriate format
4. Looking at more advanced features of the software.
24 March 3 - 5
SHL Digital Methods Workshop
Text Analysis with SketchEngine - Justyna Robinson
In this workshop participants identied and explored patterns of language variation in large databases of texts. The session built on previous sessions on text analysis and assumed that the text had been cleaned, tagged, and prepared for the linguistic analysis of content.
The corpus interface used in this session was Sketchengine which was available on-line. There was also a demonstration of a prototype of the concept processor that is being built as a part of the Linguistics DNA project (co-developed at Sussex, School of English).
By the end of the workshop participants were able to identify the most fruitful linguistic patterns to suit specific research questions and were able to interpret the findings in the context of the stances and social meanings the texts communicate.
15 March 3 - 6pm
Coming to terms with data visualization and digital humanities
Professor Marian Dörk, University of Applied Sciences Potsdam
How can visualization research and design be inspired by concepts from cultural studies, sociology, and critical theory? In contrast to the epistemological hegemony that engineering and science has held over data visualization, humanistic engagements with data and interfaces suggest different kinds of concerns and commitments for the study and design of data visualizations. From collaborative research in the arts and humanities arises a need to support critical and creative engagements with data and visualization. Philosophical concepts such as the flâneur and the fold provide evocative thinking aids and conversation-starters that help overcome such long-standing dichotomies as the distinction between overview and detail, or the separation of interaction from visual encoding. Theoretical considerations were underpinned with practical reflections from recent research on visualizing cultural heritage data. This talk started by questioning the holy trinity of users-data-tasks and ended with a plea for more visualization philosophies.
Participants were encouraged to visit prototypes of some of the visualizations discussed, beforehand, and a list of papers was also provided for those who wished to prepare further.
Monday 8 March
Reality is Radical: Queer, Avant-Garde, and Utopian Gaming
The Sussex Humanities Lab and the Sussex Centre for Sexual Dissidence were pleased to welcome leading critical game studies scholars Amanda Phillips and Bo Ruberg to explore the politics of contemporary games.Games themselves are a major cultural form, and the "ludic turn" in recent years has seen game design thinking and critical play practices spill out into many areas of social and economic life. Meanwhile, a proliferation of tools and a vibrant indie design culture are democratizing game-making, and creating space for new ludic avant-gardes. What are the politics of contemporary gameplay and game-making? How might play and performativity offer pathways to radical futures? And what happens when the often rule-constituted realm of games collides with queer studies and queer activism, and with the desire to question so many of the dominant rules of reality?
Wednesday 24 February
Text Analysis with AntConc - Andrew Salway
This workshop was for researchers who wanted to use automated techniques to analyse the content of one or more text data sets (corpora), and to identify their distinctive linguistic characteristics and reveal new potential lines of inquiry. We used AntConc which is one of the most popular and well supported corpus analysis toolkits, and which is free to use.
The workshop was open to everybody. No prior experience with AntConc or text analysis was assumed.
Monday 8 Feb
SHL Digital Cafe - Is it 'Tech for Good' or 'Good for Tech'?
An informal lunchtime session for SHL members and associates to share research interests around the topic of 'Tech for Good or Good for Tech'.
Wednesday 16 December
Computational Analysis of Catalogue Data
This standalone session provided instruction in using AntConc and approaches from computational linguistics for the purposes of examining catalogue data to enable important catalogue related work. In the session (delivered in a ‘Carpentries’ style) we worked through two components of our in-development training materials, and sought feedback in order to better understand the needs ofcommunity and further develop our training offer.
Sensory Cartographies - online talk
A fascinating artist talk from Jonathan Reus and Sissel Marie Tonn. Jonathan and Sissel explored a wide sense of mapping far beyond two dimensional diagrams of territories, and took us through recent and ongoing artistic projects, exploring the use of wearable technologies to augment, expand, refilter and transform sensory experience.
Wednesday 18 November
DIY feminist archival practices for researchers, with Sharon Webb, Niamh Moore and other team members from the Reanimating Data project
In this workshop we explored feminist approaches to archiving through the introdution of our own project where we created a digital archive with academic research data – interviews with young women about sexual health, sexual practices, relationships, from Manchester in 1989-1990 – and gave participants an opportunity to play with the archive. We reflected on recent developments in feminist archival theory and practice, and how these have informed our work. We introduced a free, open source platform we have used (www.omeka.org) and discussed why used it, as well as pointing to other possibilities for creating online archives. We described the feminist labours and ethics of care involved in creating an archive, and together we curated a new exhibition to add to our archive.
Reanimating Data: Experiments with people, places and archives - http://reanimatingdata.co.uk/
Project archive: https://archives.reanimatingdata.co.uk/s/fays/page/about
Monday 9 Nov online
Open Academic Publishing: what it is, what it could become and why that matters
In this session we explored open publishing, covering both the fundamentals and the innovation.
Lucy Barnes from Open Book Publishers discussed how, as publishers, they are approaching open access publication and also, her work with COPIM, the Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs project.
Dr Arianna Ciula from King’s Digital Laboratory shared her experience of integrating digital publishing with the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) process.
Dr Tanya Kant, University of Sussex, shared her experiences of supporting researchers with open publication through REFRAME, an open access academic digital platform for online practice, publication and curation.
Wednesday 4th November
Text Analysis with Antconc - Workshop Leader: Andrew Salway
This event was also part of the MA Research Training Workshop Series 2020
This workshop was for researchers who wanted to use automated techniques to analyse the content of one or more text data sets (corpora), and to identify their distinctive linguistic characteristics and reveal new potential lines of inquiry. The text data could comprise thousands to millions of words of e.g. news stories, novels, survey responses, social media posts, etc. We used AntConc which is one of the most popular and well supported corpus analysis toolkits, and is free to use.
The running example for the workshop was a sample of the nine million tweets distributed by Twitter because they were thought to have originated from Russian trolls involved in election and referendum interference. Attendees were welcome to bring their own text data to work with.
We used AntConc to make frequency lists, keyword analyses, sorted concordances, n-grams and word clusters, and collocation data. We also briefly discussed what could be interpreted from the results of such analyses under the rubrics of discovery science and corpus-based discourse analysis.
The workshop was open to everybody. No prior experience with AntConc or text analysis was assumed and participants from outside of the University of Sussex were also welcomed.
Tuesday 27 online
Immersive Storytelling (Part 2) The second workshop working with immersive technologies.
Following on from the first workshop, Alex Butterworth & Sophie Dixon led the second Immersive Storytelling session.
Monday 26 Oct online
Tracking Disinformation: equipping civil society for technological self-defence
The promulgation of disinformation on social media channels has posed a growing challenge to the institutions of civil society in recent years, seeding hatred against minorities and the marginalised, and fostering political and social polarisation. The extent of its disruptive effects is difficult to gauge and its sources elusive, generating further distrust and destabilisation. Whilst defence against PsyOps was not long ago the specialised responsibility of state agencies, civic organisations and communities now themselves need to be able to detect malign activity and to mitigate its effects.
The speaker and his colleagues develop tools to assist in this process, and have been working with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue to identify and characterise a number of phenomena that emerged this year. Topics covered have included the rise of QAnon, the abuse online of US Senate and House representatives, the spreading online of Holocaust-denial beliefs, the rise of the 'Natural News' network, the online mobilisation of White supremacists and the emergence and spreading of Covid-19 disinformation on social media.
In this seminar Jeremy Reffin presented case studies from that work and explaind the methods deployed and considerd some of the insights generated. A panel of respondents: Dr Tanya Kant, Dr Alex Butterworth and Dr Natalia Cecire followed the talk with a debate addressing the issues raised.
Jeremy Reffin is a co-founder of the Text Analysis Group (TAG) Laboratory in the Department of Engineering and Infomatics, the Centre for Analysis of Social Media at the think tank Demos, and CASM Technology LLP, a consultancy. He holds a part-time appointment as Research Professor in the Department of Engineering and Infomatics and is a Research Fellow in the Sussex Humanities Lab.
Monday 20 Oct online 3 - 6pm
Immersive Storytelling (Part 1)
Alex Butterworth and Jo Walton led the first of a pair of Open Workshops exploring the use of emerging XR technology (VR, AR, MR) for immersive storytelling. An SHL team led by Alex Butterworth has received funding from the National Immersive Storytelling Centre to run the workshops, which were informed by both ongoing academic research and industry professionals working with immersive technologies. No prior experience of XR was necessary, and UG and PG students, together with staff attended.
Friday 11th September, 3-5pm, in collaboration with the Sussex Humanities Lab Book Launch – Making it Personal: Algorithmic Personalization, Identity and Everyday Life
Zoom launch of Dr Tanya Kant's book, Making it Personal: Algorithmic Personalization, Identity and Everyday Life published earlier this year by Oxford University Press.
Erewhon: The Impossibility of Being Nowhere
Samuel Butler's Erewhon, or Over the Range, anonymously published in 1872, was largely written and set in the mountainous South Island outback of Aotearoa-New Zealand. Like all utopias, this anagrammatic "nowhere" was necessarily staged and authored somewhere. Mapping that is integral to Butler's -- or anyone else's -- storytelling produces places and reference locations required to secure our vantage points as readers: it is impossible for humans to be nowhere. But beyond this impossibility, we have become increasingly reliant on affordances enabling us to be anywhere or everywhere, to simultaneously deploy our presence and ideas across multiple kinds of spaces and temporalities. I propose to discuss this tension, and our parallel human need to constantly tune to the specific resonances of deeply diverse places.
Why Teach Humanities Students Letterpress Printing?
A talk by Gabriel Egan, chaired by Tomasz Kowalczyk, on the role of mediating technology in the production of the printed document.
Much of the textual material we encounter comes to us in the form of printed documents made with the letterpress technology invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century. It is all too easy for the reader to 'look through' the printed page and imagine they are hearing the words, the thoughts even, of the writer. But printed documents are made objects - they are constructions - and the mediating technology is important. When students understand the technological constraints of letterpress printing, they gain new insights into textual culture in print. How can we appreciate and demarcate different agents' inputs to a final printed book? What counts as error? And whose hand and mind was responsible for each component? Practical experience of letterpress printing enables us to read afresh the printed page itself.
SHL Open Workshop: Text Data Preparation
The purpose of this workshop was to introduce researchers and interested parties to two key aspects of data preparation. A common problem when starting work on large scale processing of text is that it can be noisy, hard to analyse or structure in a machine readable manner.
The workshop covered two common examples of problematic texts: crawled or downloaded web documents composed in html and (poorly) OCR’d texts taken from some historical corpus. The purpose of using these examples was to introduce participants to the tools and methods used in web-scraping and data wrangling.
The workshop comprised of presentation and a semi-practical session; where the presentation introduced the key problems and solutions to these methods and the practical session presented an illustrative example solution.
The workshop was not intended as a complete tutorial on how to prepare data, but served as an introduction to provide participants with the information and knowledge of the potential tools to begin work on these problems themselves.
#IamRemarkable is a Google initiative empowering women and underrepresented groups to speak openly about their accomplishments in the workplace.
In this interactive session, participipants took part in group discussions and exercises to develop the confidence and skills to promote themselves effectively. During the 90-minute workshop the group:
- Shared data and research regarding self promotion and unconscious bias
- Worked on articulating achievements and practiced self promotion
- Discussed experience and shared take home exercises
20 November 2019
Mapping Feminists Coding Practices
This one-day symposium held at the Sussex Humanities Lab was the first in a series of events that is exploring feminist coding practices and the historic context of feminism and technology. This first workshop explored some of the affordances and resistances of computational technology. Its aim was to develop a wider understanding of current practices and research which make positive interventions into and within computation, in its widest possible interpretation, from a feminist perspective.
21 October 2019
What really counts? A wormhole
A sonic encounter between then and now using archived recordings of teenage boys talking about sex. A worm-hole connects two points in spacetime, in principle allowing travel in time, as well as in space.
The sound installation worked with an archived data set – tape recordings with teenage boys talking about sex in 1990. Using this material we staged a sonic encounter between then & now, analog & digital, us & them, who we were & who we are.
Number is the organising motif of the piece. We noticed numbers in young men’s talk about sex and relationships; we understand the value of words spoken without interruption; we are sensitive to anachronism and the materiality of our media.
The project is a collaboration between two generations of researchers and between digital humanities and social science and was hosted by the Sussex Humanities Lab at the University of Sussex. 'What Really Counts? forms part of a wider project ‘Reanimating data: experiments with people, places and archives’ funded by the ESRC’s Transforming Social Science Initiative.
The installation was visited throughout the day on Monday 21st October, and was followed by a Q&A between 4-6pm and was open to all.
7 August 2019
Listening, Archiving, Curating
In this workshop, participants had a chance to review selected material from the Queer in Brighton and Brighton Transformed oral history collection. Particpants had the opportunity to write descriptive metadata that will help to catalogue items and had the chance to curate content for Queer Codebreakers, which will showcase at the Brighton and Hove Museum (from Dec. 2019)
3 July 2019
This year we dedicated part of Brighton Modular Meet to women, trans- and non-binary people. Co funded by the Sussex Humanities Lab and the CHASE Feminist Network, and aided by FACT/// and the Yorkshire Sound Women Network, we held a roundtable discussion on women in music tech and women/trans/non-binary synth-building workshop which was followed by a gig in the evening at Brighton’s Rose Hill pub.
Guest speakers were: Mimi Haddon Roundtable with Jilliene Sellner, Paula Maddox, Alissa DeRubels & Loula Yorke
25 July 2019
Emute Lab 4: Musically Intelligent Machines
Attendees experienced some weird and wonderful experiments with new sounds and new musical instruments.
MARIJE BAALMAN: gestural live coding
MNISTREL: Live coding and uncanny interfaces
EVERYSONGIOWN: A Quantity Approach to Music Making
More artists joined the event and performed pieces made at the summer AI and music workshop at the The Rose Hill Pub in Brighton
Emutelab is supported by the School of Media, Film and Music.
30 July 2019
Software Development in Digital Humanities Labs and Projects
This workshop explored how software development processes can be actively integrated in Digital Humanities labs and projects and focused on:
1) modes of collaboration between DH & Software Development
2) new professional roles and skill sets (eg. Research Software engineer's career path)
3) software development workflows (with a focus on SDLC) in DH structures/projects and
4) embedding Scrum/Agile methodologies in DH projects.
7 June 2019
Discovering Digital Humanities: Realising Interdisciplinarity
A one day free event for early career researchers and students to find out more about the Digital Humanities and to discover what ‘digital’ research looks like in practice. Delegates were introduced to examples of a diverse array of projects and methodological approaches within the Digital Humanities. Through a series of interactive sessions and presentations, attendees had the opportunity to form interdisciplinary connections and to discover, learn and play with the resources available on campus in the Sussex Humanities Lab.
17 June 2019
The Ghosts of Digital Media
Mark Goodall presents a paper on media archaeology and the avant-garde. Followed by book launch of Roberts & Goodall (eds.), New Media Archaeologies.
This paper focuses on the experimental nature of digital media and the avant-garde with reference to the field of media archeology. The chapter discusses some of the potential applications of avant-garde methodology to objects and material relating to the field of media archaeology. It extends the calls already made by media archaeology theorists (cf. Fickers and van den Oever) into the domain of experimental techniques and practices and offers examples of where and how radical texts and methods may be applied to curatorial work and academic research.
Mark Goodall is Senior Lecturer in Film at the University of Bradford. His research interests include cult, horror and experimental cinema, popular music and the avant-garde, and the mondo films of the 1960s and 1970s. His publications include Sweet and Savage: The World through the Shockumentary Film Lens (Headpress 2006, 2nd ed. 2017), Crash Cinema: Representation in Film (Cambridge Scholars, 2007) and Gathering of the Tribe: Music and Heavy Conscious Creation (Headpress, 2013).
The talk was followed by a book launch for Roberts and Goodall (eds.), New Media Archaeologies (Amsterdam University Press, 2019).
New Media Archaeologies highlights innovative work in the developing field of media archaeology. It explores the relationship between theory and practice and the relationship between media archaeology and other disciplines. There are three sections to the collection proposing new possible fields of research for media studies: Media Archaeological Theory; Experimental Media Archaeology; Media Archaeology at the Interface. The book includes essays from acknowledged experts in this expanding field, such as Thomas Elsaesser, Wanda Strauven and Jussi Parikka.
1 May 2019
SHL Open Workshops: Conserving Software-Based Artworks
An introduction to conservation approaches for software-based artworks, with a particular focus on disk imaging and emulation techniques.
Software-based artworks pose many challenges to conservators charged with their care. Tom Ensom and Chris King will be visiting the Sussex Humanities Lab to introduce approaches developed through their recent work, with a particular focus on disk imaging and emulation techniques.
The long-term preservation of software-based artworks is challenging to negotiate. Such artworks may involve complex systems of interconnected components and actors, aging technologies with a variable degree of significance, and boundaries which extend into their surrounding environment. Disk imaging and emulation techniques have become increasingly important tools in the stabilisation, analysis and presentation of software-based artworks.
