Dr Conor McKeown
Teaching Fellow in Digital Humanities
Research interests and PhD supervision
I received my PhD from The University of Glasgow in 2017 and have previously taught in the University of Glasgow and in further education. Using a post-disciplinary methodology, equal parts code studies, media theory and contemporary philosophy, I argue the efficacy of digital art and independent videogames as interactive/performative tools for understanding posthumanity and radical ecology. I have taught both theoretical and practical courses in: Games Studies; Games Design; Film History; Film Aesthetics; Film Theory; Media Philosophy; 3D Modelling; Computer Programming and Web Design. I have organised four international conferences including the 2015 Film-Philosophy Conference and the 2017 International Cinemas Conference. Similarly, I have co-published articles, and worked on online archives such as the Cinema St Andrews project. Beyond this, I have used my practical skills to collaborate with both artists and industry professionals. I am an active member of both British DiGRA, and the Philosophy of Computer Games Group.
- Philosophical, critical and theoretical engagements with videogames
- Cultural explorations of computer coding practices and languages
- Ecological approaches to digital or other media
I explore videogames as a tool for exploratory thinking through a lens of contemporary critical theory and philosophy. I reject a focus on games as either visual or ludic texts, in a conventional understanding, instead viewing them as opportunities for a posthuman performance between human, machine and environment. I focus on videogames that offer unconventional play experiences, that challenge players’ concepts of space, time and reality, and that prompt the potential for an engagement with ontological possibilities more commonly discussed within theoretical physics. I suggest videogame play can be an opportunity for players to take part in a performance that provides a humbling perspective on our place in the universe, highlighting our entanglement with both ecological and fundamental systems, that – in accordance with a scientific understanding of materiality – underpin our daily lives. To do this, I draw on a range of disciplines including Game Studies, Code Studies, Platform Studies, Media Archaeology, New Media Studies, Media Ecology and contemporary philosophy including New Materialism, Object Oriented Ontology, Posthumanism and Post-Noumenal thought.
- 2018 "Playing with Materiality: An Agential-Realist Approach to Videogame Code-Injections", Information Communication and Society: Special Issue on 'Work and Play', Vol. 21, Issue 9. DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2018.1476572
- 2018 “Videogames Beyond Representation: Intra-Acting with Independent Videogames”, Proceedings of the Transdisciplinary Imaging Conference, Vol 5, Issue 1.
- 2016 "Alternative Trajectories: Structuring Play Through Videogame Physics Engines", Performance Research, Vol 21, Issue 4.
Expertise and public engagement
My teaching focuses on building exploratory discourses on contemporary digital practices through understandings of recent theory and philosophy. I prefer to think across and without disciplinary constraints and encourage a focus on understanding the underlying technical operations of cultural objects.
Presented, “Videogames Beyond Representation: Intra-Acting with Independent Videogames” at the Trans-Image conference in Edinburgh, 2018.
Presented, “Playing with Materiality: An Agential-Realist Approach to Videogame Code-Injections” at Futureworks conference, Manchester, 2016.
Published a chapter on ‘The Colossi’ in Jaime Banks, Robert Mejia, Aubrey Adams (eds.) 100 Greatest Videogame Characters (MD: Rowman and Littlefield)