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What Is A Media Lab?

situated practices in media studies

Month / May 2016

Prototyping the Past: the Maker Lab in the Humanities at the University of Victoria

An interview with Jentery Sayers and Tiffany Chan

What is your lab called and where is it?

We’re the Maker Lab in the Humanities (MLab) at the University of Victoria (UVic). We opened our doors in September 2012, with Jentery as director.

What sorts of projects and activities form the core of your work? Is there a specific temporal or technological focus for your lab?

We prototype the past by prototyping absences in the historical record. That is, we remake technologies that no longer exist or function like they once did. The technologies we prototype are dated anywhere between the 1850s and 1950s, which give us a sense of media history prior to personal computing but after early feedback control and related mechanics. These prototypes usually inform present-day technologies — wearables, cloud computing, and optical character recognition, for example — by giving them a sense of texture and change. How did these technologies become those technologies? Who contributed? Who got credit? Who was ignored? What materials were used, and when? Who or what was deemed innovative or obsolete, and under what assumptions? Did old stuff actually work how people said it did? Continue Reading

Navigating Interdisciplinary Digital Media Labs: An Interview with Erica Lehrer, Director of CEREV

Interview by Sabah Haider

In this interview for the graduate seminar HUMA 888: Mess and Method [Fall 2015, “What is a Media Lab?” edition], Sabah Haider, PhD Student at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture at Concordia University interviews Dr. Erica Lehrer, Director of CEREV and Associate Professor, History and Sociology and Anthropology (joint-appointment), and Canada Research Chair in Post-Conflict Memory and Ethnography & Museology, at Concordia University. In this interview, Haider seeks to gain insight from Lehrer on how interdisciplinary research engages with technology and the fast evolving Digital Humanities.

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The Media Lab as Space for “Play and Process”: An Interview with TML’s Navid Navab

Interview by Hilary Bergen

The point is to build environments that are “not complicated but rich.” At the TML, we live with our designs, within our responsive environment.

Interview with Navid Navab
Associate Director in Responsive Media, Topological Media Lab
Research-Associate, Matralab
Multidisciplinary Composer

The Topological Media Lab (TML) is a large, open space with polished concrete floors and a long wall of windows punctuated by various hanging plants and black-out curtains. The room is canopied by a maze of light bulbs, microphones and wires that dangle from the tall ceiling, all of which goes unnoticed if your eyes are preoccupied with the other strange and wonderful objects that inhabit the lab – on one low coffee table, a deer skull sits nonchalantly next to a Rubik’s cube and Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception. Continue Reading

Game Lab Methodology: Communal Play at the MLAB

Interview by Cody Walker

On December 2nd, I interviewed Rainforest Scully-Blaker, an MA student in Media Studies. Last year, he worked on a project at Concordia’s MLAB that investigated communal play and spectatorship. Half of the experiment was conducted in a couch co-op (two players sitting next to each other sharing a controller) and the other half of the experiment was broadcast over the livestreaming service Twitch. I was interested in how livestreaming opens up the space of the experiment to online communities. We discussed the physical layout of the MLAB, the research methods in this experiment, and how the lab functions as a game lab.

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The Music and Multimedia Research-Creation Laboratory at Université Laval

Interview by Emilie St. Hilaire On December 4th, 2015 I interviewed Sophie Stévance (Professor and Canada Research Chair in Research-Creation in Music) and Serge Lacasse (Professor in musicology) about their work with the CFI and OIF funded LARCEM (Laboratory for research-creation in music and multimedia) based at University Laval in Quebec City. I was interested […]

Hook & Eye as Digital Feminist Media Lab: A Conversation with Dr. Erin Wunker

Interview by Karissa Larocque

This week, I had the opportunity to correspond with Dr. Erin Wunker (Contract academic faculty at Dalhousie), who I’ve had the pleasure of working with at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. As one of the co-founders & managing editor of the blog Hook & Eye: Fast Feminism, Slow Academe, and the chair of the national literary organisation CWILA, Erin has been heavily involved in fostering public national conversations about women in the academe. Below, I ask Erin about why she began these conversations, about how to perform feminist and anti-oppressive work, and about whether the blog and its digital space can act as a kind of amorphous “Media Lab” where knowledge is produced, disseminated, and circulated to a specific audience. Continue Reading As Messy Media Lab: Interviews with the Team

Interview by Alison Bowie

I am working with a project called as Associate Dramaturg. This volume of the project (which runs from October 2015 to February 2016), we have been working hard to define what we have created and what we are as a service, as an organization, as a constantly evolving organism. Mess and Methods with Dr. Darren Wershler provided the perfect opportunity to push that conversation even further by asking us to define ourselves in terms of space and knowledge production. I asked six of my colleagues to respond to a series of questions: Continue Reading

“It’s all about building trust”: An Interview with Joanna Berzowska of XS Labs

Interview by Sandra Huber

Joanna Berzowska founded XS Labs in 2002 at Concordia, where they focus on “the development and design of electronic textiles, responsive clothing, wearable technologies, reactive materials, and squishy interfaces.” Previous to XS Labs, Berzowska studied and worked at the MIT Media Lab, and she co-founded International Fashion Machines with Maggie Orth. She holds a BA in Pure Mathematics and a BFA in Design Arts.

The kind of work that Berzowska engages in is profoundly interdisciplinary and crosses distinctions that we might automatically put up between design, industry, art, and theory. Her work has been shown at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, the V&A in London, and at Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria, among others. Her lab at Concordia is located on the 10th floor of the EV and is part of the textiles cluster.

I met Joanna Berzowska for a coffee in St. Henri on December 10 to discuss wearable technology, her experience working at the MIT Media Lab, the agency of things, and what she believes is important for building an interdisciplinary space.

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An Anonymous Interview with TAG Student Member

Interview by Marie-Christine Lavoie

When approaching professors and professional members of TAG, I was told I should consider interviewing student members about the Lab and the forms of knowledge they create. Therefore, I sought to interview two student members from different disciplinary backgrounds. Unfortunately, the other student was unavailable for an interview before the 15 of December. If possible, we will conduct our interview at a later date and I shall update this post to demonstrate the plurality of voices found within TAG.

In this interview for Mess and Method [Fall 2015, “What is a Media Lab?” edition], Marie-Christine Lavoie speaks with an anonymous student member from Concordia’s Technoculture, Art and Games (TAG). This interview seeks to understand how different members understand and define TAG, and how the lab produces knowledge. Overall, this interview seeks to obtain an inside look at how TAG functions within Academia. This interview was conducted through email correspondence.

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