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New Media Arts

Tools for New Media Literacies

The last MiT5 plenary session for today is on Learning through Remixing, and Henry Jenkins introduces it through examples of remixing as pedagogical practice in earlier times. This can perhaps be described as a process of taking culture apart and putting it together again, in order to better understand how it works.

The first speaker on the panel is Erik Blankinship, of Media Modifications, who build tools for exposing and enhancing the structure of media in order to make them more understandable to all (and he demonstrates this now by using a few redacted clips from Star Trek: TNG). Some of these which will also be online soon at, and another example for this is showing clips from The Fellowship of the Ring (the movie) next to the text of The Fellowship of the Ring (the book), and even a comparison of the Zeffirelli and Luhrman versions of Romeo & Juliet with the original Shakespeare text (which allows the viewer to compare how differently the two directors interpreted the text, and even to created hybrid versions with the 1996 Juliet and the 1968 Romeo interacting with one another). Fascinating stuff!

Copyright, Fair Use, and the Cultural Commons

The next session here at MiT5 is another plenary, on Copyright, Fair Use and the Cultural Commons. It is introduced by William Uricchio, who begins by noting the historical development of the concept of copyright, and the initial argument for copyright as promoting the rights of authors but also ensuring public access to knowledge after the termination of the initial 14-year period of copyright protection. Today, of course, copyright has been almost infinitely extended, paradoxically at a time when the circulation of information has become faster than ever before.

New Media, Institutions and Media Education

Ben Goldsmith from the Australian Film, Television, and Radio School is the next featured presenter at ATOM2006. His focus here is particularly on new media and institutions (as well as perhaps also on new media institutions). He begins by noting the convergence of communications networks, computing and information technology, and content (as explored for example by Henry Jenkins). Such convergence touches on technological, industrial, cultural, and social aspects - and it is defined both from the top down (by media conglomerates) and from the bottom up (by consumers and DIY content creators). People (and not only the young) can now control content flows, collaborate, access, and build collective intelligence, and create new content as well as remix old content - and this has a profound impact on the development of the mediasphere. Ben also notes Mark Pesce's view that television died on the day that Battlestar Galactica was accessed by viewers in the U.S. via Bittorrent after its premiere in the UK (rather than waiting for the SciFi Channel to broadcast it some months later) - and yet it is notable that this did not affect BSG's ratings when it eventually did screen in the U.S.

Youth, Media, and Education in the United States

The second day at ATOM2006 has started, and we're beginning with a keynote by Kathleen Tyner from the University of Texas at Austin. She begins by noting the relationship between form, content, and context in studies of the media - and that the relationship between skills and knowledge in media studies and production is very difficult to reconcile. She also notes 'the tyranny of the narrative' - creating a conflict between how things are done, from a practical perspective, and what the storyline of any one media artefact is.

In youth media, there is now a transition to a digital literacy culture, with better access to lower-cost tools; this has also led to a remix culture supported by greater availability of content archives and new distribution networks. Further, there is also now the beginning of more supportive academic standards and practices.,, Livingroomcandidate, and the Library of Congress's American Memory project are all useful archives which can provide raw materials for such remix culture projects.

Cultural Diversity in Amateur Music Videos and French University Websites

The first session here at CATaC 2006 focusses on cultural diversity. Lori Kendall begins by showing a brief amateur-created online video from Japan set to a Romanian song sung by a Moldovan group; the video contains a broad range of cultural references. Many of the videos use Flash as a media form; this is part of a growing trend - but what cross-cultural references are being portrayed in such videos? Humour theory can be useful here (many jokes are about the pitfalls of intercultural exchange and/or employ cultural stereotypes), as well as Barrie Thorne's studies of 'borderwork' between boys and girls playing at school which maintains gender-cultural boundaries.

Creative Work

Creative Writing

Axel Bruns. "The Redundant Spy." A Most Provoking Thing. Eds. Stuart Glover et al. Brisbane: QUT, 2004. Nonfiction piece.

Hamish Sewell with Axel Bruns. "Tracing Silence." dotlit 3.2 (2002). Commissioned hypertext.

Axel Bruns. "The Two Franks." dotlit 3.2 (2002). Prose fiction piece.

edgeX - Mapping the Missing Grassroots

edgeX is a research project funded by the Australian Research Council under the ARC Linkage programme. It was developed by Liz Ferrier (UQ Ipswich) and myself; the other chief investigators in the team are Jo Tacchi (QUT), Dave Rooney and Phil Graham (UQ Ipswich), and our postdoctoral research Sal Humphreys. Our industry partner for the project is the Ipswich City Council. The official ARC title for this research project is "Mapping the Missing Grassroots: Ethnographic Action Study of Local Grassroots Broadband Content (Co-) Creation and Consumption", and the project officially commenced at the start of 2006.

Blogs, Grassroots, and Money

Phew - another day spent editing the Uses of Blogs book with Jo Jacobs; we're now very close to sending off the manuscript to Peter Lang for editorial comments and proofreading. This has turned out to be a very strong collection of essays on blogs and blogging from a wide range of perspectives, and I think it will do very well. And nothing against our original cast of contributors, but we've added a few more authors in the last few months, and they've made quite an impact as well.

Intimate Transactions

Just spent half an hour on the Intimate Transactions installation / interactive new media piece by the Transmute collective which involves my colleague Keith Armstrong. In this installation you lean back against what's called a body shelf - a slightly angled surface with pressure sensors that sense the motion of your body. You also stand on a movable foot board, and both of these are used to control your avatar on a video screen. At the moment, the installation here on the Creative Industries Precinct is networked with a duplicate of the system down at ACMI in Melbourne, and both 'players' are interacting with one another and the 'game' as they're controlling their avatars.

Back in Blog

Back after lunch now, and we're in the next session on blogs and related media forms. Karen Gustafson makes the start, speaking on blogs and the creation of community, especially on political blog sites. She has selected four high-ranking political blogs to study, including Instapundit and others. They have a range of ideological positions and are themselves influential amongst blogs. However, this is of course a very narrow subset of all blogs.


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