[spectre] Visual Ethics, Networked Selves event: AHRC Postdigital Intimacies series

Gary Hall mail at garyhall.info
Wed Jun 23 12:31:31 CEST 2021

Dear colleagues,

Just to let you know about this event next week. Three preview videos 
for each talk are also now available on the Eventbrite page. See link 


*Visual Ethics, Networked Selves*

**June 29^th , 3pm – 5pm BST online

Part of the AHRC Postdigital Intimacies series:


*To watch the preview videos and register, please go to 


*Postdigital intimacies are ephemeral, often visual, sometimes 
implicated in vulnerabilities, tensions and risks. Research on spaces 
between public and private raise ethical issues, creating fresh 
challenges for researchers.*

In this symposium, the ethics and use of ethical methodologies for 
studying networked selves will be explored. Our speakers borrow from 
posthumanist, feminist, social justice, queer theory and critical race 
theory approaches to research. Their contributions will explore how we 
create knowledge in the context of postdigital intimacies above and 
beyond traditional ethics. Their methodological perspectives touch on 
issues connected to selfies, the everyday and intimate visual social 
media images, participatory human-technology methods, and visualising 



*Doing ethics when studying social media: the three Cs - context, care, 
critique *

Katrin Tiidenberg, Professor of Participatory Culture, Tallinn University

All research involves making choices, and most of us try to make the 
best possible choices we can. Yet, as research situations involve people 
and groups with varying goals and motivations, and we often have a 
limited understanding of others’ goals and motivations, a good choice is 
neither self-evident nor universal. I think that is the crux of research 
ethics. It’s complicated. Perfect solutions rarely exist, and when they 
do, they are rarely workable off paper. Based on a decade of trying to 
research multimodal and visual, often sexually explicit, often at least 
somewhat vulnerable social media practices well, in a way that creates 
valuable insights, but does not abuse people, situations or trust, I’ve 
come up with three Cs for doing research ethics. In this talk, I will 
share the three Cs, discuss how I arrived at them, what’s difficult 
about each of them alone, and what combining them contributes. I think 
research ethics should be approached as an interative, pragmatic 
process, trying to avoid both the limitations of procedural ethics that 
cast ethics as an annoying hurdle on the way towards what is actually 
meaningful, and the dogmatism of the idealist approaches that dreams up 
ethics procedures unsustainable in most lived, empirical fieldsites. I 
hope the three Cs do that and am looking forward to a discussion.


***An Ethics of the Ordinary: Reflections on Boredom and Networked Media*

Tina Kendall, Associate Professor, Film and Media, Anglia Ruskin University

Reflecting on my research into boredom and networked media, this paper 
rehearses some of the ethical problems that accrue in a postdigital 
culture around the promise that our media technologies can visualise, 
classify, sense and even predict our emotions. By looking at 
boredom-themed content on short-form video platforms Vine and TikTok, I 
ask what is at stake in the framing of boredom as legible, eventful, and 
entertaining. Like reaction GIFs, these short videos display a 
particular fascination with facial expression, actions, gestures, and 
movements, and a drive to classify, pattern, and synchronise human moods 
and behaviours. At play is a process of abstraction and reduction, in 
which lived emotions are tamed and classified, made available for use in 
networked exchanges, and transformed into a source of profit for social 
media corporations. I argue that boredom-themed media is particularly 
interesting because of its fundamental ambiguity, which gives it the 
potential to work within appropriative structures, or to resist them.

In this talk, I want to reflect on the ethical questions involved in 
this process of extraction and re-appropriation of human emotions. What 
does it mean to “feel through” other bodies in networked exchanges? What 
kind of ethical relations might be established through the naming and 
sharing of emotions online? What role do the technical affordances of 
social media platforms play in permitting or limiting ethical responses 
to the visual display of human gestures, expressions, and movements? The 
talk goes on to ask how media scholars can attend to such questions in 
their own research in a way that resists the drive to classify, name and 
fix their meanings. Here I reflect on what it means as a researcher to 
speak on behalf of the bored body, given boredom’s constitutive opacity. 
How can researchers restore the thickness and ambivalence of boredom 
without re-inscribing the violent logics of classification and 
surveillance that we are analysing? I conclude that what is needed is an 
ethics of the ordinary, which might attend to the vulnerabilities, 
ambiguities and desires that flow through the textures of networked life.


