Needed distractions

One of the great pleasures of being an academic is that reading is a part of my job. But at times this can become a great frustration too. Not only is it impossible to read all that one might want to (or feel the pressure to), but reading can become tinged by a compulsion to productivity. Time spent with a novel may be enjoyable, but can be more difficult to justify when one’s physical or virtual desktop is strewn with articles to be read or reviewed. Yet at the same time, reading widely and outside of one’s immediate area of work can be rejuvenating, and can even prompt stimulating adventures or even improvisations.

This weekend was therefore one filled with some much needed reading diversions and distractions.

Thinking about new media and curation:

The striving toward autonomy is, some argue, ever more prevalent, perhaps even a prerequisite, for works of new media, which exist in a technological context shared by other media and entertainment that have educational and other commercial objectives. In this, it would seem that no matter the form of the artwork, the medium never matters as much as the context. However, the more interconnected the work to its context, the greater the change in the way the work of art might be curated or approached by a curator.

– Graham and Cook (2010) Rethinking curation: art after new media. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pg. 83.

Thinking about the possibilities of short plays that take place inside cars:

There is great pleasure to be had in a world of limits.

– Neil LaBute (2005) Autobahn: a short-play cycle. NY: Faber and Faber, p.xv.

Thinking about a colleague hosting an event next week to bring together community around the challenge of food justice:

Food Justice, for me is not just access to healthy and affordable food, but also to food that is culturally appropriate and which is produced in a manner that does not transfer the burden of injustice onto someone else.

– Megan Blake, posting on her Geofoodie blog

Thinking about a colleague posting about her new Leverhulme-funded project:

Focusing on policy design and implementation, ‘The Stigma Doctrine’ aims to develop a new theoretical account of the ways in which neoliberal modes of government operate not only by capitalizing upon ‘shocks’ but through the production and mediation of stigma.

– Imogen Tyler, posting on her Social Abjection blog

What is Mobilities?

Last month, I had the great pleasure of attending the Pan-American Mobilities Network’s annual conference, this year framed around the theme of Differential Mobilities. The event was brilliantly hosted by Concordia University’s Mobile Media Lab in Montreal, and brought together a huge range of scholars, some of whom had not been identifying their work with what has been called ‘the new mobilities paradigm‘ by Mimi Sheller and John Urry. Nonetheless, despite, or perhaps more correctly because of, this diversity, the event was extremely fruitful, with papers that were of a very high standard and conversations and events that will stay with me for some time yet.

Since there was a huge new media presence for the event (in part thanks to the huge team of student volunteers that Kim Sawchuk and Ben Spencer amassed), there are several options for those who are curious but couldn’t make it in person. You can check out the conference website, #mobilities13 hashtag, which was used throughout the event, or even my very first explorations of tweeting from an academic conference. The MML team also went around the conference interviewing participants about their work and how they engage with the concept of ‘mobilities’. This series of interviews, entitled ‘What is Mobilities?’ offers brief introductions to people’s research, but even more importantly helps to convey the energy and passion of the conference and the people who comprised it. Too often academic research can seem dry because we encounter it through typeset words that have been poked and prodded to fit expected genres and styles. The WIM? series provides a glimpse of the people, and what makes working in this area so energizing. I did one, which you can find here, or spend some time browsing through the others from a great groups of colleagues.


[View the story “Differential Mobilities Conference 2013” on Storify]