Clarissa Smith brings sex to the city in Moscow

strelka

CRMCS Professor Clarissa Smith has given a talk at Moscow’s Strelka Insititute as part of their 2016 summer season. The first time the institute had ever hosted a lecture on sex, pornography or technology, the event attracted an audience of over 800 people and coverage from Russia’s Current Time, Moscow 24, TV Rain and Wonderzine.

The talk, entitled ‘Sex, Digital Technology and the City’, focused on the ways in which sexually explicit media have transformed dating practices and experiences of intimate relationships and how pornography, in particular, is connected to changing ideas of sexual identity and sex itself.

Strelka is a non-government educational institute founded in 2009 to change the cultural and physical landscapes of Russian cities. Every summer, Strelka hosts a number of public events including lectures, conferences, and film screenings in the courtyard on Bolotny Island, right opposite the Kremlin and Krymskaya Embankment.

Richard Berry talks ‘Serial’ in Murcia

CRMCS Senior Lecturer Richard Berry has presented his research at the University of Murcia. He delivered a paper was based on a recent article he published in the Journal of Radio and Audio Media on the success of the podcast Serial, in which he suggests the mobile phone played a fairly significant role

‘My suggestion in the paper was that there was inevitability of podcasts and mobile phones coming together and that in doing so, podcasts become more accessible and more mainstream’, Richard writes. ‘If you can remember the early days of podcasting, you’ll know it was a bit geeky and was not a user-friendly experience. It got better when iTunes came along, but it lacked the immediacy of other media forms. Now with podcast apps, listeners only carry one device, one which is connected to the internet allowing listeners to stream at will and to share that content on with listeners. In the case of Serial this listener advocacy and sharing was a key driver in its success.’

Richard’s original paper is currently available free here, and you can hear him interviewed on Murcia Radio Station Onda Cera here

Header image: Serial

CRMCS’s Trish Winter contributes to new AHRC report

Dr Trish Winter’s research contributes to a new report by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, published on 17th March.  The new report Understanding the value of arts and culture by Professor Geoffrey Crossick and Dr Patrycja Kaszynska presents how we think about the value of the arts and culture to individuals and society, and the methodologies we can use for capturing cultural value.

Trish worked with Grand Gestures Elders Dance Group, a group of older dancers based in Gateshead, with their lead artist Paula Turner and the project partner Equal Arts.  This research  sought to understand the ‘value’ of dance activity for this group of older dancers.
The AHRC’s three-year Cultural Value Project involved 70 original pieces of work that provide the most in-depth attempt to understand the difference made by arts and culture.

Professor Crossick states: “In recent years debate about cultural value has not grasped the range of the ways in which people engage with arts and culture. The Project broadens the scope of the discussion on cultural value to include alongside the subsidised cultural sectors the commercial sector, and amateur and participatory arts and culture, which are how most people engage. It also emphasises the way they are part of a single ecology.”

What emerges from the project is the need to make first-hand, individual experience of arts and culture central to our understanding of their value. To fully appreciate the impact of culture on the economy, on cities or on health we must start with understanding the individual experience, whether this is in helping people to become more reflective about themselves and others or more imaginative and innovative as members of society. So many other benefits flow from that.

Dr Kaszynska commented: “If we start with the individual and work outwards to broader society and the economy we quickly realise we need a wider and more subtle methodological repertoire to talk about the concept of cultural value and how we evaluate it.”

The report sheds new light on a number of areas where research shows arts and culture to make a difference. These include:

  • Personal reflectiveness and empathy, illustrated by case studies of the role of arts and culture in the criminal justice system and their place in supporting professional and informal carers;
  • The relationship between arts and culture in producing engaged citizens, more active in voting and volunteering, and more willing to articulate alternatives and fuel a broader political imagination;
  • A critical assessment of the widespread use of arts and cultural interventions to help peace-building and healing after armed conflict, including civil conflict such as that in Northern Ireland;
  • Whether the role of small-scale arts in generating healthy urban communities might be more important for the health of towns than large-scale culture-led regeneration projects;
  • The ways in which arts and culture feeds into the creative industries, supports the innovation system and attracts talent and investment to places;
  • The contribution of arts and culture to addressing key health challenges such as mental health, an ageing population and dementia.

