HUMlab Seminars, September 2011

We are very happy to start the fall semester with three exciting guest speakers from Uppsala University, Stanford University and Deakin University (in Australia) on topics such as technoscience art, biodiversity databases as narratives and indie games & culture and the Australian video game industry. See below for more information.

HUMlab is located below the university library at Umeå University. Basically all HUMlab seminars are also broadcast live and archived. No registration is required. The seminar series is open to anyone. Welcome!

[September 6, 1:15 pm]

Anna Orrghen, Uppsala University
Understanding Technoscience Art: Collaborations as the Object of Study

During the mid 1960s, when artists started to gain access to computer departments at universities and research departments in large industrial companies, a new kind of collaborations between artists and engineers developed. Today, during the first decade of the 21st century, similar collaborations are brought to the fore, among other things due to an increased number of exchange projects between artists and scientists, so called artist in lab or artist in residence projects. The art created during these collaborations could be characterized as technoscience art. Although technoscience art more or less demands interdisciplinary collaborations between artists, scientists and engineers in order to be carried through, there is a significant lack of knowledge of these collaborations. During my presentation I will introduce the research project “The art of co-production: Collaborations between artists, scientists and engineers, Sweden 1967-2009” with focus on its aim, material and realisation. I will particularly pay attention to introducing a method, inspired by the insights that have been made in the interdisciplinary field Science and Technology Studies (STS) in general, and particularly the concept ‘co-production’, to approach collaborations between artists, scientists and engineers.

[September 20, 3:05 pm]
Ursula Heise, Stanford University [website]
Narrative, Database, and Biodiversity Loss

Humans are currently confronting a mass extinction on Earth that may eliminate up to 50% of existing species by 2100. In response, biologists seek to create global database inventories of all known species and to classify them by their degree of endangerment, even as basic concepts such as “species” and “biodiversity” remain contested. The digital Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in particular combines narrative and spatial data in a globally influentially conservation tool. “Narrative, Database, and Biodiversity Loss” analyzes database formats that have emerged around endangered species by way of topic analysis and spatial analysis so as to explore whether they offer an alternative to the well-established environmentalist discourse about the decline of nature and offer clues to a more future-oriented perspective on humans’ interactions with nonhumans. Heise’s talk is arranged in cooperation between Umeå Studies in Science, Technology, and Environment and HUMlab.

[September 28, 3:05 pm]
‘Indie’ and Independent Games and Culture in the Australian Video Game Industry
Christopher Moore, Deakin University [website]

The global financial crisis has brought the Australian video games industry to the end of an era. The survivors emerging from the independent sectors are now competing directly with the older studio system whose ongoing survival is reliant on an industrial work-for-hire production and distribution model. New independent studios, partnerships, and collectives have responded to the opportunities of online and mobile games, and their successes have reaffirmed the relationship between the cultural production of games in Australia and their globalized mainstream audiences. This seminar examines these changes and considers their effect on the synonymous relationship between the terms, ‘indie’ and independent. It argues that if ‘indie’ culture is to maintain its ideological relevance and critical creativity it must be active in the overlapping spheres of operation between itself, the independents and ‘big gaming’ culture in order to better address issues of identity, gender, sexuality and intellectual property in the content and context of making games.

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