Organised by the CRC Media of Cooperation, University of Siegen
September 18-22, 2023
University of Siegen
Keynote: Gabriele Colombo (Density Design Milano): “Unfolding data: lists, catalogues, supercuts and other visual formats for digital research”
Facilitators: Aikaterini Mniestri, Elena Pilipets & Julia Bee (University of Siegen)
Situating and positioning oneself as a researcher has a long tradition in feminist and ethnographic methodologies, but how can we rethink the notion of positionality in digital media research, when engaging with media through their data? How can we contextualize the data we are working with and acknowledge our own position(s) as researchers? Which voices, perspectives, but also biases do collaborative methods and visualization practices bring about, and how can we reflect them? We suggest that accounting for positionality and situatedness are key aspects of the ethical implications of studying online environments through multimodal data—visual, textual, and numeric.
The one-week summer school organized by the Collaborative Research Center, “Media of Cooperation”, University of Siegen, invites graduate students and postdoc researchers interested in the intersections of digital methodologies, data feminism, (visual) social media, and platforms. Our main theme, “More Than Data: Positionality and Situatedness in Digital Research”, encourages conceptual and methodological discussions that challenge the narratives of ‘impartiality’ through experimentations with situated data analysis and visualization. The summer school is practice-based and brings together conceptual inputs, methodological trainings, and sprinted group projects. Through the integration of ethnographic investigations and digital methods, we explore diverse possibilities for reflection of what positionality means in relation to environments equally co-generated by human and non-human actors. We seek to capture the nuances of subjugated knowledge through context-sensitive approaches, providing a collaborative space for rethinking digitally mediated hierarchies, binaries, and biases.
Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on how different forms of positionality and embodiment can be made visible and critically re-imagined in the process of obtaining, visualizing, and interpreting online-ethnographic and visual platform data. A blend of research practice and critical reflection, the summer school features keynotes by Celia Lury (Warwick) and Gabriele Colombo (DensityDesign/ Politecnico di Milano), one workshop, and two practical tracks intended to meet the needs of question-driven positional mapping and ethical data storytelling.
Mapping the Misappropriation of Images of Trans Bodies
The track led by facilitator Aikaterini Mniestri will enable participants to access curated networks of trans content creators on YouTube through a platform-embedded understanding of online ethnographic data. We will collaboratively develop a situated mapping of text and visual data to understand the web of positionalities of human and non-human actors involved. This track will inform an understanding of how these actors are implicated in the appropriation of images of trans bodies outside of their original setting. Participants will learn
- how to work with reverse image searching tools and image-based artificial intelligence to track images across the web
- how to engage with misappropriated images to map out their ‘second life’ away from their creators
- how to use this methodology in their own research with the help of a situational mapping template - designed as the core output of this project
This template will help participants identify human and non-human actants in the field. Additionally, it will help them explore ethnographic data from different perspectives, thus unveiling the precarity faced by LGBTQ+ creators. At the same time, this template will highlight the responsibility of the researcher to handle sensitive data with care and encourage a critique of institutional actors who distort the meaning behind images of gender transition and affirmation.
#letztegeneration meets #klimakleber: Mapping TikTok Imaginaries of Climate Activism and Climate Change Denial
Engaging with the social moving image on TikTok, particularly the intersections of aesthetic strategies and activist tactics, this track, facilitated by Elena Pilipets and Julia Bee, focuses on the contemporary online imaginaries of climate activism and climate change denial. The hashtags #letztegeneration and #klimakleber or ‘climate stickers’—a term coined by the German media to describe climate activists who glue themselves to the cities’ streets as a form of protest—will be at the heart of our investigation.
In line with feminist and intersectional approaches (Ahmed 2004; D’ignazio and Klein 2020; Sundén and Paasonen 2020), we attend specifically to the entanglements of embodied performance, gestures, and speech, asking: How does TikTok engagement contribute to both climate catastrophe denial and the mobilization against climate activism? Which affective intensities and associations stick or fail to stick onto activists’ bodies? What spaces of critique and political intervention may they allow against the background of social media debates around feminism, sexism, and racism? And to which extent can we identify the potential for tactical reclaiming? Facilitators will combine TikTok video metadata with experimental visual methods of collage and ethical fabrication. The crafting and collective interpretation of situated data visualizations with particular attention to the body’s performative (and contested) nature will guide our exploration throughout. Participants will learn
- how to work with dynamic visual content and make sense of related engagement (video captions, stickers, effects, sounds, time of posting, hashtags, engagement metrics, etc.)
- how to trace and contextualize patterns of ‘repetition with variation’ in speech and embodied performances of TikTok climate activism and climate change denial
- how to re-imagine these patterns through collaborative mapping that moves beyond linear narratives, allowing for networked fabulation instead
Resulting analytical artefacts—such as grids, maps, drawings, montages, and blurs—will support the process of participatory media-native storytelling (Bee 2020; Pilipets 2023). We will use digital methods tools in combination with analog methods of mapping and collage as well as online collaborative platforms, such as Figma or Hotglue. Participants will receive walkthrough documents with tool installation guidelines and further helpful information in advance.
Note that this is an on-site event only; book your accommodation in Siegen in advance. The event is partly self-catered. Participation is free. Please register below: