The Spring 2014 admits represent a broad range of interests and methodologies, hailing from Art Practice, Computer Science, English, Information Science, Italian Studies, Performance Studies, and Rhetoric. They are already fully engaged in the BCNM program, with many participating in Gail de Kosnik’s Color of New Media Working Group and the graduate student New Media Working Group. In addition, Laura Devendorf is serving as a Teaching Assistant for Kimiko Ryokai this semester, while Helena Keeffe is creating a forum that will enable artists to access resources and define personal standards related to the value of their labor through the BCNM Data Literacy Fellowship. For more information on our incoming class, clickhere.
The research talks evidenced the diverse and compelling work our students undertake. As Director Greg Niemeyer noted, they were however all linked by the common thread of change, and therefore exemplified the Berkeley Center for New Media mission to explore innovation so as to critique the status quo.
Chris Goetz, a candidate in Film & Media Studies, discussed a chapter about pinball from his dissertation entitled “Shades of Empowerment: Play Fantasies in Convergence Culture.” The dissertation explores how play fantasy is a crucial tool for videogame analysis in the context of media convergence in the 1990s and 2000s. He argues that the dynamic psychological process of fantasy provides stabilizing feelings of empowerment that subtend play and connect games to one another as well as to other media. In his pinball chapter, he investigated cultural responses to the game, shifting from suspicion over associated gambling and racketeering, to widespread acceptance as pinball became a symbol for manhood. He argued that videogames have inherited this cultural legacy – as seen in the buff shooter games – even while moving into the domesticated space of the household.
Tiffany Ng, a candidate in Music, presented her research project, “New Performing Arts Centers in the Chinese Global City,” which interrogates the intersection of classical music and new media in contemporary China. Augmented by new media technologies, classical music has taken a high-profile role in China’s ongoing construction of the global cosmopolitan city. She pointed out the incongruities that have arisen with this development – modern theaters are being built among traditional architecture and perform classical Western works; cell-toting and instagramming audience members are censured by ushers; the state streams classical radio while locking down the internet; the buildings are composed of LED façade screens that advertise a wealthy, consumer culture. She argues that these divergences expose the performing arts center as a stage for political privilege and power, undermining the illusion of ubiquitous, universal access to classical music.
Lone Bak-Strandgaard, a visiting scholar from the Danish Agency for Science, Technology, and Innovation, studies self-service payment for transport. She discussed her work comparing the Danish travel card to the Bay area’s Clipper card. Outlining the different organizational structures surrounding both regions’ move to self-service payment, she depicted the the impact on innovation that various stakeholders and means of dissemination can have.