Centre for Digital Media Cultures

Change for the Machine: An XR Symposium

Helen Kennedy, Donna Close, Daniel Harley

Friday, 24 May 2019, 10:30am – 6pm

The event was co-sponsored by CDMC

Change for the Machines is a symposium that drew together key critical thinkers and makers in order to materialize an emergent ‘Critical XR Studies’ network. We showcased critical research and practice to examine the design, production, and use of virtual, augmented, and mixed realities. This symposium also provided the launch pad for funding in order to support further networking events and workshops as we seek commitments to equity, diversity, and inclusion in order to ethically shape the future of these new technologies.

If 2016 was the year that multinational corporations promoted the viability of a consumer VR market, then 2019 is a serious tipping point in the elaboration and circulation of critical practices and discussions that seek to challenge the technoevangelistic discourses within which these new technologies are so ubiquitously framed. Just this year there has been the Virtual Realities + Alterities symposium at the Royal College of Art, The MA Virtual Reality Manifesto for Immersive Storytelling from UWE Bristol, and Lisa Nakamura’s critique of empathy discourse at University of Michigan and the Designing Interactive Systems conference.

Whilst this event showcased current projects and practices it also moved discussions forward around a set of key critical questions: What is needed to ensure the maintenance of a ‘Critical XR network’?  What are the practical, everyday challenges in developing such a network, and what resources can we provide to support this work and these communities of practice? What commitments to equity, diversity, inclusion can we offer? What changes and impact do we want to make?

We were delighted to welcome:

  • *Verity McIntosh, Programme Lead MA VR, Pervasive Media Studios Bristol
  • *Simon Wilkinson, Director Circa 69
  • *Sarah Ticho, Director Hatsumi VR
  • *James Turnbull, Curator and Producer, TomTech
  • *Florence Jamet-Pinkiewicz, Ecole Estienne Paris
  • *Dr Kelly Snook, MiMu gloves / Kepler Concordia inventor
  • *Fi Nicholson and Hollie Page from LIMINA Immersive Virtual Theatre Bristol
  • *Ed Silverton from Mmenoscene
  • *Dan Barnard, fanSHEN

There was also the opportunity for delegates to see demos and performances from Driftwood, Hatsumi, Circa 69, Dr Kelly Snook  and to take part in a Limina Virtual theatre pop-up!

Creative Futures KEM Stuart Hedley and Laura Shockley from the Research Office were on hand to advise about funding opportunities for our new network

If you have any question please contact the conveners; Daniel Harley on d.harley@brighton.ac.uk, Donna Close on d.close2@brighton.ac.uk or Helen Kennedy on h.kennedy@brighton.ac.uk.

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Elodie Marandet • May 26, 2019


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