Author Archives: Saara

Media Lab Doctoral Seminar May 3

Welcome to the Media Lab Doctoral Seminar
TIME: Thursday May 3, 2018, from 16:00–19:00
LOCATION: Aalto University Harald Herlin Learning Centre, Otaniementie 9, Espoo (Otaniemi), 1st floor Johanna meeting room.

DOM-L0003 Doctor of Arts at Media Lab Seminar
Responsible  teacher: Prof. Lily Díaz-Kommonen

Presentations by:
Pentti Määttänen, PhD (invited guest speaker)
Marikki Hakola

See more below.

The seminar is open for all. Welcome!


Pragmatism

by Pentti Määttänen

Abstract: Pragmatism emerged at the 1900th century as an answer to the question: What has to be changed in philosophy if Charles Darwin is right? First and foremost we are embodied creatures within nature. Culture is a product of nature in the sense that one animal species has created for itself a special kind of social and historical environment. Second, the classical view of experience as sense perception is too narrow. Experience consists of perception and action. Overt action (with or without various instruments), a stock of practical skills, sensorimotor transaction with the environment, is the basic form of experiencing, interpreting and understanding the world. The unit of analysis in the study of cognition (meanings, beliefs, emotions and values) is the organism environment interaction, not the brain or the body. The relation between knowledge and the world is not abstract correspondence between linguistic or other symbolic expressions and the world; it is mediated by various practices. Thinking is anticipation of action, to know is to know what to do, and this holds also for language.

Pentti Määttänen, PhD (Philosophy), is a Docent & Lecturer at the University of Helsinki and at Aalto University.

List of publications: http://personal.inet.fi/tiede/penttimaattanen/


SEMEION – Virtual Action Space and Cinematic Interaction

by Marikki Hakola

Abstract: SEMEION is a study about  the new concepts and possibilities of virtual action space and cinematic interaction as an essential part of it. The theoretical part of the study is carried out in the framework of Charles Sanders Peirce’s and John Dewey’s pragmatism, semiotics and aesthetics. At the heart of the study is experimental artistic activity to form a practical platform for testing theoretical ideas, concepts and findings. The practical  platform consists of four independent cinematic works.

The objective of this study is to enlarge the theory of cinema to cover new cinematic features, such as real-time, interactive, tactile, performative and spatial VR/AR forms of moving image. However, to understand interactive moving image and virtual cinematic action space and their future potential, one should first understand what the cinematic interaction itself is in an ontological sense. This guides the study into quintessential philosophical and semiotic questions. The aim is to build a theory that is relevance not only in film related issues, but also to the general questions of philosophy and aesthetics.

Pragmatist semiotics by Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) crystallizes into the following philosophical approaches: Naturalism, nature constitutes understanding. Experience and acquisition of knowledge are not only observations but also activities: Being is acting. Meanings take shape through action. According to John Dewey’s (1859-1952) pragmatist aesthetics, experience (art) is a collective and cultural activity. Physical and symbolic practices are inseparable and a part of nature.

Referring to Peirce and Dewey , the theoretical approach of the study is based on the following philosophical conceptions:

–       The basis of the cinematic experience is in symbolic thinking

–       Cinematic signs have the ability to refer beyond themselves

–       Understanding the interaction between cinematic signs and the spectator is the same than understanding the interaction between human and the world (nature)

–       Pragmatism in a case of cinema means use and situational meaning of all kinds of cinematic signs

–       The cinematic object and the subject are always inseparable

–       Art of cinema is a special symbolic practice and will only become a work of art through experience.

The focus is to develop the tools for understanding the structure and montage of the interactive moving image from author’s, especially concept designer’s, screenwriter’s and director’s points of view. The special attention is paid to the challenges of concept design, to the designer’s situation between the new idea and the finished artistic plan, script or screenplay.

The study is implemented through artistic approach and cinematic works produced by the professional film and performing artists’ teams. Practical testing gives useful, illustrative, instructive and sensory feedback from the tested ideas, subjects and concepts. The study also benefits greatly from the direct feedback and observations of the team members, the professional artists and film makers.