Tom and Chris are time-based media conservators who work closely with Tate's collection of software-based artworks. They will be supported in this workshop by SHL's own Alex Peverett.
20 May 2019
SHL Seminars: Digital Digging
Andrew Flinn presents a research seminar on community archives and participatory knowledge production.
Drawing upon my experience of working with community archives and studying participatory knowledge production this talk will give an overview of the practice and understanding of community-based archives in the UK (and internationally), including digital archiving initiatives. Introducing Sven Lindqvist’s 1970’s Dig Where You Stand as a still relevant manifesto for today and examining some social movement approaches to archiving and the useful past, I will illustrate the motivations, objectives and activities of both physical and digital community archives. I will argue that despite many of these community archives emerging from an activist agenda of use and knowledge production rather than centres for preservation of culture and heritage, there are still many concerns about their long-term sustainability.
Andrew Flinn is a Reader in Archive Studies and Oral History at University College, a long-term member of the UK Community Archives and Heritage Group and author of ‘Working with the past: making history of struggle part of the struggle’ in Reflections on Knowledge, Learning and Social Movements: History's Schools, eds Choudry & Vally (2018)
Feminist Maps and Mapping Feminism: Lessons from The Women’s Atlas
Joni Seager presents her feminist classic The Women’s Atlas in discussion with a new map of the UK Women's Liberation Movement from the BOWW team.
A unique opportunity to hear Professor Joni Seager, pioneering feminist geographer and author of the award-winning feminist classic The Women’s Atlas, whose 5th edition has just been released by progressive map publisher Myriad Editions.
Joni Seager has written a visually stunning survey of up-to-the-minute global data redefines what is meant by an atlas. Comprehensive and accessible, her incisive prose combined with the creative use of illustration, charts and infographics portray as never before how women are living across continents and cultures—the advances that have been made and the distances still to be travelled. Professor Divya Tolia-Kelly, Dr Pollyanna Ruiz and Amy Todd will respond.
Followed by a presentation of a developing map of the UK Women’s Liberation Movement from The Business of Women’s Words project and discussion on feminist mapping and the sharing of ideas.
SHL Seminars: Three Species Challenges: Toward a General Ecology of Cognitive Assemblages
Keynote speaker: N. Katherine Hayles (Duke)
Part of the SHL Research Seminar Series. Biological discoveries about the complexity of species formation and endosymbiosis, along with charges of “speciesism” and its structural alliances with racism, have made it difficult to talk about species at all. Despite these objections, this talk will argue that there is value in thinking about species from a revised viewpoint that includes species-in-common (for example, humans), species-in-biosymbiosis (humans and gut bacteria, for instance) and species-in-cybersymbiosis (for example, cognitive assemblages between humans and computational media). The talk will discuss limitations in Erich Hoerl’s recent efforts to forge a “general ecology” centred on computational mediation and will offer an alternative framework based on cognitive assemblages.
SHL Open Workshops: Dataset Publishing and Compliance
Dive into the practicalities and best practice of research data management. Part of the SHL Digital Workshops Series.
Speakers: Sharon Webb and Adam Harwood
Data repositories are already an important part of humanities research, and increasingly a requirement of humanities funding. In this open workshop, Sharon Webb and Adam Harwood will dive into the practicalities and best practice of research data management. We’ll explore how best to use metadata to describe and organise digital objects, touch on issues within digital preservation, and learn how to use current university infrastructure to deposit datasets.
SHL Open Workshops: Network Visualization
A practical workshop introducing network analysis and visualization. Part of the SHL Digital Workshops series.
Speaker: Andrew Salway
In an increasingly interconnected world, the network has emerged as a major category of analysis for humanities and the social sciences research. In our fifth 2019 workshop, Andrew Salway introduces the popular dataviz tool Gephi, exploring how dry, cryptic datasets can efflorescence into colourful significance … and exposing some of the hidden choices that underlie the dataviz we encounter in everyday life.
Listening Mirrors is a sound art installation and instrument that promotes shared modes of musical expression for musicians and non-musicians alike.
Speakers: Cecile Chevalier & Chris Kiefer
Listening Mirrors is a sound art installation and instrument that promotes shared modes of musical expression for musicians and non-musicians alike. In its construction and interaction design Listening Mirrors investigates ways in which collective sonic expression can be made possible using Audio Augmented Reality technology (AAR) and acoustic mirrors, whilst exploring how such environments promote collaborative sonic expression. The instrument is composed of a virtual acoustic mirror (an IOS app built with Open Frameworks, LibPD with bone-conduction headphones) and a parabolic acoustic mirror (built from aluminium metal sheets, piano wires and 3D printed joints, and brought under tension with double bass strings, bending each piano wire and aluminium sheet to form its parabolic shape), all networked and excited by transducers that stream sound from the real and virtual sonic environments. The audience’s experience is structure in two parts:(1) the set-up of the mobile app and wearing of bone-conductor headphones, (2) the audience is invited to play with and/or perform with the instrument. When experiencing the installation, sound from the environment is recorded and streamed in real time through the mobile apps, digitally processed and merged with the audience's own hearing through the AAR environment. Sound streams are also transduced through the acoustic mirror. The mirror itself is a playable instrument.
Cecile Chevalier is an artist and lecturer in Digital Media. She works with interactive art installation, to explore forms of digital cultural transformation in relation to embodiment-technologies, collective instruments, performativity and performance, and collective memory. Her background is in Fine Art, Crafts & Design and Media Studies, while her current artworks and investigations draw from an interdisciplinary practices between conceptual and computational art and participatory/play theory. Critically, Cécile investigates how collective and cultural expressions have been and are being transformed through computational technology altering not only the ways in which cultural expressions are embodied and performed, but also how they are thought about.
Chris Kiefer is a computer-musician and musical instrument designer, specialising in musician-computer interaction, physical computing, and machine learning. He performs with custom-made instruments including malleable foam interfaces, touch screen software, interactive sculptures and a modified self-resonating cello. Chris’ research often focuses on participatory design and development of interactive music systems in everyday settings, including digital instruments for children with disabilities, and development of the NETEM networked score system for musical ensembles. His work also concentrates on machine learning and signal processing for audio and interaction, with a particular emphasis on nonlinear and dynamical systems. He has developed and published games and instruments for mobile devices.
Contingent Computation Book Launch
Book launch of Contingent Computation: Abstraction, Experience, and Indeterminacy in Computational Aesthetics by Beatrice Fazi.
Introduced and chaired by Kate O'Riordan (Sussex), a panel discussion with the author Beatrice Fazi (Sussex) and with respondents Olga Goriunova (Royal Holloway) and Joanna Zylinska (Goldsmiths) will be followed by drinks and nibbles.
About the book:
In Contingent Computation, M. Beatrice Fazi offers a new theoretical perspective through which we can engage philosophically with computing. The book proves that aesthetics is a viable mode of investigating contemporary computational systems. It does so by advancing an original conception of computational aesthetics that does not just concern art made by or with computers, but rather the modes of being and becoming of computational processes. Contingent Computation mobilises the philosophies of Gilles Deleuze and Alfred North Whitehead in order to address aesthetics as an ontological study of the generative potential of reality. Through a novel philosophical reading of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems and of Turing’s notion of incomputability, Fazi finds this potential at the formal heart of computational systems, and argues that computation is a process of determining indeterminacy. This indeterminacy, which is central to computational systems, does not contradict their functionality. Instead, it drives their very operation, albeit in a manner that might not always fit with the instrumental, representational and cognitivist purposes that we have assigned to computing.
"Contingent Computation by M. Beatrice Fazi is a brilliantly original work arguing that the contingent does not lie outside computation but at its very heart, in the demonstrations by Gödel and Turing that some problems are incomputable and that formal systems, including computational axiomatics, are incomplete. Her approach opens our understanding of what computers can—and cannot—do to new modes of analysis that introduce contingency into technical systems in an entirely new way, refuting views that see computers as merely mechanical systems incapable of novelty. Highly recommended for humanities scholars and others interested in thinking about the role that computers play in a world that remains unknowable in its full complexity." — N. Katherine Hayles, James B. Duke Professor of Literature, Duke University
"This remarkable book proposes a radically new vision of computation: one that will equally surprise the rationalists and cognitivists, on the one hand, and the vitalists and affectivists, on the other. M. Beatrice Fazi shows how Turing-style computing -- logical, discrete, and pre-programmed as it is -- also necessarily involves indeterminacy, novelty, and invention." — Steven Shaviro, DeRoy Professor of English, Wayne State University
FACT///. Feminist Approaches to Computational Technology Network
A one-day forum to inform the creation of a feminist, non-binary, trans inclusive network of individuals that work/research/think/make with/in/about computational technology. The outcomes and findings of the forum will directly impact the nature and shape of such a space which is designed to promote and support a feminist approach to computational technology. A CHASE Feminist Network Award supported by the Sussex Humanities Lab.
Led by Sharon Webb & Cécile Chevalier.
Places limited, however, additional events will be organised to support and developed FACT/// network. For more information, please contact Cécile Chevalier at email@example.com
SHL Open Workshops: Web Scraping with Wget
James Baker introduces Wget and the Programming Historian. Part of the SHL Digital Workshops series, all levels.
Wget is a very handy programme for retrieving or ‘scraping’ material from the web. In this workshop, James Baker introduces your computer’s command line interface, and shows you how to write simple scripts to automate bulk-downloading from the web. At the end of the workshop, James will support you in scraping a website of your choice. You’ll also learn about The Programming Historian, a fantastic resource to gain more digital skills in the future.
Reading group: Materialism, Work and Care
Reading Chapter 4: Helen Thornham's book Gender and Digital Culture: Between Irreconcilability and the Datalogical. Available via university library.
We're looking forward to bringing together those interested in the Materialism, Work and Care reading group on
In advance of Helen Thornham's visit to Sussex later in March, we thought this might be a good opportunity to discuss a chapter from her newly published book: Gender and Digital Culture: Between Irreconcilability and the Datalogical.
We will be reading Chapter 4: 'Being Known: Autom-data-ed bodies, maternal subjectivity'. pp. 69-103 (35 pages). The book is available online via the the university library and the chapter can be printed from there.
Sonic Writing book launch
Thor Magnusson’s book Sonic Writing: Technologies of Material, Symbolic and Signal Inscriptions is now out with Bloomsbury Academic. This monograph is the final outcome of an AHRC funded research project that ran between 2016 and 2018. The book is divided into four key parts: instruments (material inscriptions), notation (symbolic inscriptions), recording (signal inscriptions), and new music technologies, or how our analogue and electronic traditions are translated and applied in the design of digital instruments.
The book launch will be held in the Sussex Humanities Lab on March 14th - all welcome! In addition to drinks and snacks, there will be musical performances by Emute Lab colleagues: Feedback Cell, Alex Peverett and Andrew Duff, and Evelyn Ficarra. Thor Magnusson will give a short introduction to the context of the book and it will be presented by Prof. Caroline Bassett, the director of the SHL.
Digital Studies Network: Algorithmic governmentality: from machine zones to fake news
This is a seminar from researchers in the Digital Studies research network.
Anne Alombert (Paris Nanterre), Technology, territories and power: from “control” to “capacitation”
First, I will try to show how the digitalisation and globalisation of the technical system and infrastructures deeply transforms the relation between power and territory : I will try to describe the passage from a « disciplinary power » (disciplinary institutions described by Foucault) to a « control power » (societies of control described by Deleuze) through the advent of « algorithmic governmentality » which substitutes statistical normativity to juridical normativity - that is, which substitutes technological efficiency to legal authority (Berns and Rouvroy). I will try to show that this leads to a passage from « territorial sovereignty » to « functional sovereignty » (Pasquale) where the power of political territorial institutions is disrupted by the power that global giant tech companies directly exerts on people through the global technological devices and infrastructures. I will then try to show that this passage from territorial to functional sovereignty threatens the local and singular knowledge (know hows, arts of living, theoretical knowledge) of the inhabitants and the social and cultural diversity of the territories. This disintegration of « territorial lives » (which are local process of psychic and collective individuation) through the imposition of automated technological system and standardized ways of live creates a massive disorientation and a global malaise, which are exploited by authoritative governments, promising anxious populations a return to closed territories restricted by national boundaries and identities.
In order to avoid the alternative between the functional sovereignty of giant tech companies and the authoritative power of nationalist governments, it thus seems necessary to give people the power to adopt their digital technical milieu through the development of new local knowledge and new social organizations. These are precisely the aims of “contributive economy” and “contributive research” suggested by B. Stiegler and the association Ars Industrialis and experimented in Plaine Commune’s territory : I will finally try to show how this experimental project realize a new articulation between power, technologies and territories, based on inhabitants’ capacitation, contributive technologies, learning territories and open localities.
Gerald Moore (Durham), 'The Limbic Capitalocene: On Machine Zones and Fake News'
Developing on insights from Malabou, Stiegler, Latour and Fredric Jameson, as well as recent research in neurobiology and the social sciences, we can begin to theorise capitalism around the history of manufactured addictions. Our addiction to digital devices is just the latest stage of this history, which, building on work by David Courtwright, we can see as culminating in the ‘limbic Capitalocene’. Our screen-fixated existence is the result of increasingly honed ‘dopamining’, or an economic model organised around the industrial exploitation of the dopamine system. Fake news, read in this light, becomes a question of information addiction, where techniques like variable-dosage clickbaiting, the harvesting of behavioral surplus and psychographic profiling cause ‘buzz-value’ to negate the value of truth, and where online echo chambers become the equivalent of what the anthropologist, Natasha Dow Schüll, terms the anxiolytic ‘machine zones’ of the gambling addict. For the sake of averting climate collapse, the key question pertains to how we should treat a planet hooked on consumption.
SHL Game Studies and Media Archaeology Event
A hands-on opportunity to engage with systems and software from the history of video and computer games and to meet fellow Games Studies researchers.
This event will not only be a chance to explore SHL's media archaeology resources, reflect on media archaelogical theory and practice -- and play some games! -- but also an opportunity to meet others across the university involved in gaming, game studies, and game design, and to take stock of the state of the art and the future of game studies at Sussex.
With Sussex launching its new Games and Multimedia Environments degree next year, the event will also create space for timely dialogue around games studies at Sussex. What else are we already doing around games at Sussex? How can we bring together existing research and teaching around gaming to share resources, projects, ideas, and opportunities?
This event is open to all and there is no need to book.
Navigating Privacy and Publics: Childhood and Parenting in a Digital Age
Staff and students are invited to a Sussex Humanities Lab workshop exploring how boundaries between public and private are navigated and negotiated by children and families in a digital age. The workshop is open to all.
‘Children’s intergenerational privacy relations around digital technologies in Turkey’
Speaker: Hamide Elif Üzümcü
This ongoing research aims to understand how parents and children consider children’s privacy through practises of media uses (phone, tablet, computer and video game consoles). It addresses privacy in two categories based on Westin (1967), Altman (1975) and Schoeman's (2007) definitions. First, privacy is examined as a regulation of contact as desired. Then it is discussed around one’s control on access to personal information. Using participatory action techniques such as playing online games together, making TikTok videos, watching children’s favourite YouTube channels, going to the movies together, 30 families with 11 to 13-year-old children and siblings in nine urban and rural neighbourhoods in the city of Eskişehir in Turkey have been in-depth interviewed. The interviews were supported with revisits and ethnographic notes. In this presentation, preliminary findings on the construction of children's privacy boundaries around uses of digital media tools within families will be discussed.
‘Parents’ conceptualisations of data and privacy in a study of children’s everyday lives’.
Speakers: Victoria Jaynes and Liam Berriman
The datafication of childhood (Lupton & Williamson 2017) has prompted new questions about the role of parents as mediators of children’s privacy within and beyond family. Digital technologies, particularly social media platforms, increasingly invite and incite the display and documentation of children’s lives by parents, with terms such as ‘sharenting’ quickly entering everyday discourse. This turn to new digital forms of ‘family display’ (Rose 2010) have prompted moral and ethical debates about children’s privacy, consent and visibility in a digital context. For parents and carers, these debates have focused on their responsibility in managing the public and private boundaries of family life. In this paper we focus attention on how parents conceptualised and negotiated digital data sharing and privacy during an academic study of their children’s everyday lives. The ‘Everyday Childhoods’ project set out to explore new ways of capturing, displaying and archiving data of children’s lives using digital research techniques. The study shared digital outputs via the project website, working in close consultation with the project’s families. In this paper we focus our attention on the parents’ responses to the data generated and shared during the study, exploring the issues that ‘displaying’ their child and family raised around representation, privacy and trust.
YouTube influencers and their impact on children and young people.
Speaker: Evelyn Keryova
This ongoing research aims to understand how YouTube influencers are impacting children and their critical thinking. Children are spending on average 6 hours a day using internet (Digital Report, 2018) and much of this time is spent on social media. In 2012 the television was the most common media platform for children and young people in the UK but Ofcom research (2018) provided an evidence about declining TV viewings and rising interest in YouTube. My proposed talk will present findings from VidCon London and I will be focusing on summarising key concepts of micro and macro influencers. I will present how and why are major industry leaders like YouTube, Instagram or Nickelodeon, conceptualising and targeting children and teenagers as their key audience.
