Reporting on a Graduate Student Symposium


Thank you to graduate student Gian Mancuso for this guest post on the Invisible Cities graduate symposium, held in conjunction with the Total Money Makeover Conference, which was featured last week. There were speakers, exhibits, not to mention a fantastic opening reception.–JLH

After a heartfelt welcome from the very gracious Prof. Victoria Lamont, Prof. Beth Coleman set the stage for the impetus behind this symposium, carving a path from Italo Calvino to the Internet of Things, located knowledge, new media production, big data, and scholarship.

Our first keynote speaker, Marc Tuters, explored the overlooked history of augmented reality and its impact on a certain ‘West Coast’ ideology by looking through the eyes, so to speak, of Google Glass. This fascinating analysis was also a demonstration of what Tuters calls Media Genealogy, an approach founded on Foucault’s ideas on genealogy as a method for deconstructing truths that appear ahistorical and untouched by the operations of power–the kind of truths which are pervasive in Silicon Valley.

Cameron Butt explored the implied, invisible city of Windsor in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor by examining the locative semiotics of exit and entrance direction, and posits that a computational analysis of these patterns may reveal new knowledge and understanding of the plays of Shakespeare and others.

Toronto Sound Map

Toronto Sound Prints creators Scott Kobewka and Sheraz Khan exhibited their stunning works and explained their methodologies, musing on potential applications and future directions in this project. You can see more of the project and listen in on the sounds that generated the images here.

Ned Prutzer analyzed two locative art projects, Mushon Zer-Aviv’s You Are Not Here: A Dislocative Tourism Agency (YANH) and Paolo Cirio’s Street Ghosts, illustrating how each designer’s Situationist tactics demystifies the invisible yet pervasive technological infrastructures of our modern cities.

Lauren Burr and Sarah Gibbons presented their locative augmented reality game Cytopath. They spoke about their design vision of remapping bio-ethical concerns and arguments onto Kitchener’s downtown core, and the challenges they faced in implementing it.

Our second keynote speaker, Dr. Nicholas Balaisis, reminded us that media can have alternate histories, that even ‘old’ media can have new and emergent uses today. Thanks to a half-century long embargo, film remains ‘new’ media in the foothills of rural Cuba, where dedicated and creative individuals innovate on the material practices of an old form to bring their love of film to those who would otherwise never have the opportunity to see it, viscerally demonstrating that innovation is not limited to what is new, and stagnation to what is old.

A big thank you again to our sponsors, the Canadian Association for American Studies (CAAS), the Critical Media Lab, City as Platform, and the University of Waterloo’s English Language and Literature department. We encourage everyone to keep the discussions going and keep in touch with any progress you make on your projects.


One response to “Reporting on a Graduate Student Symposium

  1. Sounds like there were some fascinating and thoughtful speeches from the individuals speaking here, thanks for the report of the day!

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