The goal is to help deepen screenwriter’s, designer’s and director’s understanding and views on the potential of a cinematic virtual space and interactive moving image and thus provide opportunities for new thinking and concept development. The aim is that the study would encourage future authors in their artistic work to create courageous and interesting concepts for future interactive cinema.

Marikki Hakola is a Doctoral Student at the Department of Media. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki as a visual artist in 1984. Her works include dance and music films, documentaries, video artworks, performances, stage designs, web projects and artistic research projects. Hakola’s works have been broadcast and screened international on television channels, in art museums and festivals. Her works have been exhibited at several art museums, collections and archives, such as the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Centre Pompidou, Paris, the Helsinki Art Museum and Museum of Contemporary Arts Kiasma Helsinki.

Hakola’s works include music films Luonnotar (2010), Otto (2009), Butterfly Lovers (2005), L’Enfant et les sortiléges (2004), the live performances Scaramouche (2015) and Piipää (1987-2011), telepresence project Triad (1998-99), video works Stilleben – Milena’s Journey (1989), TransVersum (1993) and Continuum (1999), installations The Time is Right for… (1984), PRE (1984), Pinus (1990), Ferris Wheel (1991), Milena Distanz (1992), Figure (2000), Moloch (2010) and Frontiers (2014).

Marikki Hakola CV: https://www.kroma.fi/marikkicv/

Media Lab Doctoral Seminar April 19

Welcome to the Media Lab Doctoral Seminar
TIME: Thursday April 19, 2018, from 17:00–20:00 (NOTE: Starting time one hour later)
LOCATION: Aalto University Harald Herlin Learning Centre, Otaniementie 9, Espoo (Otaniemi), 1st floor Johanna meeting room.

DOM-L0003 Doctor of Arts at Media Lab Seminar
Responsible  teacher: Prof. Lily Díaz-Kommonen

Presentations by:
Sally Davison (guest lecture)
Andy Best: Social Empowerment through Dance and Media Performance
See more below.

The seminar is open for all. Welcome!


Invited guest speaker:

Sally Davison is a dance artist and choreographer whose work deeply attends to the existential qualities of the moving body and life more broadly, focusing in particular on aspects of inclusion, accessibility and equality. Davison is Chairperson of DanceAbility Finland ry an organisation dedicated to promoting inclusion through dance, and Artistic Director of Kaaos Company an inclusive professional dance company based in Helsinki since 2010.

 

Social Empowerment through Dance and Media Performance

by Andy Best

Abstract: This presentation illustrates research carried out with individuals from Dancehearts, a performance group for young people with disabilities. I seek to show that interactive media technologies can significantly increase the level of social empowerment experienced by individuals taking part in group public performance by magnifying the effect of their own actions and movement in the space. Using custom designed wireless electronic controllers, the dancers “play” music and sound using the movements of their bodies and wheelchairs. They are no longer purely a choreographed performer, but in addition they cause affect to the whole performance space through aural interaction, controlling the soundscape used in the performance. For the differently-abled person, the ability to harness media technologies for artistic expression challenges their perceived public role as passive object. They become, through their own actions, active subjects causing affect to the whole audience experience.

Andy Best is a media artist, sculptor and educator, specialising in playful and provocative interactions and installations. Andy’s work tackles social and political themes, and he seeks collaboration in diverse spheres such as data visualisation, live performance, and physical interaction design. Between 2002 and 2013 Andy was principal lecturer of Digital Arts at Turku University of Applied Sciences. Since 2014 he has been lecturer in sculpture at Aalto University. Andy is currently Head of the Center for General Studies. He is a doctoral student at Aalto Media Lab, researching possibilities for social empowerment through collaborative interaction in media environments, with emphasis on working with people with disabilities.

 

 

Media Lab Doctoral Seminar March 22

Welcome to the Media Lab Doctoral Seminar
TIME: Thursday March 22, 2018, from 16:00–19:00
LOCATION: Aalto University Harald Herlin Learning Centre, Otaniementie 9, Espoo (Otaniemi), 1st floor room 116 (Johanna meeting room).

