Wednesday, 3 December 2008

CFP: Internet Attractions - AHRC Workshop on Ephemeral Media (Nottingham)

23 - 24 JUNE 2009

Key speakers: Professor Nick Couldry (Goldsmiths), Professor Barbara Klinger (Indiana), Hugh Hancock (Strange Company), Emily Renshaw-Smith (Current TV - to be confirmed)

The emergence of new media technologies in the 1990s and 2000s, specifically the rise of digital and Internet technology, has been linked to fundamental changes in the media environment, shaping newly emerging circuits of production and consumption and propagating a cultural landscape where media seem available everywhere and all the time. This AHRC-sponsored workshop examines a particular feature of our accelerated media world - the growth of the brief or ‘ephemeral’ texts that exist beyond and between the films, television programmes, and radio broadcasts more commonly isolated for analysis.

What does ephemeral mean? In the context of the workshop it connotes short-form media (i.e. texts that are no more than a few minutes long) but also media which are fleeting in the way they circulate, or that are often overlooked within mainstream academic study. ‘Ephemeral media’ offers a rubric to designate and explore some of the key strategies, forms and practices that are helping producers and publics alike to negotiate today’s fast-changing mediascape. More generally, it invites historical and theoretical reflection on the significance of screen ephemera - on those forms of screen culture that, whilst momentary, remain active components of media experience.

The first workshop in the series focuses on user-generated ephemera, in particular the proliferation of online video. The emerging digital media environment has created new opportunities for user-generated content to achieve broad distribution and so create a public of users. This has been typified, and enabled, by recent phenomena such as YouTube. The fleeting and competing nature of user-generated content has placed particular emphasis on the role of media performance - what can be understood broadly as a display of communicative competence for assessment by an audience. The workshop will examine the status and significance of user-generated ephemera (in particular online video) and the kinds of performance inscribed herein.

Questions under discussion might include: How is performance framed in user-generated ephemera? How is user-generated ephemera assessed and discussed by audiences? How does the temporality of circulation on the Internet shape the kind of publics that are convened around user-generated ephemera? How do ephemeral media performances represent national, regional, ethnic identity? How are questions of authorship understood in forms that frequently involve the reworking of existing material? What role do “gatekeepers” play in filtering the user-generated performances that are distributed to online audiences?

The workshop is interested in, but not limited to, the following media forms and issues:

* Production and genre – creative amateur practices, technologies, genres involved in making online video; the relation between amateur and professional media production
* Performance and address – styles of online acting, dance, musical performance; projections of gesture and voice within online video and other user-generated ephemera (e.g. webcams, online pornography, blogging)
* Sensory communication – the use of sound and image: audiovisual methods and strategies
* media environments - the relation of user-generated ephemera to continuities/changes in the media landscape; historical precursors to online video and user-generated ephemera
* Audiences – online communities and the construction of user hierarchies; questions of authorship and negotiation in “bottom up” forms of ephemeral media; dynamics of cultural borrowing and authorship in online remakes, mashups, and machinima
* Distribution and Intellectual Property - the role of gate keepers and cultural intermediaries; questions of censorship, policy and legislation relating to ephemeral media production, distribution and consumption
* critical methodologies – the means and possibilities of studying user-generated ephemera

The ephemeral media workshop is part of the AHRC’s ‘Beyond Text’ research programme and is designed to facilitate discussion in a small group environment. It can provide travel (up to £100), accommodation, and subsistence costs to all accepted participants. To apply for the workshop, please send a 250 word paper proposal and a short biography highlighting relevant research interests or publications to by 10th December 2008.

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