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Avatars, Alter Egos and Ventriloquists' Dummies: Voice and Vicariousness Online

These projects highlight the specific texts, communities, individuals and phenomena on which my exploration of broader themes (see LINK TO PUBLICATION) has focused, while showcasing the range of digital outputs my research has generated.

Exploring 'ASMR' Culture summarises my research into 'Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response', a mysterious tingling sensation that some web users seek to ‘trigger’ as a means of managing stress and sleeplessness. The project page incorporates a podcast I produced in collaboration with two ‘ASMRtists’ who post tingle-inducing videos to YouTube. While the ASMR community might seem like an obscure subcultural niche, I argue that it has much to teach us about conceptions of embodiment, identity and intimacy in digital culture.

Videogames, Identity and Digital Subjectivity supplements my published work on gaming culture, offering critical summaries of fifteen videogames. Ranging from ‘desktop simulators’ to ‘dick-pic-studios’, allegorical puzzle-platformers to interactive collages, these titles show how game designers are exploring the nature of networked identity and pioneering new forms of interactive life writing.

Grime and Gaming gives an account of how grime musicians have engaged with videogames, and of what this engagement can tell us about digital selfhood. The project page features a map highlighting the diasporic connections and glocal cultural flows that undergird grime’s love affair with gaming.

Animating Sight and Song was a research-creation project that saw me collaborating with Ana Parejo Vadillo to produce a digital edition of a poem by Katharine Bradley (1846-1914) and Edith Cooper (1862-1913), who published together under the pen-name Michael Field. The couple’s 1892 volume Sight and Song saw them enlisting figures from Renaissance art as muses and mouthpieces – a strategy that we argue anticipates the forms of auto/biographical avatar play favoured by contemporary social media users. The page showcases a number of GIF animations created to illustrate our edition of the poem.

Moving Past Present was another practice-based research project that, like Animating Sight and Song, aimed to shed light on contemporary digital culture by looking back to an earlier phase in media history. Here I worked with artist Janina Lange, who created a pop-up motion capture studio where 1890s Gaiety theatre stars Constance Collier and Ellaline Terriss were ‘reanimated’ using Kinect gaming hardware. Looking back to the start of the last century, we aimed to highlight the terms on which media technologies render gendered bodies legible and saleable today.

Project status: Completed
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Principal Investigator




Funding Body: European Research Council

Amount: € 2 206 994

Period: May 2014 - October 2019