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PerthDAC 2007

PerthDAC conference, Perth, 15-18 Sep. 2007.


Finally getting around to processing some of the recordings of the papers that I've given at conferences this year has coincided for me with exploring in a little more detail the Slideshare service for sharing Powerpoint presentations, and so predictably I've fallen in love with the audio synchronisation tool they're calling "Slidecasting". Very nice interface to a handy little tool, and I've now uploaded Slidecasts from the ICE3 conference at Loch Lomond in March, from the Creativity & Cognition conference in Washington, D.C., in June, and from PerthDAC just the other week. It's interesting - for me, anyway - to listen back over these recordings to see how much my conceptual models for analysing produsage have developed over the past few months, as I've researched and written the produsage book. Unfortunately I seem to have missed out on recording my presentation at the MiT5 conference in Boston this April - this has probably been my favourite paper of the year so far, perhaps because it's also been the most speculative one. Ah well.

Each of the conferences also enabled me to present my work on produsage to a very different group of scholars from those that I tend to see at my usual conferences, and I had some very positive feedback after each of the presentations (some of which made it onto the recordings as well). Unexpectedly, posting these presentations to Slideshare has also had an interesting side-effect: my presentation from PerthDAC was featured as "Slidecast of the Day" on the site, and had over 1000 views in less than a week as a result. Nice little bonus - the other two Slidecasts didn't fare quite as well, so I'm embedding the ICE3 here as I'm also quite fond of it. Full details on another page...

The Future Is User-Led: The Path towards Widespread Produsage - PerthDAC 2007

PerthDAC conference

The Future Is User-Led: The Path towards Widespread Produsage

In the emerging social software, 'Web2.0' environment, the production of ideas takes place in a collaborative, participatory mode which breaks down the boundaries between producers and consumers and instead enables all participants to be users as much as producers of information and knowledge, or what can be described as produsers. These produsers engage not in a traditional form of content production, but are instead involved in produsage - the collaborative and continuous building and extending of existing content in pursuit of further improvement. This paper examines the overall characteristics of produsers and produsage, and identifies key questions for the produsage model.

Social Interaction in Mobile Media and Board Games

The second session on this last day of PerthDAC starts with a paper by Larissa Hjorth, who examines camera phone practices in Seoul and Melbourne (the paper is presented by Christy Dena, though). Mobile media is positioned here as a prosumer machine through which we experience media and art in everyday life; mobile phones have become an integral part of everyday life- no longer a symbol of business or a class status symbol, they are now part of almost all social practices, and their uses have grown well beyond voice telephony and SMSing. Mobile phones remain connected to locality in a process of mobility and mobilism; they inform and locate co-present communication. Forms of mobile media are ongoing personal ethnographies, and are frequently banal and implicated in the politics of banality, which requires further analysis.

Public/Private Literacies, Interactive Granular Art, and Multi-Subject Experiences

The last day of PerthDAC has started now. Jill Walker Rettberg compares the developments around the Web with phenomena around the introduction of the printing press. We're now heading out of the parenthesis of the print age, and this requires the development of new network literacies (enabling users to create, share, and navigate social media) beyond the read and write literacies of the print age. Print and its literacies had introduced a private/public divide where the private self is distinct and separate from what takes place in the mediated public sphere; in the network age, private and public collapse into one another as the self is connected to the network. With the rise of print literacy, reading created a solitary and private relationship between the reader and their book, as Roger Chartier has put it; this is a privatisation of reading, and the library becomes a place from which the world can be seen but where the reader remains invisible. This is a unidirectional relationship, though - as Plato put it, if you ask a written text a question, it will not respond; and similarly, writing is a solipsistic engagement, as Walter Ong has said. But what about blogging, then - is it social or solitary? William Gibson described blogging as boiling water without a lid - a less focussed, dissipating activity -, but is this also true for those who are natives of the blogosphere?

