What We Offer
The Centre for Postdigital Cultures has as its mission the establishment of a more socially just and sustainable ‘post-capitalist’ society. In the process, by drawing on cross-disciplinary ideas associated with open, disruptive and immersive media, the posthuman, posthumanities and the Anthropocene, we endeavour to help 21st century society and its cultural institutions (galleries, archives, museums, libraries etc.) respond to the challenges they face in relation to the (post)digital at a global, national and local level.
The Centre does this through an interdisciplinary research agenda that extends from computing, through the humanities and social sciences, to open education, political activism and art practice, in order to explore how intellectual, community and civic engagement can prefigure different ways of being together.
The Centre has state-of-the-art equipment for immersive media production (e.g. 360 cameras, bodysuits, headsets, audio sunglasses). It also offers a dedicated studio for the production of practice-based research.
Main areas of supervision
With a dynamic international team of supervisors, the CPC offers supervision and welcomes projects revolving around the above themes. The CPC organises numerous events, from international conferences and symposia to reading groups, workshops and research seminars. The content of this events programme is generated through the interests of CPC researchers and the ongoing research projects in the Centre. PGR students are expected to contribute to the programming as well as attend the various sessions. The Centre hosts an annual international conference that explores a central topic in detail. Past conferences include Radical Open Access (2018) and Pirate Care (2019).
As CPC’s success in receiving the university’s inaugural Outstanding Supervisory Team of the Year 2019 award demonstrates, PGR students value the exceptional academic expertise and pastoral care that characterises CPC’s style of work, as well as the staff’s capacity to create productive collaborations across centres of research excellence within Coventry University for the benefit of the doctoral candidates.
Digital Arts, Humanities and Posthumanities
The Centre for Postdigital Cultures uses experimental writing, publishing and making to critically and creatively rethink the arts and humanities in the context of the digital along with many of the concepts, ideas and values we have inherited with them. They include the virtuoso author, the real name, the signature, the book, originality, the fixed and finishable object, copyright, even the human itself. Hence our interest in the ‘posthumanities’ or ‘inhumanities’. In line with the theory-performance or practice-based ethos of our research, this has resulted in the CPC helping to build various postdigital organisations, exhibitions, journals, presses and libraries such as Living Books About Life, the Mandela27 DIY Exhibition, ScholarLed and the Radical Open Access Collective.
Immersive Culture and International Heritage
The CPC examines how extended reality technologies (AR/VR) offer new immersive ways of presenting and preserving cultural archives, collections, objects and artefacts. Incorporating methods from computing (e.g. AI and machine learning) into the humanities, we explore how new postdigital media technologies can help us to interpret cultural heritage while democratising the creative industries. Our work contributes to the development of interactive archives and multimedia museum exhibits that can help cultural institutions manage their collections while enabling publics to creatively engage with their cultural heritage - but also challenge dominant narratives through their remixing of personal stories and archives.
Affirmative Disruption and Open Media
The Centre uses ‘affirmative disruption’ in the sense Roberto Esposito writes of an ‘affirmative biopolitics that is not defined negatively with respect to the dispositifs of modern power/knowledge but is rather situated along the line of tension that traverses and displaces them’. The CPC’s work in this area involves experimenting with a wide range of practices aimed at removing barriers around knowledge and research, and promoting collaboration with ‘others’ (understood in geographical terms and in terms of BAME, LGBTQI, working class and other nonconforming identities). This has led us to generate projects that address open access, open data and open education, through the sharing and gig economies, to media activism and so-called internet piracy, as well as ideas of the commons and commoning.
The CPC’s research into postdigital intimacies explores the reshaping of subjectivity by digital technologies. As the digital is now invisibly naturalised in how we think, act and feel, paying attention to the postdigital has the potential to change, fundamentally, how we understand ourselves, others and the worlds around us. Drawing on feminist theory, the Centre’s researchers explore how this new intimacy is performed and experienced across a range of spaces and through a variety of media forms, screens and practices from Instagram to Femtech. Our aim is to study how we value life - what it means to live a good life - when the old distinctions between the digital and non-digital, and even the public and private, no longer apply.
Art, Space and the City
Art, Space and the City enquires into the function of art and culture for better ways to live together. Utilising a mixture of practices; Urban Studies, Urban Humanities, Media Studies, Screen Media, Black Studies, Geography, Activism, Art, Design and Architecture we propose democratic techniques in which to imagine citizen-based urban centres. We utilise cultural practices to intervene within the space of the city and connect with the communities that live there. We will rely on radical thinking to inform our understanding of art, space and the city and we draw on: art history and theory, theories of the commons, public sphere theory, human ecologies, decoloniality theory, eco-cities and radical care.
CPC is also looking to expand its research agenda by recruiting PhD students in the following areas:
- Data Cities and the Politics of Care
The CPC investigates how data-driven urbanism is reshaping cities through the harvesting, processing and refinement of increasing amounts of personal data. The focus is both on agonistic, grassroots responses developed by various publics (i.e. our work on Pirate Care), and on the use of the (post)humanities to reimagine the city and to challenge dominant imaginaries such as those founded on surveillance capitalism (as exemplified by various smart city initiatives). The Centre develops creative experiments around social reproduction; we build new infrastructures; and we explore alternative ways for cooperative living - all with a view to reinventing sociality while promoting a radical bottom-up approach to the future of cities.
- AI and Algorithmic Cultures
The CPC explores novel ways of both understanding algorithmic cultures and of responding critically and creatively to them. We study the impact of algorithms, big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning on our lives, focusing on how everyday practices change through our engagement with these disruptive technologies, and on the companies that develop and deploy them (e.g. Amazon, Google, Facebook). This area of our research goes beyond current definitions of disruptive technology. The emphasis of the CPC is not on helping to create new markets by doing things the market does not expect. It is rather on disrupting the market itself by exploring the new, alternative and more socially just economic and cultural models that are made possible by pre-emptive, cognitive and contextual computing.
As a PGR, I have thrived in the CPC. The centre promotes creative—and often radical—thinking while offering valuable practical and pastoral care. This has allowed for my research to develop in ways I could never have expected.Darren Berkland, final year PhD student in CPC.
Image credit: Concrete Cinema by Miriam De Rosa. Pioneer House, Hillfields, Coventry, September 2019.