DOM-L0003 Doctor of Arts at Media Lab Seminar
Responsible  teacher: Prof. Lily Díaz-Kommonen

Presentations by:
Heli Rantavuo, Spotify (guest lecture): Designing for People in the Age of Machine Learning
Iida Hietala: Self-Creation Through Arts Consumption and Digital Content Production
See abstracts below.

The seminar is open for all. Welcome!


Designing for People in the Age of Machine Learning

by Heli Rantavuo

Abstract: Heli’s talk discusses challenges to the user-centred design process in internet companies where, increasingly, the products designed are algorithm-based ‘algo-products’. At the level of their practice, designers and researchers need to develop new skills, work effectively with new disciplines such as data analytics, and formulate new questions and problematics. At a more fundamental level, for user-centred design to remain human-centred design, questions of ethics and morality gain importance, and conventional methods of knowing about human and user experience need to be re-examined. The talk discusses these topics in light of recent studies in algorithmic bias and data anthropology and through industry practice in companies such as Spotify, Google and eBay.

IMG_4734Heli Rantavuo, is Director of insights for global growth at Spotify R&D. She graduated as Doctor of Arts from the Media Lab in 2009 and has since then worked as design researcher and research leader at Spotify, eBay, Microsoft and Nokia in London, Stockholm and Helsinki. Heli’s particular focus in the tech industry is creating practices that are multi-method and multi-disciplinary: understanding people across product, engineering and design in a way that combines ethnography, user experience and data analysis. At the moment Heli investigates what it means to design with algorithms for global audiences.


Self-Creation Through Arts Consumption and Digital Content Production

by Iida Hietala

Abstract: Visitors to contemporary art exhibitions and museums take pictures of the artworks with their smartphones. They edit the best one and upload it on a social media platform (e.g. Instagram) with hashtags such as #art, #contemporaryart or #museumselfie. Sometimes this has caused some undesirable consequences; selfie-takers have even smashed artworks when trying to take the perfect shot. Albeit not everyone takes pictures in an exhibition, Instagram is a pivotal part of the everyday visual environment of its 600 million active users.

Drawing on new media studies and consumer research, the project investigates how one’s arts consumption experiences and digital practices are connected in an art exhibition context. It also explores how this might contribute to an individual’s creation of self and subjectivity. By means of ethnography, the research aims at answering the following questions: What kind of an art experience is taking place? What kind of creativity is enabled? By producing content, are these people producing themselves as artists? Will people choose an art exhibition based on its ’instagrammability’?

iidakuvaIida Hietala is a doctoral candidate at Aalto University Media Lab. She is a Master of Science (Econ.) in Marketing, and a Master of Social Sciences in Journalism and Mass Communication. Her research focuses on the intersections of arts, consumerism, digital culture, and subjectivity.

Mechanical & Movement: Robotics Open Call

Dates: June 4 – September 21, 2018

https://thoughtworksarts.io/open-call/2018-mechanical-movement/

ThoughtWorks, a global software consultancy with an arts residency based in New York City seeks an artist/technologist who works in their art practice with issues of robotics, and the kinesthetics of human-robotic interactions. The artist does not need to be an expert in robotics or programming, but it will be helpful if the artist has a basic understanding, some level of experience in robotics, and/or a network of consultants.

Robotics is usually associated with repetitive tasks, or machine automation. However, in the future, robotics will be integrated into aspects of human love, war, sex, caretaking and emotion, and more. This ThoughtWorks Arts Open Call looks for artists who are actively exploring these realms to produce surprising twists and turns in the non-verbal dance between code, gears, blood, flesh and inspiration. Although language is an important aspect to this field, we are more interested in non-verbal cues and responses.

This open call is supported by our partners at the Consortium for Research & Robotics.

 

Logistics

ThoughtWorks will provide a work space, facilitation in midtown Manhattan, and access to guides and consultants, as well as appropriate resources as the project progresses. It does not provide housing or work visas, and is for the artist only. It does not include family members.

