Digital
Media
Workshop

The Digital Media Workshop is a forum for students and faculty who work on issues related to digital media across the Humanities, Social Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Computer Science at the University of Chicago. Because digital media spans theoretical scholarship, scientific inquiry, and artistic practice, this workshop gathers an interdisciplinary community to engage the political, aesthetic, social, cultural, historical, and technical dimensions of digital media across its many formats. Our faculty sponsors are Patrick Jagoda (English/Cinema & Media Studies), Kara Keeling (Cinema & Media Studies), and Thomas Lamarre (East Asian Languages and Civilizations/Cinema & Media Studies).

2021-22 Coordinators:

Bret Hart
PhD Student, Cinema & Media Studies
bkhart@uchicago.edu

Wee Yang Soh
PhD Student, Anthropology
weeyangs@uchicago.edu

Email Bret or Wee Yang to subscribe to our listserv for updates about the workshop!

Upcoming Events

Please check back soon for our Fall 2021  schedule

Past Events

2020 – 2021

May 24, 2021. “White Supremacy, Affect, And Digital Culture.” Presenters: Christine Goding Doty, Visiting Assistant Professor, Africana Studies, Hobart And William Smith Colleges; Tara Mcpherson, Professor And Chair, Cinema & Media Studies, University Of Southern California; Moderator: Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Canada 150 Research Chair In New Media, Simon Fraser University
May 17, 2021. “Machine Imagination: Text To Image Generation With Neural Networks.” Presenter: Robert Twomey, Assistant Professor, Carson Center For Emerging Media Arts, Unl & Visiting Scholar, Clarke Center For Human Imagination, UCSD.
May 10, 2021. “Skin And Surface: Race Beyond Representation.” Presenter: Arianna Gass, PhD Candidate, English & Theater And Performance Studies, University Of Chicago. Respondent: Kaelan Doyle Myerscough, PhD Student, Cinema & Media Studies, University Of Chicago.
May 5, 2021. “Virtual Ethnography: Ethnographic Methods For A Pandemic.” Presenters: Benjamin Fogarty-Valenzuela, Mansueto Fellow and Postdoctoral Scholar, Sociology, University of Chicago; Peter Forberg, Sociology and Digital Studies in Language, Culture, and History, University of Chicago.
April 26, 2021. “What’s The Value Of An Economic Metaphor?” On Cryptocurrencies And Proof Of Work. Presenter: Zach Yost, PhD student, Cinema & Media Studies, The University of Chicago. Respondent: Thomas Patrick Pringle, Postdoctoral Fellow, Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge, UChicago.
March 8, 2021. “Call Me Obama?”: The Perils Of Lip Sync In A “Call Me Maybe” Mashup And Jordan Peele Deepfake. Presenter: Amy Skjerseth, Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago and co-organizer of the Great Lakes Association for Sound Studies
March 1, 2021. The Digital Media Workshop Goes To Scms (Practice Panel). Presenters: Arianna Gass, PhD Candidate, English & Theater and Performance Studies, “Clipping and Interpenetration: Embodiment and Sexuality Beyond Representation.” Tien-Tien Jong Zhang, PhD Candidate, Cinema & Media Studies, “Practice, Torture, and the Desire to Become Black: Whiplash (Chazelle, 2014) and Black Swan (Aronofsky, 2010).” Hang Wu, PhD Student, Cinema & Media Studies, University of Chicago, “Monster Hunt and the Affective Human-Monster Communication.”
February 22, 2021. Pokémon, No? Genes, Memes, And Digital Culture In The Sixth Extinction. Presenter: Thomas Patrick Pringle, Postdoctoral Fellow, Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge, University of Chicago.
February, 8, 2021. “Gaming Borders: Flow, Failure, and National Belonging in Papers, Please.” Presenter: Gary Kafer, PhD candidate, Department of Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago.
January 25, 2021. “Sequence and Connection: Two Paradigms of Digital Literature and the Need for a Critique of AI Works.” Presenter: Hannes Bajohr, Postdoc, Basel University. Co-sponsored with the Poetry and Poetics Workshop.
January 11, 2021. “Machine Learning for the Web with Teachable Machine, P5.js, and ML5.js.” Presenters: Teodora Szasz, Computational Scientist at the Research Computing Center of the University of Chicago. Luis Ibanez, Senior Software Engineer, Google.
November 6, 2020. “On Not Getting Over It: Interpretation, Delay, And Queer Modes Of Play.” Co-sponsored with the Mass Culture Workshop. Presenter: Daniel Lipson, Interaction designer and independent scholar, University of Chicago.
Canceled – November 2, 2020. “Are Drum Triggers Cheating? Death Metal, Schizophrenia, and Indigestible Digitization.” Presenter: Florian Walch, PhD candidate, Music History & Theory, University of Chicago.
October 26, 2020. “At Home: A short Animated Video on Pandemic Lifestyle Fantasies. Presenter: Lily Scherlis, Video artist and PhD student, English, University of Chicago.
October 19, 2020. “Logos: Exploring Law, Society, and the Power of Rhetoric Through Interactive Narrative.” Presenter: John Buterbaugh, Game designer and student in the College. Discussant: Patrick Jagoda, Professor, English and Cinema & Media Studies, University of Chicago.

