Living On Screen: Sondra Perry and Ian Cheng at the Serpentine Galleries

Wade Wallerstein

Like many other London institutions seeking to shore up against an ever-rising digital tide, the Serpentine Galleries have announced a new annual “Digital Seasons” initiative that will recognize the works of artists working across digital media. Inaugurating this are acclaimed American artists Sondra Perry, whose work occupies the intersection between racial identity and techno-political power structures, and Ian Cheng, who creates experiments in live simulation.

Wade Wallerstein

Sondra Perry, Installation view, Typhoon coming on, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (6 March – 20 May 2018) © 2018 Mike Din.

Entitled “Typhoon Coming On,” Sondra Perry’s extensive installation spans the breadth of the Sackler Gallery. Walking into the space, the viewer is immediately confronted by a massive blue wall. In many of her video installations 1, Perry wryly employs this hue to evoke the “blue screen of death”— that ever-dreaded Windows error screen that tells the user that their computer is basically f$%#!&—in order to conflate catastrophic system failure with systematic violence against Black bodies.

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The Picket Line in the Digital Age

Joseph Cook -MPhil/PhD UCL Anthropology    @josephmcook

The following is the transcript from a talk given on Monday 26th February as part of a range of student-led teach-ins and debates at UCL Anthropology. The teach-ins were held in support of the ongoing industrial action by the University and College Union in protest against changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), seen by many as an attack on pensions.  The UCU predicted that these changes would leave the typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement than under the current set-up. Picket lines were drawn across many departments at UCL, and a number of universities across the UK.

Picket Line image

The Picket Line in the Digital Age

In the digital age, work is no longer a place that you go, but a thing that you do.…

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Lloyd Coleman on How He Has Music at His Fingertips

Annamaria Dall’Anese – PhD Anthropology

 

 

Lloyd Coleman on How He Has Music at His Fingertips

 

Anthropology’s aim is to see the world through the native’s point of view (Malinowski 1961[1922]:25), and intersubjectivity is often the trigger of fruitful ethnographic discoveries, as well as human bonds in general (Jackson 1998:65). But what happens when a disparity between the sensory endowments of the actors intervenes in their encounter? To answer such an anthropological question, we turn to the relationship that Lloyd Coleman has with sound, music, and his clarinet. Educated at the Royal Academy of Music and recently appointed Associate Music Director of the Paraorchestra, the world’s only large-scale ensemble of disabled musicians, he is a hearing- (and visually) impaired composer.

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In Memory of Gill Conquest

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Gill Conquest on May 5, 2017.

Gill was an exceptional student and an exceptional person. Her interests were broad-ranging, extending well beyond the academic through performances of traditional stories and pantomimes, to writing plays and science fiction, sailing and playing games, and to music and dancing, all alongside her passionate commitment to developing the interfaces of technology and citizenship to support cultural and ecological diversity. She brought a sense of wonder and fun to all of her activities, embracing new experiences and opportunities at every chance with good humour and enthusiasm.

Gill joined the anthropology department as a Masters student in Anthropology, Environment and Development in 2011. Her masters’ dissertation examined the potential of new technologies to support environmental justice movements lead by indigenous peoples.

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Experience Rich Anthropology Revisited

Hannah Knox, UCL Anthropology 

When I was an undergraduate at the University of Manchester in the late 1990s I recall being introduced by John Gledhill to something called ‘Experience Rich Anthropology’. Established by the anthropology department at the University of Ken, the ERA project was an early attempt to use the possibilities of new media technologies to open up anthropology to new audiences, and to present anthropological knowledge in new ways. The site is still available to view here

It is remarkable then, that in the ensuing 20 years, anthropologists have been rather slow to embrace the possibilities of digital media. Particularly now, when as a matter of course most anthropologists carry around powerful digital research tools in their pockets (smart phones which contain a camera, sound recorder, GPS locator, mapping tools, access to mappable social networks), we still seem remarkably wedded to the form of the research monograph or written journal paper that perhaps includes a few well chosen photographs from our field sites.…