This sixteen week residency comes with a modest stipend of $11,000, and assistance, if necessary in supplying a letter of intent to any external funding agencies that might facilitate with the residency. Individuals who need to apply for visas should be particularly sensitive to recent issues surrounding work visas and consult with their own countries authorities for assistance in crafting their applications to visit New York.

Applicants must submit a proposal by email to apply@thoughtworksarts.io by the application deadline of March 26, 2018. Your proposal should tell us who you are, what your project idea is, and how you plan to implement it. It should also include the skills you have, and the skills and equipment you require for the project. Where there are skills required which you do not have or cannot supply, please let us know. We will contact applicants with final selection information by April 16th, 2018.

Send applications to apply@thoughtworksarts.io by midnight March 26th, 2018.

https://thoughtworksarts.io/open-call/2018-mechanical-movement/

Visual Communication Design Doctoral Seminar FEB 15

DOM-L0001 Visual Communication Design Doctoral Seminar
Aalto ARTS, Department of Media
Prof. Masood Masoodian

15 February 2018, 3 PM
Harald Herlin Learning Centre
Room 116 (Johanna meeting room)

Visiting lecture by:

Helena Gabrijelčič, University of Ljubljana

The use of 3D technologies in cultural heritage interpretation, colour reproduction and material prototyping

Abstract: In the presentation 3D technologies are the connecting line in-between
three researching areas, i.e. cultural heritage, image and colour
reproduction and prototyping of new material. In the first part, the
methodology for the visualisation of folk costume’s porosity, 3D tactile
interpretation of ancient castle and the challenges of virtual
preservation of modern art are shown. In the second part, the workflow
for analysing colorimetric accuracy in 3D rendered colour reproductions
and the possible correlations between rendered colour and Monte Carlo
noise are discussed. In the third part, the development of a
bio-degradable materials for prototyping of a sustainable 3D printed
products are presented.

Helena Gabrijelčič Tomc is an associate professor, a lecturer and
researcher at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Natural Sciences
and Engineering. Her research work involves processing and reproduction
of data in media, accuracy of colour reproduction in visualizations and
digital interpretation processes of cultural heritage. Her lectures
cover the foundations and novelties in 2D and 3D computer graphic and
animation and strategies of planning and productions of digital media.

Welcome!

Call for Proposals: RF 2018: Hybrid Labs Symposium

Call for Proposals

RF 2018: Hybrid Labs Symposium

May 30 – June 1, 2018
Aalto University, Espoo, Finland
– – – – – –
Deadline – extended to 5 March, 2018
APPLY NOW: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=hls2018
– – – – – –
http://hybridlabs.aalto.fi
Hybrid Labs is the third edition of Renewable Futures conference that aims to challenge the future of knowledge creation through art and science. The HYBRID LABS will take place from May 30 to June 1, 2018 at Aalto University in Espoo, Finland, in the context of Aalto Festival. Celebrating 50 years of Leonardo journal and community, the HYBRID LABS conference will look back into the history of art and science collaboration, with an intent to reconsider and envision the future of hybrid laboratories – where scientific research and artistic practice meet and interact.

Our three-day media event medley includes:

May 30, 2018 – Exhibition Opening
Opening Programme features Oslofjord Ecologies Extended exhibition opening. The exhibition is based on results of artistic research processes following common workshops, field trips and earlier exhibitions and performances linked to the Creative Europe project Renewable Futures and the Nordic collaboration Hybrid Labs. Curated by Kristin Bergaust on behalf of Art in Society research group at HiOA, this cross-disciplinary exhibition includes contributions from visual arts, art and science, theatre, performance, design, visual culture, art didactics and urban research.

May 31, 2018 – Renewable Futures Conference
Renewable Futures conference will begin with keynotes addressing HYBRID LABS topic from different broader perspectives. Parallel tracks of presentations will discuss the future of HYBRID LABS, art and science collaboration, focusing on five main topics: hybrid practices (in art and science), hybrid storytelling, hybrid fabrication, hybrid reality, and hybrid economies.