Uncanny Art, Biomedical Art, Data Art

The post-lunch session on this third day of PerthDAC is upon us, and Ragnhild Tronstad is the first presenter. Her interest is in the uncanny in new media art, which builds on Sigmund Freud's idea of the uncanny, and explores intellectual uncertainty (in particular about whether objects are inanimate or alive), the double (or Doppelgänger, which acts as a forecast of our own extinction), and surveillance and control (related to the idea of power and autonomy as embodied in an individual's gaze) in encounters with new media art. These three concepts overlap, of course: intellectual uncertainty can manifest as a lack of control, and in the sense of a controlling gaze directed at the individual which may not even be present. A further concept is Masahiro Mori's concept of the 'uncanny valley' - our affection towards human-like figures grows gradually the more human-like they are, but this growth falls briefly into a deep valley where figures are uncannily like humans (e.g. corpses, zombies) before resuming an upward path beyond that valley. Some individuals will be more sensitive to such factors than others, of course, and whether a figure is moving or still may also amplify the depth of affection or repulsion.

Ambient Video, Locative Audio, and Grounded Media Art

We're on to the second Monday session at PerthDAC. Jim Bizzocchi is the first speaker, and he began by showing us an example of ambient video during the set-up period - here consisting of an assemblage of nature shots of mountains and streams blended into a slow video collage which has landscapes change subtly before our eyes. Ambient video is an emergent form of video expression made possible by current and new video technologies; it should change, but not quickly, and the details of changes should not be critical. Jim focusses here on cinematic versions of such ambient video - made for larger screens (including home theatre); the philosophy behind such video echoes Brian Eno's views of ambient music: 'as ignorable as it is interesting'. Ambient video captures our glance much as a painting might, revealing rich imagery at a time of our choosing.

Interdisciplinary New Media Education, Serious Games, and Locative Gaming

The third day here at PerthDAC has started, and kicks off with a paper by Jean Bridge. She's involved with the interactive arts and science undergraduate programme at Brock University in Canada, and in this programme encourages thinking with and thinking about interactive technologies, which are situated in a wider social and cultural context. It is a humanities-based programme which concerns itself with the content and analysis of the products of human creativity, by following four core principles: capitalising the fact of computing as central to contemporary life, identifying the need for constant evaluation of the role of content and form, accepting the necessity for new and innovative methodologies, and achieving a centrality of interdisciplinarity and praxis. Students in this programme are largely digital natives who are content creators, aggregators, and intertextualisers, who think though codes, strategies, and roles, and who are willing to probe, manipulate, set goals, and construct their own pathways. The programme, then, aims to prepare them as people who can bridge theoretical and practical aspects of working creatively in new media - as creators, writers, directors, designers, managers, scholars, critics, and policy makers.

Materiality, Community Space, and Produsage

I'm the last presenter in this post-lunch session on the second day of PerthDAC - so I'll blog the first two papers and will try to record mine; the full paper is also available here, and the Powerpoint here. We start, though, with a paper by Kenneth Knoespel and Jichen Zhu which Jichen will present. She posits this paper as a critique of the Cartesian dualism; the overly simplified mind/body split really isn't sufficient any more to discuss materiality and the relationship between natural language, computer code, and the material world. Computer codes are often given a role that transcends the material world - cyberspace is placed as an opportunity for escape from the material world, and this conforms with the Cartesian mind/body dualism. This is visible for example in William Gibson's work, or in The Matrix, but is also at the root of the field of artificial intelligence, Saussurean linguistics, informatics, and other areas. The same is true also often for the aesthetics of computer art, which are rooted in a romantic notion of immateriality where the concept is more important than the physical artefact.

In-Game Representations and the Limits of Games Platforms

The second PerthDAC session for today starts with Adrienne Shaw, who focusses especially on the in-game representation of gay, lesbian, and transgender communities in online games. There is already a complicated history of the presence of such communities in games, which are often ignored, ostracised, or poorly represented. Adrienne has engaged in a programme of research working with such communities to develop a greater understanding of their interests and needs. Such research also links back to questions of representation in other media forms - the discussion of such representation in those forms is repeated here, similarly shifting from invisibility through stereotyping to more intelligent representations.

Towards Bio-Arts and a Future Digital Media Culture

The second day of PerthDAC is about to start, and the first speaker today is Allison Kudla, who is interested in biological agency in art. This links to a suggested shift from simulation to emulation art, a form of art which uses physics and natural phenomena in artworks and embraces the universe itself as an operating system. Emulation is understood here as a perfect simulation, indistinguishable from what it represents; this is well understood in the realm of software, but what does it mean if the universe itself is posited as an operating system? Such questions also relate to Plato's theory of forms, in which artists represent the explicit material manifestation of forms (rather than the implicit form itself). But where can new or latent forms, or further refinements of forms, be found?


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