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FCAT faculty members receive tri-council grants to support their research

August 10, 2021

FCAT researchers continue to receive acknowledgement for their important contributions in the form of Tri-Council grant successes. Among others, our recent SSHRC Insight Grants had a success rate of 80%, above the national average of 52.5%. We’re pleased to announce the most recent FCAT recipients were awarded grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) for their diverse research.

Kate Hennessy | Wrapped in the Cloud: An Anthropology of the Multimodal between the Physical and the Virtual | SSHRC Insight Grant

Wrapped in the Cloud. Video still. Jaad Kujuus Meghann O'Brien, 2018. Produced in collaboration with Conrad Sly, Hannah Turner, Reese Muntean, and Kate Hennessy.

Wrapped in the Cloud: An Anthropology of the Multimodal between the Physical and the Virtual (Dr. Hannah Turner, co-Applicant) applies theory through practice to critically engage the concept of multimodal anthropology from a decolonial perspective. Since 2018, our team of interdisciplinary scholars, artists and curators (Hennessy, Turner, Jaimie Isaac (Winnipeg Art Gallery), Conrad Sly, and Reese Muntean) have collaborated with artist Jaad Kuujus Meghann O'Brien (Haida-Kwakwaka'wakw) in creative exploration of digital imaging to support the return of her original woven artwork, Sky Blanket, from circulation in contemporary art contexts back to her community for ceremony. Through our close collaboration in digital imaging and 3D scanning, we produced a model and animation of Sky Blanket called Wrapped in the Cloud so that the artwork could be present in two contexts at the same time--the digital animation of the blanket in the gallery and the physical blanket in community. Wrapped in the Cloud helps to show Sky Blanket's connections to Haida and Kwakwaka'wakw origin stories, material qualities of mountain goat wool, and relationships between data infrastructures and land based practices. We will continue to explore the potential of research creation as a method for engagement with multimodal tools in anthropology and expanding public understanding of repatriation of cultural property and decolonial approaches to curation.

The proposed program broadens the foundation for the critical development of an anthropology of multimodal practices. An investigation will be undertaken into the potential of research creation as multimodal method, exhibitions of Jaad Kujuus Meghann O’Brien’s work at the Haida Gwaii Museum and the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, and museum ethnography in physical and virtual exhibition spaces. Using these methods, Dr. Hennessy hopes to critically explore the role of multimodal tools in decolonial curatorial work in galleries and museums, increasing understanding of how researchers, artists, and practitioners can support the repatriation of cultural property more broadly.

Kate Hennessy is an anthropologist of media and the Director of the Making Culture Lab at Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology. She is a settler scholar of Irish and German descent. Her research explores the impacts of new memory infrastructures and cultural practices of media, museums, and archives in the context of technoscience. Her collaborative multimedia artworks and curatorial projects use research-creation and documentary methodologies to address Indigenous and settler histories of place and space. Recent projects include the award-winning Virtual Museum of Canada exhibition Sq’éwlets: A Stó:lo-Coast Salish Community in the Fraser River Valley, created in partnership with the Sq’éwlets First Nation, the Stó:lo Research and Resource Management Centre, SFU and UBC; Transmissions Expanded, a digital portal to knowledge resources for Lisa Jackson’s immersive artwork Transmissions; and Wrapped in the Cloud, a collaboration with artist and weaver Jaad Kujuus Meghann O’Brien, which has been featured in museums and galleries across Canada as a part of the exhibition Boarder X.

Dal Yong Jin | Understanding Korean Storytelling in the Global Era: the convergence of popular culture and digital technologies | SSHRC Insight Grant

As Korean webtoon (comparable to web comics in North America) have become globally popular, some popular webtoons have worked as original sources for television dramas and films, both nationally and globally. Itaewon Class was one of the most popular webtoons (right), and it turned into the same name television drama (left) in 2020. The television drama series was also aired on Netflix in 2020.

The recent reach of Korean storytelling and cultural content has become a new, transnational source that differentiates with cultural content of Western media. Dr. Dal Yong’s project hopes to determine the significant role of Korean storytelling, in particular transmedia storytelling and digital storytelling in the global era. This project investigates the ways in which Korean digital storytelling like webtoons, an integral component of Korean popular culture, has transformed into big screen culture like film and television dramas. It discusses how digital technology has further shaped the development of Korea’s digital culture–particularly youth culture. Finally, it articulates how global cultural creators take advantage of the emergence of Korean culture embedded in storytelling through transnational digital media.

