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HASTAC2013 conference: seeking shelter - mobilizing creative and archival practices

HASTAC2013 conference: seeking shelter - mobilizing creative and archival practices

I was delighted to moderate Session 2 (lightning talks) on Friday, April 26th at #HASTAC2013. It was a great panel, dealing with ontological, epistimological and creative concerns.  All participants stayed to time so we were able to have a full 20 minutes of discussion with everyone in the room. The participants were:

  • Patricio Davila and Dave Colangelo, “The Mapping and the Territory: Architectural Projection Mapping at the Archives of Ontario” [and this project was premiered that night, onsite at the conference - gorgeous!]

  • Ashley Scarlett, “Informational Matters: Investigating the Materials of New Media Art” [an incredibly erudite offering that contextualized Ashley's work beautifully and elevated the panel]

  • Aysegul Koc, “Technology and Displacement”
 [a dynamic use of blackboard and the language(s) of displacement, identity and technology]

  • D. Lloyd Gray, “The Content Delivery Complex and the Attention Bubble: Digital Saturation and the Limits of Content Monetization” [a grounded discussion of content monetization in Canada and the "attention economy"]

  • Mary Elizabeth Luka, “Seeking Shelter – Mobilizing Creative And Archival Practices To Build A House Of Theory 

Thanks to everyone there - and to the organizers of the conference, Caitlin Fisher and Maureen Engel, and their amazing team, who did a fantastic job for us. 

Special thanks to Hexagram | CIAM for providing funding through a Hexagram | CIAM internationalization grant to assist me in attending HASTAC2013. And, as always, thanks to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for funding through the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship program for multi-year support.



Fiona Barnett asked us scholars to post our talks and slide shows. My talk is below and these are my slides. If you want the full experience, just imagine the images rolling by more-or-less at 4-second intervals to support and illustrate the text. 


Seeking Shelter – Mobilizing Creative And Archival Practices To Build A House Of Theory

I’m interested in the relationship between art and media production and dissemination and in the meaning and potential of creative citizenship: the work of artists and creative producers in daily life and professional engagements. My focus is on production practices and creativity in cultural media production: where arts and broadcasting intersect. More specifically, my doctoral research is an in-depth, highly reflexive study of the long-running television and internet program, CBC ArtSpots [1997-2008], for which I was founder and executive producer.

What can an investigation of such an extended intervention in public broadcasting indicate about the modes, flows and networks of creativity in relation to media production practices and the media landscape in Canada? By using ArtSpots as the key case study, insights can be generated about a sustained artistic involvement in the public broadcasting and digital media system.

Through a research-creation dissertation project, I mobilize useful convergences in Canadian cultural and communications theory, including digital humanities and recent visual arts and broadcast practices and policy, to help frame how media and artistic content is created and disseminated. My “house of theory” enables the examination of everyday creative actions by individual and collective creators.

A deeply reflexive and generative set of investigations is engaged through the process-oriented approach demanded by research-creation. Key participants in the original ArtSpots project are re-involved through recorded interviews and discussion groups. Together, we probe the legacy of ArtSpots on shifts in production and broadcasting practices of the time, including emerging digital media spaces. This allows me to scrutinize my own position as the original founder and executive producer – and as a researcher-maker – while opening up the rich bodies of expertise made accessible by generous networks of creative colleagues.

Research-creation underlines my own commitments to knowledge production in the digital humanities through a feminist media studies and visual culture stance. In particular, I make new media projects that interrogate and re-present art in relation to public broadcasting. In doing so, I acknowledge the influence of popular culture, the promise of digital humanities as a scholarly endeavour, and the articulation of lived experience. My feminist stance refines understandings of empowerment strategies in media production and broadcasting, sharing a more general commitment to the ways in which political and cultural economy approaches can delineate systemic limits, opportunities and flows of power. For example, I examine ways in which networked resources and experiences make space for specific individuals and groups, in part through interventions by those individuals and groups in at least two temporalities: then (1997-2008) and now (2012-13).

Making work and sharing it for feedback enables me to constructively inspect and repurpose targeted digital broadcast materials sourced from the corporate and my personal ArtSpots archives. It also acknowledges my ethical responsibilities to the people, circumstances and the creative work under scrutiny. Together, these actions directly address artists’ ability to intervene, understand and influence production practices. Discoveries about how to access and direct the flow of media industry resources in simultaneous service to artistic intent confront the potentially totalizing narratives of ArtSpots as only “mandate,” or “experimental” programming. From this examination, a nuanced understanding of how cultural space and time are fashioned emerges.

Research-creation techniques and strategies currently include:

  • recording and logging interviews and group discussions;
  • editing over 100 short videos to prioritize participant feedback;
  • appropriating a select amount of existing ArtSpots program materials (with the permission of the copyright-holders) to juxtapose and integrate these with the research participant videos;
  • producing three iterative dynamic documentary production projects (the korsakow-films)
  • seeking feedback on these from colleagues and peers (let me know if you want to be included in this)

These strategies reflect the processes used at ArtSpots itself, and are reflexive about them as practices and as indicators of the flows of power and resources with the media industry. In other words, this research-creation project probes ArtSpots as a multi-modal, networked centre of production, curation and connection, in part, by creating a newly networked centre of connection, production, and curation.

I promised you my house of theory…. 

To make the operationalization of creative citizenship viable metaphorically, visualize it in an open-concept kitchen-dining room. This is shared space, with shared responsibilities. In this house lives an extended and diverse ‘family’ that always has company: people coming and going all the time. The unfenced front yard is a public sphere where artists collaborate with neighbours on open-source work. The driveway and walkways to the house provide entry points for technological and other resources. The broadly defined arts are a wraparound porch: a deep fount of inspiration and tradition. Creative citizen workrooms provide space for the production of aesthetics and meaning. This is where identity, diversity and innovation originate, acting as centres to bring creators such as filmmakers, graphic designers and fashion models together with policy, technology, open-source practices, and artistic traditions or training. There’s also a sizeable space for those practicing creative citizenship without direct economic application: where an artist goes into a school to work with children, or a public broadcasting production features work by an artist, for example.

There are hallways and open passageways everywhere, since most people play more than one role. On one side of the house, core audiences other than professional practitioners can be found, consuming and reacting to media production in a media room. These include the small, passionate fan-bases: those who write the back stories for a television series, or organize unconferences, or remix content from websites and present it as their own. Alongside the artists and the cultural citizens, Bourdiuevian cultural intermediaries such as games-makers, urban planners and Bollywood media moguls can be found, working on applied cultural aggregations and developing commercial services and applications. More intermediaries can be found in the open-concept kitchen among the artists (sometimes they are simultaneously the artists) on nonprofit or “pure research” corollaries in cultural curation, aggregation and stewardship activities such as cultural websites (the Google art project or ArtSpots), or public broadcasting as a whole.Of course, I have both over-simplified and over-extended my metaphor here but it helps indicate the productive flows and intersections generated. The metaphor serves to indicate the tangible nature of cultural spaces that are created through engagement in the rhythm of production practices, creative decision-making, and temporal and capital flows. By visualizing it, I begin to map it and discuss it. 



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