Pathways of Cosmopolitanism: London and Manchester?

Pathways of Cosmopolitanism:
London and Manchester?

23 November 2009
Hanson Room, Humanities Bridgeford Street Building
The University of Manchester

Speaker: Adrian Favell
Paper: The Cosmopolitan and the Provincial: London (and Manchester) as a Hub of Intra-EU Mobility

The aim of this symposium is to examine the relationship between Animation and Automation by bringing into dialogue two already highly interdisciplinary areas of scholarship: film studies, including new media and visual culture, on one hand, and social studies of science and technology, on the other. Our venture arises from a number of ongoing debates about the changing meanings of the two, interrelated concepts of animation and automation across the boundaries of the humanities, the arts and the social sciences.

Drawn from these diverse fields, the participants are joined by a shared interest in the entanglement of moving images, animate entities, and machinic agencies. The place of movement in the constitution of life, liveness and liveliness, the shifting of agencies from bodies to machines, unstable boundaries of the organic and the synthetic, and the remembered histories and projected futures of anatomical and technological configurations form the starting place for discussion. Our aim is twofold: to elucidate the specificities and diversity of initiatives in the creation of life, of life-like creatures or images, and of artistic, cinematic and scientific imitations of life; and to debate the justificatory assumptions on which those projects have relied, analysing the transformations in ways of thinking and their productive outcomes. Our discussions will be attentive to enactments of resemblance and difference, boundary making and connection, as well as to relations of discursive and material practices, imaginaries and politics. At stake are possibilities for refiguring agency and relocating responsibility in critical and generative ways that relate to questions of animation and automation in particular.

The symposium was structured across two days and hosted by The University of Manchester’s Centre for Screen Studies and Lancaster University’s Centre for Science Studies. The symposium began with a day of events in Manchester: 1) an opening performance piece ‘Animating Bodies’ by sociologist and live performer Professor Jackie Orr (Syracuse) whose innovative modes of presentation echo her groundbreaking conceptual work on the conference themes; 2) a UK premiere screening of Frances Leeming’s filmGenetic Admiration (2005), followed by a discussion with the filmmaker led by Profs. Jackie Stacey (Manchester) and Kim Sawchuk (Concordia, Canada) aimed at elaborating and illuminating Leeming’s use of ‘collage animation’ (a technique combining artistic and cinematic styles and genres) to explore the highly topical issues of the recombinant practices of new forms of genetic engineering and cloning; and 3) Screen’s 50th Anniversary Public Lecture by Professor Vivian Sobchack (UCLA), co-sponsored by the journal.

Together these presentations provided a provocative but also highly accessible introduction to new directions in film, artistic performance and critical scholarship and set the stage for a more detailed and focused academic discussion on the conceptual issues raised. Not only will this first day attract a broad audience of academic and non-academic participants but, in its very format of mixing live performance, film, artistic presentations and academic analysis, it will animate the problematic of the multiple mediations of ‘life and liveness’ that lies at the heart of our concerns.

The following dat the conference moved to Lancaster University, which houses a leading Centre for Science Studies (CSS), for a workshop designed to continue our exploration of the issues. Each of the invited participants were selected based not only on the thematic connections among their areas of specialisation, but also on the innovative and transdisciplinary character of their scholarship. Rather than a conventional set of paper sessions, the workshop allowed for in-depth debate and detailed theoretical and substantive discussions generated through pre-circulated statements of interest by the participants, and drawing on the performances, screenings and lectures of the previous day. The objective is that these discussions should result in a conceptual framework that might form the basis for a special issue of the journal Science as Culture and/or a special dossier of short pieces on animation for publication in Screen, and in the longer term for new work on these topics at the intersection of film studies and STS.

Speakers included (including links to abstracts):

Lisa Cartwright
 (Communications, UC San Diego)
Beth Coleman (Comparative Media Studies, MIT)
Stefan Helmreich (Anthropology, MIT)
Mél Hogan (Communication Studies, Concordia)
Sarah Kember (Media and Communications, Goldsmiths)
Frances Leeming (independent filmmaker)
Adrian Mackenzie (CESAGen, Lancaster University)
Fiona O’Neill (CESAGen, Lancaster University)
Jackie Orr (Sociology, Syracuse University)
Kevin Parker (Arts, Histories, Culture, The University of Manchester)
Kim Sawchuk (Communication Studies, Concordia University)
Vivian Sobchack (UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television)
Jackie Stacey (RICC, The University of Manchester)
Lucy Suchman (CSS and Sociology, Lancaster University)
Aylish Wood (Film Studies, University of Kent)


Professor Vivian Sobchack delivered a lecture on Thursday 26th March at the Whitworth Art Gallery in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the film and television studies journalScreen.