*“I’m gonna put a computational hex on you?”*

Shaka McGlotten, Professor of Media Studies and Anthropology at Purchase 

An algorithm can function like a computational hex, a love potion (or 
something) for the digital age. While digital sexual labors have become 
commonplace over the last twenty years, algorithms are increasingly 
important to workers and the desiring alike. One magick leads to 
another--performers perform in videos released online. Those videos 
serve to expose performers to broad audiences, and that exposure leads 
in turn to the production of new, more independent media, including, 
among much else, NSFW Twitter and OnlyFans accounts. The algorithm is an 
instrument, or ingredient, for lusty seduction. During COVD-19, 
performers have had to extend their creative witching, as key income 
streams, tied to mainstream productions, as well as the escorting many 
workers engage in, have dried up. These are not the first plague years 
queers have faced, nor the first instance in which collective sexual 
inventiveness meets the moment.


*Speaker Bios*

*Katrin Tiidenberg* (Professor of Participatory Culture at Tallinn 
University) is a social media, sexualities and visual cultures 
researcher from Estonia. Her recent books include "Selfies, why we love 
(and hate) them" (2018), “Sex and Social Media” (2020, with Emily van 
der Nagel) and the curated collection “Metaphors of the internet” (2020, 
with Annette Markham). Kat serves on the Executive Board of the 
Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) and is currently working on 
two research projects - Rethinking sexuality with Jenny Sunden and 
Susanna Paasonen and DigiGen. More info at katrin-tiidenberg.com.

***Tina Kendall* is Associate Professor of Film & Media at Anglia Ruskin 
University. She has published in a range of journals, including New 
Formations: A Journal of Culture, Theory and Politics, Necsus: European 
Journal of Media Studies, and Journal of Film & Media Studies. Her 
current project, Entertained-or-Else: Boredom and the Affective 
Technologies of #LockdownLife analyses boredom and networked media, 
particularly as the relationship between the two have come to be 
intensified during the Coronavirus crisis.

***Shaka McGlotten* is Professor of Media Studies and Anthropology at 
Purchase College-SUNY, where they also serve as Chair of the Gender 
Studies and Global Black Studies Programs. Their work stages encounters 
between black study, queer theory, media, and art. They have written and 
lectured widely on networked intimacies and messy computational 
entanglements as they interface with qtpoc lifeworlds. They are the 
author of Virtual Intimacies: Media, Affect, and Queer Sociality, 
published by SUNY Press in 2013. They are also the co-editor of two 
edited collections, Black Genders and Sexualities (with Dana-ain Davis) 
and Zombies and Sexuality (with Steve Jones). Their book Dragging: In 
the Drag of a Queer Life, forthcoming from Routledge, and their current 
project, Black Data, have been supported by the Alexander von Humboldt 
Foundation, Akademie Schloss Solitude, and Creative Capital | The Andy 
Warhol Foundation.

Gary Hall
Professor of Media
Director of the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Faculty of Arts & Humanities, Coventry University:



Book (open access): A Stubborn Fury: How Writing Works in Elitist Britain:

Chapter (open access): ‘Postdigital Politics’, in Cornelia Sollfrank, Shuhsa Niederberger and Felix Stalder, eds, Aesthetics of the Commons:

Video: 'Can We Unlearn Liberal Individualism: Gary Hall in Conversation with Carolina Rito About A Stubborn Fury: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CQiRCib_AU

Blog post: 'Combinatorial Books - Gathering Flowers', with Janneke Adema and Gabriela Méndez Cota: https://copim.pubpub.org/pub/combinatorial-books-gathering-flowers-part-i/release/1

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