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NOMADIKON

Nomadikon is a transdisciplinary research group and center for image studies and visual aesthetics at the Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen. The center launched in the fall of 2008 with the project New Ecologies of the Image (2008-2013), and consists of a core team of six locally based scholars, international affiliates, and a global network of visual culture studies researchers.

Taking as its point of departure the epochal transformation of the visual world engendered by the digitalization of culture, New Ecologies of the Image will address a host of interrelated theoretical and critical issues that in various ways either require, imply or propose a different hermeneutics of the visual, a new interpretive optics. How has the process of seeing itself been affected by the flux of the contemporary mediasphere? What is the nature and effects of the emerging scopic regime of the digital? In what ways might the notion of a general iconology be revived and made applicable to the conceptual demands of an image culture that appears to transmute ever more rapidly? How can we develop a critical language to analyze visual artifacts that does not fall victim to logocentric predilections? Most fundamentally, how can we formulate an ethics and an aesthetics for these new ecologies of the image?

Among the research topics pertinent to the Nomadikon project are the manifestations of iconoclasm and iconophobia; image wars and visual ideologies; the cultural performance of on/scenity (Linda Williams); the aestheticization of affliction; controversial and offensive images; media convergence and the formation of new visual ecosystems; the nomadicization of the image; and the visual codification of subjectivity and social value.

Nomadikon is jointly funded by The Bergen Research Foundation and the Faculty of Social Sciences.

VISMEDIA

The rapidly increasing, global dissemination of images and videos challenges journalistic transparency and accountability. On the one hand, news media profit from the increasing access to imagery provided by smartphones, camera drones, surveillance cameras, wearables, and other technologies. The visuals provide new opportunities for innovative, well documented storytelling. On the other hand, visual content from surveillance technologies challenges privacy regulations and established codes of conduct.

The ViSmedia project investigates empirically, experimentally, and conceptually how the adoption and adaption of visual surveillance technologies in the news media might best be optimized in ways that integrate the societal responsibility of high quality journalism. The project is interdisciplinary, and the core group of researchers includes social scientists from Norway, USA, and Finland.

The ViSmedia project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council’s program SAMANSVAR (2015-2019), and builds on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), a framework developed by the EU. Principal Investigator is Professor Astrid Gynnild, University of Bergen. 

The ViSmedia project investigates how the adoption and adaptation of visual surveillance technologies in the news media might be optimized in ways that incorporate and integrate aspects of societal responsibility in quality journalism. The project is interdisciplinary; the core group of researchers includes social scientists and information scientists from Norway, USA, and Finland.

The project ViSmedia builds on the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) framework. The project investigates opportunities and dilemmas of adoption, innovation, and use of new visual surveillance technologies in the news media. ViSmedia is financed by the Norwegian Research Council’s program SAMANSVAR (2015/2019). Principal Investigator is Professor Astrid Gynnild, University of Bergen.

GAMES AND TRANSGRESSIVE AESTHETICS

Digital games are often criticized for their many and exaggerated portrayals of violence, and also for their stereotypical representations of gender. But how are such descriptions experienced while playing? How violent or gender stereotypical can a game situation be before players find it speculative or tasteless? And when are game situations experienced as satire or parody? What is appropriate to include in a digital game, and what does the activity of play and the game situation do to the interpretation of controversial content?

The project Games and Transgressive Aesthetics explores controversial game content theoretically and through qualitative empirical studies that stress how such content is experienced by players while playing games. Central to the project is finding an explanatory framework that focuses on the player’s experiences of controversial content in digital games, and that takes into account that different players may have radically different viewpoints of what they find controversial. How does playing transform the experience of controversial game content? When is game content perceived as unproblematic for players, and when does it transgress the border into the speculative or repulsive? And in what situations is such content seen as challenging and critical, and able to make players reflect? Questions such as these connect the project to debates about subjective perceptions of aesthetics and taste, games as art and medium, and about ethics and freedom of expression.

The hypothesis of the project is that controversial content often is accepted in games because the content is being re-negotiated in a playful context. At the same time the game-oriented attitude may risk collapsing if players experience the content as too problematic.

A premise for the research that we will be carrying out in this project is that games are a powerful art form and medium of expression, and should have the same protection against censorship as other media. At the same time, games are a dominating form of entertainment which reaches out to a variety of demographics, and must – in the name of public debate and freedom of speech – accept that they may be the target of criticism.

Located at the Department of Information Science and Media StudiesUniversity of Bergen, the project is funded by the Research Council of Norway through the FRIPRO programme. A three months pre-study is financed by the Council for Applied Media Research (RAM).

The Games and Transgressive Aesthetics project was running January 2015-June 2019.