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Friday, May 29 • 10:30am - 11:45am
Digital Media and the Intersections of Military & Institutional Power

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A panel of three papers:

After Cinema: Projection Mapping Digital Culture in the Video-EsSéance
Craig Saper and Lynn Tomlinson

Unintentionally reminiscent of video art projections, like Tony Ousler's MMPI (Self-Portrait in Yellow) in which a video image of a narrating head is projected on to a puppet, and explicitly alluding to the mining of proto-cinematic projections in performance mapping video-art projects. With this initial context and motivation, this video-esséance began as a performance-video at the “Mapping Culture” conference in Coimbra, Portugal in the spring of 2014. We wanted the video-performance to embody, not merely ornament, our argument and meanings. Discussion about the post-Anthropocene and theories about communicating with computers as if they were ghost-like apparitions also informed our video essay. We sought to highlight the tone of mourning and séances, in terms of the media technologies looking backward into the past, conjuring, or remediating the old departed media forms into the new forms. Craig Saper sought to highlight avant-garde art approaches to scholarly issues in the electronic milieu, while Lynn Tomlinson was simultaneously delivering presentations and screening her film for scholars studying object oriented ontology, and organizing panels and publications around the idea of “animate art” – the inanimate brought to life. By approaching animation with a broad definition, the breath of life, we can rethink what it means to be alive in terms of animacy rather than agency. As performance art functioned to resituate art in earlier decades, now, the animator was coming into her own – séance like – as a conjuror of the inanimate, the machine, and the inanimate: It’s Alive! As Tomlinson wrote in an article about this type of work, "Since the dawn of cinema, animation and performance have been intertwined. ... entertainers and artists played with media and technology to create an illusion of life and movement. ... artists are again [blurring] boundaries between the animated and the live, through ... digital technologies and projection "

Find the video at: https://www.dropbox.com/s/e3p74z57zivh3p4/ProjectionMappingDigitalCulture.mp4?dl=0

Fighting For/With Digital Literacies: Social Networking and Digital Literacies in the U.S. Military
Cassandra Branham

Since the Department of Defense’s 2010 decision to allow social media access to all US military personnel, social media technologies have played a vital role in terms of keeping soldiers in contact with their loved ones. However, in order to take advantage of the affordances social media allows, active-duty servicemembers must possess, at minimum, functional digital literacies, which are necessary to effectively make use of social networking tools. While the question of what skills, precisely, make up the toolkit of digital literacy is being continually debated, participating in social networking sites requires engagement with a variety of digital literacy practices (Knobel and Lankshear 251).

While the Department of Defense’s 2010 decision to allow social media access to all military members is beneficial, the need for social media training for this population is also evident. Lieutenant Commander Erin Balog of the U.S. Navy, Colonel Anne Warwick and Colonel Virginia Randall of the U.S. Army, and Major Christopher Kieling of the U.S. Air Force establish the need for social media training through the presentation of cases in which military medical students have posted inappropriate content to their private social networking accounts, in some cases violating patient confidentiality (123). On a grander scale, stories such as that of Specialist Terry Harrison, a member of Wisconsin’s National Guard who posted, on her personal social networking account, a photo of the Honor Guard funeral team, smiling while surrounding a flag-covered coffin, with the caption: “We put the FUN in funeral,” can create situations of national outrage (Penzenstadler).  ....

Digital Humanities as Surveillance: Tracing the Structural Lineage of DH Technologies
Elisabeth Granquist

Much of the rhetoric about, and within, the Digital Humanities focuses on the expanded possibilities for research made possible through technology. Digital tools and methodologies are supposed to expand what we can do with the text and promote an inclusive, welcoming community. However, as Brian Lennon, Tara McPherson, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, and others have shown, this rhetoric of accessibility and unbridled potential does not accurately reflect either the historical development of DH infrastructures or our lived experiences with academic technologies.

This paper proposes to interrogate the foundations of the tools we use in the Digital Humanities in order to reveal the structural biases and preconditions upon which these tools depend. I argue that many of the technologies we use in DH today were originally developed by the military for occupation or surveillance purposes. To illustrate this argument, I undertake a genealogical analysis Geographical Information Systems (GIS), a tool that has lineages in World War II terrain mapping and Cold War surveillance applications. Perhaps more importantly, though, numerous current DH projects use GIS or related technologies to map and visualize literary geography, including “The Grub Street Project,” “Placing Literature,” “Dislocating Ulysses” and others. Although many influential digital humanists call for us to play with DH tools and technologies, I suggest that such a possibility is not only difficult, but even impossible, given the military lineages of many DH technologies.

Ultimately, I argue that a fundamental part of “doing DH” must involve an analysis of the traces left over from the original technologies that belie their original purposes, how they impact both what we can do with the tool in the first place, and the results we obtain through these tools. Ultimately, I do not suggest abandoning these tools, but instead to pay closer attention to the implications of working with ideologically-charged tools.

3D Preservation of The Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane
Lisa Hermsen and Shaun Foster

The paper reports work on a 3D reconstruction and preservation of the Buffalo State Insane Asylum. Now known as the Richardson Olmsted Complex, the Asylum was a collaborative project between noted American architect H.H. Richardson and famed landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted. A state-of-the-art facility when completed in 1895, the Asylum sought to ease psychological distress via architectural reform. Because so “few of these therapeutic asylum landscapes exist today,” the historical “significance of the Richardson Olmsted Complex is nationally recognized.” Yet even the Richardson Complex is in danger of being removed from American memory. Its main administrative building and one standing wing is being rehabilitated as a boutique hotel. An important question follows: how is the former asylum remembered on sites and in buildings repurposed for urban sustainability? 

"Buffalo State Asylum: A Purposeful Reconstruction" promises to engage the public by preserving this asylum with historical accuracy in an atmospheric and experimental gameplay. The process of developing interactive 3D computer graphics is a relatively new but rapidly evolving field. Over the last several years increased graphics processing technologies and improved tools for efficiently generating assets are opening the possibilities for building expansive, explorable and interactive worlds by small but talented teams. Rather than create a serious game meant strictly for education, the project aims to create an exploration game with a thick atmospheric design. Rather than for the game to decide what ought to be remembered and what forgotten, it is the visitor who will ascribe the asylum with meaning. The atmosphere with the formal game elements would provide a new entry point to the history of the Buffalo Insane Asylum, but would challenge the player to engage in self-directed learning. Different pathways may pose different contextual possibilities and empower the user to seek different experiences. As such, the gameplay will elicit various adaptive responses. By moving through the atmosphere and encountering formal game elements, the player will be provided a space in which to respond with at least partial knowledge to the real space as it was experienced by those in the past. ...

Find the video on youtube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_VYkxwJmFQ&feature=youtu.be 

avatar for Dean Rehberger

Dean Rehberger

Director, Michigan State University
Dean Rehberger is the Director of MATRIX and also Associate Professor in the Department of History at MSU. Dean specializes in developing digital technologies for research and teaching. He has run numerous faculty technology and workshops and given presentations for educators and... Read More →


Friday May 29, 2015 10:30am - 11:45am EDT
Room 104 Kellogg Center

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