The Critical Media Lab (CRIME Lab), directed by Marcel O'Gorman, hosted a Research Showcase on April 3, 2019 entitled "Infrastructure at Play". At the showcase, GI faculty member Lai-Tze Fan and GI English Graduate student members AC Atienza, Lillian A. Black, Sid Heeg, Diana Moreno, and Andy Myles displayed Algorithmic Art and Sociotechnical Media research.
Dr. Lai-Tze Fan's research examines narrative and media over history and aims to make visible the alternative histories that have been made invisible.
Fan’s research-creation project “e-Waste Peep Show, or On Seeing and Not Wanting to Be Seen” was a powerful digital installation, showcasing original footage that she filmed at an e-waste plant in Northern Hong Kong.
She created a pile of e-waste (discarded digital objects such as monitors and circuit boards), and invited viewers to look through a peephole where they would watch looped footage of a masked woman taking apart mounds of technological trash”.
Fan's research and teaching areas include media archaeology, intermedial and transmedial storytelling, research-creation projects, critical making/maker culture, the Anthropocene, technological labour (especially gendered labour), electronic literature, critical infrastructure studies, and the critical digital humanities.
Three of Professor Fan's undergraduate students from ENGL 293: "Introduction to Digital Media Studies" had the opportunity to display their digital research projects this year. Drawing upon her research on locative and mobile media, Alexandra "Lexi" Layne presented on her QR-code project "Using Locative Media Design to Induce Learning and Cultural Appreciation in the City of Toronto."
Based on his own QR-code research on citizen awareness of electronic waste, Chris Garratt presented his project "105 Switches."
Finally, engaging with the digital humanities and textual analysis software, Andrea Devos offered a comparative study of themes and keywords in the first and third novels of JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings series in her project "The Lord of the Rings Through Digital Text Analysis."
AC Atienza is a Masters student in the Experimental Digital Media program at UW. Their primary area of interest involves re-application of design principals from one field to another, such as game design into pedagogy or literary theory into game design.
For Infrastructure at Play, Atienza presented "Constellations":
Many people assume that new tech is strictly better than old tech, but is this always the case?
- AC Atienza
The first game is a test of two ways of inputting directions, while the second is an exploratory museum. These games celebrate the different ways we've historically selected directions in videogames, and asks what kind of economy, social system, user demographic, etc may encourage the revival of tech we thought were "old".
Could your next project benefit from re-adopting one of these systems?
Lillian A. Black is an M.A. student in English Language & Literature, Rhetoric and Communication Design at the University of Waterloo, in Canada.
Her research examines the affordances new media forms (e.g. YouTube videos) provide for mobilizing complex knowledge for general audiences and the accommodations that need to be made to reach these mobilization goals.
For Infrastructure at Play, her project, No Print Media!, focused on the transition from print to digital forms and worked to make visible the invisibility of digital forms’ underlying infrastructure.
No Print Media! draws the player’s attention to these implications, not to make a statement about whether print or digital forms are preferable, but rather to raise consumer awareness of the underlying processes behind these digital forms.
Sid Heeg is an English Master's student:
My studies have come to cross over and focus on the rhetoric surrounding agriculture and foods, how we grow our foods and the process it takes until we buy it at the grocery story.
- Sid Heeg
The idea is to understand agriculture through an intersectional lens and provide a new way of current issues facing agriculture today from the ethics of eating meat to the differences between family farming and larger agri-businesses.
"Farming Evolved" is an exploration of how the dairy farm landscape has changed in the past century with changes in technology. From the traditional milk can to the robotic milkers, discover how work demands on the farm have changed by exploring three different dairy farm layouts.
Diana Moreno Ojeda is a PhD student studying science fiction in the context of society's relationship to technologies such as AI and Cybernetics. At Infrastucture at Play, Moreno Ojeda presented MuffledBox.
MuffledBox uses a very minimalistic construction to subvert common attention-highjacking mechanisms. In this set-up, player engagement is derived not from constantly-changing or visually-rich stimuli, but through a puzzling environment where board and balls turn indistinct from one another.
Tyler Jackson and Moreno Ojeda worked on this piece together as part of the Digital Wednesdays outreach initiative at the CRIME Lab.
Digital Wednesdays are meant to allow the community to engage critically with technology, and so the most fascinating part of building MuffledBox was try and figure out how we could use traditional PinBox elements to encourage people to question how the box worked.
Andy Myles, English graduate student and manager of the CRIME Lab, presented his Master's thesis at Infrastructure at Play entitled "A Program for Posthuman Fitness":
"A Program for Posthuman Fitness" looks for common terms in exercise science and philosophy. From these terms, a speculative workout is created that seeks to expand the affective and intellectual range of fitness culture.
- Andy Myles