MOBILITIES, COMMUNICATION AND ASIA: POSTCOLONIAL FRAMEWORKS

Edited by Mohan J. Dutta & Raka Shome, National University of Singapore

International Journal of Communication

We are inviting high quality papers on mobilities and communication from interdisciplinary scholars working in the Asian context.

The global movement of capital, commodities, and labor is constituted amid political and economic structures that render salient certain meanings of mobility while at the same time erasing other possibilities for interpreting mobility. Further, the global movement of capital, while enabling and encouraging mobility for some, also render many others immobile, disconnected/erased from the possibilities of movement. To that extent, mobility and immobility are not binaries but are interrelated—an interrelation that expresses and captures the numerous desires and violences of globalization. The figure of the migrant and the various processes of migration make these relations visible while rendering invisible other imaginations of migrancy. Linked to this are mediated and communication practices—such as technology, films, music, social media, remittances, cultural commodities, and more—that play an intrinsic role in shaping and informing various types of migratory movements or lack therefor. Additionally, the transnational migration of communication practices themselves constitute new forms of mobilities and immobilities, agency and identity formations, imaginations and desires.

Communication is central to these above-mentioned processes. For example, technology firms are constantly developing new communication language through software that requires a constant flow of transnational expert workers who are often treated in problematic ways (in terms of cultural recognition and wages) in “host” nations. Similarly, finance capital globally circulates through communicative values and processes (including migrant remittances to their nation of “origin’—a process itself underwritten by non-western values of domesticity and familiality). Transnational movements of celebrities and popular culture (for instance, in Asia) serve diasporic populations in many parts of Asia that have implications for their migrant experience as well as the production of a transnational Asian identity. Disempowered and often stateless migrants (for instance migrant Bangladeshi workers in Asia) connect to or engage their music in their diasporic situations —to produce some sense of cultural security in an otherwise coercive exploitative condition (lacking decent food, shelter, wages and more).

Relations of gender, sexuality, religion, class and nationality are central considerations in these phenomena since migration itself is often wrought with gender and religious violences, discrimination and exploration of poor laborers, and the devaluing of peoples of particular nations in global migratory practices (for instance, White Europeans or Americans are usually seen as “expatriates” while the word migration is reserved for mobilities of non-western peoples even within non-western ‘host’ nations).

Communication Studies as a formal field has hardly paid attention these issues—issues that require urgent exploration from a communication perspective. Such an exploration will further move the field of Communication Studies into considerations of the many dilemmas and challenges of the 21st century that are grounded in the politics of migration.

This edited Special Section seeks to comprehend such phenomena, with specific attention to Asia. It will examine the interplay of communication (broadly considered)—particularly mediated practices—and im/mobilities, attending to how the intersection between the two illustrate the movement of people, labor, representations, commodities, technology and more, across global circuits of culture, economy, and geopolitics.

Submissions will be limited to 6000 words, all-inclusive.

We first solicit detailed abstracts of approximate 500-600 words.

Due: April 31, 2017. Please send abstract to Mohan Dutta at cnmmohan@nus.edu.sg

Authors of selected abstracts will be notified by May 31, 2017.

Final papers due: July 31, 2017. Please submit to Mohan Dutta at cnmmohan@nus.edu.sg

Please follow the author guidelines at http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/about/submissions#authorGuidelines

 

Research Talk – The Design of Physical Rehabilitation Games: The Physical Ambient Abstract Minimalist Game Style

Mr Niels Quinten will be giving a talk on 13 April 2017 (Thursday), from 2 PM to 3 PM. His talk is titled “The Design of Physical Rehabilitation Games: The Physical Ambient Abstract Minimalist Game Style”, and will be held at the CNM Meeting Room.

Abstract: Physical neurorehabilitation is essential for a large number of individuals who have physical impairments and disabilities as a consequence of a stroke or multiple sclerosis (MS). Through neurorehabilitation therapy, people may regain the physical abilities they have lost or retain the physical abilities they have and thereby maximize their quality of life. Based on insights from previous research, we believe digital games can transform often tedious rehabilitation experiences into pleasurable game experiences, which may increase the intensity and length of time spent on the rehabilitation and eventually its efficiency.