In reframing and advancing thinking about our understanding of cultural value and how to capture it, the report draws attention to the need for:

  • Wider use of evaluation as a tool within the cultural sector. Better evaluation can help cultural organisations and practitioners learn from their activities and their audiences, and it should not be seen as primarily undertaken to satisfy funders;
  • Appropriate tools to be used for the particular subject being studied with no automatic assumption that quantitative or experimental methods are superior to qualitative or humanities-based ones; it identifies,  a broad range of methodologies that include approaches drawn from the social sciences, ethnography, economics, the arts and hermeneutics, and science and medicine;
  • The further development of economic valuation methodologies that are recognised by the Treasury for evaluating public expenditure decisions, where the Project has made a significant contribution;
  • Better understanding of the ways in which digital engagement is affecting people’s experience of arts and culture, including the rise of co-production of digital content and experiences;
  • Finally, the report recommends that the AHRC alongside other funders considers establishing an Observatory for Cultural Value, to help take research on cultural value further.

Professor Andrew Thompson, Chief Executive of the AHRC, comments: “The cultural and creative industries are growing, which means that we are looking at a coming decade with growing demand for research that generates historical, linguistic, intercultural, artistic and religious understanding that feeds the UK cultural sector.  We must also have new ways of thinking – and evaluating – how we best capture and communicate that elusive thing we call ’cultural value‘. The cultural infrastructure we support as a Research Council is expanding and we need to prepare for that expansion and be clear about the ways we can support and sustain it.  The Cultural Value Project has to be placed in that broader context for its rationale to be properly understood.”

Photography by Frances Anderson

CRMCS Lecturer publishes book on bodies and animal activism

1590565355_cf200In this account of how he changed his relationship with his own body, Alex Lockwood—a writer, educator, and activist working in the fields of literature, creative writing, media, and the environment—critically explores the relationship of the body animal activism. Looking at academic scholarship and animal advocacy organizations, Lockwood explores the dimensions of embodiment from his own body to those of the animals he bears witness to, from bodies of knowledge and those who place themselves in the way of the machinery of death, through to our physical efforts to make sense of a world where so much is desensitized, disembodied, and fragmented.

In exploring different modes of activism throughout North America, The Pig in Thin Air asks how animal advocacy and environmental activism can best join forces to tackle these interconnected crises in such a way that we might develop deeper, more authentic compassionate relationships with all other animals, including ourselves. Published by Lantern Books, The Pig in Thin Air is part of the {bio}graphies series that explores the relationships between human and nonhuman animals through scholarship in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences viewed through the lens of autobiography and memoir, to deepen and complicate our perspectives on the other beings with whom we share the planet.

Dr Lockwood is launching the book in Newcastle on 15th April, all welcome. Click here for the event’s facebook page

Cineclub – Mad Max: Fury Road

mad max posterThe Oscars offer an opportunity to revisit this powerful reboot from last year. Part sequel, part reinvention, this 4th film in the Mad Max franchise was controversial for its gender politics (both from longstanding fans who felt this was more a feminist revenge fantasy  than a Max film; and from some who felt the portrayal of the ‘Wives’ left its feminist credentials in doubt). It certainly offers a lot more substance than Michael Bay blockbusters and its post-apocalyptic world is vividly realised.

Come along and join the ride at 5pm on Wednesday 10th February in the Media Centre cinema, free of charge.

Research Seminar: Ways of Being Content

This week’s research seminar is ‘Ways of Being Content: Mobile Media and the Performance of the Self as a Consumption Ritual’, and is presented by Universidad de Murcia’s Juan Miguel Aguado Terrón.

‘The impact of the mobile ecosystem in the media sphere is not limited to fostering deep changes in business models, distribution channels or content formats’, writes Terrón. ‘The way we use mobile screens (and how we coordinate this use with other screens) challenges the very nature of content as a cultural object of consumption. Content is no more something we read, watch or listen to. It is a meaningful part of our (digital) social interactions, and consequently, it is a matter to act upon, be it re-creating (transforming mainstream media content into forms of parody, irony, protest or support), co-creating (merging it into user generated content) or channelling (recommending, resending, commenting, etc.). This process that turns content conception from the logic of seeing to the logic of doing poses a deeper connection between mobile performances of identity and content consumption, which reinforces content as a relevant source for exploitable personal information. In this seminar we will explore the ways in which we use content as a language in our mobile mediated social interactions. We will discuss the connections of this phenomenon to the consolidation of mobile applications as the prevailing content access interface and to the disruptive incursion in the media content sector of IT players like Apple, Google of Facebook.’

The talk takes place on Monday 8th February at 5:30pm in the Media Centre, room 233, and will be followed by an optional meal. All are welcome to attend.