Saturday, December 22, 2012

Professor in Media and Communication Studies Job

A position is available for a Professor in Media and Communication Studies with a focus on digital humanities at the Department of Culture and Media Studies, Umeå University Faculty of Arts  in North Eastern Sweden. The Department has approximately 70 employees and offers a unique combination of subject areas and a creative environment for meetings and collaboration between culture, art, literature and communication. We carry out research and education within media and communication studies, journalism, drama, theater and film, ethnology, history of art, cultural analysis, literary and museum studies.

The Department provides seven renowned professional programs with many students. We educate strategic communicators; journalists with specializations in culture, scientific or sports journalism; culture analysts; culture entrepreneurs and scriptwriters, as well as for work within the museum and cultural heritage sector. Departmental research within the discipline of media and communication studies is focused upon the relationship of media and journalism to sociological and cultural issues such as gender and ethnicity, risk, sustainable development, the aging population, school, disabilities, surveillance and crime. Other research areas include digital media and citizen participation; communication of science, technology and environment (VTM); news management and photo journalism.

The appointment is a part of the Faculty of Arts’ long-term investment in the Humanities and Information Technology (digital humanities) as research areas.Therefore applicants whose research relates to issues within media and communication studies relating to digital media and expressions will be prioritised. We are looking for a person with the commitment and ability to drive the development of the research and education environment within the subject of Media and Communication Studies. As part of the appointment, there is an emphasis upon individual research and research group leadership. In addition to developing personal research, the applicant is expected to initiate and lead research projects and applications, and to supervise Ph.D. candidates. The applicant will also be expected to take chief responsibility for advanced seminars. A certain amount of teaching at both first-cycle and third-cycle education can occur.

The position will be in close cooperation with HUMlab ( HUMlab is the meeting place for Humanities, Culture and Information Technology at Umeå University. It offers an internationally strong environment and infrastructure for research and development within the area. The appointed will have his/her main basis in the Department, but also a secondary affiliation with the HUMlab.

A long-term strengthening of research is highly prioritised at the Faculty of Arts. Therefore academic skills, the ability for independence and analytical work, in addition to initiating research and work within research groups, are important factors for the appointment. Further requirements include documented pedagogical skills and solid experience of teaching and supervision at both first and third-cycle levels. Great emphasis is also placed upon cooperation and leadership skills, administration abilities and the ability to work with external partners within society and industry.

This includes the task of informing about research. Additionally, the ability to teach either in Swedish or English is a requirement for the appointment. If the person offered the position does not have a command of Swedish upon appointment, after a few years he/she must be prepared to take on board administrative and pedagogical tasks that require the ability to communicate in Swedish.

To be eligible for the position as professor the applicant must have proven academic and pedagogic capabilities and competence as reader within media and communication studies or an equivalent relevant subject (for further information see Higher Education Ordinance, Chapter 4 Section 3 in addition to the Umeå University Appointment Rules for teachers at Umeå University), see

Greatest importance will be attached to the evaluation criteria of academic capability and research initiation and leadership. Great emphasis is also placed upon pedagogic competence. In addition to this, other evaluation criteria are attached, such as cooperation and leadership skills, administrative competence and the ability to work with the surrounding community.

The appointment is located in Umeå and high attendance at the department is a requirement.

The application should be formed in accordance with the directions set out by the Faculty of Arts.

The application may be submitted either electronically (.pdf or Word format) or in paper form (3 copies).

Additional information is available from the Head of Department, Kerstin Engström tel. +46 (0) 90 786 69 29, e-mail Contact person from HUMlab: Director Patrik Svensson,

Union information is available from SACO, +46-(0)90-786 53 65, SEKO, +46-(0)90-786 52 96 and ST, +46-(0)90-786 54 31.

Your complete application, marked with reference number 311-1027-12, should be sent to (state the reference number as subject) or to the Registrar, Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden to arrive 14 January 2013 at the latest.

We look forward to receiving your application!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Benjamin's Aura

"As we saw in connection with the Dauthendey portrait, the auratic return of the gaze does not depend upon the photographic subject’s direct look at the camera (or, for that matter, the later injunction against that direct look which voyeuristically solicits the viewer as buyer [see SW, 2:512]). What is more, in the above formulation and elsewhere Benjamin attributes the agency of the auratic gaze to the object being looked at, thereby echoing philosophical speculation from early romanticism through Henri Bergson that the ability to return the gaze is already dormant in, if not constitutive of, the object" - Miriam Bratu Hansen (1949–2011).
The entire essay, Benjamin's Aura can be downloaded from here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pandit Ravi Shankar has Left his Body