About the speakers:
Hamide Elif Üzümcü is a PhD fellow in Social Sciences: Interactions, Communication, Cultural Constructions at the University of Padova. She currently conducts a participant observational fieldwork for her doctoral research in Turkey that focuses on children’s privacy understandings in Turkey. Her research interests include the new social studies of childhood, social construction of privacy, children’s agency, parental surveillance and ethnography.
Victoria Jaynes is a Research Fellow in Digital Sociology and Humanities at the University of Sussex. Her current research focuses on ‘sharenting’, exploring how children and young people feel about having their information and images shared by family members. Previously her research has engaged with young people’s everyday experiences of the digital from an interdisciplinary feminist perspective. Her research interests include; everyday gendered experiences of technology, young people and youth culture, ethnographic methods and digitally mediated representational practices.
Evelyn Keryova is a PhD student in social work and education at the University of Sussex with the background in investigative journalism and digital media. Her ongoing research is focusing on YouTube influencers and their impact on children and young people. Her research interests include the study of digital media, current role of traditional media in digital age and effects of social media on children and teenagers. She is carrying out a fieldwork at VidCon London, a multigenre annual video conference that is bringing together industry representatives, YouTube creators and community.
Liam Berriman is a lecturer in Childhood and Youth Studies in the Department of Social Work and Social Care, University of Sussex. He is co-author of Researching Everyday Childhoods: Time, Technology and Documentation in a Digital Age published as an open access ebook by Bloomsbury in 2018: http://dx.doi.org/10.5040/9781350011779. His work currently focuses on how practices of care in childhood are transformed by technology and digital data.
Computational Psychiatry and the Construction of Human Experience
Speaker: Andy Clark
An emerging body of work in cognitive philosophy and computational neuroscience depicts human brains as prediction machines – multi-level networks that specialize in using generative models to both match and anticipate the evolving stream of sensory information. However, the relationship between these posited cascades of prediction and conscious human experience itself remains unclear. Recent work in computational psychiatry provides important clues. For example, it is thought that malfunctions in hierarchical inference can explain core patterns of alteration seen in autism and schizophrenia, and can shed new light on so-called ‘psychogenic’ symptoms - functional impairments without standard organic causes. Such accounts reveal the deep continuities between perception, belief, and hallucination and may help reveal common processing motifs underlying both typical and atypical forms of human experience.
How Experiments Become Futures: social learning for self-driving cars
Self-driving cars are currently learning to drive. Alongside well-publicised developments in machine learning, this also involves a more complicated process of social learning. Understanding and governing the politics of this technology means asking ‘Who is learning, what are they learning and how are they learning?’ Crashes offer one window into the social complexities of a debate that is often presented as technical. On-road trials taking place in cities around the world can offer additional insights. These trials are sold as mere tests of technology, but they also set precedents and, if left unexamined, may write new rules of the road. ‘Self-driving’ or ‘autonomous’ cars are misnamed. As with other technologies, they are shaped by assumptions about social needs, solvable problems, and economic opportunities. Governing these technologies in the public interest means improving social learning by constructively engaging with the contingencies of machine learning. In this paper, I will report on my previous research on the chaotic self-driving experimentation that has already taken place and describe the approach of my team’s new project - Driverless Futures?
SHL Open Workshops: Processing and Cleaning Data
Explore a range of tools and techniques to tidy and transform text data, to prepare it for all kinds of analysis and adventure.
Come join us on Wednesday 6 Feburary for the first in our Digital Methods Open Workshops series, run by Ben Jackson. Ben will take us through techniques for cleaning and preparing text data so it can be used by analysis and visualisation tools. This will include batch processing of large datasets, as well as a look at some free tools for analysis and visualisation.
The workshop will focus on practical methods for manipulating texts, using real examples drawn from activities carried out to support work in the Sussex Humanities Lab. By the end of the session you should be equipped with a range of techniques and tools for tidying and transforming text, in order to get it ready for a variety of digital analyses and representations. You'll also gain an understanding of key considerations and limitations.
Queer Codebreakers’ Exhibition and Talk
'Queer Codebreakers’ is a commissioned installation that will launch during LGBT History month.
Speakers: Dr Sharon Webb, Elle Castle, Laurence Hill
'Queer Codebreakers’ by Elle Castle, computational artist, is an installation that enables users to explore the parallels between ciphers, espionage, coded queer communication and the fragility of oral history. The installation, which incorporates snippets from the Queer in Brighton oral history collection, will launch during LGBT History month and will exhibit in the Jubilee Library from 15-17 February.
It is a collaboration between the Sussex Humanities Lab, Queer in Brighton, Brighton LGBTQ+ History Club and Brighton Digital Festival, and is commissioned by the British Academy through Dr Sharon Webb’s ‘Rising Star Engagement Award’.
For a chance to speak with the artist, join us on Saturday 16 February (11.00-13.00), when Elle Castle will speak about the installation and their inspiration for the piece. Laurence Hill, the Director of the Brighton Digital Festival and advisor for this project, will talk about where the project sits within the context of the festival and provide a response to the installation, and Dr Sharon Webb, Lecturer in Digital Humanities at the University of Sussex, will also speak about the wider significance of the installation and the motivation for this commission.
Subjectivity and Digital Research
Speaker: Sean Takats, Centre for History and New Media
This talk addresses how digital history demands an extended conception of researcher subjectivity that includes hardware, software, and networks.
This talk will explore how digital history demands an extended conception of researcher subjectivity that includes hardware, software, and networks. As troubling as this might sound — who wants to admit being an academic cyborg? It also provides us new opportunities to record and share that subjectivity with other researchers and wider publics, rendering the experiences and processes of research more transparent.
SHL Open Workshops: Archival Research with Tropy
Learn how to use this free image management and description tool. Workshop, all levels.
Speaker: Sean Takats
This introductory workshop is designed for anybody who is interested in managing large collections of images, and especially photos taken in the course of archival research.
Tropy helps you to transform your heap of ambiguous archival winnings into something much more structured and user-friendly. With Tropy, it becomes easy to tag and annotate your images, group them into individual documents and objects, search, or export your data for collaboration.
A journey into the historical materiality of born-digital archives: digital forensic analysis and narratives.
Forensic historical analysis of born-digital archives with examples from Hanif Kureishi, C.M.Taylor, Glyn Moody and Mass Observation.
Speaker: Thorsten Ries (University of Gent)
I would like to take the audience on a journey through digital archives that my research is about, and show how narratives about the creation and transmission of these digital objects emerge from the historicity of their digital forensic features and materiality. I will discuss examples from the born-digital archives of Hanif Kureishi, C.M. Taylor, Glyn Moody and digital sources from the Mass Observation Archive, but also from other authors, digital archives and cases, in order to demonstrate not only digital forensic methodological approaches, phenomena and the recovery of hidden archives, but also how the historicity of the forensic materiality of digital objects may be read and enable a different, source-critical understanding of the digital historical materiality of our present.
The Uncanny in the Digital Machine
A joint event by the Sussex Humanities Lab and the School of English.
Speaker: Lydia H. Liu is the Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities; Director, Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University. She teaches in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and at the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University. Professor Liu also holds a joint professorship at the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
These days, we are surrounded by the talk of cyborgs, androids, and posthumans, and many people are infatuated with robots and AI technology. To understand how we got here, we need a well-grounded theoretical grasp of human-machine simulacra beyond sociological diagnoses and cultural critiques of social media. For instance, is the defence of reason à la Horkheimer and other critical theorists still available as the ground of social critique? If my hypothesis is correct, namely, human beings are evolving to resemble the intelligent machines they invent even as they try to build robots to resemble themselves. The consequence of this ceaseless feedback loop is the arrival of a new generation of cyborgs with peculiar human-machine interfaces. In my lecture, I will examine the dark figure of the uncanny through the political history of human-machine entanglement in the Cold War.
Heart of Glass: Silicon, a Medium within Media
A media archaeology talk at the Sussex Humanities Lab
Speaker: Dr Stefan Höltgen is assistant professor for media studies at the Department for Musicology and Media Studies at the Humboldt University in Berlin. He researches the archaeology of early microcomputers and their programming (for a PhD in computer science), curates the Signal Lab and the Media Archaeological Fundus. He teaches theory and history of digital media, programming languages and hardware-orientated programming (with a focus on computer games and toy computing).
Because of its physical properties, glass offers irresistible possibilities for metaphor and its use in the arts as such has been ubiquitous for centuries. Glass also serves as the substrate of modern media technology – especially the compounds silicon dioxide and its element silicon are used in digital media for computing purposes. Though the transparency of glass as a topic is used on the media‘s surfaces as a metaphor for different kinds of transparency, the material glass on the surfaces, that actually is transparent, promotes the opacity of the apparatuses and their processes. In my talk I want to open this „transparent black box “to give an insight in the usage of glass, its compounds and derivates within digital media. I want to answer the question where media science (that differs from media studies) should start its investigations about the storage, transfer, and process of information – when information becomes energy and matter, located within crystal grids.
Sussex Humanities Lab: Projects in Progress
An opportunity to sample the wide variety of research carried out by members of the SHL, with short talks from four speakers and time for discussion.Sharon Webb spoke about community archives, digital preservation and content representation with a presentation of findings and outcomes from her British Academy grant, 'Identity, Representation and Preservation in Community Digital Archives and Collections’.Jeremy Reffin presented a project that examined how Jihadist groups in Syria and Afghanistan share social content across different online platforms with their supporters and others, and the extent to which those who openly support these groups are able to maintain online communities on the Twitter social network.David Hendy and Anna-Maria Sichani gave an overview of the aims and current activities of ‘Connected histories of the BBC’ which is an AHRC project running from 2017-2021. They discussed the scholarly and technical challenges in developing a digital oral history archive, including the research value of oral interviews and other archival assets, from a media and cultural history point of view. They also discussed data-related challenges such as data documentation, modelling and analysis, and operational issues related to data management of diverse cross-institutional assets, partners’ relationships and a sustainable development framework.
Workshop: Text Analysis using AntConc
The workshop was for researchers who would like to use automated techniques to analyse the content of one or more text data sets (corpora),and to identify potentially interesting differences between them. The text data could comprise thousands to millions of words of e.g. news stories, novels, survey responses, social media posts, etc.
The example in the workshop was a sample of the nine million tweets recently distributed by Twitter because they were thought to have originated from Russian trolls involved in election and referendum interference. Participants were able to bring their own text data to work with.
Participants used AntConc to make frequency lists, keyword analyses, sorted concordances, n-grams and word clusters, and collocation data. A discussion followed on what could be interpreted from the results of such analyses, e.g. under the rubrics of discovery science and corpus-based discourse analysis.
This workshop complemented “Advanced Text Analysis” (April 2018), but it is was not necessary to have attended that. Participants were required to bring along a laptop with AntConc installed and some example text data to work with. Instructions for installing AntConc and example text data waw circulated before the workshop.
Summer Winter Spring - a time-lapse film by Ian Winters
SHL members Ian Winters and Evelyn Ficarra screened their new film Summer, Winter, Spring followed by a brief Q/A and a gathering with the artists.
Summer, Winter, Spring exists as both a fixed film (screening on the 20th at SHL) and a multi-channel installation / performance version that premiered at San Francisco’s Minnesota Street Project in January 2018. The SWS project was supported by the Lab through a number of mini-residencies in 2016 and 2017 where Winters and Ficarra worked closely on the integration and exploration of audio and video time-lapse.
Screening at SHL was the 2 channel film (Winters) and audio score (Ficarra) that knits together a series of time-lapse films, durational performances, and audio time lapses of the Civic Center & UN Plaza neighborhood into a 60 minute, 3 movement portrait of the Plaza. For more about the project see, https://www.ianwinters.com/summer-winter-spring/
Conceptually, the project centres on the idea of the tension, patterns, and built choreographies inherent amongst the micro-tonal movements and time scales of seasons and cities compared to the individual pedestrian moment. In addition to aesthetic aims, Summer, Winter, Spring witnesses the deeply contested public space of San Francisco’s UN Plaza – which embodies many of the fault lines running through America's current social, economic and political landscape including issues around who has rights in public space.
Other key artists and collaborators include choreographers Daiane Lopes da Silva (Kinetech Arts), paige starling sorvillo (blindsight), Mary Armentrout (Milkbar), Norman Gee (physical performance) and additional sound from composer Heather Frasch and dozens of guest performers in the films.
Ian Winters SHL video mapping workshop
A practical workshop about video mapping using data streams.
SHL welcomed visiting scholar, video artist Ian Winters, to lead this workshop. The session explored the following questions:
- How do you easily work with video and audio, mapped to real objects in real space?
- How do you use a data set or data stream to control or transfrom that image/light/sound live?
The workshop walked through the basics of projection mapping and loading data files or streams in the patching software.
3 October Nomad /Photogrammetry Workshop
A demonstration of ‘Nomad’, a Mixed Reality project by Abira Hussein and Sophie Dixon (Mnemoscene) you to explore Somali cultural heritage and tradition in a uniquely immersive way. Wearing the Microsoft HoloLens, attendees experienced sound recordings from the British Library, digitised objects from the British Museum, and people presented as 3D holograms. From a herdsman sleeping under the night’s sky, to a woman winnowing grain to the rhythm of a traditional song, which enables us to encounter heritage objects in the context from which they came.
The afternoon from 4 - 6pm was focused on a photogrammetry workshop in which participants learnt how to turn 2D photographs into highly realistic 3D models, the same method used to create assets for ‘Nomad’.
9 October Beyond Numbers :
An Ada Lovelace Day event, exploring the potential identified by Ada Lovelace of machines to ‘act upon other things besides numbers'.
Ada Lovelace Day, held on the second Tuesday of October every year, is an international celebration of the achievements of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths which aims to increase the profile of women in STEM and create new role models for both girls and women studying or working in STEM.
29 October Re-Placing Cultures: anchorages and mobilities
Most of us are physical and digital travellers and recyclers of sorts, storing sights and sounds as souvenirs of exotica, traces of hyperlocal sensuous experience to punctuate our universally networked, generically datafied lives. This pursuit draws on an ancient history of cultural traffic: a history of exchanges, plunderings, borrowings, re-integrations, re-interpretations.
4 September - Commemoration, Memory, Archive Symposium
The symposium investigates commemorative and memorial uses of personal, non-professional images in the digital age in the Global South.
The commemorative and memorial use of personal, private images in the context of large-scale violence and death has a long history. Private images have been continually employed to access worlds that no longer exist, to de-anonymize, individualize or humanize victims, to identify murderers and the murdered, to evidence contested events and to prove the existence of life before death. They populate archives, memorials and museums, places of public protest and, increasingly, myriad regions of the internet. This two-day symposium at the University of Sussex aims to explore real and perceived changes in the relationship(s) between private still images and the memorialization and commemoration of mass violence – including trauma – with a particular focus on practices in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South and Central America in the digital age.
- Professor Elizabeth Edwards, FBA (De Montfort University)
- Professor Ludmila da Silva Catela (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Córdoba Museum of Anthropology, Archivo Provincial de la Memoria)
- Claver Irakoze (Rwanda Genocide Archive/Aegis Trust Rwanda)
- Dr Gil Pasternak (De Montfort University)
28 September The Messy Edge is Brighton Digital Festival's in-house conference.Last year, Brighton Digital Festival took a pioneering journey to the ‘messy edge’ – the more human, less clinical and more interesting version of the ‘cutting edge’ - with a smart band of conference-goers. This year we’re going back.The Messy Edge is Brighton Digital Festival's in-house conference; its heart and its voice. It’s where we unpack some of the social, cultural and political implications of technology, it’s where we challenge dominant perspectives.This is a conference for all, so join us for a day of thought-provoking talks by artists, activists and thinkers about the stuff - good, bad and ugly - that underpins our daily lives and is shaping the world we live in.The Messy Edge is supported by Sussex Humanities Lab and Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts.
A Pay What You Decide Event:Tickets available to guests on a first-come, first-served basis. See the show then pay what you think is appropriate at the end. Maximum of four PWYD tickets per person.
1 June - Ens Ekt Improvisation Workshop (organised by EMute Lab)
Ens Ekt visited as part of their UK tour for a practice based workshop on the nature and relevance for improvisation in practice.
12-13 June - Narrative as Data - Data as Narrative. SHL Summer Sandbox
Humankind has sometimes been described as the storytelling animal, but the ascendance of digitised data in recent decades has changed the ways in which narratives can be created, mediated and understood, offering rich opportunities and potent challenges for scholarship and creative endeavour.
The centrality of ‘narrative’ to our construction of meaning is apparent in the breadth and diversity of the term’s use across scholarly disciplines and creative practices. It is a concept that can encompass intentional acts of artistic creation or the unconscious recollection of events; that is used to define national identity or structure episodic entertainment; that shapes our sense of history and influences our social and political behaviour.
Computational methods of analysis allow narrative patterning to be discovered in digital data at vast and intimate scales and to be made accessible through visualisation, while the ubiquity digital data allows new and responsive forms of computational narrative art to emerge – games, locative experiences, contextual storytelling - at the same time as enabling unprecedented forms of narrative manipulation and control.
