Call for PhD scholarship applications ‘Creative AI as a medium in artistic and curatorial practice’

We are excited to announce a PhD scholarship for research into creative AI in artistic and curatorial practice in collaboration with the Serpentine Gallery funded by LAHP. We are looking for applicants from the field of new media studies, art and gallery studies, science and technology studies, scholarship and professional practice in visual and media arts and other fields linked to creative AI and machine learning. Advanced AI expertise is not needed but we are looking for someone who can demonstrate academic achievements to study creative AI, AI as a new medium and/or new media art as these are the project’s relevant subject areas. If you are curious to study the role of this new medium in art and society with particular attention to the challenges it poses for art institutions from an academic perspective in theory and practice at the Serpentine, you should apply [full project description here].

Focus of the research project

Machine learning has had a transformational impact on the corporate world while the cultural sector is still in need of acquiring adequate ‘media literacy’ to engage with this technology. The aim of the PhD project is to tackle the existing gap in media literacy around AI and to offer a much-needed foundation from which cultural institutions may play a pivotal role in offering a space for societal critique and reflection. Curators and cultural institutions often struggle to understand the technology’s functioning and its creative capacity, holding cultural actors back from much needed engagement – the need to reflect on the societal impact of this technology critically but also creatively has been recognised widely. This interdisciplinary PhD project will research and synthesize knowledge production by linking scholarly research with cultural initiatives, in particular the Creative AI lab, generating guidance for the wider cultural sector. Part of the research project is practice-based in the form of an embedded study working with the Serpentine’s Digital Commissions and Research & Development Team responsible for developing and presenting artistic projects that are engaging advanced technologies. Continue reading “Call for PhD scholarship applications ‘Creative AI as a medium in artistic and curatorial practice’”

Curating expertise: Towards an Interdisciplinary Museums Studies Research Agenda at KCL

There has recently been much interest and attention within King’s College London to the field of museum studies. This is hardly surprising: the university sits within one of the richest and most diverse cultural cities in the world, surrounded by gems such as the British Museum, the National Gallery, the V&A, the Soane Museum and many, many more, large and small, famous and niche. Together with the Faculty of Arts and Humanities’ cutting-edge interdisciplinary research agenda, and there is massive scope for interdisciplinary dialogue about what museums are, and should be, in 2020. However, that interest, and the expertise which drives it, is dispersed across various departments at King’s, and exists way beyond Arts and Humanities. Some, such as that found in CMCI, concerns the social and political effects of museums and how they are shaped by and shape contemporary social, economic and political imperatives. Others, such as DDH, are interested in digital methods for exploring, explaining and present collections. Others still are interested in the managerial aspects of museums. And, others bring specialist technical skills currently applied in other areas, such as imaging, and 3D.

There is, in general, limited knowledge of how this interdisciplinary area might fit together more coherently at King’s. As Museum and Gallery Studies is a strongly interdisciplinary field, with an increasingly important digital component, academics working in this area are effectively dispersed across King’s various departments. As a result, they are often unaware of colleagues within King’s who share similar interests. This situation sharply diminishes the opportunity of internal—research and teaching—collaborations, and significantly weakens the external profile of King’s as a leader in this field.

The project Curating expertise: Towards an Interdisciplinary Museums Studies Research Agenda at KCL will enable us to establish close collaborations between our sister departments, CMCI and DDH, whilst facilitating the establishment of connections with relevant colleagues across King’s. Continue reading “Curating expertise: Towards an Interdisciplinary Museums Studies Research Agenda at KCL”

New Article: “‘Fake News’ as Infrastructural Uncanny”, New Media & Society

An article on “‘Fake news’ as infrastructural uncanny” co-authored by Lecturers at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London – Jonathan Gray and Liliana Bounegru – along with Tommaso Venturini (also a former Lecturer at the department) has just been published in New Media & Society. It builds on work that they co-investigated on the Field Guide to “Fake News” with the Public Data Lab. The article is open access and freely available on the web and in PDF format. The abstract is copied below.

