Category Archives: Digital Media

Critical Media Lab Showcase

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MAKING. MEDIA. THEORY: A Critical Media Lab Showcase

The students of ENGL 799: Making Media Theory are pleased to present the results of their course-based work at the Communitech Hub. These hacked-together, interactive projects reflect on complex theories such as brainwave storytelling, conductive upcyclying, technosexuality, automated genocide, dirty media, digital devolution, and the value of uselessness.

In addition, XDM MA student Brian Freiter will be presenting his immersive Major Research Project, which explores tactics for deflecting surveillance capitalism. Professor Marcel O’Gorman will also showcase his new video installation, “Treachery,” which premiered at Propellor Gallery in Toronto this summer. Finally, CML co-op interns Sridevi Kundurthi and Shelby Rose with display an eye-opening animation that introduces high school students to responsible device usage.

Date: Wednesday, July 24, 4 – 7 p.m.
Location: Communitech Hub, Area 151, 151 Charles Street West, Kitchener
Refreshments will be served.

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Where did the Critical Media Lab go?

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Planning on attending a CML event? Then this will be important information! The Critical Media Lab, of the University of Waterloo English Department, is now located in the Tannery, within Communitech‘s corporate innovation lab, 151 Charles St W., Kitchener. They report: “We’re excited to bring our lens on critical making and ethical tech into this environment.” Expect to hear more about upcoming events hosted in this space.

3D printing methods and poetics?


On Monday, October 29th, drop by the University of Waterloo English’s Critical Media Lab (44 Gaukel St., Kitchener). Digital artist and writer Aaron Tucker will be giving a talk and workshop on 3D printing methods and poetics.

Aaron Tucker is the author of the novel Y: Oppenheimer, Horseman of Los Alamos (Coach House Books) as well as two books of poetry, Irresponsible Mediums: The Chess Games of Marcel Duchamp (Book*hug Press) and punchlines (Mansfield Press), and two scholarly cinema studies monographs, Virtual Weaponry: The Militarized Internet in Hollywood War Films and Interfacing with the Internet in Popular Cinema (both published by Palgrave Macmillan).

A funeral for your flip phone

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Is it time to say your final goodbye to that old and broken iPhone SE? BlackBerry Curve?? Flip phone??? The University of Waterloo English’s Critical Media Lab presents “Digital Rituals.” Bring your old cell phones and smartphones to 44 Gaukel and give them the funeral service they deserve. “Digital Rituals” runs every Tuesday, June 5, 12, 19, 26 from 5-7 PM and Saturdays, June 9 and 30 from 1-4 PM.

All phone e-waste will be responsibly recycled by Ontario Electronic Stewardship.

Lock up your demons–or just your phone

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Finding it hard to put down your phone? Drop by the University of Waterloo English’s Critical Media Lab, 44 Gaukel, on Wednesday, May 30 from 6-8pm for a FREE PUBLIC “Resistor Case” workshop. Make a case for your smartphone, and we’ll make a case for putting your phone in it.

As CBC reports, in an interview with English’s Dr. Marcel O’Gorman:

The Resistor Case is essentially a pouch you make for your phone. It comes as a kit — you get fabric, rivets, nails and Velcro — and you hammer it all together to make a small fabric holder.

The idea is that when you want to focus, you put your phone in the Resistor Case. Your device stays on you, but it’s out of sight. Access is hampered only by the very loud Velcro.

As O’Gorman says, you can check your phone, but everyone will know what you’re up to. “It prompts [the user] to self-regulate,” he said. “You can do it, but there are consequences.”

By creating a buffer between the person and their device, the Resister Case can be “a call to conscience,” without triggering the anxiety a number of people have when they are separated from their phones.

“The ‘take the phones away’ approach isn’t going to work,” he said. “That’s why the case is a semi-permeable membrane. You can still access it, but it’s not easy to access.”

Defy the snow: come to the XDM exhibition!

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It’s snowing and it’s April, and it’s AWFUL, I know. I just helped a 93 year-old with a walker who couldn’t make it across campus in the snow. But he still came out to an event on campus today.

Let him be your inspiration. Defy the snow and come out tonight to the English department’s MA program in Experimental Digital Media (XDM) annual XDM Exhibition. This year’s exhibition is Codes of Conduct and will feature works from students and community members that provides critical commentary on theoretical areas such as code and algorithm, our digital habits and behaviours, and other sociotechnical intersections. This event will be held in conjunction with the Digital Playground exhibition of Computer Science and Fine Arts students’ projects in the Computational Art course.

The event will be catered and licensed.

Date: Friday, April 6 Time: 6-9 pm
Place: Critical Media Lab
44 Gaukel St. Kitchener

Dr. Marcel O’Gorman on locking up your smartphone

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In case you missed it, Dr. Marcel O’Gorman of UWaterloo English has an article in The Atlantic discussing his research on digital abstinence, titled “The Case for Locking Up Your Smartphone.” An excerpt:

“Michael I. Norton, Daniel Mochon, and Dan Ariely coined the “IKEA effect” to name the increase in value people assign to self-made products. With the Resistor Case, I’m counting on a similar effect, that students who fist construct and then choose to make use of their DIY phone lockers might be more compelled to use them. Of course, the kit will only work if the teacher provides a context for it that includes a discussion of responsible smartphone use. (The kit provides a series of cards to prompt this conversation.)

When I teach these workshops, I introduce students to the French translation of paying attention: faire attention, or “making” attention. It suggests that attention is not something to be bought or sold, but something to craft. This is a concept that could benefit anyone who considers adjusting school, work, or entertainment plans to accommodate the supposedly shorter attention spans of digital life.”

Image source here.