This project hopes to employ media convergence and transmedia storytelling as theoretical frameworks and conduct interviews and observant participation in Korea and Canada. A monograph will be published, as well as articles in scholarly journals, that will enhance curriculum and teaching materials in relation to the growth and use of locally-produced and transmedia storytelling in different courses, such as Korean studies, cultural anthropology, new media and society, East Asian studies, and globalization. The results will provide tangible knowledge, information, and new materials to develop Korea’s storytelling as a major part of cultural studies and media studies.

Dal Yong Jin is Distinguished SFU Professor. After working as a journalist for many years, he completed his Ph.D. in the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois in 2005. Jin’s major research and teaching interests are on digital platforms and digital games, globalization and media, transnational cultural studies, and the political economy of media and culture. He is the author of numerous books, including Korea’s Online Gaming Empire (MIT Press, 2010), Digital Platforms, Imperialism and Political Culture (Routledge, 2015), New Korean Wave: transnational cultural power in the age of social media (University of Illinois Press, 2016), Smartland Korea: mobile communication, culture and society (University of Michigan Press, 2017), Globalization and Media in the Digital Platform Age (Routledge, 2019), and Artificial Intelligence in Cultural Production: Critical Perspectives on Digital Platforms (Routledge, 2021). Jin has also published many articles in scholarly journals, such as New Media and Society, The Information Society, Media, Culture and Society, International Journal of Communication, Telecommunications Policy, Television and New Media, Games and Culture, and Information Communication and Society. He is the founding book series editor of Routledge Research in Digital Media and Culture in Asia, while directing a new research lab named The Transnational Culture and Digital Technology Lab at SFU since Summer 2021.

Laura Marks | Healing Media for Renewable Energy | SSHRC Insight Grant

Azadeh Emadi, Entangled Orb (Glasgow, 2020, 5:07, 4.8 MB, 8:00 processing time).

Dr. Marks’ project focuses on audiovisual media and supports technologies that are human-centric, environmentally sustainable and socially desirable, taking a de-Westernized perspective. Streaming media contributes significantly to the rising carbon footprint of information and communication technology, which is estimated to consume 7% of global electricity and contribute 3.3% to 3.9% of global greenhouse gases. The project integrates Dr. Marks' three research teams and expands projects funded through other sources. They will investigate solutions to the environmental impact of energy-intensive audiovisual media by researching alternatives in "small-footprint" media, low-tech solutions within and beyond Western countries, and media practices drawn from non-Western media histories and philosophies. Examples include enjoying movies of under 5 MB, saving high-resolution movies for public screenings, and creative hacks, as in the Indian media ecology of "jugaad", and the Islamicate heritage of the talisman, a small medium that can reorganize the environment. 

This research program includes literature reviews in ICT engineering and field research in Lebanon, Cairo and India. It incorporates knowledge creation and exchange between students, academics, artists, and other experts along four themes: healing media practices in global Indigenous cultures, embodied, disruptive algorithmic media drawn from Islamicate art, technologies of breath, and talismanic media. The results of this research will be disseminated broadly through scholarly publications, curricula for small-footprint media and teaching, the annual Small File Media Festival, media artworks, and curated exhibitions.

Laura U. Marks works on media art and philosophy with an intercultural focus and an emphasis on appropriate technologies. She is the author of four books, most recently Hanan al-Cinema: Affections for the Moving Image (MIT, 2015). One of the pioneers of scholarship in non-Western media genealogies, Marks co-founded, with Dr. Azadeh Emadi, the Substantial Motion Research Network for artists and scholars working on cross-cultural approaches to media technologies. She is the Primary Investigator of the research group Tackling the Carbon Footprint Streaming Media and the founder of the Small File Media Festival. She programs experimental media art for venues around the world. Marks is Grant Strate Professor in the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

Zoë Druick | Distributed networks: media archaeologies of educational TV and communication studies in Canada, 1945-1975 | SSHRC Insight Grant

Since the COVID-19 pandemic led to disruptions and lockdowns around the world, remote education has become increasingly ubiquitous, the subject of heated policy discussion and public debate. While the current crisis has highlighted the potential of technology to reshape the delivery and experience of education, the use of televisual platforms for education extends back prior to broadcast television. In fact, widespread perceptions of the novelty of Zoom demonstrate just how much research is needed to tie current experiences to the 20th century's entangled histories of cybernetics and education. The project hopes to explore the media archaeologies of educational TV in Canada and expand the received history of postwar (1945-1975) media platforms in Canada.