How then should we tell the stories of our past, present and future in an age of digitised data?
A two day Sandbox event, organised by Alex Butterworth and David Banks.
20-21 June - Digital Archives in Communities: Practice and Preservation
The first workshop related to ‘Identity, Representation and Preservation in Community Digital Archives and Collections', a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award. This 12-month project funded by the British Academy and led by Dr Sharon Webb (Principal Investigator) is an intervention in three important areas; community archives, digital preservation and content representation.
This workshop featured a number of speakers and presentations by members of community archives as well as practitioners and researchers in archiving, digital preservation and arts practice, and was open to anyone interested in community archives and digital preservation. T
See www.preservingcommunityarchives.co.uk for the full programme, and for more details about the project.
28 June - Democratising Big Data
The rise of ‘big data’ has posed new challenges for research practices across the social sciences, with researchers divided over its methodological value and contribution (Halford & Savage 2017). Recent studies have drawn attention to the unethical and undemocratic ends that big data, and associated methods of data mining and scraping, can be directed towards (Eubanks 2018; Zimmer & Kinder-Kurlander 2017). Nonetheless, a recent wave of citizen data science and participatory action research has begun to explore the potential ways that big data can be used in studies orientated to societal and community-based challenges (for example the Public Science Project at CUNY). These studies use big data tools as resources to support individuals and communities in researching the social, political, environmental and structural circumstances of their lives – seeking to provide opportunities for collective reflection and social action through collaborative research.
This two-day workshop explored the potential of big data in transforming participatory and action research approaches in the social sciences, examining the tensions, opportunities and challenges it presents for participatory, democratic and community-based models of research.
Invited speakers included:
Graham Lally (Director of the OCSI). Dr Helen Pritchard (Goldsmiths, University of London) from the Citizen Sense project. Dr Jennifer Pybus (Kings College London) from the Our Data Ourselves project. Dr Jonathan Gray (Kings College London) from the Public Data Lab. Dr Claudia Abreu Lopes (University of Cambridge) Prof David Weir and Jack Pay (University of Sussex) from the TAG Laboratory and Sussex Humanities Lab.
Co-funded by the International Journal of Social Research Methodology’s seminar competition 2017/18 and the Sussex Humanities Lab
1 May - Dr Hussein Keshani (The University of British Columbia) "Growing Digital Islamic Art History: The Evolving the Botanic Garden Project"
What can Digital Art History be? This talk presented critical reflections on the multidisciplinary research project Evolving the Botanic Garden (EBG), a collaboration between specialists in the fields of Islamic Art History, Ethnomusicology, Forest Science and Digital Humanities. In 2018, the University of Alberta Botanic Garden in Edmonton, Canada will be completing construction of a new addition the Aga Khan Garden, inspired by historical gardens of the Islamic world. The EBG team has been researching how to develop an interpretive program on a mobile web platform that assists the garden with its goals of improving literacies with the field of botany and Islamic world cultural heritage.
2 May - Sharon Webb - Data Representation and Data Modelling (Text Encoding) (SHL Digital Methods Open Workshop Series)
This workshop introduced participants to the theory and practice of text encoding (e.g. XML and TEI) in a practical, hands-on, session.
3 May - Dr Hussein Keshani (The University of British Columbia) Digital Art History Workshop: Moving Research into the Classroom
As Digital Art History develops, how will it be represented and taught in the classroom? This participatory workshop presented case studies from undergraduate and graduate Islamic and South Asian Art History courses to initiate discussion about the future of Digital Art History education and its relationship to the Digital Humanities.
Key questions explored included:
- What might the key features of Digital Art History be and are they important to teach?
- Should Digital Art History approaches be integrated into existing courses, new specialized ones developed, or both?
- How should Digital Art History figure into graduate education?
- What roles can institutional and administrative structures play?
3 May - Prof. Almo Farina - Perspectives in ecoacoustics (epistemological reflections on ecological sound) (an Emute Lab event - presented in association with Sussex Humanities Lab and Sussex Sustainability Research Programme)
For details see: http://www.emutelab.org/blog/almoFarina
9 May - Sussex Film Studies Research Presentations (organised by Thomas Austin, MFM)
15 May - Mapping, Maps and Digital Enquiry
This workshop was organised as a first-stage sharing of interests in the research and engagement potential of maps, particularly in the humanities as they draw on digital affordances. Delegates gave lightening presentations in the morning on a creative range of map-related projects, including:
- mapping the UK women's movements from feminist magazine listings' columns and readers' letters
- mapping 18th century criminal London from Old Bailey records
- mapping environmental collapse from science fiction novels
- mapping Medieval Italy's domestic soundscapes from objects
- mapping intellectual influence through library book records
- mapping the everyday life and community of Whitechapel through crowdsourced memories
- mapping lost or disowned architectures through oral histories with skateboarders on the Southbank.
The afternoon took the form of playful workshopping, where participants were deliberately mixed in groups containing Sussex Humanities Lab associates, technologists and humanists/historians. Word prompts, including 'gradient', 'rhythm' and 'uncertainty' forced lateral thinking.
30-31 May - AHRC Network Workshop: The afterlife of protest (organised by Pollyanna Ruiz)
The Protest Memory Network’s first workshop, on the theme of ‘Researching Protest Memory’, brought together scholars who focus on transnational memory cultures, social movement studies media and communications, digital/global cultures of contestation, and protest/activist histories. It explored methodological approaches that allow us to pull out the everyday habits, routines and rituals of resistance that are made inheritable across scales and movements, allowing for multi-directional remembering. A number of University of Sussex-based partners were involved in the workshop:
- Susssex Humanities Lab
- Mass Observation Archive, which contains papers generated by the original Mass Observation social research organisation (from 1937 until the early 1950s), and newer material collected continuously by the Mass Observation Project since 1981.
- The Text Analysis Group (TAG) Laboratory , which conducts research in natural language processing and applies these technologies to the interpretation of text documents, social media and other communications.
9 April - Ryan Bishop (Winchester) "Art, Labs and the Cold War" (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
At present, in North America, there are over 100 programs and labs committed to collaborative experimentation in art and technology. This talk examined the current prominence of art and technology labs in the context of the resurgence of collaborative practice in the arts, not only between artists, but also among a wide range of cross-disciplinary groupings of designers, scientists, engineers, scholars and others. The push for collaboration in the arts is part of a recalibration of the meaning of 'research' as it is understood by arts practitioners, and among the legacies of institutional critique has been the expanded engagement of artists in a range of contexts that moves beyond galleries and museums and into, among other places, universities, businesses, science and tech labs and facilities. This talk drew on a number of related projects Ryan Bishop is pursuing with various collaborators examining the reconfiguration of the avant-garde in the US during the Cold War and its relation with art and technology labs at universities and corporations as well as for government projects. Many of these labs and projects are explicitly being invoked in the present as antecedents for the current experimentation, regardless of the efficacy of the earlier incarnations. Some examples explored in the talk included the Eames Office, MIT (Center for Advanced Visual Studies and Center for Art, Science and Technology), Fluxus, LACMA's 1960s Art and Technology project and its current rebook Art+Technology, Bell Labs, Abel Gance (narrative surrealism in cinema) and IBM. This talk is part of a forthcoming book from Duke University Press co-authored with John Beck. Professor Ryan Bishop is Professor of Global Arts and Politics, Co-Director of the Winchester Centre for Global Futures in Art Design & Media, and was until recently Director of Research and Doctoral Research within Winchester School of Art at the University of Southampton. He is co-editor of the journal Cultural Politics (Duke UP) and the book series Theory Now (Polity), Technicities (Edinburgh UP) and A Cultural Politics Book (Duke UP)
12 April - Justyna Robinson- Advanced Text Analysis (SHL Digital Methods Open Workshop Series)
23 April - Deb Verhoeven (University of Technology Sydney) "Solving the Problem of the 'Gender Offenders': Using Criminal Network Analysis to Break Male Domination" (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
This presentation explored how the value of making connections and following trails of relationships in humanities research can be materialised in digital environments. Through the prism of practical examples larger questions were considered: What does it mean to give shape to relationships? Can we recognize the quality of relationships by their shape? What if we could use data to “see”the contours of injustice? And if the answer is yes (or even maybe) then what are the implications of this? For how we understand ourselves? And for how we might redress the uneven patterns of interaction and co-existence that shape our day-to-day lives?
24 April Micki Kaufman (CUNY) "'Everything on Paper Will be Used Against Me’: Quantifying Kissinger" (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
"Everything on Paper Will Be Used Against Me: Quantifying Kissinger" is an historical text, data and network analysis of the National Security Archive's Kissinger Collection, a curated set of transcripts comprising over 18,600 of the former US National Security Advisor and Secretary of State's telephone conversations and memoranda from 1968-1977. From the use of text analysis (topic modeling and word collocation) to data and network analysis (adjacency, clustering, and other measures of similarity and difference) and by interpreting and presenting the complexities of the human and conceptual relationships within the Kissinger Correspondence using data visualization, this model application of computational analysis and visualization techniques to the study of twentieth-century diplomatic history has begun to generate useful finding aids for researchers, provided essential testing grounds for new historical methodologies, and prompted new interpretations and questions about the Nixon/Kissinger era.
26 April - Dr Angela Dappert (British Library) "The record of scholarship – persistently identified and preserved" (Digital Humanities South: Sussex Humanities Lab/University of Brighton Joint Seminar)
Persistent Identifiers (PIDs) have become established in the sciences where they are applied to researchers (e.g. ORCIDs and ISNIs) and research outputs (e.g. CrossRef and DataCite DOIs). They are starting to be applied in cultural heritage domains, where the identified objects are often pre-existent subjects of research. This talk discussed what persistent identifiers are; how they contribute to open research; and what concrete services exist or are missing in daily practice. It goes on to question how persistent the support for persistent identifiers really is. How do current services live up to the standards of perpetuity that are applied in memory institutions in the context of long-term digital preservation? It discussed how the long-term digital object life-cycle relates to persistent identifiers, the entities they identify, and the metadata that describes them; how persistent identifiers can help long-term preservation; and how insights from long-term preservation can help to shape persistent identifier best practice and contribute to the longevity of the scholarly record. Finally, it discussed work done at the British Library to study the state of persistent identifier adoption in the digital humanities. We found limited awareness of their use and potential benefits; discussed opportunities of applying persistent identifiers to historical artefacts; analysed in how far digital humanists identify with the typical persistent identifier use cases; looked at the need to share best practices around PIDs and metadata; and studied where existing persistent identifier solutions do not yet offer customised support to the humanities.
27 April - Micki Kaufman - Workshop - We Have this Space Problem: Quantifying Kissinger
As the capability for rendering complex, immersive multidimensional data visualizations has evolved, the contributions of data, interactivity, visual design and animation, sound and related audio and visual media have expanded the forms of historical research and interpretation. Combining thousands of the Kissinger Collection's document content and archival metadata points, the project uses data visualizations in 2- and 3-dimensional space, as well as additional dimensions including archival time and real time. The project illustrates methods and findings that attempt to overcome limitations of scale and legibility imposed by the sheer complexity of the data. The project - conceived, analyzed and rendered using visual design, sound design, animation and interactivity, adds new dimensions (spatial, temporal and conceptual) to our understanding of Dr Henry A. Kissinger.
1 March - Lisa Baraitser (Birkbeck College) discussed her new book Enduring Time (hosted by the Care and New Materialisms reading group)
About Enduring Time: The ways in which we imagine and experience time are changing dramatically. Climate change, unending violent conflict, fraying material infrastructures, permanent debt and widening social inequalities mean that we no longer live with an expectation of a progressive future, a generative past, or a flourishing now that characterized the temporal imaginaries of the post-war period. Time, it appears, is not flowing, but has become stuck, intensely felt, yet radically suspended.
How do we now 'take care' of time? How can we understand change as requiring time not passing? And what can quotidian experiences of suspended time - waiting, delaying, staying, remaining, enduring, returning and repeating - tell us about the survival of social bonds? Enduring Time responds to the question of the relationship between time and care through a paradoxical engagement with time's suspension. Working with an eclectic archive of cultural, political and artistic objects, it aims to reestablish the idea that time might be something we both have and share, as opposed to something we are always running out of.
A strikingly original philosophy of time, this book also provides a detailed survey of contemporary theories of the topic; it is an indispensable read for those attempting to live meaningfully in the current age.
9 March - Possibilities: Media as process and actant (organised by Emile Devereaux - CHASE)
How do digital tools, environments and research co-construct each other? How can you trace the materiality of your research? How might you diagram the interdependencies of your research sites? What are some of the possible re-mappings and re-imaginings that might occur?
During the one day workshop with Possible Bodies, participants shared their own work and collaborated to diagram and reimagine the continuum of 3D industries (from MRI scans to the pharmacopornographic, from military training suites to architectonic management software, from fossil fuel prospecting to ultrasound cross-sections in mining, from spectacular special effects to gaming engines ... and back). Together they investigated the semiotic-material matrix where so-called bodies cohabit within the boundaries of the probable. How might 3D practices call for the reinvention of the theories used to talk of "corpo-reality"? What other possible bodies could emerge? The workshop activated mapping and diagramming practices for collective research on the concrete and fictional entities that "bodies" are, asking what matter-cultural conditions of possibility render them present. Paying particular attention to the posthuman condition of the infrastructures, technologies and techniques of 3D tracking, modelling and scanning, it invited the generation of concepts and experimental renderings, digital and non-digital prototypes for different embodiments.
21 March - Alex Peverett - How to Fix Absolutely Anything (SHL Digital Methods Open Workshop Series)
From contemporary historians and archivists working with born digital data to media archaeologists, there is an increasing academic interest in accessing and using old equipment and media apparatus. Needs vary. Some have a pragmatic need to access files on a microcomputer incompatible with modern machines. Others seek to recreate the sensory experience of previous media forms. These goals create a requirement for researchers to obtain, fix and maintain old machines. This workshop covered how best to approach these activities, where to source information and parts, and a hands-on introduction to carrying out some common repairs. The aim of this workshop was to give participants an overview of repairability to enable them to judge the specific demands their research may present.
8 February - Sally Jane Norman (co-founder, Sussex Humanities Lab and now Director, New Zealand School of Music) “(re-)situating knowledges and experimental practices” (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
Situated knowledges (Haraway) reflect and inform vantage points, co-evolving with our situations. When these situations change radically, situated knowledges must be 're-set', and our voices re-tuned to new environments. I'll try to link this imperative to questions of situation and voice in experimental practice: what kinds of discourse might best convey the specific knowledges of creative practitioners? Why are certain external theoretical frameworks or discursive systems so readily borrowed and imported by practitioners? Are they being re-sited or simply re-cited?
12 February - Dr Simon Lindgren (Umeå) "The hybrid logic of hashtag activism: Untangling frames, platforms, and phases in the #MeToo campaign" (Joint SHL/MFM research seminar)
This mixed-methods study analyses the early stages of the #MeToo social media campaign in late 2017. The overarching aim is to contribute to the debate on the effects of social media on movement mobilisation, from the joint perspectives of movement frames, platforms, and phases. The presentation first used a dataset of 4 million tweets to analyze how #MeToo faced the challenges entailed in maintaining its frame, and making a consistent impact. Second, it broadened the analysis and discussion to entail issues of how movement frames can move across platforms, and how this in turn may relate to different phases in the life cycle of a movement or campaign.
14 February - Sharon Webb - Dataset Publishing and Compliance (SHL Digital Methods Open Workshop Series)
This workshop was a practical introduction to datasets, their creation and their publication. It considered best practice and practical approaches to research data management and introduce participants to the concept of metadata and its importance to describing and archiving digital objects and data. The workshop also touched upon the importance of digital preservation and introduce participants to current university infrastructures that can help you publish data and therefore help you comply with funding and grant applications requirements.
21 February - Ben Jackson - 3D Visualisation (SHL Digital Methods Open Workshop Series)
This workshop explored the use of 3D visualisation for presenting information to a range of audiences and simulations. The session was illustrated with current 3D visualisation work in the Sussex Humanities Lab and concludedwith a workshop session intended to demonstrate the practicalities of integrating 3D with interactive online content. 3D visualisation is a large area with wide-ranging skill requirements depending on project needs. The intended outcome for newcomers to the area was to illuminate the subject and support discussion with trans-disciplinary teams, attendees already familiar with CAD learned how to incorporate their work into online and interactive presentations.
23 February - MA Composing for Media showcase (organised by Chris Kiefer)
A showcase event for short films made by students from the MA in Composing for Media.
29 January - Michael Takeo Magruder (King's College London) "Materialising Data: the creative potential and complex challenges of analogue-digital art" (Digital Humanities South: Sussex Humanities Lab/University of Brighton Joint Seminars)
In this lecture, visual artist and researcher Michael Takeo Magruder presenteda selection of his projects that combine traditional art forms and materials with leading-edge digital technologies and processes. He discussed the vast creative potential that is unlocked through working in such hybrid contexts, and the significant challenges that arise in maintaining and preserving these kinds of complex analogue-digital artefacts and experiences.
29 January - Professor Rachel Thomson, Dr Liam Berriman (both University of Sussex) and Dr Sara Bragg (University of Brighton) "Researching Everyday Childhoods: Time, technology and documentation in the digital age"
This event was part of the 5th anniversary celebrations for the Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth (CIRCY) at the University of Sussex and marked the publication of Researching Everyday Childhoods: Time, Technology and Documentation in a Digital Age (Rachel Thomson, Liam Berriman, Sara Bragg). 2018. London: Bloomsbury.
Digital Childhoods has been one of CIRCY's core research themes over the last five years. In this joint seminar with the Sussex Humanities Lab, three of the contributors to this theme - Prof Rachel Thomson, Dr Liam Berriman and Dr Sara Bragg - launched their new book which explores new ideas about how we research children's everyday lives in a digital age. The launch also coincided with the opening of a new 'Everyday Childhoods' digital archive based on the research informing the book and located in The Keep archive. Through a series of short talks, the co-authors shared insights into the relationship between children's everyday lives and digital culture, and how this transforms ideas about research. There were also opportunities to engage with the interactive online archive of the dataset
7 December - Panel 'Rethinking Gender, Genre and Popular Culture' to launch Katherine Farrimond, The Contemporary Femme Fatale: Gender, Genre and American Cinema (Routledge, 2017)
Panelists: Katherine Farrimond (University of Sussex); Lindsay Steenberg (Oxford Brookes University); Rosie White (Northumbria University)
An SHL-supported event
8 December - Michael Barany (Dartmouth College) "In International Mathematics, Who Knows You’re a Pseudonym? Bourbaki, fiction, farce, and the postwar transformation of a discipline." (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
In 1948, the American Mathematical Society received an application for membership from Nicolas Bourbaki, the pen name of a radical group of French mathematicians then rewriting the foundations of modern mathematics. While that application was quietly dismissed, a second application a year later and the correspondence it provoked together expose significant fault lines beneath the Americans’ efforts to lead an international discipline in the wake of World War II. I will draw on a wide range of archival sources to situate Bourbaki’s applications amidst the distinctive ways mathematicians established subjective identities in interaction with professional institutions in the mid-twentieth century. I will show how Bourbaki’s advocates parodied the period’s norms of identification, exploiting newly important ambiguities and challenging newly reconfigured power structures in mathematicians’ postwar disciplinary practice. Bourbaki's farce helps expose a sweeping transformation in mathematicians' relationships to media, mediation, and personhood, which would come to define mathematical scholarship in the postwar period. I will conclude by comparing this transformation to the more recent development of mathematics in online networks, including new internet-based pseudonymous ventures self-consciously styled after the Bourbaki collaboration.
11 December - Rebecca Wright (SHL) "Mass Observation 'Online'" (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
This talk reflected upon what the “digital” means for Mass Observation Studies. Drawing upon the experience of applying digital methodologies to conduct research on energy practices in the Mass Observation Archive, the talk critically examined the potential and limitations of the digital for Mass Observation Studies. It explored how the digital has the capacity to open up new historical imaginaries and historical representations from the archive and provide new approaches to typical Mass Observation objects of study, such as everyday practices and the home. This digital optimism is balanced with a warning about the materiality of these digital technologies which embed new hierarchies and power dynamics in an archive founded on the democratic promise to give a voice to the “mass”.
12 December - Janet van der Linden (Open University) "Haptics and Materiality - Designing towards Creative Inclusive Accessibility" (Organised by the Creative Technology Group)
Haptics and materials based technologies have the potential to engage people through tangible, physical forms of interaction. This can open the door to technologies being more accessible, for example to those with visual impairments where touch is a more preferred sensory experience. They can also be used for more creative purposes, to design culturally enhancing experiences and encourage playfulness.
This talk brough together insights from various pieces of my research in creative inclusive accessibility. I discussed the work with a visually impaired theatre group on the development of a hand-held haptic device for guidance for an in-the-dark immersive theatre experience. The haptic device supported a more bodily experience of immersing into the narrative that was accessible to all. I also discussed eTextile weaving workshops in collaboration with a number of galleries and community groups, to involve visually impaired participants in the hands-on making of technologies that provided rich, personal experiences.
- November 2017
2-3 November - Gender and hate in the online sphere
A two-day workshop exploring the themes of gender and hate in the online context, enabling academics and experts to share and discuss related research. Organised by the Centre for Gender Studies, supported by the Sussex Humanities Lab, the Information Law Group at Sussex University, and the Equality and Diversity Forum
13 November - Laura Molloy (Oxford) "Creative Connections: digital preservation and data skills in art practice" (SHL/University of Brighton Research Seminar)
What do digital preservation and the creative arts have to do with each other? Do creative arts practitioners use data – and if so, in what ways? And why should we care about the sustainability of creative careers?
Laura Molloy is an artist and researcher who has been working at the intersection of creative practice and digital preservation/curation research for around eight years, first at the University of Glasgow and now at the Ruskin School of Art and the Oxford Internet Institute, both University of Oxford. Her paper will raise and discuss questions around whether and how we can talk about digital preservation/curation with contemporary creative practitioners such as artists and performers, what data might mean to those audiences, and what each domain can learn from the other by establishing an engaged and respectful dialogue.
27 November - Techne: A gathering for those researching tools, machines and the digital
An informal meet-up in the name of tools, machines and the digital. The evening featured short talks from Thor Magnusson (Music), Andrés Guadamuz (Law) and Caroline Bassett (SHL), as well as space to discuss ideas and meet fellow researchers. Organised by Kat Braybrooke, Emma Harrison, Halldor Ulfarsson and Maria Bjarnadottir.
29 November (Fulton A Lecture Theatre) - Prof Caroline Bassett "The Tendency of Utopia to Disappoint: Digital technologies and Future Hopes" (University of Sussex professorial lecture)
- October 2017
2 October - PhD work in progress (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
Kat Braybrooke, Emma Harrison, Manuel Cruz Martinez, Nathan Richards
11 October (Fulton A Lecture Theatre) - Prof David Berry "Reassembling the University: The Idea of a University in a Digital Age" (University of Sussex professorial lecture)
17 October - Feminism, Science Studies and the Digital: materialism, work and care
Speakers Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, Kylie Jarrett and Kate O’Riordan, and book launch of Kate O'Riordan, Unreal Objects (Pluto Press, 2017)
20 October - 'Raiding the Digital Closet - Research data for the arts and humanities and the Sussex Research (SURE) Data Repository '
Organised by Adam Harwood (Library) and Sharon Webb (SHL) this workshop focussed on how researchers can utilise the newly launched University of Sussex research data repository - SuRe.
23 October - Niamh Moore (Edinburgh) "DIY Academic Archiving: Learning from Community Archives"
This paper focuses on the creation of an open online archive of qualitative research data (see http://clayoquotlives.sps.ed.ac.uk/ ) – drawing inspiration from community archiving. In the UK, the UKDA (and formerly as Qualidata) have led in supporting researchers in archiving research data, however it was always clear that ESDS Qualidata could not archive everything. More recently, many university libraries have been developing repositories for researchers to archive data (eg Edinburgh DataShare, a research data repository at the University of Edinburgh). However there are other possibilities. In this paper I draw on my experience of working with community archives to inform the creation of an online archive of research data (using omeka.org). This turn to DIY archiving is not a turn away from, that is against, these other initiatives, but rather a recognition of the need for multiple approaches to archiving research data, and a reminder of alternative archival histories and practices. Academics have much to learn from a wide popular interest in archiving, that is in creating knowledge, and long histories of community archiving and the UK and beyond. In particular I will focus on the ways in which the infrastructure of Omeka rearranges data and the relationships between data, allowing new relationships, juxtapositions and possibilities to emerge.
31 October - Charles van den Heuvel (Huygens ING) "Virtual Reality and Enhanced Publications as Interfaces to Historical Big Data"
The research project Golden Agents: Creative Industries and the Making of the Dutch Golden Age aims to analyse the interactions between various branches of the creative industries and between producers and consumers, in the seventeenth century, applying multi-agent technologies to around 2 million scans of notary acts, such as probate inventories, testaments etc. of the City Archives of Amsterdam. Director of the project, Charles van den Heuvel, discussed the introduction of semantic web technologies into the digital humanities and cultural heritage institutions, and looked forward to new interfaces for both the scholarly and more accessible representation of linked data, including the use of immersive virtual reality.
Brighton Digital Festival events:
12 October (Duke's at Komedia, Brighton) Donna Haraway: Storytelling for Earthly Survival
A screening of Fabrizio Terranova’s portrait of iconic scholar Donna Haraway was followed by a panel discussion led by the Sussex Humanities Lab.
12 October (ONCA Gallery ) DIY radio transmission – Pi Streambox Workshop
A hands on, public workshop in DIY software and hardware for live audio streaming, organised by Alice Eldridge, in partnership with The Living Coast (the Brighton & Lewes Downs UNESCO World Biosphere Region) and Digital Music and Sound Arts, University of Brighton.
12 October Healing Through Archives: Coming Home
Working with artists, developers and researchers, this event considered how current pioneering technology in visualisation can be used to experience ‘home’, through the combination of archival materials, memories and scans of Somali Rock Art sites in Laas Geel. Organised by Abira Hussein (London Metropolitan Archives), supported by SHL.
13 October (ACCA) The Messy Edge
A conference explorating of the frontiers of digital culture, a challenge to dominant perspectives and a place to think about how we run the risk of building a future on the deeply flawed foundations of the present. Supported by SHL, speakers included SHL Director Caroline Bassett.
- September 2017
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s most powerful particle smasher, recreating conditions similar to those that existed in our universe shortly after the Big Bang. Physicist Antonella De Santo, artist duo Semiconductor and SHL's Beatrice Fazi discussed LHC science, art and philosophy.
6 September (The Keep) - British Science Festival: What can the past tell us about energy consumption today?
Rebecca Wright asked what lessons can be learnt from the Mass Observation Archive, a huge database that records everyday life in Britain. Exploring whether knowledge of previous energy practices could provide novel solutions for managing energy consumption in the future.
9 September (One Church Brighton) - British Science Festival: Orchestra hero
Lab members and affiliates Ed Hughes, Chris Kiefer and Alice Eldridge launched Syncphonia, a new iOS app for group music making, at the British Science Festival. Designed to support ensemble music making, Syncphonia provides a new form for networked, interactive notation which helps musical novices stay in time, making music making more accessible and even more fun.
13 September Chrysalis
Performance and Q&A with Marije Baalman and Chris Kiefer
Marije Baalman is an artist and researcher/developer working in the field of interactive sound art. She is working with Chris Kiefer on serendipity in interactive machine learning algorithms. They showed the results of their work in a performance with Marije’s latest piece Chrysalis, and discussed the work afterwards in a Q&A session.
Read more about their work at: http://www.emutelab.org/blog/chrysalis-report
Brighton Digital Festival events:
14 September (The Rose Hill, Brighton) - Humanising Algorithmic Listening in Culture and Conservation
AHRC Humanising Algorithmic Listening Network members were joined by Brighton Digital Festival audiences in a semi-theatrical debate around the promises and perils of listening algorithms in wider culture, organised by Alice Eldridge.
15-30 September (ONCA Gallery, Brighton) - Mephitic Air
Mephitic Air is a new data visualisation and sonification installation from Wesley Goatley & Tobias Revell which explores the spaces between human and machine interpretations of air pollution.
- July 2017
4-5 July - This and THATCamp 2017
Our This and THATCamp 2017 brought together a diverse group of people from humanities, library, archives, and law backgrounds to work on the theme of ‘Rules, Rights, Resistance’.
See http://thisand.thatcamp.org/ for more information.
- June 2017
8-9 June 2017 - Human (in)attention (the final workshop of the AHRC-funded Automation Anxiety network)
This workshop explored anxiety about the atrophy of human skills through the automation of complex cognitive skills such as navigation, control of
aircraft or vehicles. It also examined cases where the delegation of human tasks to machines directly become a source of anxiety, instability or concern. Examples included high-frequency trading and the so-called ‘creepy line’ (Google) where algorithms or machine learning may display an uncanny or disturbing level of personal surveillance or insight. The workshop also looked at the extension of this problem into academic analysis itself, that is, the automation of research methods through digital humanities.
For a full programme: http://blogs.sussex.ac.uk/automationanxiety/workshops/workshop-3-human-inattention/
9 June 2017 - Public lecture: Richard Rogers: Otherwise Engaged: Social Media from Vanity Metrics to Critical Analytics
Given as part of the Automation Anxiety workshop, this public lecture is available on YouTube as part of the Talks@MFM series.
14-15 June 2017 - Digital Preservation for Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities conference (DPASSH 2017)
The second DPASSH conference was held at the University of Sussex, co-hosted by the Sussex Humanities Lab and the Digital Repository of Ireland. The theme was Preserving Abundance: The Challenge of Saving Everything.
More information: http://dpassh.org/
A review of the conference: http://dri.ie/dpassh-2017-review
Storify of the conference: https://storify.com/dri_ireland/dpassh-2017
16 June 2017 - PLAY / MAKE / RESEARCH
The symposium Play/Make/Research, organised by Manuel Cruz, brought together video game researchers from different disciplines within our university (and beyond!) to debate about the intersection of video games and academia, and share our approaches to the medium. Historians Adam Chapman, Sian Beavers, and Chris Kempshall were invited to share their research and experiences with the industry.
More information: https://playmakeresearch.tumblr.com/
19-20 June 2017 - Forum for Augmented Reality & Immersive Instruments (ARimI)
The Forum for Immersive Augmented Reality Instruments was a two-day networking event which brought together diverse participants with a view to understanding cultural transformations from Augmented Reality (AR), and to build new interdisciplinary research partnerships.
For more information see: http://www.emutelab.org/blog/arimi
29 June 2017 - A Return to BASIC
A workshop exploring BASIC, sound and graphics on the BBC Micro, was organised by Paul McConnell (MFM) and Alex Peverett (SHL).
30 June 2017 Digital Blackness
The inaugural Digital Blackness UK conference organised by Sussex Humanities Lab in association with Ascent Research, was convened by doctoral research candidate Nathan E Richards and Leeds University PhD student Leona Satchell-Samuel.
The conference continued the conversation started at Rutgers University in 2016, which aimed to explore the various facets of digital research methods, theories and practices in relation to Black communities, culture and knowledge production.
Subjects discussed on the day ranged from the innovation in digital publishing in relation to African literature, the use of technology within the black heritage field, and the theorisation of blackness within social media environments.
Highlights included contributions from notable content producers such as the director and creator of BK Chat London Andy Amadi and member of the Gal-Dem collective Varaidzo.
The conference aims to stimulate a conversation among digital humanities researchers by building a network of scholars and practitioners.
Find more information at: www.digitalblackness.com
30 May - 2 June 2017 - Sussex Booksprint
Seven researchers from seven different academic fields took part in the first Sussex Booksprint, organised by Sussex Research Hive Scholars and the University of Sussex library, in partnership with the Sussex Humanities Lab.The mission was to collaborate for four days in order to write and publish a single book as an intervention on the question: 'what is home?' View the result Beyond the boundaries of home: interdisciplinary approaches for free at: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/68309/
For more information see: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/staff/newsandevents/?page=4&id=40999
31 May - 1 June 2017 - Understanding Distributed Agency Between Listening Algorithms and Humans - Humanising Algorithmic Listening Workshop 2 (Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast)
The second workshop of the AHRC-funded Humanising Algorithmic Listening network organised by Alice Eldridge was held at Queen's University Belfast.
- May 2017
3 May 2017 - Thomas Elsaesser (Amsterdam/Columbia University) “Rethinking the Moving Image –An Archaeology of Digital Cinema” (MFM & SHL Joint Research Seminar)
Thomas Elsaesser presented some of the ideas from his recent book, Film History as Media Archaeology (Amsterdam University Press, 2016).
Prof. Elsaesser studied at Sussex (PhD Comparative Literature 1971), where he founded the Brighton Film Review, later to become the journal Monogram (where he first published his foundational work on the family melodrama and the New American Cinema, among other things). He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Amsterdam and currently teaches part-time at Columbia University, New York. Among his most recent books as author are: Film History as Media Archaeology (Amsterdam University Press, 2016); The Persistence of Hollywood (New York: Routledge, 2012); German Cinema - Terror and Trauma: Cultural Memory Since 1945 (New York: Routledge, 2013); and Film Theory: An Introduction through the Senses (New York: Routledge, 2nd edition 2015, with Malte Hagener). Forthcoming: European Cinema and Continental Philosophy: Film as Thought Experiment (Bloomsbury, 2017)
5 May 2017 - Learning the Lessons of working with the British Library’s Digital Content and Data for your research
A workshop organised by British Library Labs and the Sussex Humanities Lab as part of the British Library Labs Roadshow (2017)
The Roadshow showcased examples of the British Library’s digital content and data, addressing some of the challenges and issues of working with it, and how interesting and exciting projects from researchers, artists, educators and entrepreneurs have been developed via the annual British Library Labs Competition and Awards. The workshop focused on some of the lessons learned over the last four years of working with the Labs, promoted BL Lab awards and helped attendess consider what they might do with the British Library's collections. The team also talked about future plans at the Library to support Digital Scholarship. The day included presentations from the researchers who are working on Digital Humanities projects at the Sussex Humanities Lab.