Pandit Ravi Shankar (Bengali: রবি শংকর; born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury, 7 April 1920 – 11 December 2012)

It is with some emotion that I begin this day. The first thing I read was a message from an online friend in India telling me the news that Pt. Ravi Shankar has passed on. While in recent years I have moved on to other sitar players, Pt. Shankar was were it all started for me. My father had a record of his music, which as a child I listened enraptured by the sounds. The Sounds of India (1968) was not just the amazing music of Ravi Shankar, but between each piece he spoke, about 'microtones' and 'ragas'. It seemed to me like a technology from another planet or some lost ancient civilization. Allmusic reviewer Adam Greenberg recommended listening to the album for "Shankar's amazing abilities" but singled out the album for its historic value as a work that introduced Western listeners to Hindustani classical music using short lessons before each performance. I would lie on the floor with the speakers at each side of my head and lose myself in the music.

In 1989 I was selected for an exchange program to work for two months on The Times of India newspaper in Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmadabad, Bombay and Bangalore (as they were known then). I was in Mumbai when on 26th January 1990 Ravi Shankar performed at St Francis Xavier school. My fellow exchange student from rural Queensland was not interested in seeing the performance so I went by myself, A scared 20 year old out into the vast night of the megalopolis. I found the school and watched and listened for 7 hours as Pt Ravi Shankar just blew my world apart. I was amazed. I had never seen anything like it. Somehow I got the idea that I wanted to learn to play the sitar.

I returned to Australia and studies. I met a girl who had a sitar in her cupboard. I remember she was a hippie and she agreed to lend it to me for an indefinite period. I think I had it for about 2 years. I had no idea what I was doing. in my summer holidays I worked in the local hospital, in the psychiatric section. One of the psychologists there was a follower of Osho and had been in India a lot. She had books on playing the sitar and I borrowed them from her. I now had information about ragas (this was in Toowoomba Queensland - not a center for music outside the dreaded Country and Western amalgam). About the same time I found the Monterey Pop Festival film on VHS and played the performance by Ravi Shankar endlessly:

Ravi Shankar - Festival Monterey Pop 1967

I finished university and went to Brisbane to begin life as a poet (yea.....really). I found a teacher of sitar, a very chaotic Hare Krisna devotee. He was the first of many influences in the sitar. I returned to India in 1996-1997 and spent a lot of time going to concerts of classical Hindustani music. I purchased the sitar I currently play in 2010 and while I am no expert, I can make it sound pretty. To be a true sitar player one must abandon so much of the world. To call Pandit Ravi Shankar a musician is to lessen the calling he took up. To live in the divine sound, as is the way in Indian classical music, means you follow the Nada Brahma. It is your teacher. Eventually it can becomes you. I trust Ravi Shankar found that union.

Radio France le jeudi 26 juin 1986 au studio 106 de la maison de la radio
b)jod(Vilambita,Madhya,Druta,Jhata) i)solo ii)avec tabla en cautala
Ravi Shankar : Sitar
Kumar Bose : Tabla
Vidya Bataju : Tampura
Jeevan Govinda : Tampura
An Mp3 of this performance can be downloaded from here.

Recent image of myself playing sitar. I was given a gift when I witnessed Pt. Ravi Shankar perform live. It remains with me to this day.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monumentality, Perspective, the Iconic and Remediation in the Design of Digital Narrative Works