Dr. Druick and her multi-university team will aim to develop richly elaborated inventories, case studies and close readings of the distributed networks of this history. Taking a media archaeological approach that investigates the past in order to unsettle linear narratives of progress and help us rethink the novelty of the present, Dr. Druick and her team will attend to the material practices and technical operations of media devices, systems, and institutions -- particularly those typically overlooked in conventional approaches to media and technology history. The study's endpoint marks a moment when the promise and perils of TV for education were absorbed into the precursors to digital networks and the establishment of the first Communication Studies departments across Canada. The project traces educational TV and cybernetics as parallel histories beginning in the years after WWII and investigates the degree to which the two informed the development of educational policy and practice.

Zoë Druick is a Professor in the School of Communication. Her primary areas of teaching and research are media studies, gender studies and cultural theory. Her research considers histories, theories and trajectories of documentary and reality-based media with an emphasis on their intersection with biopolitical projects. Her most recent books are The Grierson Effect: Tracing Documentary's International Movement (BFI 2014, with Deane Williams) and Cinephemera: Archives, Ephemeral Cinema and New Screen Histories in Canada (McGill-Queen's University Press 2014, with Gerda Cammaer). Other publications include Allan King's A Married Couple (UTP 2010), Programming Reality: Perspectives on English-Canadian Television (WLU Press, 2008) and Projecting Canada: Government Policy and Documentary Film at the National Film Board (McGill-Queen's, 2007). Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, including Camera Obscura, Screen, Canadian Journal of Communication, International Journal of Communication, and the Canadian Journal of Film Studies. She has co-edited special issues of the Canadian Journal of Communication and the European Journal of Cultural Studies. She is currently working on a monograph on the history of operational media.

Carman Neustadter | The Design of Family Communication Technologies in Pandemic and Post-Pandemic Society | NSERC Discovery Grant

Telepresence robot used in Neustaedter’s research of communication technologies.

During COVID-19, physical distancing measures were imposed all around the world to curb the spread. Communication technologies of the 21st century have allowed people to maintain connection with family and friends despite said distance. Yet communication needs have changed during and after societal restrictions and the interactions within families and friends. A strong corollary need has simultaneously emerged to re-envision how family communication technologies are designed. Dr. Neustaedter will focus on home artifacts that can inform how family and friends are doing remotely, and futuristic video communication systems that support shared experiences online. His lab will investigate the needs of Canadian families and friends to connect over distance through existing technologies, how they achieve this and limitations they experience. This research will help identify shifts in technological design preferences and needs that may persist beyond COVID-19 in relation to social changes.

Significant research outcomes will contribute knowledge on new scientific and technical methods for building advanced communication systems that are responsive to user needs. Students and HQP will be highly involved in this work at the forefront of a societal and generational technological shift that can improve the way that family and friends connect over distance. It will also inform companies on the creation of communication technologies that present new genres of interaction and information sharing.

Carman Neustaedter is Dean of the Faculty of Communication, Art, and Technology and Professor in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Neustaedter is an international expert in human-computer interaction, domestic computing, and computer-supported collaboration. He leads the Connections Lab (cLab) – an elite research group of aspiring super heroes that aims to create better technologies for connecting people over distance. Dr. Neustaedter and his team research the design and use of technologies for family communication, workplace collaboration, game play (e.g., escape rooms, pervasive games), and emergency response as part of Next Generation 911. He has published over 200 peer reviewed publications and his two books, “Connecting Families: The Implications of New Communication Technologies on Domestic Life” and “Studying and Designing Technology for Domestic Life: Lessons from Home” describe key portions of his research and design practices. http://clab.iat.sfu.ca