8 May 2017 - Dr Georgina Voss (London College of Communication / University of Sussex) "Situated Systems" (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
Situated Systems is an experimental collaborative site-specific work which explored San Francisco's industrial and military history and its role in shaping the region's contemporary technology industries' culture and products. Digital fabrication and additive manufacturing tools were used to transform the cultural, political, and spatial elements into physical outputs, enabling investigation and learning from embodied knowledge and materiality. Situated Systems was the inaugural project of the Experimental Research Lab at Autodesk's Pier 9.
Georgina Voss is a co-founder of research and design studio Strange Telemetry and a Design Fellow at the London College of Communication. Her PhD in Science and Technology Studies was awarded by SPRU, University of Sussex, where she is also a Fellow. She is the author of Stigma and the Shaping of the Pornography Industry (Routledge 2015), and her writing has been published in places including The Guardian, The Atlantic, Science as Culture, BBC Futures, and Sexualities.
12 May 2017 - Digital Sexualities workshop
The Digital Sexualities workshop is an initiative within the Digital Lives and Memories strand of the Sussex Humanities Lab. This event was planned by Rachel Thomson, Kate O’Riordan and Sharif Mowlabocus, and featured speakers including Ben Light (Salford) and Ester McGeeney (Brook). The overall aim of the event is to bring people together with shared research interests in digital sexualities and to explore opportunities for collaboration with a focus on external research funding.
17 May 2017 - Ludic Engagements: The Films of Aki Kaurismäki – A Symposium
Organised by Thomas Austin (MFM) the Lab hosted a symposium on the films of Aki Kaurismäki.
18 May 2017 - Should we Count Electric Sheep? Philip K. Dick, Science Fiction, and Influence: An open workshop
‘Do androids dream of electric sheep?’ PKD posed this question in 20th Century America and in a fictional post-apocalypse Earth - when it preoccupies Deckard the blade runner. Fictional and real places, the place of writing and the place writing takes us to, intersect.This workshop explored how machine learning, big data techniques, sentiment analysis, and other digital humanities methods can be used to investigate Philip K Dick’s science fiction worlds, to inquire into PKD’s influence and reach, and to understand more about the intersection between SF and real world technological formations.
Themes investigated included utopia/dystopia, gender conservatism, machine intelligence, the (human) limits of (human) empathy, machine and animal life, technological decay, future politics. The workshop programme included: DH work on SF, undertaken by Text Analytics Group (TAG) and SHL team. Hands on work with data tools using PKD and other corpus material (e.g. feminist SF, weird), 3D visualizations, and short presentations on innovation, chance, the I Ching, and other PKD pre-occupations.
- April 2017
21-23 April 2017 - Haunted Random Forest festival
A new festival at the Sussex Humanities Lab and Lighthouse Arts in Brighton, organised by SHL research students, aimed at exploring the ways we understand and critique machine learning systems through interdisciplinary, hands-on, discussion-based and aesthetic approaches.
By critiquing these systems together as a community, the human elements at work in computational processes will be brought to light, illuminating the ways we understand the digital as a set of entities and processes that can be known, understood and built. A recurrent theme was an interrogation of the role of language as a practice that can limit cultural understandings of digital systems, in alignment with the issue of corporate interests keeping technologies black-boxed and thereby ‘unknowable’.
The multi-day discussions, artworks and tours of this festival explored alternative socio-technical literacies with publics, revealing the human species as a causal force with regards to our impact upon society, culture and technology. By hosting happenings across Brighton the critical focus of the Sussex Humanities Lab was transported outside of the campus and into the city, enabling interdisciplinary collaborations between digital, arts and academic communities.
- March 2017
6 March 2017 - Copyright and Open Access: A Sussex Humanities Lab Lunchtime Debate
In light of the changing policy on copyright being pursued by the University, and the changing IP environment for higher education, the Sussex Humanities Lab hosted a debate between its Co-Directors Prof David Berry and Prof Tim Hitchcock.
6 March 2017 - Dr Ben Williamson (University of Stirling) "Governing Behaviour and Cognition through the ‘CompPsy’ Sciences: Computing, Psychology and Educational Data Science" (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
Educational data science is an emerging field of educational research that combines techniques derived from computer science, especially computational approaches to big data analytics, with psychology, including cognitive science and emerging aspects of neuroscience. This presentation mapped the connections between CompSci and the psy-sciences to argue that educational data science represents a new hybrid ‘CompPsy’ field of research and development. Though the links between cognitive science approaches in psychology and computer science can be traced back to cybernetics, new computational approaches to the mining of learner data that can be analysed as indicators of cognitive skills and the emotions, and that in certain cases are designed to interact with neurological functions, are now being pursued enthusiastically by advocates of educational data science. The presentation examined new CompPsy techniques in behaviour monitoring platforms that reward children for observable behaviours associated with specific psychological theories, emotional analytics platforms that can mine the affective dimensions of learning, and explored how cognitive neuroscience insights into learning processes are now being utilized in emerging cognitive computing and artificial intelligence systems designed for education. Educational data science represents a new form of scientific expertise in making learning processes known and manageable, and exemplifies the contemporary use of contested scientific knowledges and computational techniques in attempts to govern people’s behaviour and cognition.
Ben Williamson is a lecturer in the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Stirling. His research focuses on data-driven technologies in education, new policy actors, and emerging technology-based approaches to education reform (https://codeactsineducation.wordpress.com/).
13 March 2017 - Technical Plan Writing Workshop
SHL members Ben Roberts and Alban Webb hosted a workshop on writing technical plans for ARHC bids.The purpose of this workshop was to provide guidance for staff at Sussex preparing a technical plan to be submitted as part of an AHRC funding bid (more information on technical plans for AHRC bids can be found at http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/funding/research/researchfundingguide/attachments/technicalplan/).
The workshop focussed on three aspects of technical plans:
1) Writing the technical plan (successful applications shared their experience)
2) Technical resources available at Sussex and the management of research data
3) How technical plans are assessed by the funder
16 March 2017 - Visiting Fellow: Geert Lovink, Workshop on Net Criticism and the Future of Digital Publishing
A one-day workshop on net criticism since 2008, MoneyLab topics, and digital publishing issues run by the net theorist and activist, Geert Lovink (Amsterdam), for postgraduate students.
Geert Lovink, founding director of the Institute of Network Cultures, is a Dutch-Australian media theorist and critic. He holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne and in 2003 was at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies, University of Queensland. In 2004 Lovink was appointed as Research Professor at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam and Associate Professor at University of Amsterdam. He is the founder of Internet projects such as nettime and fibreculture. His recent book titles are Dark Fiber (2002),Uncanny Networks (2002) and My First Recession (2003). In 2005-06 he was a fellow at the WissenschaftskollegBerlin Institute for Advanced Study where he finished his third volume on critical Internet culture, Zero Comments (2007).
16 March 2017 - Geert Lovink (Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam), Michael Dieter (CIM, University of Warwick): "The Future of Publishing in a (Post) Digital Age"
A panel discussion on The Future of Publishing in a (Post) Digital Age, with Geert Lovink and Michael Dieter.
Geert Lovink, founding director of the Institute of Network Cultures, is a Dutch-Australian media theorist and critic. He holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne and in 2003 was at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies, University of Queensland. In 2004 Lovink was appointed as Research Professor at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam and Associate Professor at University of Amsterdam. He is the founder of internet projects such as nettime and fibreculture. His recent book titles are Dark Fiber (2002), Uncanny Networks (2002) and My First Recession (2003). In 2005-06 he was a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg Berlin Institute for Advanced Study where he finished his third volume on critical internet culture, Zero Comments(2007).
Michael Dieter is an Assistant Professor at CIM, University of Warwick. He holds a PhD in Culture and Communication from the University of Melbourne on media arts practice and theory. His current research focuses on publishing practices after digitisation, cultural techniques in interface and user-experience design, and genealogies of media at the intersection of aesthetic and political thought.
24 March 2017 - Professor Phillippe van Parijs "Minimum Basic Income: Free Riding or Fair Sharing?" (Social and Political Thought/Sussex Humanities Lab Research seminar series)
Phillippe van Parijs is professor at the Faculty of economic, social and political sciences of the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL), where is holds the Hoover Chair of economic and social ethics.
He has held positions at Harvard University's Department of Philosophy, Nuffield College, Oxford, and visiting positions at the Universities of Amsterdam, Manchester, Siena, Québec (Montréal), Wisconsin (Madison), Maine (Orono) and Aix-Marseille, the European University Institute (Florence), All Souls College (Oxford), Yale University, Sciences Po (Paris), the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the École Normale Supérieure (Paris).
He is one of the founders of the Basic Income European Network (BIEN), which became in 2004 the Basic Income Earth Network, and he chairs its International Board. He coordinates the Ethical Forum of the University Foundation. He also coordinates the Pavia Group with Kris Deschouwer and, with Paul De Grauwe, the Re-Bel initiative. He is a member of Belgium's Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters and Fine Arts, of the International Institute of Philosophy, and of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts and Fellow of the British Academy. In 2001, he was awarded the Francqui Prize, Belgium's most generous scientific prize.
27 March 2017 - Professor Margaret Boden (University of Sussex) "How is Computer Art Held Back by the Limitations of Current AI?"
(Sussex Humanities Lab Research Seminar)
The current AI that’s arousing most excitement is “deep learning”. One application of this has been used to generate images superficially similar to collages. However, it’s not a reliable generator of collages, because we don’t understand enough about how it works. In general, current “deep” networks are black boxes.
Margaret A. Boden OBE ScD FBA is Research Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Sussex, where she helped develop the world's first academic programme in cognitive science. She holds degrees in medical sciences, philosophy, and psychology, and integrates these disciplines with AI in her research.
29 March 2017 - Alan Liu (University of California, Santa Barbara) "Open, Shareable, Replicable Workflows for the Digital Humanities: The Case of the 4Humanities.org 'WhatEvery1Says' Project" (Sussex Humanities Lab Research Seminar)
Can digital humanities projects that collect, analyze, and interpret texts and other materials make their provenance and workflow transparent to others? Can such workflows be shared for replication or adaptation? How can the digital humanities learn from the workflow management systems of the "in silico" sciences? And how in this regard should they be different from the sciences? Using as example the in-progress "WhatEvery1Says" (WE1S) project he leads (which is topic modeling articles mentioning the humanities in newspapers), Alan Liu offered a general vision of open, shareable, and replicable workflows for the digital humanities. He also speculated on what is at stake from the viewpoint of humanists more broadly.
Alan Liu is Professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has published books titled Wordsworth: The Sense of History; The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information; and Local Transcendence: Essays on Postmodern Historicism and the Database. Recent work includes "Is Digital Humanities a Field?—An Answer from the Point of View of Language," "N + 1: A Plea for Cross-Domain Data in the Digital Humanities," "The Meaning of the Digital Humanities," and "Where is Cultural Criticism in the Digital Humanities?" Liu started the Voice of the Shuttle web site for humanities research in 1994. He is founder and co-leader of the 4Humanities.org advocacy initiative.
31 March 2017- Patricia Fumerton: English Broadside Ballad Archive Workshop/Seminar
With online contributions from Megan Palmer, Carl Stahmer, Erik Bell (English Broadside Ballad Archive, Early Modern Center, University of California Santa Barbara)
This workshop/seminar was centred on the EBBA’s interdisciplinary scholarship in ballad culture, which ranges from custom-developed digital humanities archiving methods, to contemporary ballad re-interpretations by ethnomusicologists and practicing musicians.
Part I: Human Computer Collaboration: Arch-V Image Matching and the Human-curated Woodcut Catalog
Led by Patricia Fumerton, Carl Stahmer, Megan Palmer
Professor Fumerton addressed questions of digital archiving and collaboration, with EBBA associates Dr Megan E.Palmer, specialist in historical woodcut impressions, and Dr Carl Stahmer, Digital Humanities historical archive specialist.
Part II: Notating Tune with Text: Greensleeves and St George and the Dragon
Led by Patricia Fumerton and Erik Bell
Professor Fumerton explored questions of tune and text notations, with EBBA music specialist Erik Bell.
Patricia Fumerton is Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, director of UCSB’s English Broadside Ballad Archive, http://ebba.english.ucsb.edu, and author of Unsettled: The Culture of Mobility and the Working Poor in Early Modern England (2006) and of Cultural Aesthetics: Renaissance Literature and the Practice of Social Ornament (1991). She has just completed another monograph, Moving Media, Tactical Publics: The English Broadside Ballad in Early Modern England.
Megan E. Palmer is Assistant Director of the English Broadside Ballad Archive and Lecturer in the English Department at UCSB, where she completed her PhD in 2014. Her recent work on woodcut impressions includes “Song Beyond Species: Broadside Ballads in Image and Word,” Huntington Library Quarterly 79:2 (2016): 221-244; and “Cutting through the Wormhole: Early Modern Time, Craft, & Media," The Making of a Broadside Ballad, ed. Patricia Fumerton, Carl Stahmer, and Andrew Griffin. EMC Imprint, 2016.
Carl Stahmer, PhD, is the Director of Digital Scholarship at the University Library, University of California, Davis, where he oversees a variety of digital initiatives. Further roles include Associate Director for Humanities at the UC Davis Data Science Initiative, Associate Director for Technology at the Advanced Research Consortium, Institute for Digital Humanities Media and Culture. Stahmer is also Associate Director of the UCSB English Broadside Ballad Archive. His current research is focused on the development of an open source, content based search and retrieval (image recognition) platform for digital archives of historical printed materials. He works extensively in the area of Linked Open Data and social data curation, with a particular focus on deployment of Linked Data native library cataloguing systems.
Erik Bell completed his BA in Music (Piano Emphasis) in 2006 at the University of Oregon is currently a PhD candidate in Music Theory at UCSB, researching chord-transformational theory within 19th and early 20th-century music. The other hat he wears is Music Specialist for the English Broadside Ballad Archive, where he leads the newly funded Minstrel project of recording transcriptions and himself recording to date over 500 ballads. He has also worked as a Teaching Assistant for both the Musicianship series and Music Fundamentals at UCSB, lecturing for Music Fundamentals during Summer 2013.
- February 2017
10 February 2017 - Esther Leslie: "Clouds" (Social and Political Thought/Sussex Humanities Lab Research Seminar series)
This lecture considered the cloud and animation from a variety of stances. It suggested first that clouds have always been animate forms, shifting, evanescent and in some regards abstract. They have also long been a stuff for imagery, especially painting and it is argued the materiality of the clouds is repeated in its painted form. The drama of clouds in a more modern age was seized by film and animation. The cloud appears in the digital age too – in more ways than one. Clouds have been constituted digitally by commercial studios and also by art animators. For the collective FriendsWithYou, the clouds, from their animation Cloudy and its various offshoots, are central to their ultrahappy pneumatic aesthetic. This body of work, kitsch and dumb as it is, was treated as emblematic of an age in which the cloud looms as a new substance, if one that is hard to grasp and hard to model convincingly. What is a digital cloud? In what ways is it captured in the platform that is called The Cloud? Computer animation has a specific visual appeal that is shiny and hermetic. This quality is easily fetishable, presents, indeed, an object lesson in what a fetish is. As if in recognition of it some recent animations have mobilised the fetish quality critically. Does the shiny aesthetic of the digital transform into the fluffiness of the cloud or is there something different at work in the digitalising of clouds and the creation of a synthetic heaven into which all production has been relocated?
Professor Esther Leslie is Professor of Political Aesthetics, Birkbeck College.
13 February 2017 - PhD Research in Progress (Sussex Humanities Lab Research Seminar series)
Kat Braybrooke - Hacking the Gallery Together?
This presentation outlined early findings from several months spent as Researcher-in-Residence at the Tate Digital Studio while touring other institutionalized sites for digital making around the world, using both ethnographic and action research methods to explore the social, cultural and political ecosystems that define these spaces within spaces. The mixed-method approach to inquiry was also discussed regarding its aim to build an understanding of the unique circumstances that allow this kind of institutionalization to arise, especially regarding its effects on user conditions of access, power and ownership.
Stephen Fortune - Asking Questions of Data?
This presentation was a research update on the utility (or not) of software studies methodologies to investigate the phenomena of self-tracking.
Wesley Goatley - Critical Data Aesthetics
This presentation detailed the continued development of a critically reflexive approach to data aestheticisation, a thesis which is informed by and informs an exploratory ongoing artistic practice. Included were examples of recently created practical works, new theoretical trajectories, and emerging interdisciplinary influences.
Emma Harrison - Collective Action in the Age of Ubiquitous Computing
This presentation demonstrated my ongoing research into the ways in which collective action can continue to be effective within a culture in which complete surveillance is a reality implied by the technologies we engage with. I outlined some preliminary reflections on the beginnings of my case study research, which explores consumerist forms of ‘digital detoxing’ and the effect this has upon embodied interaction within such environments.
