new lab shaping up

Anyone who has spent time in the lab this semester must have noticed the ongoing reconstruction work. Now we are closed until the beginning of February because of ventilation, light and paint work. When we open again there will be a new part to the lab. The new section is an important part of a major initiative to support research in the humanities and information technology. I am really looking forward in seeing this space populated with furniture, people and technology. It is a vision that we will make come true this coming semester. All the technology will not have been installed when we begin. However, today I ordered the workstation for electronic literature that we have been discussing for some time now.  The workstation is a manifestation for an area that we are interested in, but, of course, the technology is only a part of this – the really important part is researchers, students and other interested in the field. Other fields that we have singeled out are digital cultural heritage, digital art, critical perspectives and participatory media. One very obvious part of the initiative are the international research fellows that have chosen to spend a year or two at Umeå University. Their work is well aligned with one or several of these areas.

Next semester will be exciting in many ways, and I am really looking forward to lots of interesting guests, an energetic new combined studio space and some very interesting new projects and initiatives.

Passion for the digital!

Today our director will speak to the PhD students in the Humanities faculty, the Teacher Ed faculty and the faculty of social sciences about the meaning of the digital, the need for creative meeting places and about being passionate. When Patrik was a student, he really took advantage of his PhD time and became a visiting scholar at Berkeley, got to know great linguists in his field and even co-authored a book on Gothic. He was definitely passionate about his work as a student, and as director of HUMlab, still is. His commitment to students in the digital humanities is evident in the time he takes to talk through our papers and articles, his willingness to read through applications and through time spent facilitating an environment where we feel welcome to meet and discuss ideas in an open and cross-disciplinary space. I am really looking forward to hear what he has to say!


New Media and Architecture Dec 11 at 1.15 CET

Erica Robles, Stanford University, will visit HUMlab this coming week. We are very happy to have Erica in the lab. Here is the abstract for her seminar. December 11 at 1.15 pm CET. The seminar will be streamed live. A link will be published from this blog entry later.

New Media and Architecture: The American Megachurch as a Case Study
Erica Robles, Stanford University 

With the widespread propagation of networked communication technologies, the settings for social life, more often than not, involve complex compositions of media and space. Affecting every category of human experience, from work via telecommuting to leisure in cyber cafés to public discourse in virtual communities, new media re-shape the architectures of everyday life. As scholars, designers, researchers, and practitioners our primary focus has been the role of communication technologies in affecting these transformations. For example, Media Lab founder, Nicholas Negroponte, writes, “digital technologies should allow people to be anywhere, regardless of where they are” (from Being Digital, 1995). From this perspective, the qualities of physical space, geography, cultural context, and institutional setting become obstacles to transgress, overcome, or forego.

Arguing, instead, that contemporary social settings involve both cultural and technological changes, both media networks and material structures, this talk demonstrates their inter-relationships by focusing on how a traditional social practice, religious worship, employs new media and contemporary architectural design. Illustrated vividly by American megachurches, which combine commercial-style architectures in sprawling metropolitan areas with a reliance on technologies, media enterprises, and consumer logics, these sites evidence a strong interest in using new media to preserve rather than overcome traditional social structures.

Through case study of a pioneering and influential megachurch, The Crystal Cathedral, this presentation grounds a series of questions about the role of new media, culture, and the built environment. Recounting the fifty-year history of this institution first as a Southern California ‘drive-in church’, then a ‘walk-in/drive-in/television church’, and finally as a monumental glass architecture and global media enterprise, its architectural expressions magnify the processes of cultural response to technological and spatial change. The church evolves as it brokers new media – first television, then the Internet – to its community of believers. At every step the built environment, designed in collaboration with a series of notable architects – Richard Shelley, Richard Neutra, Philip Johnson, and Richard Meier – reproduces a vision of faith that relies upon technology to enact a new form of monumentality suited to a digital, networked world.

Poetry in the Age of New Media

Maria Engberg from Blekinge Institute of Technology will do a talk in HUMlab on Thursday as part of the HUMlab seminar series. Time/date: Dec 6 at 10.15 am CET (will also be streamed).

We are very happy to have Maria visit. Her work is very current and she will talk about her Ph.D. thesis work mainly. Also we have a very good collaboration with BTH over the years. There was a long article (under strecket) about her research in Svenska Dagbladet this past Saturday. Here is a previous article from Computer Sweden.

Born Digital: Writing Poetry in the Age of New Media

This presentation is based on my doctoral dissertation which I recently defended at Uppsala University. It presents a number of Anglophone digital poems and investigates their visual, kinetic, and textual practices. Out of several contemporary subgenres I have chosen to focus on poetic practices that raise questions about spatiality, temporality, kineticism, and word-and-image construction. My chief interest lies in the question of how poetic form emerges and is orchestrated in digital media and what forms of engagement these constructions present the reader with. For instance, a common feature of digital poems is the underscoring of a multisensory experience of poetry through visual, auditive, tactile, kinetic, and textual artifice. Reading then becomes a process of viewing, listening, reading, and physically interacting with a multimedial literary work. Not surprisingly, digital poetic works often challenge our way of thinking about literature and literary scholarship. In my presentation I show some of the works I have studied and discuss ways of addressing material and hermeneutic questions for literary scholarship.

Geek girls rule!

“[That girls are] finally stepping up to the plate and are more than capable, and I’m proud to be a part of that.”

These are the words of Isha Jain, the $100,000 prize winner of the Siemens’ Math, Science and Technology Prize. For the first time in the 9 year history of the competition, all prizes were won by girls. It just goes to show, not only can girls play in tech too, but we play to win!

via Gizmodo and Shiny Shiny

Playing Stories, Reading Games: Understanding the Specificity of Electronic Literature and Computer Games

On Wednesday 5th December between 15.15 and 17:00 HUMlab Post-Doc fellow Jan Van Looy will hold a teaching seminar in HUMlab for the Institutionen för litteraturvetenskap och nordiska språk with the title “Playing Stories, Reading Games: Understanding the Specificity of Electronic Literature and Computer Games”.

Jan van Looy says of the seminar: “It will deal with the question of how to distinguish between electronic literature and computer games while both are ‘accessed’ using a computer and both ‘recount’ fictional events. I will lay out an analytical framework using the concepts of ’emergent narrative’ and ‘introjection’.”

The readings for the seminar are two relevant excerpts from Jan Van Looy’s PhD thesis, “The Promise of Perfection: A Cultural Perspective on the Shapping of Computer Simulation and games” (Leuven, 2006). Copies of these excepts can be collected from the seminar shelf in room F203 in the Humanities building. Those who are interested can buy a copy of the thesis from Jan at the seminar (320 pages in A 5-format, price 125 SEK).