‘Fake news’ as infrastructural uncanny

Jonathan Gray, Liliana Bounegru, Tommaso Venturini

In this article, we examine how the social disturbance precipitated by ‘fake news’ can be viewed as a kind of infrastructural uncanny. We suggest that the threat of problematic and viral junk news can raise existential questions about the routine circulation, engagement and monetisation of content through the Web and social media. Prompted by the unsettling effects associated with the ‘fake news’ scandal, we propose methodological tactics for exploring (1) the link economy and the ranking of content, (2) the like economy and the metrification of engagement and (3) the tracker economy and the commodification of attention. Rather than focusing on the misleading content of junk news, such tactics surface the infrastructural conditions of their circulation, enabling public interventions and experiments to interrogate, challenge and change their role in reconfiguring relations between different aspects of social, cultural, economic and political life.

Welcome to Kat Braybrooke, visiting researcher at the Department of Digital Humanities ✨

We are delighted to announce that Kat Braybrooke will be joining us as a visiting researcher at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London.

During her stay, she will build on the findings of her doctoral research on the power relations of “makerspaces” in cultural institutions by exploring local community projects that harness digital creativity to foster social and environmental justice. More about her research interests can be found in her bio (below) and she can be found on Twitter at @codekat. Welcome Kat!

 

Kat Braybrooke is a digital anthropologist and director of Studiõ Wê & Üs with extensive international experience in leading design and curatorial projects in collaboration with open technology, media arts and third sector organisations across Europe, Canada and Asia. Her work critically examines the links between material participation and socio-cultural transitions, taking a particular look at the dynamics of creative digital communities and spaces, and their associations with institutional actors, from libraries to governments. Kat was awarded a PhD in Media & Cultural Studies from the University of Sussex in 2019 for a study funded by the Sussex Humanities Lab which combined ethnographic and action research to explore the institutional dynamics of a new generation of experimental sites for digital making and learning around cultural artefacts, or ‘collections makerspaces’, within four museums in London, from Tate to the British Museum. She also studied the associations between maker cultures and government sustainability policies in China as a delegate of the British Council in 2018 and 2019, and as a Visiting Scholar at the University of Humboldt Centre for Transformations of Human-Environment Systems in Berlin. In association with her academic projects, Kat has spent the past decade working with third sector collaborators like Mozilla, the Open Knowledge Foundation, the UK Parliament, and the Liu Centre for Global Issues to decolonise networked technologies and foster greater digital agency for marginalised and non-binary communities through critical making and design interventions. Her work has been featured on the BBC, Guardian, DAZED, Rabble, Furtherfield and The Tyee, and she is an editor of the Journal of Peer Production.

Project | Creative AI: Neural Networks at the Gallery

Contemporary art institutions, much like cultural heritage museums around the world, face a process of deep transformation through digitalisation, except that for contemporary art institutions such a process ventures into the material foundations of the artworks themselves: digital technology has become a creative medium for artists, while most recently, Artificial Intelligence, especially machine learning (ML), has started featuring in the production of new artworks.

As a creative medium, ML deeply challenges the limits of knowledge and expertise traditionally held by curators and cultural institutions working with contemporary culture. Although ML has had a transformational impact on the corporate world, the cultural sector is still in need of acquiring adequate media literacy to engage with this technology. Curators and cultural institutions often struggle to understand the technology’s functioning and its creative capacity, holding cultural actors back from much needed engagement.

Continue reading “Project | Creative AI: Neural Networks at the Gallery”

Global youth cultures and digital nomads: a podcast discussion

Recently, I took part in an Economist Intelligence Unit podcast on ‘global digital cultures’ with Kathy Sheehan, SVP of Cassandra market research, and Ravi Govada, head of global market research at hospitality start-up Selina. We discussed how trends are shaped and shared in the digital age, and the possibility that a shared transnational youth culture is emerging across different platforms. Being a researcher  focused on the impact of the internet and social media on politics, culture, conflict and development the Horn of Africa, it was an unusual experience for me to be in conversation with US-based market research professionals like Kathy or hospitality entrepreneurs like Ravi. For the latter, it quickly became clear that we might end up talking about very different types of ‘digital nomad’: Ravi focusing on young, western, affluent, professionals looking for opportunities for flexible work and leisure; and me considering people like nomadic pastoralists in the Horn of Africa and the different ways they use and innovate with digital technologies.

