8 – 10 September 2019
Navigating between virtual/physical environments and information bubbles
Over the past years, immersive technologies have been hyped as consumer gadgets, entertainment media and the future of exhibition practices. The free distribution of VR headsets with smartphones and the increasing interest of museums, festivals and other cultural organisers towards ‘immersive digital content’ have quickly turned VR and AR devices and applications into widely recognized cultural artefacts. The promotion of ‘full immersion’ in the physical spaces of exhibitions and museums has led to some venues relying solely on interactive projections and audience interaction. However, just like many earlier ‘new media’ before them, the hyperbolic promises attached to these technologies’ supposed capacity to deliver immediacy and trigger a paradigm shift in media culture have thus far hardly become reality.
Meanwhile, social media platforms enable the formation of communities where members immerse themselves in alternate networks of signification in which conspiracy theories are embedded in seemingly consistent information clouds. While these information bubbles are often – but not necessarily correctly – associated with economically and socially disenchanted communities that reject intellectualism, they can also be read as reflections of some of the keystones of post-structuralist thought, especially in their fostering of a rhizomatic approach to ‘fact finding’ and a consistent suspicion that the everyday is in fact a ‘hyperreal’ constructed by entities of power.
The Digital Research in the Humanities and Arts (DRHA) conference 2019 will examine these two perspectives on immersion in digital culture, and aims to identify some of their broader ideological frameworks as well as develop detailed insights into the workings of specific technologies in relation to their promises.
Watermans Arts Centre is the major arts centre in West London, housing an independent cinema, a 250-seat theatre, creative spaces for the community, and an internationally renowned contemporary art gallery dedicated to new media art. The centre is situated in a stunning location on the banks of the River Thames and opposite Kew Gardens with a large riverside café bar and restaurant.
The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama is a Higher Education conservatoire – a specialist college nurturing creative collaboration. Courses include acting, applied theatre, movement, musical theatre, drama & movement therapy, theatre & live performance, puppetry, scenography, actor & teacher training, voice, technical arts & production, and writing for stage & broadcast media. With over 60 members of academic staff, together with visiting artists and lecturers, Central has the largest grouping of drama/theatre/performance specialists in the UK, an active research culture and constitutes an active hub for the theatre and performance sectors.
Conference convenors and exhibition curator
Dr Dani Ploeger is an artist and academic who explores situations of conflict and crisis on the fringes of the world of high-tech consumerism. His objects, videos, and apps emphasize both the fragility and rawness of the materiality of everyday technologies, and question the sanitized, utopian marketing around innovation and its implications for local and global power dynamics. In this context, quasi-journalistic journeys often provide the starting point for the development of his works. He has made a VR installation while embedded with frontline troops in East-Ukraine, travelled to dump sites in Nigeria to collect electronic waste originating from Europe, and interviewed witnesses of US drone attacks in Pakistan for a project around sound and technologies of violence. He is currently an artistic researcher at Leiden University (The Netherlands) and a Research Fellow at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama University of London (UK), where he has led several research projects into consumer technology, waste and conflict. www.daniploeger.org
Dr Elena Papadaki is an academic and cultural practitioner who specialises in the curation of screen media in diverse physical environments. Having previously held posts at the Hellenic Ministry of Culture (department of Museum Studies), the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece and the Hellenic Council of Museums (ICOM Greece), she has over ten years of professional experience in the arts and museum sector. A voting member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the International Committee for Audiovisual and New Technologies of Image and Sound (AVICOM), her research interests lie in the intersection of screen-based arts, spatial theory, and audience reception. She is currently a lecturer in Curation and Digital Arts at University of Greenwich, and a founder of Incandescent Square, a collaborative meeting point for research and design. With the latter, she has curated and/or managed projects in Greece, Portugal and France. https://www.gre.ac.uk/people/rep/fach/elena-papadaki
Klio Krajewska is an independent curator specialised in conceiving and producing exhibitions and events in the field of contemporary/media/digital art. She regularly collaborates with the WRO Art Center and the WRO Media Art Biennale in Wrocław, Poland. Other recent projects include Recording Against Regimes (2013) and Keep it Real! (2014-15) which took place in Cairo, Egypt, and considered art in times of political transition and the relationships between arts and crafts. In 2017, she curated a project on the integration of art in the preservation of local heritage and sustainable development of rural and urban areas in Sanjia (Guangxi), China. A graduate of philosophy and urban governance studies, Klio is a co-founder and member of the strategic committee of the 7 Billion Urbanists Network as a consultant for digital, urban, and social innovation in contemporary cities. She is also a member of the governing body of DRAW – International Digital Week Paris. Since 2018, she has been Head of New Media Arts Development at Watermans Arts Centre in London. She lives between Paris, Wrocław and London.