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First RAI Photo Salon

Haidy Geismar,  UCL Anthropology and Chair of the R.A.I Photo Committee

On December 8, 2016, the Photography Committee of the Royal Anthropological Institute convened its first Photo Salon. A meeting of minds for those interested in the intersections of anthropology and photography, a group of photographers and researchers (and photographer-researchers, and researcher-photographers) convened, with wine, to show images, and talk. Taking a Pecha Kucha format, each participant was asked to bring one image and speak for just three minutes. Below is a smattering, a smorgasbord, of some of the images that were presented, short statements by the researcher/photographers can be accessed by entering slide show mode. 

We hope to hold the salon as a yearly event and also look forward to publishing some of these images in expanded essay forms in our online journal, Anthropology and Photography.…

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Data Waves – finding meaning through music

Miranda Marcus, UCL Digital Anthropology

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How do we display data in a way that is meaningful? This is the question that has been posed by Dr Robin Carhart-Harris from the Division of Brain Sciences at Imperial College London, the lead researcher on the recent clinical trials into the effects of psilocybin/psychedelics on the brain. Between 2012 and 2016, Dr Carhart-Harris’ team have conducted different studies using psilocybin (the hallucinogenic compound found in magic mushrooms) and LSD aimed at understanding the impact of potent hallucinogenic drugs on the human brain. The results have provided first evidence of the underlying changes in brain function that are associated with the well-documented drug effects and have laid the foundation for future studies to evaluate potential medical treatments for conditions such as depression, end-of-life anxiety and addiction.…

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Information and Communication Technology and Wellbeing in the Merchant Marines

Annamaria Dall’Anese, PhD student, UCL Anthropology

If the informal use of the internet through personal devices on board merchant vessels encounters barriers due to patchy infrastructure and weather issues, then the formal provision of ICT-empowered telemedicine has brought to an end the era when the sea made the ship an entirely isolated environment. The ship in the age of ICT appears as Foucault described it: as a “heterotopia”; a place that is both isolated and penetrable. My interest in merchant marines was sparked by joining a cargo ship sailing from Australia to Singapore as a passenger/English teacher in 2009. The passage, though short, gave me the opportunity to discover the social life of these communities, and I became intrigued by the issue of connectivity at sea.…

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Notes from the Forest: Engaging with a hunter’s world of materials

Thorsten Gieser, Lecturer in Anthropology, Department of Kulturwissenschaft, University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany

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A winter’s day, in a forest in central Germany. At dusk, more than fifty hunters and beaters stand around the ‘gallow’, a wooden structure with a long beam on which the dead bodies of hunted game are hung after they have been field dressed. A small group of hunters play their horns and the eerie melodies of ‘Sows dead!’ and ‘Halali!’ fill the air, accompanied by the occasional dog who howls along. It is the end of a hunting day. After several hours on the beater’s track, I feel exhausted and tired. My boots and my trousers are smeared with blood and mud. Although I washed my hands briefly in icy water, there is still dried blood under my fingernails and in the lines of my skin.

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#LondonVegans: Deliberating, sensing and practicing vegans in a non-vegan city

Zachary Hecht, UCL Digital Anthropology Msc Student

Why would somebody forgo juicy steaks, delicate smoked salmon, velvety goat cheese, and the many seemingly delicious foods people eat? Why would somebody choose to submit themselves to the inconvenience of not being able to eat outside of their home without some advanced planning? Why would they refuse to wear products widely seen as fashionable and insist on knowing what their hygiene products are made of?

Why would anybody be vegan?

The individuals I conducted fieldwork with—members of what I term the London Vegan Community—are regularly asked this very question by family, friends, and even strangers. In popular media, veganism is often framed as being trendy and undertaken for supposed health benefits. While many—certainly not all—of my participants discuss health as being a vital component of their veganism, and many first learned about veganism due to its increasing popularity, each of my participants assert that veganism is an “ethical choice”; for London Vegans, veganism is a “social justice movement.”

As I write, we find ourselves living in a time widely referred to as the Anthropocene.…

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