However, the translation of neurorehabilitation therapy into digital games presents a number of challenges. One challenge is the integration of physical rehabilitation exercises into the mechanics and dynamics of a stimulating game. Digital games are difficult to design even without the rehabilitation context, and constructively adding specific physical exercises makes this even harder. A second challenge is digitally representing the exercises in a manner that takes into consideration the physical, cognitive and visual impairments of persons who have had a stroke or persons with MS. The physical, cognitive and visual skills needed to play an off-the-shelf game are often high, and may potentially cause difficulties for a target audience that does not fully possess these skills.

In this presentation, I describe how we created the novel physical abstract minimalist rehabilitation game style in order to addresses the above two challenges. Specifically, its design process as well as four resulting game artifacts is discussed. The results of this research present one possible view of how a digital game world can be constructed for rehabilitation games starting from physical exercises and game mechanics while taking into consideration a number of physical, cognitive, and visual impairments.

About the Speaker:

Niels Quinten is an interaction artist, designer and researcher. He is currently roaming through Asia in search of interesting and thought provoking conversations. Before that, he was a lecturer and research coordinator at the Leuven University College of Arts in Belgium. He received his PhD in audiovisual and visual arts at Hasselt University performing practice-based research on the creative design of physical rehabilitation games, his work has been published and exhibited internationally.

 

 

 

 

Venue: AS6, 03-33, CNM Meeting Room

Date:  13 April 2017 (Thursday)

Time: 2 PM – 3 PM

Repertoires of Collective Action in the IT Capital of India

In recent years, better access to the internet has dramatically changed the character of collective civic and political actions. It’s a global phenomenon that Dr Anuradha Rao and Prof Mohan J Dutta from NUS’ Department of Communications and New Media investigate in an article published in Communication Monographs (November 2016). They pay special attention to the motivations and collective actions of Internet-based urban civil society groups in Bangalore, India’s IT City.

Their paper identifies a range of factors that influence collective action, including attitudes toward the Internet as a tool for democratic engagement, ideological motivations, and the tensions that seethe between traditional and new civil society actors in the city. The authors argue that such ethnographic enquiry is significant in highlighting the potential impacts as well as dangers of any collective action that is fueled by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The paper recommends more of such grounded assessments of the nuances, limits, and impacts of ICT application in collective action within the complex, developing societies in Asia.

How Digital Media Designers Can Help Field Biologists

Dr Andrew Quitmeyer, who recently starred in the groundbreaking Discovery Channel documentary “Hacking the Wild”, has been on a lifelong quest to investigate the boundless potential that digital media can play in biological field work. Now a faculty member of NUS’ Department of Communications and New Media, Andrew will present at Creativity and Cognition 2017, detailing his exciting collaboration with field biologists. The outcome of the research seeks not only to create, but also evaluate a design framework for inventing digital devices that help to explore animal behaviours in their natural habitat.

Andrew’s paper quickly shares the main concepts and theories from the fields that form Digital Naturalism’s foundation, and describes the key challenges emerging from these critical intersections between field biology and computational media. It then reviews the development of this research’s hybrid methodology that was designed specifically for its multi-year series of Qualitative Action Research fieldwork carried out at a rainforest field station.

This paper analyses the resulting on-site ethnographies, workshops, design projects, and interactive performances, whose takeaways are synthesised into design guidelines for digital-natural media. The framework, itself, is then evaluated via an extra iteration of fieldwork and the results discussed. Finally, the paper identifies targets for continued research development. Further areas of interest, which will promote Digital Naturalism’s progression into its own topic of study, will also be explored.

With Andrew’s seminal work, designers now possess a reliable set of guidelines to develop digital tools for field biologists. The framework is important precisely because they strive to support their scientific process from the ground up. This can lead to better tools allowing the scientists to pose new questions about the natural world.