In the influential study on screen media The Virtual Window: From Alberti to Microsoft, Anne Friedberg convincingly argues, “the computer screen is both a ‘page’ and a ‘window’, at once opaque and transparent. It commands a new posture for the practice of writing and reading – one that requires looking into the page as if it were the frame of a window” (Friedberg 2006 19). My analysis of the spaces that result from design can be equated with the visual composition of the page/window, according to perspective and monumentality, the iconic and remediation. Firstly, a scene from a window can include monumental emphases upon objects that result in the viewer assigning significance to them within the overall scene. Monumentality, as I explained in Chapter One, is the coded organization of space where hierarchies are attached to “the strong points, nexuses or anchors” (Lefebvre 2007 222), resulting in the meanings of that space. These points establish what can be termed representational space, providing both meaning and guidance for reader navigation and interpretation.[1] Representation space is “directly lived through [by] its associated images and symbols, and hence the space of ‘inhabitants’ and ‘users’” (Lefebvre 39). I equate monumentality in the works with “non-verbal symbols and signs,” which evoke “not ‘stories’ but suggestive markings” and “trigger reactions” (Nitsche 2008 44). The ‘suggestive markings’ within monumentality organizes the reader’s temporal experience of space as a fundamental element in design. The results are emphases on particular features and these influence representational space, foremost through the provision of procedurality and focus in the reading of narrative. Interpretation of the monumental points occurs in relation to each other and defines the character of representational space. As I explain in the following analysis, a monumental point relates to other monumental points, forming a relational grid of meaning/s within representational space. Design techniques for the creation of monumentality include repetition (a single element repeated multiple times within a space), perspective (emphasizing dimensions, proximity or scale), auditory (sound placed at important points within the space) and objects and elements of space (doors, furniture, ornaments) that are associated with characters and are expressed (and therefore linked) in dialogue.
Perspective is a particularly important codified system in the design of the works, where point of view is manipulated, resulting in both meaning and restrictions in reading. In the following analysis I explain how perspective is not only visual, but emerges in the spatial as the result of audio and haptics (touch simulation) in the works. Audio establishes the perimeters of representation space, and in doing so it sets the temporal and spatial perspective/s experienced by the reader in reception. Firstly, the audio in the works establishes spatial perspective by breaking up the representational space and marking out significant monumental points for the reader, which establishes the order of narrative.  Audio establishes spatial perspective with spatially arranged “sounds [that] can be heard coming from outside and behind the range of peripheral vision, and a sound of adequate intensity can be felt on and within the body as a whole, thereby dislocating the frontal and conceptual associations of vision with an all-around corporeality and spatiality” (Kahn 1999 27). As a result of the arrangement of audio in design, the conceptually dissociative and embodied properties of sound have the potential to contribute to a representational space which includes the reader. Furthermore, the design of the audio immerses the reader in a physical relation to narrative, as Kahn states, by detaching vision as a conceptual apparatus and rendering the body a site for experience, understanding and spatiality. The positioning of the reader in representational space by design is linked to focalization, or “the perspective in terms of which the narrated situations and events are presented” (Prince 32). In responding to the sonic space of the works, temporal and spatial focalization becomes part of the procedural arrangement of narrative in design. In my examination of audio as a part of design I argue temporal perspective is a result of the focalization in narrative created by audio. The material dimensions of the digital works include the “temporal and spatial relationships [that] are essential to our understanding of [the] narratives and go beyond the specification of a date and a location” (Bridgeman 2005 65). Representational spaces in the works include the reader, as an embodied agent, as a character, or as a perspectival presence in the works. Placing the reader within the representational space of the works results in a restricted or guided experience of narrative.
In the acknowledgement of the page dimension to the digital works, remediation is central for how representational space is negotiated in reading. Remediation, as I have already described, is “the formal logic by which new media refashion prior media forms” (Bolter and Grusin 2000 273) in “the mediation of mediation” (Bolter and Grusin 2000 56). This refashioning can influence the reception of the digital works in terms of reading as a historical and acquired practice. Each reference to an older medium in the digital is also a reference to the reception practices associated with that form. This historical awareness is an important element in reading representational space in the works. Remediation in design is thus meaningful due to the non-verbal qualities it brings to the works. In the digital works each instance of remediation adds perspectives to reading, as a remediated video, a book, or a phone, with each providing a distinct point of view within overall narrative structure. Due to the simulative nature of remediation in the digital works, each example of remediation comes with a perspective on narrative. A virtual-book supposes the physical act of reading and a home video supposes a viewing subject. As I explain in the following analysis, the objects in the digital works are related to themes in design and interaction with them results in reader perspective as part of narrative. What emerges from the triad of object, theme and perspective is the reader physically entering into a relationship with the digital work and performing it according to the structure of its design via its objects.
The object-theme-perspective triad in the digital works develops from the signification of Charles S. Pierce, as “a cooperation of three subjects, such as a sign, its object, and its interpretant, this tri-relative influence not being in any way resolvable into actions between pairs" (Pierce/Houser 1992 411). Space is defined in the works by the interactive elements that operate in narrative according to a triad of object-theme-perspective. The iconic sign is the basis for this triad in reading, which, as I have already clarified in previous chapters, “is a sign fit to be used as such because it possesses the quality signified” (Peirce New Elements Vol. 2 307). The object-theme-perspective triad is activated in the digital works when the object/s within the work are related to a narrative theme and any interaction with the object/s by the reader results in perspective/s on that theme. Repetition enforces the iconic in the works, as it creates meaning at the level of the material according to emphasis. In the design of the digital works, the repetition of a picture, a sound or a word is often meaningful according to its physical manifestation as multiple. This repetition results in the reading of forms and combinations as patterns, based on emphases.[2] Repetition is thus one element in meaningful design that guides reading, and which often spills over from the representational world of narrative into the inhabited world of the reader.  My primary example of this cross over between the narrative function of design and the role design plays in the physical work is monumentality. These exchanges between the physicality of design and the meaning of narrative according to monumentality hold elements of interactional metalepsis.