Manuel Alejandro Cruz Martinez - Making a video game about history: Workshops, Prototypes, and Iteration.
In the past months, I have been running workshops for history students while working on small prototypes for a historical video game. I shared some of the challenges faced during this process, and discuss the increasing relevance of iterations within my research.
- January 2017
16 January 2017 - James Williams: "Reverse Takeovers: a Sublime and Egalitarian Future for the Humanities" (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
On the assumption that the humanities are concerned with creative and critical work on signs, James Williams argued that every subject is vulnerable to a reverse takeover by the humanities, through the medium of the sign. No one is safe, not the mathematician or physicist, not the biologist or neuro-scientist, no empirical or data-driven subject, no pursuit that justifies itself simply on its financial contribution, or role in welfare. Every subject that involves signs as its currency can be taken over, because each sign conceals many processes beyond those regulated by the discipline and because these wider relations are what allows the discipline to exercise power beyond itself: when numbers become animals, or equations become means, or genes become tools, when scans become claims over emotions and morals, or when empirical findings and data become claims over the future, when finance justifies suffering, or welfare becomes a claim over ways of life. The argument builds on his study of process signs by extending the claim that every sign is political into the suggestion that signs are an opportunity for sublime and egalitarian transformations. Variations on the senses of 'sublime' and 'egalitarian' were set out, as well as a range of techniques for reverse takeovers through the sign.
James Williams is Honorary Professor of Philosophy at Deakin University. His most recent book is A Process Philosophy of Signs (Edinburgh University Press, 2016). He has published widely on French philosophy, with books on Deleuze and Lyotard. James is currently working on critical studies of the concepts of extension, enaction and autopoiesis, and on a book on the egalitarian sublime. You can find his work at www.jamesrwilliams.net
20 January 2017 - Automation and Obsolescence (the first workshop of the AHRC-funded Automation Anxiety network)
The workshop focused on the forms of cognitive automation that inspire contemporary concern about a ‘rise of the robots’, anxiety concerning the replacement of human labour by computational processes, algorithms and machine learning. Topics discussed included automation and healthcare, universal basic income, automation anxiety as a recurring historical 'topos'. The workshop included an experimental performance piece 'Job Vacancy: ECHOBORG'. See Storify for Tweets and images from the event.
24 January 2017 - Estimote drop-in session
SHL Research Technician, Ioann-Maria Stacewicz, organised a drop-in session to demonstrate the Lab's Estimote beacons and how they might be used in research projects.
6 December 2016 - Andrew Goffey: "What Politics for Software Culture? Code, Power, Practice" (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
How, on what terms, using what conceptual tools, should the politics of software be envisaged? Although recent years have seen concern growing about multiple forms of dependency (social, economic, cultural, psychological) on programmable digital technologies, the ever-closer links between the organs of state, and the ends to which technological “disruption” are put, difficult questions about how to understand the implication of computational practices in shifting relations of power and how effectively to bring software into the domain of politics, continue to go unanswered. This paper offered a tentative response to the question of the politics of software by an exploration of three important but contested concepts: code, power and practice.
Andrew Goffey is an Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Critical Theory at the University of Nottingham. He is the author (with Matthew Fuller) of Evil Media, the editor (with Eric Alliez) of The Guattari Effect and (with Roland Faber) of The Allure of Things. He is currently writing books on the politics of software and on the work of Félix Guattari and is doing research on institutional analysis and on the materiality of information. He is also the translator of numerous works in the fields of philosophy and critical theory, including In Catastrophic Times and Capitalist Sorcery by Isabelle Stengers, and Schizoanalytic Cartographies and Lines of Flight by Félix Guattari.
3-4 November 2016 - Designing Interfaces for Creativity Symposium (DesInC) held at the Attenborough Centre and the Sussex Humanities Lab
The Designing Interfaces for Creativity (DesInC) symposium, organised by Chris Kiefer and supported by SHL, explored interdisciplinary and historical perspectives on the design of tools, interfaces and instruments for creativity, and included researchers in design and creative technology, human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, music and experimental physics, alongside experimental musicians, artists, sound artists, composers and computer systems developers. The symposium was funded by Chris Kiefer's British Academy Rising Star award.
7 November 2016 - Caroline Bassett, Sarah Kember and Kate O'Riordan: Feminist Media Futures (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
Feminist Media Futures is a collaborative book project that aims to intervene in questions about the digital and the material both in terms of objects and politics in the world, and conditions of writing in academia. We aim to explore different kinds of writing, and forms of intervention in an approach to digital media theory that mixes up ideas, objects, theories through processes of overwriting and collaboration. In developing the project we aim to provide an intervention into digital media theory by drawing on feminist genealogies, traditions of writing and approaches to science and technology. In part, the project offers an alternative to, and arguments against various versions of material and object orientated turns, which demonstrate both scientism and anti-feminism in their citation practices and models of knowledge production. Importantly though, for all of us the project also has things to say about work and automation, biotechnology, environment and futures. This SHL seminar introduced this project in process and invited feedback and response.
Caroline Bassett is Professor of Media and Communications in the School of Media, Film and Music, and the Director of the Sussex Humanities Lab, both at the University of Sussex. Her research is centred on investigating and critically analysing the relationship between communication technologies, cultures and societies. Recent publications include work on digital transformation, mobile and pervasive media, gender and technology, medium theory, digital humanities, science fiction, imagination and innovation, sound and silence. She is currently completing a book on anti-computing.
Sarah Kember is a writer and academic. She is Professor of New Technologies of Communication at Goldsmiths, University of London and Director of Goldsmiths Press. Her work incorporates new media, photography and feminist cultural approaches to science and technology. Publications include a novel and a short story The Optical Effects of Lightning (Wild Wolf Publishing, 2011) and ‘The Mysterious Case of Mr Charles D. Levy’ (Ether Books, 2010). Experimental work includes an edited open access electronic book entitled Astrobiology and the Search for Life on Mars(Open Humanities Press, 2011) and ‘Media, Mars and Metamorphosis’ (Culture Machine, Vol. 11). Recent monographs include a feminist critique of smart media: iMedia. The gendering of objects, environments and smart materials(Palgrave, 2016) and, with Joanna Zylinska, Life After New Media: Mediation as a Vital Process (The MIT Press, 2012). Sarah co-edits the journal Feminist Theory. Previous publications include: Virtual Anxiety. Photography, New Technologies and Subjectivity (Manchester University Press, 1998); Cyberfeminism and Artificial Life (Routledge, 2003) and the co-edited volume Inventive Life. Towards the New Vitalism (Sage, 2006). Current work includes a novel, provisionally entitled A Day In The Life Of Janet Smart. With Janis Jefferies, Sarah Kember is co-PI of an RCUK funded project on digital publishing, part of CREATe (Centre for Creativity, Copyright, Regulation, Enterprise and Technology).
Kate O'Riordan is Director of Teaching and Learning, and Reader in Media Film and Music at the University of Sussex. Her work is cultural studies of emerging technologies and public engagements with science and technology. She works with feminist approaches and debates in queer theory and sexuality studies at the cusp of new media and science and technology studies. Her publications reflect an investment in collaborative writing, and most of the following books and articles are co-authored. Books include The Genome Incorporated and Human Cloning and the Media. Recent articles include 'Public knowledge-making and the media: genes, genetics, cloning and mass observation' (European Journal of Cultural Studies), 'The first bite: imaginaries, promotional publics and the laboratory grown burger' (Public Understanding of Science), 'Training to self-care: fitness tracking, biopedagogy and the healthy consumer' (Health Sociology Review), 'Queer feminist media praxis: an introduction' (Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technolog), 'Biodigital publics: personal genomes as digital media artifacts' (Science as Culture).
22 November - Lina Dencik How Snowden Changed the World: three years on from the greatest ever intelligence leak (SHL/Sussex Surveillance Group masterclass) (held in Jubilee Building)
What has been the effect of the Edward Snowden leaks after three years? How has the collection and regulation of mass surveillance evolved in this period? And what has been the public response to these developments? Based on an 18-month research project into the political, technological, civil society and journalistic implications of the Snowden revelations, this Masterclass addressed critical questions about contemporary mass surveillance culture.
The ESRC-funded “Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society” project has explored the nature, opportunities and challenges of digital citizenship in light of the governmental surveillance measures revealed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden. The project was hosted by the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC) at Cardiff University.
Lina Dencik has been at Cardiff University since September 2012 and is Director for the MA in Journalism, Media and Communications. Her work explores the interplay between media developments and social and political change, with a particular focus on resistance and globalisation. Recent research has examined developments in digital surveillance and the politics of data. Lina previously worked at the Central European University in Budapest, where she remains a Fellow at the Center for Media, Data and Society (CMDS), and as a television producer/director at Brook Lapping Productions in London.
28 November 2016 - Stamatia Portanova (Università degli Studi di Napoli L'Orientale): Moving without a Body, as a Consequence of Post-Capitalist Neurosis (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
Dance choreography and performance are being increasingly digitized. Various technologies are being deployed to capture, store and manipulate the movements of dancers, abstracting them from their bodies and transforming them into numerical information. Movement, in other words, has become the object of our computers’ perception. In this seminar, Stamatia drew on the philosophies of Gilles Deleuze and Alfred N. Whitehead, in order to develop a concept of the digital as a technology with concrete sensorial effects, and simultaneously as something more abstract: a discrete, binary idea that influences our way to think the world. The digital becomes thus a philosophy in itself. I deployed this digital philosophy in the analysis of choreographic films, videos and installations such as those by Loie Fuller and Merce Cunningham, William Forsythe and Bill T. Jones. In these examples, the most interesting issue is not the technical assessment of software as a means to reproduce motion in more nuanced detail, or of its capacity to strike our senses with new special effects. Rather, digitalised choreographies elicit a wider rethinking of what movement itself is, or can become. Can it still be thought as movement, when the body is not there anymore, but has been replaced by a string of discrete data? When its fluidity enters a structured grid of numerical coordinates? The effects of such rethinking, and the replacement of a flow of moving bodies and images with a flow of pixels or data, can be analyzed as symptoms of a perceptual and cultural shift: from modern capitalist schizophrenia to contemporary post-industrial neurosis, a new psychopathology where the abstract materiality of data and information overtakes the energy of affects and experiences.
Stamatia Portanova is a Research Fellow at the Università degli Studi di Napoli 'L'Orientale' (Naples). She is the author of Moving without a Body, Digital Philosophy and Choreographic Thoughts (MIT Press), and of several articles published in books and journals such as Body and Society, Computational Culture, Space and Culture, Fibreculture and Angelaki. Her research focuses on philosophy, digital culture and the aesthetics of movement.
5 October 2016 - Jette Kofoed: "Juggling Pace, Affectivity and Ephemerality of Digital Youth Lives" (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series/Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth (CIRCY) seminar)
Youth’s life on social media is often referred to as ephemeral, in the sense that relationships lack emotional depth. Snapchat is a photo-sharing app that currently reigns popular amongst youth and is described as an ephemeral social media (vs persistent social media) where content self-destructs after a short time. Paradoxically Snapchat seems to provide new possibilities for intimacies, possibly due to the very ‘unimportance’ of the content shared. A breadth of affectivities is opened up by the new temporalities in apps where content self-erases. This seems to make fertile ground for both intimate bonding in teenage friendships but also to afford options of extreme exclusions when the same intimacies are breached and pictures are screenshot and spread on other social media. This would be the case in cyberbullying and sexting. This paper investigates both the promises of intimacies held in Snapchat practices and the breaches of intimacies when the confidentiality embedded in sharing unimportant snaps of everyday intimate situations is screenshot and shared.
Jette Kofoed is Associate Professor at the School of Education, Aarhus University Denmark. During the autumn term she was a visitor to the Sussex Humanities Lab.
6-7 October 2016 -Case Histories in longitudinal qualitative research: An advanced training course (held at The Keep, supported by the National Centre for Research Methods and held in partnership with the Mass Observation Archive and the Sussex Humanities Lab)
A two-day advanced training event exploring: What is a case study? What is the relationship between the case and an archive? How do we make a case in different disciplines and what kinds of practical and ethical challenges are raised by working with cases? How do digital methods change our understanding of cases and casing? What part does time play in this all?
Contributors included Julie McLeod (Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne), Rachel Thomson (SHL, University of Sussex), Jette Kofoed (Education, Aarhus University ), Pam Thurschwell (English, University of Sussex), Jennifer Platt (Emeritus Sociology, University of Sussex), David Berry (Digital Humanities, University of Sussex), Rebecca Taylor (Sociology, Southampton), Louise Ryan (University of Sheffield), Gina Crivello (Young Lives, University of Oxford), Fiona Courage (Mass Observation Archive), Jeanette Ostergaard (SFI, Denmark).
For more information, see the padlet.
17 October Matthew Fuller: "Black Sites & Transparency Layers" (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
We live in an era that relishes its self-awareness, lucidity, openness, the idea of accountability. At the same time, zones, places and systems that are "black boxed" proliferate. Some information activists argue that these are mutually contradictory tendencies and that the one must be fought for over the other against an ever proliferating state or corporate sovereignty. Others pose the question in terms of knowability more generally, and ask what kinds of subjectival and aesthetic forms are produced in the grey interplay and overlaps between these tendencies. This lecture proposed an approach to such a condition drawing on examples from art, interface design, architecture and film.
Matthew Fuller is the author of the forthcoming, 'How to Sleep, in art, biology and culture', (Bloomsbury). Other titles include, include 'Media Ecologies, materialist energies in art and technoculture', (MIT) 'Behind the Blip, essays on the culture of software' and ‘Elephant & Castle’ (both Autonomedia). With Usman Haque, he is co-author of 'Urban Versioning System v1.0' (ALNY) and with Andrew Goffey, of ‘Evil Media’ (MIT). Editor of 'Software Studies, a lexicon', (MIT) and co-editor of the journal Computational Culture, he is involved in a number of projects in art, media and software. He is Professor of Cultural Studies and Director of the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London.
21 September 2016 - Alice to Alice: Dalziel 1865 – 1871, launch of a virtual exhibition
Alice to Alice features 200 images from The Dalziel Archive, an unparalleled collection of around 54,000 wood engravers’ proofs held in the Prints and Drawings department of the British Museum. The exhibition, in ten thematic sections, brings the celebrated wood-engraved illustrations from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1871) into dialogue with other work made by the Dalziels in the years bookended by these publications. Illustrations of literature by Dickens and Christina Rossetti feature alongside more unusual images of Victorian design and architecture; medical and veterinary art; and wood-engraved interpretations of radical photography by Julia Margaret Cameron.
Curated by Bethan Stevens; curatorial assistance and web design by George Mind. This exhibition comes out of an AHRC-funded project to digitise, research, and creatively respond to the Dalziels. The project is led by Bethan Stevens and is a partnership between the University of Sussex and the British Museum, with photography by Sylph Editions.
Supported by the Sussex Humanities Lab and co-hosted by the English Colloquium and Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Research Group.
26 September 2016 Jussi Parikka: "From a Studio to a Lab: Art, Technology and the Laboratory Fever" (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
This talk revolved around the emergence of labs in contemporary art and art/humanities institutions. Contextualised as part of a wider enthusiasm for the laboratory both as a term and as a model outside the sciences, what are the specific genealogies of laboratory as a place for technological arts, from the Cold War period to the current turn towards maker cultures and more? This represents a new institutional discourse also in art and design schools, and puts those institutions in conversation with debates in the digital humanities too. The talk was part of the research project What is a Media Lab?
Professor Jussi Parikka works at the Winchester School of Art (University of Southampton). He is the author and editor of several books including What is Media Archaeology? (2012) and Media Archaeology: Approaches, Applications and Implications (with Erkki Huhtamo, 2011). His media ecology-trilogy includes the books Digital Contagions (2007, 2nd updated edition 2016), Insect Media (2010) and A Geology of Media (2015). With Joasia Krysa, he co-edited Writing and Unwriting (Media) Art History: Erkki Kurenniemi in 2048 (2015) and he is currently working with Lori Emerson and Darren Wershler on laboratories in media and the humanities.
28 September 2016 -‘Who is the digital revolution for?’ (part of the Brighton Digital Festival)
Organised by the ESRC STEPS Centre, the Sussex Humanities Lab and the Creative Technologies Research Group at the University of Sussex, this panel discussion explored how society and digital technology can shape each other for the common good.
Chair: Andrew Sleigh, Producer, Lighthouse and Maker Assembly.
Ann Light, Professor of Design & Creative Technology (Engineering and Design), University of Sussex
Tim Jordan, Professor of Digital Cultures, University of Sussex
Caroline Bassett, Director, Sussex Humanities Lab
Kat Braybrooke, Researcher, University of Sussex
Adrian Smith, Professor of Technology & Society, Science Policy Research Unit and STEPS Centre, University of Sussex
Materials from the event (created the STEPS Centre):
Blog: What can we learn from digital transformations? by Nathan Oxley and Adrian Smith (STEPS blog)
Storify: Tweets and images from the event (Storify.com)
Main event page: Who is the digital revolution for? (STEPS website)
7 July 2016 - Music Theatre Research Fellow Tim Hopkins presented research-in-progress for his current project entitled “Recalling the End: Melancholy Artefacts”.