Research Talk – Cracking the Blackbox

Mr Danja Vasiliev and Ms Sarah Grant will be giving a talk on 24 March 2017 (Friday), 3 PM to 4 PM as part of the Random Blends 2017 preview ceremony. Their talk is titled “Cracking the Blackbox”, and will be held at the ArtScience Museum. More details about the talk can be found in the poster below:

About the Speakers:

Danja Vasiliev is a Critical Engineer currently living and working in Berlin. He studies systems and networks through anti-disciplinary experimentation, using hardware, firmware, and software to create works of critical engineering. Since 1999, Danja has been involved in computer technology events, media art exhibitions and seminars worldwide. He has received a number of awards and mentions, including at Ars Electronica, Japan Media Art Festival, and Transmediale, among others. In October 2011, he co-authored The Critical Engineering Manifesto with his colleagues Julian Oliver and Gordan Savičić. In his day-to-day life, Danja works with Linux software and promotes open source practices in all aspects of life. He is currently artist-in-residence at Tembusu College, NUS. See http://k0a1a.net and http://criticalengineering.org.

Sarah Grant, a NYC and Berlin-based media artist and teacher, is interested in demystifying wireless and radio technology for the ordinary citizen. Her research is focused on exploring our relationship with wireless technologies, developing educational tools, and opening up these technologies for their creative potential and critical examination. She is also the author of Subnodes, a popular open source DIY networking project since 2012. She earned her Masters from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Programme, and has been a Research Fellow at the Tow Centre for Journalism at Columbia, an Adjunct Professor at NYU Polytechnic in Digital Media, and an Impact Resident at the Eyebeam Art and Technology Centre, where she organises the Radical Networks conference in Brooklyn. She is currently artist-in-residence at Tembusu College, NUS. See http://chootka.com and http://radicalnetworks.org.

Date: 24 March 2017 (Friday)

Time: 3 PM – 4PM

Venue: Level 4, ArtScience Museum – as a part of the Opening Preview Tour for the CNM Random Blends 2017 Interceptions Showcase.

Research Talk – Artificial art? – A view on machinic vision beyond classification and representation

Dr. Alexander König will be giving a talk on 17 Mar 2017 (Friday) at 3 PM.  The talk is titled “Artificial art? – A view on machinic vision beyond classification and representation”, and will be held at the CNM Meeting Room. More details about the talk can be found in the poster below:

 

Abstract: Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) have rapidly developed in recent years and now play a major role in the fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence. The theoretical foundations for these software-models originated from the field of computational neuro-science. CNN models are programmed to run through self-optimization processes by evaluating large amounts of data. This “learning process” enables them to independently classify new, unlabelled data. Currently CNN technology is used by scientists to explore fields of art and creativity – neural representations separate and recombine content and style of arbitrary images, generating an algorithm for the creation of artistic images. For example, by way of this process the aesthetic style of Van Gogh can be applied to any other digital image. CNN Models are applied to look for similar objects and bodies in large painting-databases of art institutions. CNN-Systems are also capable of generating photorealistic pictures out of these drawings. These innovations give an intriguing new perspective to creative arts research, and open up the field for an interdisciplinary discussion between science, technology and the arts. To this date, current research on the interconnection between CNN and art operate on the semiotic level of indexicality; the content is an object that can be classified by machinic vision. However, if art can be seen as exceeding the idea of mere representation since modes of modernism proceeded to question the nature of art practice and the art object itself as a commodity; what can be found if this indexicality is reversed and these images are to be taken as the constitution of reality itself? In 1977 Douglas Crimp curated a very influential art exhibition in New York called “Pictures” where his focus was not on the media of the exhibited pictures (paintings, photographs, films etc.) but rather on their representation. Through this act of contextualization the difference between pictures of the cultural industries and art was blurred. The ambition of art as an autonomous act from the artist was questioned and held up for reappraisal. Functioning in a similar CNN therefore provides interesting concepts and delivers powerful tools for such an approach towards art and opens up new relevant questions for culture and society.

Venue: CNM Meeting Room (AS6 03-33)

Date: 17 March 2017

Time: 3 PM – 4 PM

Research Talk – Automation of Public Relations

Professor Anne Gregory, Professor of Corporate Communication at University of Huddersfield, will be speaking on automation and the effect of automation on the public relations profession. Her talk is titled “Automation of Public Relations”, and will be held at the CNM Meeting Room on 3rd March 2017 (Friday). More details about the talk can be found in the poster below:

 

Venue: CNM Meeting Room (AS6 03-33)

Date: 3 March 2017

Time: 2 PM – 3 PM

TAKING DIGITAL TO THE WILD

Come 15 February 2017, Dr Andrew Quitmeyer, who recently came on board the CNM family, will be starring in Discovery Channel’s ‘Hacking the Wild’ series. The series is based on Dr Quitmeyer’s research about building electronics and using technology to survive in the wilderness or Digital Naturalism (watch the trailer here).