June 1, 2018 – Collaboratory Day, Celebrating Leonardo’s 50th Anniversary
Collaboratory day and Leonardo birthday celebration includes guided tours of several of the Otaniemi campus laboratories and a workshop on collaboratory methods during the morning followed by afternoon keynote, sauna, and dinner. The topic of the keynote will be about Arts and Science collaboration and planetary healing. Also throughout the Lab tours, we want to stress the heritage aspects of the spaces, the campus and innovative aspects of art and science collaboration.
– – – – – –

Keynote Speakers:

  • Roger MALINA / Executive Editor, Leonardo Publications at M.I.T Press / Professor, the University of Texas at Dallas.
  • Nina CZEGLEDY / Artist, Curator and Educator on Art, Science and Technology / Leonardo Community, Toronto, Canada
  • + others – to be confirmed

– – – – – –

More info: http://hybridlabs.aalto.fi/hls-2018-cfp-hybrid-labs-symposium-2018/

– – – – – –

Registration:

Early Bird fee until 15 April, 2018.

Early Bird Full Price: 68 EUR (normal price 86 eur).
Early Bird Student Price: 42 EUR (normal student price 56 eur).

Included: Coffee and Snacks, Sauna and Dinner (Lunch is not included).

REGISTER AT: https://eage.aalto.fi/?f/en/HLS2018

– – – – – –

CALL FOR PROPOSALS

We welcome submissions by academic researchers, designers, artists, scientists, students, social entrepreneurs, visionaries and other creative thinkers and practitioners to submit their proposals related to the topics (below).

List of Topics

  • hybrid practices – combining art and science, technology and ecology, digital and biological in research and education
  • hybrid storytelling – heritage and storytelling for linking virtual with the material domain of everyday life
  • hybrid fabrication – innovative maker trends in art and design practices
  • hybrid reality – interventions into the uncritical excitement about virtual reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • hybrid economies – artistic practices in-between sharing and selling, networking and fabricating

Submission Guidelines

The proposals could be submitted for the following forms of presentations:

  • academic papers (full / short)
  • artistic presentations (performative lectures / performances / participatory sessions)
  • poster sessions

The conference proposals should include:

  • Title and abstract (250 words max – text fields ‘Title’ and ‘Abstract’), mandatory;
  • five to six keywords (text field ‘Keywords’), mandatory;
  • short biography: 100 words (text field ‘Comments’), mandatory;
  • you can also upload a file containing any additional relevant information, optional;
  • please indicate in your abstract if you want to submit pictures or videos (max 100Mb) as part of your final submission.

Deadline for Conference Proposals (Abstracts) – February 19, 2018
Notifications of acceptance – March 2, 2018
APPLY NOW: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=hls2018

– – – – – –

Conference Submissions – for Selected Abstracts:

After receiving the notifications, the selected participants will be asked to submit their Full/Short Papers (working version – for pre-review), Posters (layout) and Artistic Presentations (Slides) by May 14, 2018.

1. Full/Short Paper Submission:
If your abstract for full/short paper will be selected, you will be asked to submit full/short paper for pre-review before the conference (working version). All papers must be original and not simultaneously submitted to another journal or conference:
– Full papers are up to 6000 words long including references and the presenter must prepare 20+10 minutes presentation.
– Short papers are up to 3000 words long including references and the presenter must prepare 10+5 minutes presentation.

2. Artistic Presentations:
Presentations should be prepared as powerpoint or keynote slides.

3. Posters:
Posters should be made in A1 format, and submitted as PDF.

Publication

Shortly after the conference, the selected participants will be asked to submit their final version of the paper for peer-review. The submitted papers will undergo the double-blind peer-review process to be published in Acoustic Space journal series (Vol. 18, 2019).

– – – – – –
When submitting your final papers, you should keep in mind the following:

  • Your name. Delete your name from the first page or where ever it is mentioned in the paper.
  • Acknowledgements. Please delete or mark “Acknowledgements removed”, if you have acknowledgements or thanks to those who helped you with the paper.
  • Document properties. Please don’t send word or similar documents, because it might include personal information in the document (for example in Word, go to file à properties).
  • Send your paper in pdf-format.
  • Self-citation. Please anonymize your references or citations to your previous works.
  • Images and Videos. Please hide all such information that can reveal you in videos or images you are sending along with your paper.