The piece continues a theme in Tim’s work whereby historic transformations of the world by technology are explored in lyric theatre forms. This piece focuses on three objects from the close of World War One, and aims to evoke sensations of connection to the objects themselves - even though they will not, cannot, be present.
For more information on the project and presentation: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/cromt/projects/recallingtheend
21 July 2016 - Ecologies of Intimacy: Sensing data workshop
As part of Ecologies of Intimacy this event focused on practices of data and sensing data. For more information visit https://ecologiesofintimacy.wordpress.com/2016/07/10/sensing-data-workshop-21-july/
28 June 2016 - Tensegrity: a potential concurrent computing element. A sound installation by Joe Watson (Sussex Humanities Lab Creative Practice Sessions 2016)
Tensegrity is a structural form that was first deployed in the late 40s by sculptor Kenneth Snelson, and then named (as a contraction of 'tensional integrity') and theorised by Buckminster Fuller, who described "islands of compression in an ocean of tension". Since then there has been a growth of interest in such diverse fields as architecture, structural engineering, biomechanics, robotics, artificial life, reservoir computing, even management organisation. Oddly, in an area where such terms as resonance, vibration, oscillation, damping, tuning, calibration, frequency, phase, waveform, and feedback are commonplace, the connection to music and sound is rarely made. This installation attempted to plug the form into a musical context, but also continued Joe's practical explorations of the work of cybernetician Gordon Pask, who, in the last years of his life, experimented with tensegrities as "elements of a potential concurrent computer".
Joe Watson is a musician, engineer and composer, who is undertaking a practice-led Music PhD at Sussex where he also works as a Teaching Fellow in the Music Department. Joe has engineered and produced many commercial releases, touring the world several times as part of the band Stereolab, and releasing his own albums as Junior Electronics.
14-15 June 2016 - Musedelica - Symposium on Psychedelic Music
The symposium focused on psychedelic music, especially (but not limited to) electronic dance music and other topics related to psychedelic substances, altered states of consciousness and music. Students and early career academics presented their research alongside a small number of more established academics, in an intimate and friendly setting. Musedelica brought together researchers from a range of fields,to facilitate the sharing and synthesis of new ideas, and help to shape an exciting and interdisciplinary field of research.
8 June 2016 - Taina Riikonen workshop: Listening to/for meat sounds and gender in sound art (Sussex Humanities Lab Creative Practice Sessions 2016)
The workshop involved listening to and engaging with explicit 'meat' or body sounds (beyond 'voice') as a material and source of cultural and gendered significations, and as a source of inspiration for sound art.
Dr. Taina Riikonen is a Helsinki-based sound explorer and practitioner who moves in the liminal spaces between sound arts and research. Her current activities meander around body sounds, radiophonics, artistic research, philosophers’ voices, and performative writing.
19-20 May 2016 - This&THATCamp Sussex Humanities Lab
The Sussex Humanities Lab hosted a This&THATCamp on 19 and 20 May. Over two days humanists, technologists, educators, and learners came together to share, build, and make together around the theme of scale. THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp), is a collaborative ‘unconference’ in which delegates propose ideas for sessions. In addition to the unconference elements, the event also featured a keynote from Melodee Beals (Loughborough) entitled ‘A Series of Small Things: The Case Study in the Age of Big Data’ - the ‘this’ in ‘This&THATCamp’.
The Camp threw open the Sussex Humanities Lab to do things that included finding out everything we could about a single day in history (Friday 6th February 1789), workshopping better interfaces for presenting live betting data for political events, and sharing our nascent digital humanities teaching programmes and best practice.
19 May 2016 - Melodee Beals: 'A Series of Small Things: The Case Study in the Age of Big Data' (This&THAT Camp keynote)
Scale is elusive. Too large and your project loses cohesion—your subjects, once flesh and blood, are diminished to mere ones and zeroes. Too small and you are hounded, relentlessly, by calls of ‘so what?’ and ‘yes, but!’ Yet, perhaps the answer lies not in finding some perfect mean or median of these extremes, but to explore how the case study can be reimagined and re-integrated into large-scale analyses of the human condition and how the combining of close and distant reading can lead to great things.
13 May 2016 - Designing Interfaces for Creativity launch
A launch event for the DesInC Symposium which takes place this autumn, organised by Chris Kiefer and supported by the British Academy BARSEA scheme. Performances and a panel discussion, from
Graham Dunning: Mechanical Techno
Andrew Duff: Vectrex + Modular Synth
Thor Magnusson / Alice Eldridge / Thanos Polymeneas-Liontiris: Threnoscope + Strings
4 May 2016 - Wonderland Day (Sussex Humanities Lab Creative Practice Sessions 2016)
Wonderland was a day of sound, live visuals and DIY electronics zones - a chance to see the Lab's technologies used in fun, experimental and creative ways. Drop in interactive demonstrations curated by SHL Research Technicians Ioann Maria Stacewicz and Alex Peverett showcased the technologies available in the Sussex Humanities Lab.
4 April 2016 - Experimenting with the British Library’s digital content and data for your research (Biritsh Library Labs Roadshow)
The workshop showcased some of the British Library’s digital content and data, addressing some of the challenges and issues of working with it and how interesting and exciting projects from researchers, artists, and entrepreneurs have been developed via the annual British Library Labs Competition and Awards. There were also be presentations about research at Sussex Humanities Lab and the session ended with an ‘Ideas Lab’ encouraging participants to explore, experiment and think of ideas of what they might do with the British Library’s digital content and data.
18 April 2016 - James Smithies: "Software Intensive Humanities" (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
This talk outlined a chapter in James’ current monograph project, ‘The Digital Modern: Humanities and New Media’ (Palgrave Macmillan), due for completion in 2016. The chapter explores issues raised by the intensive use of software by humanities researchers, through the lens of debates about ‘software-intensive science’ that are troubling scientific research communities. The goal is to define what software-intensive humanities research is, and to explore its implications for daily practice and epistemology. One impact, for example, is to alter practice towards a laboratory-like model where research proceeds through the development and use of tools designed to enhance (or in some cases make possible) research outputs. Such work is embedded in sets of practices and experiences that need to be understood if we are to fully understand the impact of digital modernity on research practices in the humanities, and has special implications for people involved in the development of humanities research laboratories.
James Smithies is Director of King’s Digital Lab (KDL) at King’s College London. He was previously Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities and Associate Director of the UC CEISMIC Digital Archive at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and has worked in the government and commercial IT sectors as a technical writer and editor, business analyst, and project manager. He is currently working on a monograph for Palgrave Macmillan titled 'The Digital Modern: Humanities and New Media'.
25 April 2016 - Simon DeDeo "Information Theory, Big History, and the Minds of Others" (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
When did the French Revolution become revolutionary? How did pre-20th Century London manage violence? How did Darwin synthesize Victorian science to write the 'On the Origin of Species'? Historical archives are the raw material that can answer questions like these, and information theory provides new ways to understand the thoughts and experiences of the individuals who created them. Invented to describe the flow of signals through the transcontinental telephone network, information theory can be used to quantify both the processing of vast bureaucracies and the attention and cognition of individuals. Simon DeDeo provided an introduction to the theory, and—drawing on recent collaborative research with scientists and scholars in the humanities—three case studies described above. He showed how we can leverage the hard labour of digital archivists to get a new picture of history and, often, a glimpse of the minds—elite and non-elite—of the past.
Simon DeDeo is external faculty at the Santa Fe Institute and assistant professor at Indiana University in Complex Systems and in Cognitive Science, where he runs the Lab for Social Minds. The Lab conducts research aimed at understanding both the origins and the possible futures of human society. Recent collaborative work ranges from the centuries-long timescales of linguistic evolution, decade-by-decade shifts in European culture, the month-by-month dynamics of cooperation in indigenous society, day-by-day renegotiation of implicit collusion in distributed economies, and the second-by-second emergence of social hierarchies in online systems such as Wikipedia and in the social animals. The Civilizing Process in London's Old Bailey used text mining jury trials at London's Central Criminal Court between the late 18th and early 20th centuries to investigate the emergence of a new bureaucratic and social order.
1 March 2016 - Broadcasting to Russia in the Cold War (Russian and East European Studies seminar series)
The Cold War was not only an armed confrontation – an uneasy peace built on the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction – it also generated a "war of words" across the Iron Curtain. Communication was at the core of the non-shooting war between East and West with the Soviet Union, Britain and America (amongst many others) diverting vast sums of money and effort into the battle for the hearts and minds of audiences around the world. Moscow broadcast continually in the languages of Western Europe, seeking to convince audiences of the Soviet line on current affairs. The West too waged a media war, broadcasting on short wave into the Soviet Union, presenting western liberal views of the world while taking account of the limited knowledge of listeners. Much of the time broadcasts were blacked out by jamming and special techniques evolved to counter it. The recruitment of exiles, sometimes controversial, produced a unique creative working environment as broadcasters sought to bridge the emotional and ideological gap with its listeners. This seminar examined, in the context of this "war of the ether", the origins and establishment of the BBC Russian Service and its evolution into a mature and audible force in the geopolitics of the Cold War.
Dr Elisabeth Robson worked for many years in the BBC World Service as a journalist, programme-maker and manager, founding and developing new departments and ending her career as head of the Russian Service.
Dr Alban Webb is Lecturer in Digital Humanities at the University of Sussex. His research focuses on Cold War Britain and the role of public and cultural diplomacy in international relations. His book, London Calling: Britain, the BBC World Service and the Cold War, won the Longman-History Today Book Prize 2015.
8 March 2016 - Snoopers' Charter: Mass Surveillance, GCHQ and You
Watch the recording of this masterclass on the SHL YouTube channel.
How will the proposed UK Investigatory Powers Bill shape mass surveillance culture in Twenty-First Century Britain?
Pioneering investigative journalist and author Duncan Campbell and former senior US National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence officer William Binney explored the lack of parliamentary and public oversight of the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill (aka The Snoopers' Charter), which is intended to confirm and consolidate GCHQs expansive powers and resources, asking what this means for our understanding of mass surveillance in contemporary society. Based on extensive research of the classified US and UK documents revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and 40 years of analysis, Campbell and Binney offer a unique insight into the United Kingdom's signals intelligence agency (GCHQ) and the rationale for the surveillance that silently permeates our daily lives.
Chaired by Dr Paul Lashmar, this Masterclass examined what roles civil society actors, such as academics and journalists, should play in effectively analysing and critiquing mass surveillance culture in the Twenty-First Century? Binney and Duncan debated GCHQ's capabilities, strategy and ambitions and suggested how future research can help frame issues of public interest on matters of surveillance.
In the 1970s Duncan Campbell was the first journalist to publicly reveal the activities of GCHQ, leading to his arrest and trial in the famous ABC Case. In the 1980s, as a result of Duncan's investigation for TV of the secret Zircon satellite programme, the BBC was raided by Special Branch. Brighton based, and a Sussex postgraduate alumnus, Duncan remains a prominent analyst of GCHQ's activities and is recognised as a knowledgeable and engaged critic by the intelligence community itself.
William Binney is a 30-year veteran of the NSA and prominent whistleblower. Described as one of the best analysts in the NSA's history, Binney was a high-profile critic of his former employers during the George W. Bush administration and accused both of violating the US constitution. He has been consistently critical of bulk collection by intelligence agencies and believes that it is ineffective in identifying terrorists. Binney recently gave evidence to the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill and opposed GCHQ’s bulk collection methodology.
Cécile Chevalier & Andrew Duff: 184.108.40.206, Interactive installation, 2015
220.127.116.11 a displaced reenactment of both contemporary digital social practice and the
Internet as memory palace in which sonifications of memory traces are provoked, created, stored and replayed as digital data.
5 February 2016 - Walking Bass (Race, Ethnicity and Postcolonial Studies (REPS) Seminar)
In this REPS seminar Fumi Okiji & Dhanveer Singh Brar delivered a lecture-performance based on their shared commitment to the black radical tradition, experimentalism and diasporic social life. Whilst their lecture-performance did not have a pre-determined end point, they moved through a variety of audio-visual materials and reference points including Charles Mingus, Actress, Walter Benjamin, Nathaniel Mackey, David Marriott, Bryan Wagner, Ella Fitzgerald, Zora Neale Hurston, William Pope L, New Orleans Second Line, Cedric Robinson, Zina Saro-Wiwa, Topsy Washington, John Coltrane, Fred Moten, Angel-Ho and Chino Amobi.
Fumi Okiji's research focuses on the black radical tradition. She is particularly interested in how expressive work can provide alternative forms of knowledge and models of progressive social organisation. Okiji is currently working on a proposal for a research project, How to Love Black Things: Expressive Work as Black Epistemology, which contributes to the debate concerning the nature of the intramural social life of black people. Recently awarded a doctorate from Royal Holloway, University of London, she wrote a dissertation arguing that jazz, in its embodiment of seemingly contradictory positions (on one hand, fostering human distinction, and on the other, embracing community), can be shown to provide an important, though precarious, model of what Theodor Adorno calls ‘reconciliation.' Okiji has recently completed a manuscript: Think All, Focus One: Jazz, Adorno and the Critical Potential of African American Expressive Form, based on this study. As a performer and maker of sound works, she is committed to exploring ways to develop her academic work to be better equipped and more empathetic in its engagement with art and expression.
Dhanveer Singh Brar is a theorist of black studies, in its intersections with critical theory and cultural studies. The research he undertakes encompasses black diasporic sonic culture from the mid-twentieth century to the present, the history of the black radical tradition and the politics of black critical thought. He has published in the journal Popular Music and has an article forthcoming in Social Text. Currently Dhanveer is writing a book on black electronic dance music entitled Teklife, Ghettoville, FWD>>: The Sonic Ecology of Blackness in the Early Twenty-First Century. He lectures in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at Kingston University.
21 February 2016 - Networking, Technology and Orchestra (Brighton Science Festival, St Nicholas' Church, Brighton)
Members of the public were invited to take part in or observe rehearsals and performances of a new work by composer Ed Hughes. Up to ten members of the public took part in each performance, joining the players of Sussex Contemporary Music Ensemble, COMA. Visual instructions were given via a set of networked iPads.
22 February 2016 – Andrew Prescott: “Searching for Dr Johnson” (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
The origins of the digital presentation of the Burney Collection of 17th and 18th century newspapers lie in experiments with microfilm digitization by the British Library in the 1990s, and the primary aim was to facilitate easier access to the microfilm, not to produce a searchable archive. The provision of search was an afterthought, and the resulting problems caused by the poor quality OCR in the online version of the Burney Collection of British newspapers have been documented in detail by Simon Tanner, Laura Mandell and others. Helen McGuffie’s chronological checklist of Samuel Johnson in the British Press 1749-1784, was published in 1976 and was compiled without the aid of computerized search. Comparison between McGuffie’s checklist vividly illustrates the scale of the problems caused by the poor OCR in the online Burney newspapers. McGuffie lists 65 references to Dr Johnson in British newspapers in 1765. A basic search on ‘Johnson’ in the online Burney collection retrieves just 54 references, many of which are not to Samuel Johnson. A search on Samuel Johnson produces seven hits; searches on Doctor Johnson, Dr Johnson and Sam Johnson all produce no hits. The availability of McGuffie’s checklist gives an opportunity to explore why these problems occur and their implications for use and future development of resources such as the Burney Collection.
Andrew Prescott is Professor of Digital Humanities at the University of Glasgow and AHRC Theme Leader Fellow for Digital Transformations. He was for twenty years a Curator of Manuscripts at the British Library, and has worked in digital humanities units and libraries at the University of Sheffield, King’s College London and University of Wales Lampeter.
29 February 2016 – Tiziana Terranova: “Hypersocial or Social (Network) Automation” (Sussex Humanities Lab Seminar Series)
In this talk, Tiziana Terranova considered the question of 'social automation', that is the way in which social relations are coded in social networking platforms both as sets of relationships (friends, followers etc) and also as series of actions (to like, to follow, to add, to tag etc). The talk examined the conceptions and images of the social enacted by software deployed within these platforms which have transformed the internet and also the ways in which the notion of social automation challenges or confirms Marxist theories of automation linked to the factory. What kind of automation is 'the social factory' subjected to?
Tiziana Terranova is Associate Professor of Cultural Theory and New Media in the Department of Human and Social Sciences, University of Naples 'L'Orientale'. She is the author of Network Culture: politics for the information age (2004) and of the forthcoming: Hypersocial: social network technologies between automation and autonomy (University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming). She has recently edited a special section of the journal Theory, Culture and Society on ‘Eurocrisis, Neoliberalism and the Common’ and a special issue of the journal anglistica (co-edited with Iain Chambers) entitled 'Inflections of Technoculture: Postcolonial Theory, Feminism and Biodigital Media.'
6 December 2014 - Curating Childhoods workshop at the Mass Observation Archive
A one-day workshop for young people and parents undertaken as part of the AHRC Funded Curating Childhoods project, led by Rachel Thomson (SHL Co-Director)