2019

December 5, 2019. “Data Visualization for Storytellers.” Presenter:  Teodora Szasz, Computational Scientist, Research Computing Center, University of Chicago.
November 21, 2019. “Aesthetic Milieus to access Subjective Experience.” Presenter: Desiree Foerster, PhD candidate in Philosophy, Institute for Arts and Media, Potsdam, Germany & Visiting Scholar at the Department for Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago.
November 8, 2019. Virtual Reality Faculty Roundtable. Presenters: Snow Yunxue Fu, Assistant Arts Professor in the Department of Photography and Imaging, Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Pedro Lopes, Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, University of Chicago. Lisa Zaher, Adjunct Assistant Professor in Art History, Theory and Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago & Visiting Lecturer in Art History, University of Chicago.
October 31, 2019. “Sensing Landscape.” Presenter: Saadia Mirza, PhD Candidate in Anthropology, University of Chicago.
October 10, 2019. “Machine Learning Applications for Live Computer Music Performance.” Presenter: Ted Moore, PhD Candidate in Music Composition, University of Chicago.

2021-22
Call For Proposals

The Digital Media Workshop is a forum for students and faculty who work on issues of digital media across the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Physical Sciences at the University of Chicago. As digital media span theoretical scholarship, scientific inquiry, and artistic practice, this workshop is an interdisciplinary site for engaging the political, aesthetic, social, cultural, and technical dimensions of digital media across its many formats.

We welcome a range of traditional and experimental presentation formats from students, faculty, and visiting scholars. These include discussing in-progress articles or chapters, roundtables on relevant topics, play testing for game design, performances of electronic music, presentations of scientific research for an interdisciplinary audience, close readings of code, reflections on qualitative and quantitative data, and exhibitions of digital humanities artworks and projects. This year’s workshops will take place in a hybrid format with a flexibility to simultaneously accommodate both attendees who will be participating in-person on campus and those who will be participating remotely via Zoom.

We welcome presentations that feature, play up, and/or channel the concept of “experimentality” (Jagoda 2020) within and through media, broadly defined. We are especially interested this year in presentations from the social sciences that work through questions of the digital and/or experimentation. We encourage presentations that address social issues related to racial justice, education, and life in a (post-)pandemic world. Potential topics include technological transductions, (net)hnography/netnography, media infrastructures, critical data studies, algorithmic logics and behaviors, digital organizing, sousveillance, predictive policing, facial recognition software, mediated racial formations, (de)platformed hate speech, electoral politics on social media, medical surveillance, pandemic modeling, mediated intimacy, live streaming, remote labor, returns to the haptic, collaboration at a distance, and of course, Zoom. We continue to welcome presentations that explore any aspect of the contemporary and historical study of digital media, including social networks, climate models, video games, geospatial mapping, Human-Computer Interaction, electronic music production, virtual and augmented reality, biometric surveillance, and machine learning.

If you would like to propose a topic for presentation, please submit a brief proposal to both Bret Klein Hart (bkhart@uchicago.edu) and Wee Yang Soh (weeyangs@uchicago.edu).
Proposals should be 150-200 words in length and include the following:
– A provisional title
– A short bio
– Type of presentation (e.g. dissertation chapter, article in progress, research findings, collaborative session, game demo, roundtable).
– A short description of the content and/or argument.
– Whether the presentation will be done in-person or remotely, as well as any other specific technical and/or AV needs.

Land Acknowledgement

Land acknowledgements serve as an occasion to reflect on the practices of displacement and dispossession that have produced the conditions in which we gather. At the University of Chicago, such practices continue to guide institutional conduct.

The Digital Media Workshop is typically held at the Media, Arts, Data, and Design Center at the University of Chicago on the homelands of the Council of Three Fires—the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi. Nations including the Ho-Chunk, Miami, Menominee, and Sac and Fox also stewarded these lands and waterways for generations. Despite centuries of ongoing colonial violence, tens of thousands of Indigenous people continue to call this territory home.

Yet as we gather remotely this year, it becomes more difficult to pinpoint the specific histories in which we are implicated and the treaties and legal orders we are obliged to uphold. In addition to the many locations from which each of you join us, we now depend more than ever on infrastructures so vastly distributed that they call the entire global history of colonization into play.

The fiber-optic cables transmitting us to one another as data are buried along the same routes as the telegraph lines and railroads that sustained colonial conquest. In the nineteenth century, those railroads directly enabled John D. Rockefeller and Silas Cobb to extract the wealth that was combined with a founding endowment financed by enslaved people’s labour to establish the modern University of Chicago. The British Empire’s telegraph network exploited native lands and labour as indispensable resources supporting imperial connectivity while excluding those labourers from its benefits. Likewise, today’s digital connections are secured by infrastructures built on stolen lands while Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island are disproportionately deprived of access to the high-speed connections that have become increasingly vital to survival.

The platform hosting our meetings, Zoom, depends on a global network of high-emissions data centers, including the Digital Realty Data Center located four miles from the university—one of the largest data centers in the world. The cloud computing economy values territory in this region because it is thought to be relatively insulated from the environmental risks to which it contributes. Those risks are distributed unevenly, concentrated on frontline communities that are overwhelmingly Black and Indigenous. The same is true of the natural resource extraction that allows us to gather remotely. For example, Indigenous peoples in Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile have seen their freshwater supplies diverted to support lithium mining, resulting in economic and ecological devastation.

Land acknowledgements run the risk of becoming prophylactic housekeeping items. But done properly, they ask: now that we know this in common, what does it commit us to doing? How shall we respond to these circumstances?

If you would like to help us begin to answer these questions, please contact the workshop coordinators and/or join our sessions.

Further Reading