Lecturers: Lucy Suchman (Lancaster University), Helen Verran (University of Melbourne), Christopher Gad (IT University of Copenhagen)
This PhD course aims to unfold empirically and analytically how computer screens and other displays help ‘project’ or otherwise ‘perform’ knowledge, interaction and practice. Screens are increasingly ubiquitous, for example as part of personal computers, televisions, cameras, surveillance equipment, ticketing equipment, mobile phones and other handheld devices. Simultaneously screens play an increasingly important role in a wide range of human practices relating to work, play, travel, care, learning, planning, monitoring, designing, coordinating, modelling, policing and much else. At the same time screens are curious entities. They may stretch human interactions nearby to globally-distributed locations. They seem to multiply the world around us while simultaneously constructing very specific fields of vision. Thus, screens perform cuts between displayed worlds and human knowledge about the world. Screens also mediate human action in particular ways by actively participating in new visions that define and situate action. With their capacity to organize human attention elsewhere screens may enact viewer displacement, as viewers becomes screened off. Thus boundaries may shift between screens, the knowledge they present, the interactions they facilitate and the practices they engender. For these reasons, screens are objects of interest for contemporary social scientific research into technologically mediated environments, including anthropology, cultural/media studies, design studies, and science and technology studies (STS) . Drawing on a range of theoretical traditions the course aims to frame screens by exploring their implications for knowledge, interaction and practice. This includes but is not limited to analytical topics such as:
- Shifting ’screen’ relationships between practice (e.g. dwelling, working, travelling, playing, planning, controlling) and viewer positions (e.g. onlooker, spectator, user, voyeur, investigator)
- Variations between heterogeneous on- and off-screen interactions
- Screens as organizers/disruptors/mediators of human knowledge, experience, perspectives, etc.
- Space, place and temporalities of screens in local/global/glocal/translocal situations and fields
- Comparative or exploratory studies of recent ‘hi-tech’ displays (e.g. HD, LCD, mega-screens, 3-D, touch) vs. ‘traditional’ ones (e.g. theatres, windows, veils, frames)
- Ethnographies of screens including qualitative implications of screen types, modes, juxtapositions, placements and proximities in practice
- Philosophical investigations of screens including debates about visible/invisible and presence/absence
- ‘Screen’ as a conceptual metaphor in social studies of technology, in other words what human practices can be understood as ’screening technology’?