Ways of Machine Seeing Workshop 2017

26 - 28 June 2017, 13:00
Ruskin Gallery (26 June); Alison Richard Building (27 June); Cambridge Computer Laboratory (28 June)

A television screen showing the caption 'Ways of Machine Seeing'

Fee: £50 (£25 for students and unwaged)

Book now through the CRASSH website

A two-day CoDE workshop with the Cambridge Digital Humanities Network and Cambridge Big Data

Since its broadcast 45 years ago, the BBC documentary series Ways of Seeing has had a wide impact on both popular and academic views on the history of art and the production of images. It presented a radical socio-economic understanding of western art history which was closer to the image itself than previous Marxist critics - helping spread the thinking of Walter Benjamin in the English-speaking world.

The analysis offered by presenter John Berger and his collaborators in the documentary is founded on technologies (oil paints, photography) and the ways in which they both reflect and create visual-ideological paradigms, or Ways of Seeing. Half a century later, this workshop seeks to explore how these concepts can be understood in the light of state-of-the-art technical developments in machine vision and algorithmic learning.

Can Berger's assertion that "every image embodies a way of seeing" be brought into fruitful dialogue with the concerns of researchers exploring contemporary technologies of vision, in a world where the theorisation of vision as a series of information-processing tasks profoundly affects the creation, reception and circulation of all kinds of images?

Does this require a perspective going beyond robots that "see” in order to work in a factory, through self-driving cars, recognition and response to embodied human experience, to understanding the cultural meaning of images that have been selected algorithmically, and the question of how the reciprocal nature of vision is affected by the intercession of new kinds of filters between viewer and viewed?

The workshop will take place from 1pm Monday 26 June to 2pm Wednesday 28 June 2017 at Ruskin Gallery (26 June), Alison Richard Building (Tuesday 27 June) and Cambridge Computer Laboratory (28 June). For more information visit the Digital Humanities website.

Organising committee

  • Dr Anne Alexander (Cambridge Digital Humanities Network / Cambridge Big Data)
  • Professor Alan Blackwell (Cambridge Computer Lab)
  • Dr Geoff Cox (Aarhus University/Plymouth University)
  • Luke Church (Cambridge Computer Lab)
  • Leo Impett (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne)
  • Dr Shreepali Patel (Director, CoDE -Cultures of the Digital Economy Research Institute)

Presenters and session titles include:

  • Andrew Dewdney, Magdalena Tyżlik-Carver, Katrina Sluis, Annet Dekker, Gaia Tedone, Nicolas Malevé (Centre for the Study of the Networked Image): Unthinking Photography: cultural value and the networked image 
  • Ashley Scarlett (Alberta College of Art and Design, Canada): The Algorithmic Image as Critical Methodology 
  • Carloalberto Treccani (City University of Hong Kong): How machines see the world: Understanding how machine vision affects our way of perceiving, thinking and designing the world 
  • Geoff Cox and Nicolas Malevé (Aarhus University and The Photographers Gallery): Video experiments on Ways of Machine Seeing – episodes 1-4 
  • Jacqui Knight (Plymouth University): A new relational ecology of photographic practices 
  • Martin Zeilinger (Anglia Ruskin University): Looking at Computer-Generated Art as an Act of Human Machine Vision 
  • Mitra Azar (Independent researcher): Point of View and the informational eye from Renaissance perspective to machine 
  • Shreepali Patel (Anglia Ruskin University): Unmanned Aerial Systems - an alternate version of reality? 
  • Francesca Franco (Anglia Ruskin University): Two ways of seeing through code: Manfred Mohr and Vera Molnar

We regret that the conference organisers are only able to assist with accommodation bookings for presenters selected through the call for proposals and not for general delegates. We advise delegates to book accommodation early. More information on local accommodation options is available on the Visit Cambridge website.

Event Details

26 - 28 June 2017, 13:00
Ruskin Gallery (26 June); Alison Richard Building (27 June); Cambridge Computer Laboratory (28 June)
£50 (£25 for students and unwaged)
Book now through the CRASSH website