The conference poster and conference programme are also available.


Design: New Music Economy?

Calling The Voice-O-Graph is a project that started in June 2007. The official launch date was October 28th, 2009, at the Casa Del Popolo, 4873 boul. St. Laurent, Montreal, QC.

The project philosophie is defined as “Free music in exchange for feedback.” It is an alternative economy inspired by the way music circulates online and on mobile devices, is sampled, and remixed. The site invites you to listen to three tracks for free. After which you can access fifteen more by registering and leaving comments. That easy.

Project Description, by Opositive:

“Calling the Voice-O-Graph” is my latest full-length album under my artistic moniker “Opositive”. The album is available here for free download as a series of high-quality mp3s.

The site was built in Drupal.

The design was inspired by both the concept of sampling and the voice-o-graph technology. The logo was lifted off from here and the vinyl from here. The overall background design was inspired by “King of Pop #4 Requiem” by Jackie Gallant which can be seen on 52 Pick Up Video.

In the news:

Screening: Groupe Intervention Video

TRIP is a short video about time and space compression and distortion when traveling by air. Functioning visually like a slot machine, TRIP is composed of three windows: time and space line up momentarily on an otherwise fragmented journey.

Presented: 2009 VFP program, July 10 at 9pm at Théâtre de verdure. Groupe Intervention Video.

Design: Mediascapes, 3rd Edition

Book Cover design [2009]

Mediascapes: New Patterns in Canadian Communication, 3rd Edition © 2010 Published (ISBN-10: 0176500359 ISBN-13: 9780176500351, Nelson Education Ltd. is edited by Dr. Leslie Regan Shade, from Concordia University.

They selected the second of my designs, and in some ways the more conventional version of the two I proposed (I have yet to convince anyone that pink is a perfectly acceptable colour for design). The idea behind this design is quite obvious: an urban landscape, wires of communication, extracting energy from the bottom, upwards, etc. Across the middle is the barcode – the stand in symbol for data, privacy, surveillance. Placed in the centre, it connotes an idea of digital divide.

Digital dilemmas: feminist reflections on current debates

Digital dilemmas: feminist reflections on current debates

“It’s a Long Walk Down the Clinic Driveway”: Using Digital Photography to Explore Rural Youth Sexualities

Katrina Peddle PhD Candidate, Communication Studies

In this presentation I discuss how young people in Southern Labrador negotiate issues of sexuality in their everyday lives. Drawing from a digital photography workshop series held in Labrador in Fall 2006, I elaborate on the ways in which rural youth articulate their thoughts about sexuality, their opinions on alternative sexualities, and the barriers they face in terms of access to information about sexual health. I also argue that participatory methodology offers valuable insight into rural youth sexualities, and that community technology can be used to engage youth in creative ways that situate them as experts in their own lives.

“It Just Sucks You In!”: Young Women’s Use of Facebook

Leslie Regan Shade Associate Professor, Communication Studies

This presentation reports on focus groups conducted by Media Action and Ekos Research Associates in June 2007 with young women aged 14-24 in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver on their perceptions of popular social networking sites such as Facebook. Questions focused on the nature and use of social networking sites (SNS), perceptions and awareness of privacy issues, and whether or not social networking sites can be used as a viable tool to disseminate alternative messages about female sexuality distinct from mainstream media. This research raises important questions around issues of gender and SNS, particularly gender-based commodification processes latent in Web 2.0 applications, young women’s perceptions of privacy, whether they are cognizant of proprietary terms of content they produce, and how these dynamics interact to prevent young women from engaging in or generating the creation of alternative/positive messages.

From Pixel-dust to Ro-dot world: agency, art and lo-fi embodiment

Kim Sawchuk Associate Professor, Communication Studies

Two core concerns within feminist theory are “agency” and “embodiment.” This paper will discuss these terms by examining Nell Tenhaaf and Melanie Baljko’s research-creation project “Artificial Agents and Lo-Fi Embodiment”. The project was designed for two inter-related

This panel presents four papers that examine, through diverse methodologies including participatory action research, focus groups, political economy, case studies and interviews, various ways that women of distinct generations engage with digital technologies. From engaging youth in discussions about sexual health in a rural context, to gauging young women’s perceptions of privacy on popular social networking site Facebook, to assessing the potential contribution of feminism to science and the relationship of art to “agency” and “embodiment” to, finally, exploring the shifting nature of archives and the impacts of emergent technologies that challenge (the absence of) queer women’s historical trajectories—this panel offers a range of topics which come together through their decidedly feminist frameworks.

