Paper Presentations

Paper Presentations will be 15 minutes each with 5 minutes for audience questions.

Piotr Czosnyka
Images of warfare in the digital age: communicating war

This paper examines the images of warfare in the digital age. This is a thematic study of cultural history. It compares the images of war that have been used in comic books such as Commando, to images of war that are used in computer games, especially focusing on the Call of Duty series. The context that framed the images is the story that was told in the comic book or in the game. I analyse the fictive elements within the story.

In this work I explore the cultural currency that is granted to the images of war, as well as its genesis and how that fits within war gaming. It is my hypothesis that images of war reproduced as the leisure items such as computer games are in conversation with how war looks. It is a complicated relation, but games shape how war looks. The images of games can act as a propaganda tool for the military, and in some cases soldiers believe that playing video games helps them to do their job. The research has found that the term “millitainment” which entered the English language in 2003 was used to describe the sphere of entertainment industry and the military sphere becoming entangled. It is therefore a sub-culture, a result of two forces coming together in a particular context. Two definitions are pivotal to this research; “popular culture” I understand to be the culture of the people, and “mass culture” I understand to be the culture that is mass-produced for the people.

Suzanne Derks

A private and public partnership to 'reboot' Britain: an analyses of the BBC Make it Digital campaign

March 2015 saw the official launch of the BBC Make it Digital campaign, a UK-wide initiative to inspire a new generation about coding, programming and digital technology. It aims ‘to help build the nation’s digital skills, through an ambitious range of new programmes, partnerships and projects’ (BBC Make it Digital Website). This campaign builds on the legacy of the BBC Micro project in the 1980’s, when schools were given computers by the BBC as part of a mass media computer literacy project.

This time the BBC is giving up to a million children in Year 7 a small programmable hardware device, the BBC Micro: bit, with the aim of transforming a new generation from passive consumers of technology to creators and innovators in the digital world. Howard Baker, Innovations editor at BBC Learning R&D says ‘this initiative is not a redux. The 1980’s computer was a self-contained code to screen device as this Micro: bit fosters digital interaction with the physical world’ (Rhodes 2015).  The BBC decided to partner with over 29 businesses to create a new device instead of using or adapting an existing one. They also collaborate with so called ‘product champions’ who help support the implementation and use of the device through outreach activities and producing educational resources. In working with these partners they aim to amplify good work already happening, and ensure 'sustainability. 

This paper will describe what the BBC Make it Digital Campaign is, which stakeholders are involved and how they contribute and how I aim to discover what the motivations and interconnectedness of these stakeholders are.

Sharon Jones

Using the Arts as a Critical Pedagogical Tool Amongst Disadvantaged Groups to Produce a Film in Order to Engage a Wider Audience

Education means to acquire and develop knowledge and can take place in institutions such as schools and colleges and in wider society such as the home or community learning centres.  Education can be a powerful tool and the British government states that education is compulsory for every child aged 4 to 18 years but for many poor and disadvantaged families, education can be irrelevant, or alienating - a chore; something that switches children and young people off. 

Schools do not, in general, equip disadvantaged children with the necessary skills for them to enter the world of work at anything other than the lowest levels of pay, prestige and skill.  In addition, those who are alienated and switched off from their education generally fall behind their peers academically, end up permanently excluded from mainstream schooling and are at risk of criminal behaviour.  Furthermore, those with low socio-economic statues and multiple disadvantages tend to have limited levels of social, cultural and economic capitals; their low levels of engagement with education and critical awareness can make it difficult for them to escape their poverty stricken lives.  An alternative way to educate that is creative and fun could be the hook in that is needed amongst this cohort.

As part of this presentation, I will discuss how an informal approach to education using the ‘arts’ as a critical pedagogical tool could engage many disadvantaged people in their learning and raise their critical consciousness.  I will also describe a film project that began as a social drama activity, which I had designed and used in previous projects, carried out within my community.

Benjamin Koslowski and Peter Thomas

Landscapes of Sharing: Representation for audience engagement in live cultural contexts

This paper proposes different forms of representation as ways of negotiating boundaries between personal and shared experience. It looks towards two case studies that formed part of live cultural contexts and take their cue from the notion of ‘audience feedback’. The projects have emerged out of collaborations under the umbrella of the Creative Exchange Hub, an AHRC-funded initiative exploring Knowledge Exchange between creative industry and academia.

‘States of Mind’ is a hybrid analog-digital platform that allowed visitors to the Group Therapy exhibition at FACT Liverpool (March-May 2015) to represent and share their individual states-of-mind, providing a new way of engaging gallery visitors with the exhibition subject matter on mental distress in a digital age. Manipulable digital objects acted as an abstract visual ‘vocabulary’ and were shared and publicly displayed on screens within the public areas of the building. Visualisations developed by the project team challenged readings of such objects as data and introduced the notion of a ‘digital phenomenology’, pushing boundaries between physical and virtual representational languages - in this instance a language of mental wellbeing.

‘The StoryMap of Hackney’ is an audience engagement platform as part of the forthcoming Shakespeare in Shoreditch Festival (April 2016) that brings together an archive of past activity and performances, with an invitation to audience members to contribute personal anecdotes; together, this material manifests as an evolving ‘storymap’. The project tests means of communicating and engaging with archival material in live contexts, allowing participants to gauge how their contribution forms part of a bigger whole that can be navigated spatially.

This paper will contrast the means of eliciting personal responses and the ways in which these are shared as co-created artworks and cultural artifacts. It suggests the notion of ‘landscape’ as a useful means of representation to establish and understand relationships between individual contribution and the bigger whole. The collaborative relationships involving creative industry and academia, as well as public audiences, will also be discussed.

Dawn Woolley

Critical Clickbait: exploring the commercialization of online social interaction

My research explores the relationship between people and objects, and the impact of images as disseminators of sign-value. In contemporary culture our relationships are mediated, and often dominated by online social networks. I have come to view these sites as the contemporary commercial space where commodity culture pervades social existence. In my online social interactions the fetishism of commodities is fully articulated; what appear to be interactions between people are actually interactions between commodities. Perhaps it is no coincidence that I use a ‘browser window’ to view faces, bodies and commodities on social networking sites. The name implies a marketplace for window-shopping and making purchases. I tag my photographs with the word selfie and look at the collection of bodies and faces given equivalence through this shared categorisation. I am surprised to find photographs representing cosmetics, fitness programmes and balls of wool also marked with this hashtag. The term ‘selfie’ is used to advertise self-improvement products, suggesting there is no distinction between the commodity and the body that uses it; they are one object. The mode of identification is direct and forceful, the commodity is you and you are it, there is no escape from this consumer relation. The repetitive layout of images on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook reinforce equivalence between body and commodity, obliterating the hierarchy between consumer and consumed.

I make artwork that plays with the ideological messages of commodities and the commercialization of online social interaction and then present my work on social networking sites. I explore the sites as potential spaces for disruption where commodities can be inhabited and made to act abnormally. I ask, can artists use the commercial methods of social networking sites to create a critical space in amongst sound-bites, pop-culture and commercial click-bait?