More info about the Acoustic Space, peer-reviewed journal series:
http://acousticspacejournal.com

– – – – – –

Conference website http://hybridlabs.aalto.fi
Submission link: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=hls2018
Proposal submission deadline February 19, 2018
Notifications of acceptance March 4, 2018
Deadline for selected abstracts May 14, 2018
REGISTRATION TO CONFERENCE: https://eage.aalto.fi/?f/en/HLS2018

– – – – – –

COMMITTEES

Conference Chair
Prof. Lily Díaz

The Local Conference Organisational Board
Prof. Lily DIAZ-KOMMONEN / Head of Research Department of Media, Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Espoo, Finland
Prof. Rasa SMITE / Liepaja University / RIXC / Riga, Latvia
Prof. Kristin BERGAUST / Oslo and Akershus University, Norway
Nina CZEGLEDY, Leonardo Community, Toronto, Canada
Juhani TENHUNEN / Aalto Studios, Espoo, Finland
Saara MÄNTYLÄ / Department of Media, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland.

The International Scientific Board of Renewable Futures Conference
Prof. Lev MANOVICH / Cultural Analytics Lab / The Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA
Ph.D. Jussi PARIKKA / Winchester School of Art / University of Southampton / UK
Ph.D. Geoff COX / School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University, Denmark
Assoc. Prof. Laura BELOFF / IT University, Copenhagen / Finnish Bioart Society, Helsinki, Finland
Prof. Ursula DAMM / Bauhaus University Weimar, Germany
Dr. Vytautas MICHELKEVICIUS / Nida Art Colony, Vilnius Academy of Arts, Lithuania
Ph.D. Margrét Elísabet ÓLAFSDÓTTIR / Art Education at the University of Akureyri, Iceland
Assoc. Prof. Ilva SKULTE / Riga Stradins University, Latvia
Dr. art. Piibe PIIRMA / Tallinn University / Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn, Estonia
Ph. D. Raivo KELOMEES / Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn, Estonia
Prof. Miško ŠUVAKOVIĆ / Faculty for Media and Communication, University Singidunum, Belgrade, Serbia
Dr. Ellen PEARLMAN / Parsons / New School University, New York, USA
Ph.D. Chris HALES / Assist. Prof. and Study Director of New Media Art Doctoral Programe, Liepaja University, Liepaja, Latvia
Raphael KIM / PhD Student, Media and Arts Technology, Queen Mary University London, UK

Venue
Aalto University, Otakaari 1 x, Espoo Finland

Contact
lily.diaz@aalto.fi / saara.mantyla@aalto.fi

Sponsors
NORDPLUS
Aalto University

– – – – – –
Please note that this call was updated after its first publication.

Media Lab Doctoral Seminar February 15

Welcome to the Media Lab Doctoral Seminar
TIME: Thursday February 15, 2018, from 16:00–19:00
LOCATION: Aalto University Harald Herlin Learning Centre, Otaniementie 9, Espoo (Otaniemi), 1st floor room 116 (Johanna meeting room).

DOM-L0003 Doctor of Arts at Media Lab Seminar
Responsible  teacher: Prof. Lily Díaz-Kommonen

Presentations by: NinFeng Zhang and Francisco Martinez. See abstracts below.

The seminar is open for all. Welcome!


Analogue photo booths in Berlin: A stage, a trap, a condenser and four shots for kissing the person you love

by Francisco Martínez

Abstract: Why do analogue photos still fascinate young people? Why, for some purposes, might vintage technologies be considered more authentic than newer ones? And what is the contribution of old-school photo booths to Berlin as a city? In casting an ethnographic eye on analogue photo booths in Berlin via empirical data (participant observation and 60 interviews with users), this paper makes a case for the continued relevance of analogue technologies and practices in the contemporary digital age. The argument highlights the inconsistencies in the linear theories of media development and social change, thus pointing to a complex co-existence of actual and emerging technologies and practices. In this paper, I will also consider how the relationship between these old-school booths and Berlin is reciprocal, becoming part of the city’s scene, assembling people, displaying and materialising relationships, thereby providing an opportunity to be private in public and functioning as a cultural condenser, which simultaneously benefits from the local idiosyncrasy and contributes to making the city itself a place.