Continue reading “Global youth cultures and digital nomads: a podcast discussion”

Free workshop: “€uro-Vision: Monstrification between Extraction and Border”

Dr Btihaj Ajana, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Digital Humanities, is involved in an upcoming workshop on “”€uro-Vision: Monstrification between Extraction and Border”. The workshop is free and open to all, supported by Arts Catalyst, a nonprofit contemporary arts organisation that commissions and produces trans-disciplinary art and research. Their goal is to “activate new ideas, conversations and transformative experiences across science and culture, engaging people in a dynamic response to our changing world.”

Further details on the workshop and registration can be found below.

Continue reading “Free workshop: “€uro-Vision: Monstrification between Extraction and Border””

Department of Digital Humanities supports open source Raw Graphs visualisation tool 📊🎨

We’re happy to announce that the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London is supporting the free and open source RAWGraphs tool as a “gold sponsor”.

Described as the “missing link between spreadsheets and data visualization”, RAWGraphs was initiated at the award-winning DensityDesign Lab in Milan, and is widely used by a wide variety of researcher and practitioner communities – from digital humanities, digital methods, internet studies and platform studies scholars to data journalists, data activists and civil society groups around the world.

The current version of RAWGraphs: https://rawgraphs.io/

At King’s College London we use Raw Graphs for teaching on several of our undergraduate and graduate modules, including Digital Methods: Working with Data (BA), Digital Journalism (BA), Data Activism (MA), Introduction to Data Journalism (MA), Digital Methods for Internet Studies: Concepts, Devices and Data (MA) and Data Visualisation (MA). It has also been used in research projects such as the Field Guide to “Fake News” and Other Information Disorders.

Continue reading “Department of Digital Humanities supports open source Raw Graphs visualisation tool 📊🎨”

Welcome to new Lecturers at the Department of Digital Humanities! ✨

A warm welcome to our new Lecturers who have joined the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London this semester. We are pleased to welcome five Lecturers and three Academic Education Pathway (AEP) Lecturers:

  • Sophie Bishop (Lecturer)
  • Liliana Bounegru (Lecturer)
  • Peter Chonka  (Lecturer)
  • Ashwin Mathews (Lecturer)
  • Feng Zhu (Lecturer)
  • Samuel Moore (AEP Lecturer)
  • Daniel Nemenyi (AEP Lecturer)
  • Photini Vrikki (AEP Lecturer)

You can find out more about them in their bios below.🎈

Continue reading “Welcome to new Lecturers at the Department of Digital Humanities! ✨”

#PresPollSL: A brief visual inquiry into 2019 Sri Lankan presidential elections on Instagram

The following is a blog post from MA Digital Culture & Society student and Chevening scholar Sachini Perera (bio below), drawing on work that she has been doing as part of the “Digital Methods for Internet Studies” module.

Bit of background

I’m currently a 2019/2020 Chevening scholar reading for a Masters in Digital Culture and Society at King’s College London. I’ve been learning interesting methodologies, especially on visual inquiry, in a module I’m following on Digital Methods for Internet Studies. Given the increased use of Instagram during the recently concluded Presidential election of Sri Lanka, I thought it’ll be interesting to apply a visual inquiry to Instagram posts containing the main hashtag #PresPollSL (as well as the misspelt but frequently used #PressPollSL) to better understand some of the visual language of the campaigns. A disclaimer that I’m new to this method and am sharing some surface level observations but would be happy to share the dataset with others who want to dive deeper.

The approach I used is closest to ‘Color similarity image grid’. This was shared with us by Gabriele Colombo during a guest lecture. Check him out. His work is fascinating, particularly this inquiry into images of riot pornography.

This approach helps identify patterns of repetition in one image set. By using a tool to organize the folder of images in a grid that sorts them by color, name, size or date of publication, you can identify similar images or themes, variations of the same image, notice similar objects, etc. While I might zoom in on a few individual images in the analysis below, I’m more interested in viewing and understanding the images as a group. Gabriele explains this further in ‘Studying digital images in groups: the folder of images‘.

Continue reading “#PresPollSL: A brief visual inquiry into 2019 Sri Lankan presidential elections on Instagram”