purposes: as a future interactive art installation and to conduct experimental research into our understanding of the attribution of agency, which is a part of the research terrain of cognitive linguistics, computer science and artificial life. The result, thus far, has been a series of prototypes that serve this dual function. In their experimental prototype users actively engage with two sets of projected images, or two virtual universes, known as “pixel-dust” and “ro-dot world.” A web camera tracks the movements of inter-actants allowing them to have agency, or believe they have agency, through their movements and gestures. In this paper, I will address how the legacy of feminism has informed the project aesthetically and conceptually, but as well, how working within computer science has transformed Baljko and Tenhaaf’s ideas of the potential contribution of feminism to science, technology and art. In so doing, I draw on the research of Justine Cassell on gendering in human-computer-interaction (HCI) and my own observations of the project as a participant-observer.

Portals of Proclivities: Archives done differently

Mél Hogan PhD Student, Communication Studies

In this paper, I suggest that lesbian and queer women’s lives are not prioritized within any memory institution in Canada; as such, I propose that traditional archives are limited in their function as historical repositories. Increasingly, online portals are used to record and disseminate information about sexuality and queer histories, which simultaneously mediates and expands its reaches. Using both queer and non-queer online archives as case studies (,, I explore and expand on the shifting nature of archives and the impacts of emergent technologies that challenge, defy, reject and/or re-conceptualize queer women’s attachment to the past, our need for collective narratives, and our reliance on original and valuable artifacts as evidence of historical trajectories. In particular, I look to these alternative modes of preservation, display and dissemination, in order to put forward an argument about social change as it is reflected in our everyday engagements with media and its potentially transformative power in re-imagining the social.

Dykes on Mykes Radio Archives: From Live Shows to Podcasting

Taking a Stand conference (Ottawa)
Library Archives Canada

This paper focuses on archiving as a form of activism within a lesbian community-radio context. What we intend to do is initiate a conversation about the different ways in which traditional radio and, more recently, podcasting, inform the triadic relationship between media activism, lesbian communities, and queer archives. More specifically, we discuss the Dykes on Mykes Archive Project—a project based in Montréal, which aims to preserve the longest-running Anglophone lesbian radio programme. Dykes on Mykes has been on the air for 18 years as part of McGill University’s CKUT 90.3 FM community station in Montréal.

We begin this exploration by situating the Dykes on Mykes Archive Project within the broader Canadian gay and lesbian archives context; we look specifically at the place of lesbians within our established GLBT history. Secondly, we describe and outline some of the goals of this project, and engage in a discussion about how podcasting informs community, and how it pushes us to re-conceptualize the ways that we record our collective history. We end our presentation with a conversation, or question, about archiving as a form of activism.

This paper combines a range of approaches, from oral history interviews with long-standing GLBT archivists, participatory action research (from the point of view of the radio programmers and producers) as well as an analysis and practical how-to guide to podcasting within a community environment.

Mél Hogan is currently in her 1st year of the Joint PhD in Communication at Concordia University. Her work focuses on queer women’s oral histories and gay and lesbian archives in Canada. She is also involved in various community media projects, namely Dykes on Mykes radio, and

Marie-Claire MacPhee is a recent graduate from the Simone de Beauvoir Institute for Women’s Studies at Concordia University. She is an activist, with a focus on community-based research and media, co-host for CKUT Community Radio’s program Dykes on Mykes and she is a researcher and events coordinator for, a web-based ‘portal of proclivities for queer women in Montreal’.

Life After the Wailin’ Jennys: Chatting with Annabelle Chvostek

An interview with Annabelle Chvostek, a Montréal-based folk singer and songwriter. Chvostek is currently working on her new solo album after recently leaving the popular Canadian band, The Wailin’ Jennys. Her career has taken her across the ocean and back; her roster is filled with road songs attesting to her journey, as well as political pleas and tales of love. I had the pleasure of interviewing Annabelle after her show at Casa Del Popolo earlier this month.

Art Threat: Hi Annabelle. You’re show on Thursday night was amazing—great vibe and high energy. You played quite a few upbeat songs in a row—is this a new direction for your music?

Annabelle Chvostek: Thanks! Well, I’m certainly having fun with the more upbeat stuff. I’ve been fairly gentle in the music I’ve been putting out there for the last few years, so there’s part of me that has been dying to bust out and get a bit crazier or heavier, or louder. I still love the intimate contemplative beautiful stuff, but I also am liking the grooving and the catharsis.

Read on