 

Francisco Martinez, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher at Aalto University and an associate editor of the Anthropological Journal of European Cultures and of Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society. He has edited several books, curated different exhibitions, and has been awarded a dozen of scholarships (including Jean Monnet, Wenner-Gren and CIMO). For five years, he worked as a correspondent in Russia, Germany, Turkey, and Portugal, publishing over 550 articles and participating in 150 television programs. His monograph Remains of the Soviet Past in Estonia. An Anthropology of Forgetting, Repair and Urban Traces will be published in 2018 by UCL Press.


I AM A FAN OF “THE” TOAD:

A historical, epistemological and ecological perspective on the generation mechanism of an Internet youth culture in the context of Chinese Social Media

by Ningfeng Zhang

Abstract: By June 2017, the number of people surfing the internet in China reaches 751 million, and has ranked the top in the world. Among then, the number of the youths occupies the main part. Social subcultural phenomenon is formed in the youth stage. And one of the most influential subcultural phenomenon is the “Toad Worship Culture”.

“Toad-worship” culture is a contemporary youth subculture that prevails within Chinese social media. The feature of this youth subculture is that young Chinese internet users poked fun, through a series of self-created visual memes, at Jiang’s heavy black-rimmed rectangular glasses and his high-waisted trousers. They also mocked his clumsy language and sometimes uncouth behavior at official functions. They even gave him a nickname in Chinese, namely “Ha Ma” (蛤蟆), which is “toad” in English based on his purportedly features including his big nostrils and huge mouth. All these mockeries made Jiang Zemin one of the biggest and most influential funny icons among young Chinese internet users and social media players. Though facing the pressure from the governmental censorship based on the mandatory social and cultural conformity that is consistent with Marxist-Leninist-Maoist dogma, numerous visual memes featuring Jiang’s image and his quotes have still been created and successfully mediated mostly in social media by young Chinese internet users since 2014. This kind of visual memes soon prevail among liberal-minded Chinese people in almost all kinds of social media in China. Most importantly, the birth and prosperity of “Toad-worship” culture has encouraged the birth of other series of its ramifications in different genres, and using visual memes in Chinese social media becomes a rather fixed “social habit” among Chinese internet users.

My research will use this specific cultural phenomenon as a case, to further then study the dynamics of its generation mechanism as a living organism in the context of Chinese social media. I am aiming form a historical, epistemological and ecological perspective to interpret this cultural phenomenon. And three questions will be answered by applying mixed-methods.

  1. How has visual memes, as a form of visual cultural paradigm been hierarchically determined as “mainstream” or “subculture” in China in terms of visual language and visual rhetoric? (historical review, visual content analysis and semiotic studies)
  2. A network study concerning the existing components, their intrinsic features, and how they interact with each other, in order to draw a pattern of the symbiotic relationship among components (visual ethnographic methods: participant observation and interview)
  3. what kind of societal value it reflects in China and what is its ethical and moral significance for Chinese media, social and political environment? (interview)

Ningfeng Zhang, MA (art and design), from P.R. China. First year doctoral candidate at Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture in the Department of Media.

Two Doctoral Candidate positions in Department of Media

The Department of Media has positions for

Two Doctoral Candidates

The positions are fixed-term and will be filled for 12 months. The starting date is 1st March 2018.

These positions are for doctoral students who study within the Department of Media, Aalto-ARTS, to support the final stages of their dissertation preparation, for pre-examination. The position duties are working full-time on the DA dissertation, so that within, but not later than, the end of the 12 month work period, the Head of Research in the Department of Media will make a proposal to the Doctoral Programme Committee confirming that the dissertation is ready to be submitted for pre-examination.

Salary 

The salary for these positions is 2500-2700€ per month. Aalto University follows the salary system of Finnish universities.