[1] Such representation in the materials of digital media can be related to how “users of cyberspace have bought into the ‘spatialized’ scenario, complete with its imperialists overtones, by using frontier framework” along with the “highlighting and re-inscribing [of] suburban values” in such representational spaces as The Sims (Flanagan 2000 76). Flanagan’s argument takes up the re-inscription of values upon space that frame particular narrative possibilities. This is highly relevant to the present study.
[2] Emphasis as non-verbal meaning is discussed by Katherine Hayles (See Hayles 1999: 28, 98, 248 and 2005: 173, 182, 189).

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Connecting the Dots: movement, space and the digital image

Friday, 12 April 2013
Location: CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DT


Jenna Ng (CRASSH)


The conference aims to investigate how we might understand and theorise space in relation to the digital image. Building on the recent 'sensory turn' in visual scholarship, the meanings, materialities and values of the image suggested through the interconnectedness of visual and other sensorial relations have revived discussion of the image's transcription of space. Part of this discussion concerns a shift in thinking about visual production and consumption, particularly from mobile media, as happening in movement. At the same time, this shift coincides with the development of digital imaging technologies as digital photography and cinema facilitate new experiences and consumption in movement, in the process encouraging new ways of understanding space and images. The objective of this conference is to bring together scholars in the fields of digital media, architecture, anthropology, design, visual studies, cultural studies, game studies, and any others who are interested in space and digital media to expand on what has so far largely been a 'visual discourse' and to facilitate a dialogue from diverse perspectives about questions of space, movement, the sensorial and the digital.

Confirmed speakers

  • Alan Blackwell, University of Cambridge
  • William Brown, University of Roehampton, London
  • Sean Cubitt, University of Goldsmiths
  • Seth Giddings, University of West of England
  • Asbjørn Grønstad, University of Bergen
  • Markos Hadjioaonnou, Duke University
  • Monique Ingalls, University of Cambridge
  • Trond Lundemo, Stockholm University
  • Lisa Purse, University of Reading
  • Aylish Wood, University of Kent  


Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH),  University of Cambridge.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Finnish/Suomi Freak Noise Folk Compilation

"The music contained here is the sound tracks to a thousand journeys and a million shelters. As we absorb the fragments of our lives in the Digital Empire, we so often lack the sound to step between each momentary space, independent of the machines that control us. The genius of this compilation is in giving us the means to alter total consciousness and vision in city, town, room or field. The music is timeless with jazz folding folk into ritual, raga, soul, chant, wail, steady, noise, groove. Nothing bends twice upon the same step. Loose shanties by lost sailors. This is space music for those still left loving the Earth. Pulse transmission windows to other worlds. Where tribal acoustics meet 1960s American cult TV themes. Way back where, deep in the forest, we left something behind. Somehow it now lies just below the surface in the back streets and taiga of Finland. The world promised us is today as primitive as it is cyberspace, breath and wood and gut string as digital and electric. Technologies of sound go so very deep. These tracks are coded properly; the order is maintained after download to portable device and the flow when played is a wild clockwork journey of sound. Careful attention has been paid to the upward rise and plateaus. There can be little doubt; that which is contained here produces change in the human unit. Beyond the mind there is a universe of possibilities. These sounds are a portal to those states. Traveling around my urban space listening to these bursts of realness, headphones, I felt elated, calm, empty, entranced and even blissful. I remembered things I did not even know I had forgotten. I tasted again the green spaces of freedom and origin.

The jazz mind. To step off from practice into improvisation. To make the unrepeatable, or in other words the impossible. When music began to be written down and ‘musician’ became a profession and no longer a class, the magic left it, as craft mutated into serial production. The scales changed as they are changing again now. Today anyone with a dry space, electricity, a hard drive, screen and motherboard can do it. Magick is now made upon the Bebop skulls of our ancestors. This is music from a dream city. An auditory passport you use without moving. Suddenly faces fit patterns, your blood seems to be made of warm honey. Beauty is in atoms, light and the fall of a hair across a bare shoulder. Shaded for a time from the long hot dry contemplation of the mind. You can only live with Life for so long. Then blindness sets in and you move according to habit, the dull radar of the day to day. Desires pushed back and feelings left simmering or blunted with the plethora of distractions and anesthetics on offer today. But does anyone really deserve that? I am away from there. Olen vapaa mies!

Forty (40!!!) tracks, passages of sound, aural time. We Have No Zen! have scratched harder and broken open the sheltered world of Finnish/Suomi Freak Noise Folk with this outstanding compilation. It may change your life."

James Barrett (aka Nada Baba)
Stockholm, Sweden October 2012