This is straight cut and paste from the Australian Screen Production and Education Research Association call for papers for this year’s conference.

2015 ASPERA Conference 15-17th July
What’s This Space?
Screen Practice, audiences & education for the future decade.

The ASPERA conference is an annual opportunity for academics, filmmakers and postgraduate students to present and discuss their ideas, projects, teaching & research as they relate to the field of contemporary screen production.

The 12th Annual Conference of the Australian Screen Production Education & Research Association (ASPERA), will be held at Flinders University Victoria Square Campus on Wednesday 15th, Thursday 16th and Friday 17th July 2015.

The conference convenors invite papers, panels and topics for roundtable discussion, interactive workshops, poster presentations and micro talks (5 minute presentations) that address the following theme (with other ideas also being considered):

What’s This Space?
Screen practice, audiences and education for the future decade.

The spaces in which screen stories are viewed and the way in which we
consume them has, and is continuing to change rapidly. This years ASPERA conference will examine, discuss and explore the multiplicity of screens and the impact they have on production, education, screen communities and audiences in the 21st century. We invite you to consider how traditional creative screen practices are changing and being challenged by the range of screens we now engage with, the content we consume and the spaces in which this is undertaken. We will be publishing fully refereed conference proceedings again this year, via the ASPERA website.
Topics you may wish to address include:

  • The shape of the contemporary screen industries
  • Current screen practices
  • Spaces and screens
  • Documentary forms, narratives and distribution
  • Transmedia storytelling
  • Emerging screen funding models and distribution
  • Screen and digital media production pedagogy
  • Social media as a production platform
  • Participatory content production
  • Digital workflows
  • Mobile screens
  • Screen research through the PhD Film
  • Old and new collaborative practices

Participants are also encouraged to put forward proposals for exhibits, practical workshops or demonstrations. We look forward to talking to you about your requirements.

Important Deadlines:
Abstracts to be submitted by Friday 13th March 2015
Successful submissions will be notified by Monday 30th March 2015
Full draft paper for double blind peer review by Friday 1st May 2015

Submission guidelines:
All proposals must include the following information:
Name, title and affiliation of each author (please indicate student authors)
An extended abstract (500 words) describing the presentation, including
Illustrations or diagrams for installation as needed
Requirements for technical support (e.g. AV, space, electrical)
First author’s name and page numbers on all proposal pages


It’s a regular suburban train (unless, I imagine, you’re a train spotter) mid afternoon. School kids, retirees, and the odd Floridian creative class professional who has the luxury of some malleability of their work hours. Around me there is little talk, and much tap, swipe and slide as miniature screens receive, deliver, make, share, and distribute small kernels of news, status updates, personal messages and the other quotidian digital lived ephemera that is, for now, our daily lot.

The iPad is open on my lap. It’s off the grid, reservation, network, stream, or whatever almost right simile I might want to use as I wouldn’t pay for a Subscriber Identification Module, well more accurately it isn’t the module is it but the cost of network access that the module then — that is what I would not pay for. So it’s a bit mute as it lays there, the Kindle app open as I spend the rolling lulling train trip of an early afternoon (in this case as an academic enjoying the privilege of some flexibility of hours, and an insistence on my behalf to define my labour by its productivity and not hours expended) on the way to collect my youngest daughter from school. Bruno Latour stares cheekily up at me. Well, obviously, not Latour but any rate his Reassembling the Social, a book that I find playful, ludic (which is a fancy, more scholarly way of saying the same thing really, isn’t it?), irreverent, smart, clever (smart and clever nearly wins me over every time), inspiring, surprising, personal, personable, articulate, viscous–in–the–sense–of–a–thick–care–for–the–importance–of–description, I could go on.

