DCRC official launch
Digital Cultures Research Centre
About 100 guests from across academic and industry came to the studio on Tuesday for the launch of the University of the West of England's Digital Cultures Research Centre. We have signed a three year partnership deal with the centre and it was incredible to see how much has already been produced.
Jon Dovey did a great speech which brilliantly captured the ethos, plans and projects of the centre - here it is, in his words, the full unimprovised version of the speech:
"Well the first thing I want to say is that the Digital Cultures Research Centre has the wrong name ! Its not the Digital Cultures part – it’s the ‘Centre’ – in truth we’re less of a Centre and more of a network. Of course we will call ourselves a centre because that’s the recognised institutional framing – but the team of Nick Triggs, Sam Kinsley, Constance Fleuriot, and myself is the hub of a network of researchers from across the University who share a common interest, in the transformations of everyday life that are being brought about by digital communications technologies. These digital transformations have become a ubiquitous part of life in the condition of what I call permanent upgrade culture – yesterdays new media has already become today’s taken for granted data ecosystem. But there is still much left to fight for, now more than ever we understand that technological outcomes are determined by users as much as they are by the corporate state. That’s where we come in.
We’re building on a strong tradition of engagement in this field that UWE has had for 15 years through work of Martin Lister, Helen Kennedy and myself in Cultural Studies, in the pioneering work at Art & Design who as it turns out were prototypical early adopters of the Apple Mac design and media revolution; we also build on the spirit of the old community information systems group in Computer Science. We are actively working across Art & Design, Cultural & Media Studies and Computer Sciences in the University to investigate the ways in which people make culture through their use of digital communications. Its our shared belief that just as we are formed shaped and configured by the communication devices that we use so we also shape and configure our shared world through the way we use them. In short we, ordinary and extraordinary users alike, are being enabled to shape our worlds in unprecedented ways.
Here at the DCRC we are investigating these processes by focussing on the three broad themes of PLAY, USER GENERATED CONTENT, AND PERVASIVE MEDIA. Our researches are in all three modes of theoretical, applied and practice led. We think about, reflect upon and critically analyse the technology / culture interface; we find ways in which that reflection can be made useful to world represented by our external partners; and we experiment and innovate with digital media through creative arts practices. Our unique selling point is this particular mix of criticality, creativity and application.
We already have an extraordinary range of seed projects and substantive research underway, some of which are on show here today. You cansample the full range on our new Website. Some of our other headline projects include a recent symposium on the Ethics of Pervasive Media, thinking about where our data traces go; wehave forthcoming event on Play Gesture & Technology that will look at the body as interface and another conference called Access All Areas about the explosion of non professional media on the web . In September we’re running a major European Science Fund conference in Sweden called Paying Attention that will explore the ways that our attention is being commodified through data mining techniques. We are working with SW Screen to evaluate their major new iFeatures film production scheme, with a researcher who has unique access to the funding and decision making process; and we have a major AHRC Knowledge Transfer Fellowship with our colleagues at the Pervasive Media Studio in which academic time is devoted to supporting the studio in defining and selling its work. On the immediate horizon we are in the process of developing a data visualisation project with the City Council which will offer artists a commission to visualise carbon reduction data in city council buildings. This a keynote project – we will be brokering a relationship between creative artists and the city in order to raise people’s awareness of the carbon footprints in an environment based on smart building that can tell us what they’re doing but not always in languages that are very interesting.
I hope you can see here the mix of abstract analysis, creative experiment, and pragmatic application that we are aiming for. Of course its early days. But we’re building some interesting foundations. We are especially excited about our location here at the Pervasive Media Studio and the university’s partnership investment here. This relationship signals a really important quality of our network – its willingness to engage beyond the conventional boundaries of the University. I think I can safely assert that we’re all interested in our work making a difference; we’re here, now, part of University of the West of England & DCRC because we’d like our work to have a genuine impact and to be part of real knowledge exchange. I’d like to think that the legacy of our different roots in UWE is that this new Centre has engagement as part of its cultural DNA.
So the message is that we’re open for business ! If you or your organisation has work that could benefit from academic partnership , from reflective analysis or from creative production then maybe our access to academic Research Council Funds and your access to commercial or public investment might be mutually beneficial ! Please do talk to our sales representatives wearing the blue badges.
We have an experimental eco system in development here. A prototypical laboratory for new relationships between knowledge production, creativity, and application. When you make experiments, in a lab , or a studio, you don’t know exactly whats going to happen – that’s the point, But I’m pretty sure that’s its going to be an interesting ride and that in a few years time we will be a recognised feature not only of a regional, but also of a national and global research community. I look forward to further celebrations with you all as we mark future milestones to success.
There a too many people whose goodwill, intellect and money have got us to this point for me to thank them all by name. A few personal standouts – Martin Lister for laying the groundwork and being my mentor; Jane Arthurs for seeing the possibilities and luring me back from the other place up the hill to take advantage of them, to Paul Gough for seeing the point from the start, and to the Studio Management Team of Clare Reddington, Phil Stenton and of course Dick Penny for never passing up a partnership opportunity.
It only remains for me to name this network the DCRC – God bless her and all who sail in her!