“What is Digital Naturalism?”, you ask. Dr Quitmeyer says, “Digital Naturalism is about using all the cool new abilities that computers can give us for exploring nature. It’s about figuring out how to make our own DIY sensors, robotics, and portable tools to let people interact with and discover new questions in the wilderness”. You can read more about the concepts of Digital Naturalism at www.digitalnaturalism.org.

Dr Quitmeyer at one of his research expeditions

Dr Quitmeyer currently teaches the NM4225 – Design Fiction and GET1033 – Exploring Computational Media modules. Students in NM4225 will be exposed to Digital Naturalism as they explore a special topic this semester on “creating new cool ideas for the future of how humans interact with the natural environment”. They recently went on a field-trip to ACRES (Animal Concerns & Education Society) to understand the challenges that animal rescue organisations face, when urban environments intermingle with Singapore’s natural flora and fauna. As a result of which, organisations such as ACRES spend hours rescuing pythons that get stuck in gutters near hawker centers, flying squirrels that get stuck in glue traps and endangered pangolins hit by cars. Dr Quitmeyer shares that students were given lots of inspiration for coming up with new solutions to a wide variety of real-world problems, from this trip.

Students from NM4225 during their trip to ACRES, experiencing Digital Naturalism first-hand

Apart from teaching at CNM, Dr Quitmeyer is looking forward to knowing more about the ‘makers’ scenario in Singapore and hopes to set up mobile makerspaces for people to study and create prototypes in nature, with instruments ranging from electronics to laser cutters. He also works on grants with people from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Climate Foundation to fund art-science projects surrounding growing massive kelp farms deep in south-east Asian oceans. His recent work includes building a floating makerspace to study coral reefs in Dumaguete, Phillipines, check it out here https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=n0L-SNO4A5w

Talking about the ‘Hacking the Wild’ series, Dr Quitmeyer says, “Filming for Hacking the Wild was pretty crazy. Usually my research expeditions before in my PHD work, were not really funded, and so we had to improvise, and were constantly figuring out solutions on the spot. I thought once I was working on the TV show, that things would be way more figured out beforehand. Ha! Instead those hacking and improvisation skills were constantly being used to make new weird devices to help navigate and explore the environments I got tossed into. It was a really amazing experience working with top of the line filmmakers who, just like me, were always having to modify and hack their own equipment to adapt to the environment. This adaption of technology to wild new environments is at the core of my research in “Digital Naturalism,” and I was happy I could continue my research in this way.”

The show which premieres on Feb 15 10pm EST in the US (Feb 16 at 11am in Singapore), will be broadcasted in Singapore later this year, but Dr Quitmeyer is planning to host a live premiere screening and give personal commentary. For those interested, do join the live screening at LT 7A, Building 36 at 11am on 16th Feb 2017.

Imagining India in Discourse – Meaning, Power & Structure

In this upcoming book, Prof Dutta writes about the particular aspirations of Indian politics, economy, and society registered in elite discourses that imagine India.

More about the book

The economic liberalization of India, changes in global structures, and the rapid emergence of India on the global landscape have been accompanied by the dramatic rise in popular, public, and elite discourses that offer the promise to imagine India. Written mostly in the future tense, these discourses conceive of India through specific frames of global change and simultaneously offer prescriptive suggestions for the pathways to fulfilling the vision.  Both as summary accounts of the shifts taking place in India and in the relationships of India with other global actors as well as roadmaps for the immediate and longer term directions for India, these discourses offer meaningful entry points into elite imaginations of India. Engaging these imaginations creates a framework for understanding the tropes that are mobilized in support of specific policy formulations in economic, political, cultural, and social spheres.  Connecting meanings within networks of power and structure help make sense of the symbolic articulations of India within material relationships.