There are ideas, provocations and levers in here I want to unfurl, use, apply. This, perhaps in concert with Bogost’s similarly ethereally thick Alien Phenomenology are the two recent things that have gifted the words and argument to the matters of concern that have interested and involved me these past many years. Matters of concern that emerge from the intersecting vectors of making things with computers, wanting to make new ways of making academic making with computers, that treat the computer as a peer, partner, collaborator in the production, gathering, dissemination, and making of some sort of humanities knowledge, and not just the computer but some idea of the network, perhaps externally via the Internet and the World Wide Web and internally in some other avatar of the sort of scale free nodal and crepuscular architecture that the Web might be.

Then there’s the writing. This writing and the larger problem of writing in general, not just the struggle of good writing but the more specific problem of academic writing. I have, in the past, written hypertext hypertextually — something I’ll return to — and have enjoyed, even flourished, in the ways it lets writing as an act and particular site of thinking build itself. (Writing academic hypertext, hypertextually, argument becomes a linked, hypertextual structure that more or less arises autopoetically.) This is a practice that is difficult to do in the academy partly because of the humanities surprising, and disappointing, conservatism when it comes to its self conception of scholarly writing, and also because there just aren’t many places that let you publish nonlinear academic writing.

Writing is a making, certainly in my experience as much a making as any sort of project or practice based research, and as some sort of some time critical theorist in the humanities writing is, in fact, my laboratory. Writing is then not where I dutifully report upon what I have discovered elsewhere, nor is it merely the record of what has been done (by me, or others — that’d be a glorified literature review) but is the site of an active thinking, of ideation as these vectors of concepts, arguments, possibilities, contradictions, associations, possibilities, certainties, confusions, errors, misreadings, rereadings, appropriations, quotation, and all the rest of it come to bear upon thought.

And Then

Yesterday I noted the deep management speak of my university wanting to say (I think) that a new director of an institute will manage the institute’s research, work with outside partners, and develop ways to make it clear how ‘design’ can benefit others. Then there’s MIT’s Media Lab Faculty Search.

Such a position description is literally impossible to imagine for anyone in an Australian university. Not for its vision, that’s simply whatever lies beyond impossible to imagine, but for it’s lack of managerialist criteria where if you do not specifically address (for instance), the ‘key selection criteria’ (which will always be listed, each replete in its own arcane higher-ed managerialist argot idiolect), regardless of how good your CV and everything else is, you can be confident of not getting an interview. We don’t only get Key Selection Criteria, but also Position Accountabilities and Organisational Accountabilities.

My position description has ten position accountabilities (they are helpfully numbered for me), four organisational accountabilities, and eight key selection criteria. (I’m always bemused that places like RMIT that want to regard themselves as ‘employers of choice’ are very good at explaining in detail my accountabilities to them, but are oddly mute in relation to what they might offer me.) My eight you ask:

1. Possess a record of teaching, research and/or professional achievement in the relevant program field, equivalent to level C promotion criteria.
2. Proven ability to lead and manage a complex work group, to establish an environment that encourages the integration of the discipline and maximises its contribution to RMIT University and the DSC College.
3. Demonstrated high level of interpersonal, communication and negotiating skills including the ability to consult with senior academic and professional colleagues, and external bodies, the ability to produce reports and to negotiate agreed directions, outcomes and targets within a collegial environment.
4. Ability to be an effective member of a management team within a matrix structure; develop and achieve shared goals and objectives.
5. Demonstrated ability to devise and develop academic curricula, and ability to teach in related disciplines.
6. Broad range of knowledge of the relevant discipline, and proven ability to draw upon the connections between industry and the academic discipline.
7. Demonstrated ability to use appropriate technology in a learning and teaching environment.
8. Ability to advise, encourage and assist students in relation to their learning objectives and career aspirations.

Note that none of these are about risk, innovation, experimentation, adventure, ethics. None are about the world that might happen to exist outside of RMIT. They are only about corporate competence, with some university specific words mixed in. The Media Lab’s faculty search brings me joy, optimism, and faith. Things worth hanging onto don’t you think?

