Introduction + Refashioning Worlds, Transmuting Realities

The start of the academic year is one of transition – the shifting to a new term, the forging of a new beginning, the meeting of new people. All three categories apply more particularly to me than usual this year: my name is Jenna Pei-Suin Ng, and I start this week as a new postdoctoral fellow in the digital humanities at HUMlab – generously funded by the Kempe Foundation – which not only marks the new academic term for me but also the beginning of my post-postgraduate career. This post also beams me into the relatively novel environment of a digital humanities research laboratory and a department – I am dually affiliated with the Department of Culture and Media (Institutionen för kultur- och medievetenskaper) – in which I hope to shift my research from film studies and technologies of digital cinema to a wider application of the digital in new media. In my postdoctoral project at HUMlab, titled “Refashioning Worlds, Transmuting Realities: Avatars, Simulants and the Effects of Representation in New Media”, I propose to explore the concept of representation (of self and the world) in new media, specifically through the key twin tropes of avatars and virtual reality. In particular, I wish to examine representation in the way of its co-constitutive interplay between old and new media and their effects for information technology, media theory and the digital humanities.

A little about my background: I was born and grew up in Singapore, where I graduated in law at the National University of Singapore (2000), and spent two years in private banking and finance practice at major law firms in Singapore and London before turning to film. Moving to London to pursue my postgraduate education, I obtained my MA and PhD in Film Studies at University College London (UCL) (more information can be found in my entry on the BFI Moving Image Research Registry), writing my doctoral thesis on time and the image, in which I investigated the relationship between different temporalities (of pastness and presentness) and the moving image, particularly enquiring how recent technologies of cinema, such as digital video, CGI and motion capture, reconfigure the temporality of the image. I subsequently decamped to Hong Kong before returning once more to Europe (London, briefly, to defend my thesis and eventually Umeå, Sweden, for this postdoc; I have pretty much turned inter-continental crossing into an art form……)

48 hours after I touched down in Umeå, I had to give a brief presentation to the university board, in which I commented on how impressed I was with my introductory tour of the lab and my satisfaction with my decision to come here, albeit I had just arrived and had only been here for a short while. One week on, and I remain just as impressed with the lab and the work I see being done here, as well as getting increasingly happier as I grow more comfortable with the space, faces become more familiar and I diminish the number of times I get lost around campus and town. I trust that, one year on, my fundamental reactions will not change, and I look very much forward to a happy and productive time here. Do, of course, feel free to be in touch should you share any of my research interests – I would be more than happy to hear from you, and I look forward to blogging more in this space about my work and its progress. It’s been great so far and I think I’m going to love it here – tack så mycket!

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2 Responses to Introduction + Refashioning Worlds, Transmuting Realities

  1. Patrik says:

    We are really happy to have you here, Jenna!

  2. Gargi Roy says:

    Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems related to human life. It is concerned with matters like existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and language. As a student of philosophy I found that just as great philosophers influence the minds of poets ,authors, artists, politicians as well as the ordinary man on the street, the thoughts and problems of man has also influenced the ideas of philosophers.

    Different Mass Medias like the newspaper, radio, television and cinema portray the various views and feelings of people which must have an impact on the philosophers and vice versa. Of the various forms of mass media, I think that films can depict philosophical ideas most distinctively. Films give us an audiovisual picture which can be more powerful than written words.
    I am a cinema addict. I try to see the world famous films as well as the box office hits. One day as I was watching Satyajit Ray`s film”Pather Panchali’ I realized how the philosophical aspect of nineteenth century village life in Bengal was portrayed in the film. The stark poverty was painful, yet at the same time there was thread of music somewhere especially in the fond relation and understanding between a brother and sister. In “Mother India” the struggle of a poor village mother to bring up her children, makes one sit up and think of the ways in which society can help these hapless women.

    War Films like “Life is beautiful “can more vividly potray the cruelty of war than a thousand books. It also brings out a fathers touching love and sacrifice for his son as well as the deep bond between a father and son. I was amazed by observing the contrast of war and love in this movie.
    Similar philosophy can be seen in the movie “Battleship Potemkin”,by the maestro Sergei Eisenstein .The cold indifference and cruelty of the Cossacks as they fire on the masses stuns us. At the same time a mothers love for her child is brought out as we watch the dying mother pushing the carriage away to try and save her baby.

    On the other hand the great director Ozu of Japan in his films “Tokyo Story” has depicted the everyday life of middle class Japanese. These may seem commonplace but they have their captivating moments. This movie, like some more movies from Ozu, catches the philosophy of the common man and how they react to a situation.

    In recent times feminist movements have come to the fore. Pablo Almedvor in his films “Talk to her”, “Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown” or “The flower of my secret” has expressed different shades of womanhood. In the film “Meghe Dhaka tara” by Rittik Ghatak we also find a real strong woman protagonist. Among other Indian directors Aparna Sen, Kalpana Lajmi and Rituparna Ghosh have always promoted the capability and importance of a woman in our society. I strongly believe that films can be strong reflectors of woman philosophy.

    Even sometimes I have found ordinary blockbusters to be interesting because they mirror the minds of the masses. They speak for the masses and can even create an impact in their daily life and activities.
    For these reasons, I would like to make an in depth study on Philosophy in films and their impact on society. I want to prove the great potential films have on the human mind.

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