How to apply

Applications for the position require:

1.      A written statement from the applicant that includes overview of the research, schedule and time-line for completion. This must include a written statement declaring that the applicant understands their dissertation will be ready to be submitted for pre-examination at the end of the work period.

2.      Full CV from applicant

3.      Recent academic transcript from Aalto University (digitally signed is accepted)

4.      Letter of Support from the Supervising Professor including a statement confirming their confidence that full-time work on the dissertation will allow the applicant to be ready to submit the dissertation for pre-examination at the end of the work period.

5.      Letter(s) of Support from the Advisor or Advisors including a statement confirming their confidence that full-time work on the dissertation will allow the applicant to be ready to submit the dissertation for pre-examination at the end of the work period.

6.      The applications for the positions should be submitted through the eRecruitment system no later than on Monday February 5th, 2018.

Apply for this job: https://www.saimanet.com/aaltohome/open_job_view.html?did=5900&lang=fi&id=00001703&jc=6

Vacancy: Post-doctoral Researcher in Design at Northumbria University

We are seeking to recruit a Post-doctoral Researcher with a background in Interaction Design / HCI and an interest in doing some exciting research around outdoor play for children and the Internet of Things. The post is for 12 months, but can be extended to 18 months. Please do pass to any Post-docs or nearly finished PhD students who might be interested in a move to the North East of England and joining our growing group of design and HCI researchers!

Closing date is 12th February.

Full advert below.

– – – –

Post-doctoral Senior Research Assistant (Playing Out with IoT project)

Senior Research Assistant (Full time, Fixed-Term for 12 months) – Ref ADS17/11

Salary:  £27,498 – £33,420 pa
Closing date: 12th February 2018
Link: https://work4.northumbria.ac.uk/work-for-us/details/?roleId=409


We are seeking a Senior Research Assistant to contribute to the participatory design and research through design strands of the EPSRC funded Playing Out with IoT project. Playing Out with IoT is an exciting and innovative project that is exploring how Internet of Things (IoT) technologies can be developed and extended to enable children to create digital outside play in their own neighbourhoods. The project responds to the concern that fewer and fewer children now play outside. This reduction in unstructured outdoor active play – or ‘playing-out’ – has led to a whole range of concerns around health, wellbeing and development. The main aim of the project is to make use of IoT technologies to increase outdoor play and allow public spaces to be re-scripted by children (and parents / guardians) for their own play, both by the use of the IoT toolkits we create, and a Playing Out Engine to produce and share stories about their play. The project is a collaboration between Northumbria University (Computer Science and Design), University College London (Education), Canterbury Christ Church University (Psychology), in partnership with Playing Out CiC, BeChange, Cederwood Trust and SAM Labs.

You will take a leading role with research participants, including groups of children aged under 9, to engage in co-design activities with them. You will be specifically responsible for the running of participatory engagements that involve the creation of new ideas for IoT to support ‘playing out’, and translating insights from these engagements into innovative technologies and associated IoT toolkits that will be tested by our project partners. It is also desirable that you have a methodological interest in collaborative design techniques and approaches to engaging children in design processes, although this is not a requirement.

You will have a PhD (or one that is close to completion) in interaction design, human-computer interaction or in a related design field. It is expected you will have a track-record of publishing in leading venues in these fields. Since the research conducted across Playing out with IoT is highly collaborative and interdisciplinary, you will have demonstrable experience and interest to work in multi-disciplinary teams. Excellent communication skills, as well as familiarity with a range of desktop publishing and media creation tools, is essential. You will also have bring research experience and understanding of designing and conducting studies and evaluations of technologies ‘in the wild’. It is expected you will have prior experience of qualitative data collection and analysis, and be comfortable with working with children and young people.

It is also essential that you are willing to travel around the UK for short periods during design and evaluation phases of the project. This will involve occasional travel to and staying with project collaborators in London, Bristol and Aylesham. Occasional weekend work may also be necessary.

This post is fixed-term for 12 months in the first instance, with the option to extend this to 18 months in total.

For an informal discussion about the post, please contact John Vines at john.vines@northumbria.ac.uk  or Abigail Durrant at abigail.durrant@northumbria.ac.uk