Core Enabling – No, Not Apples

A recent email from a very senior staff member about a new appointment:

[they] will oversee the delivery of the Institute’s research programs, develop opportunities for translating the Institute’s research to end users and help develop a forward strategy for Design as a Core Enabling Capability Platform.

Ah, plain speaking universities. Where would we be without you?

Softvideo, Preliminaries

Softvideo relies upon the specificities of the computer to inform its architecture, its structure. In this softvideo is a term that is offered partly as a speculative proposition, as a descriptor that wants to describe a possible future form as well as a practice for a properly digital video object. However, it is also a more concrete term that I want to use to describe the existing properties of one legacy digital video file format as a way to think about this as an architecture in ways that hopefully are able to articulate what is peculiar about it. A way to wonder with it, that recognises the substantial differences to our historical, everyday, technical (what we can now describe as legacy media’s understanding of film and video) understanding of video that it offers. A making strange of video, as it were.

A ‘properly digital video object’ is a term that is hoped to have some force associated with it. I am not wanting to suggest the ‘proper’ that deconstruction so strongly dealt with, but there is the intention that softvideo must be more than just digitised video. That digitisation, after our 1980s and 1990s enthralment with having a machine that indifferently ingested nearly any media that we directed it toward (see for example Negroponte’s landmark Being Digital or any issue of Wired from its first five years), is merely a variety of technical translation that, of and in itself, does not disrupt, problematise, or even ask questions of these media in themselves. This, today, does need remembering (again in that way where we as academics so routinely seem to forget what the world was and is like, as we build our elaborate, often tautological — even solipsist — accounts of what are so often quite minor matters of concern) because there is a complicated, I suppose nonlinear (in de Landa’s sense) history of different fields and practices, and media, each being touched, in turn, by the digital and each similarly reprising a history of almost revolutionary fervour and enthusiasm for the implications and significance of the digital. This history, which is not only well documented but now almost banal to observe because it is now so ordinarily everyday — where the $4.99 video editor on my mobile phone is more sophisticated and powerful than the two desk $30,000 U–Matic edit suite I first used in the 1980s — has to date consisted of three distinct waves. The first involved text, and included word processing, hypertext, and early desktop publishing. The second wave involved audio and video and was first evidenced in the rise of expensive, industrial scale digital nonlinear video and sound editing platforms, and then like word processing before it also saw new devices for the recording of sound and image digitally. The third wave (and it ought to be obvious that each of these overlap in numerous ways and each continues, through their own particular deflections, today), affected distribution with the rise of the Internet, and most specifically the World Wide Web, where now access to audiences and ways to share and display media was radically and deeply changed. If this third wave, which we are very much in the midst of, is now moving or developing a fourth wave where digitisation and the Internet are combining to not only affect production, distribution, and consumption, but also to invent network specific new media forms.

Hence a ‘properly’ digital object, here, sits somewhere toward this fourth wave of the digital. Here what is of concern is not only that the tools of production, distribution and consumption have changed, but that what our media is, in some sort of structural, formal manner, are also being changed. This change, which is not just a consequence of digitisation, is also an understanding of the computer as a procedural sort of computational machine and the network as something more, or different, than a connected series of content containers that is a more or less friction free way to distribute existing media objects. Softvideo is then a term that I am using as a placeholder to describe a video media object that alludes to this fourth wave.

Melbourne Korsakow Workshop

There will be a free full day Korsakow workshop at RMIT on February 18. Places are limited, and participants will be eligible for a 50% discount on the cost of Korsakow. If you’ve dabbled with Korsakow, are interested in interactive documentary, curious, a nonfiction multilinear narrator, or some combination of these, then this is for you.

Details on the nonfictionLab site

Interactive Documentary Symposium

We are running a symposium on interactive documentary on Monday February 16. Several presenters. The aim is to hear some recent research and open up the floor for a lot of debate, discussion, and something else alliterative that doesn’t come to mind immediately (deliberation? disagreement?). Details on the nonfictionLab site.