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Critical Curatorial Practices in the 21st Century: Public Space, New Media and Geopolitics


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Media Geopolitics: Digital Governance and Archival Futures

Convener:Yu-Hui Tai, Lawrence Zi-Qiao Yang

The past two decades have witnessed the dramatic rise of platform capitalism, algorithmic logistics, ubiquitous commutating, satellite surveillance/sensing, and the expansion of financialization into the virtual world of metaverse. These developments in media technology and infrastructure have been accompanied by China’s growing clout in global media soft power and the U.S.’s strategic turn to the Indo-Pacific with a “clean network” to ensure cyber security. The intertwinement between the geopolitical and the medial, as such, poses an unprecedented challenge to what we mean by “decolonization” in the 21st century. No longer suffice is the critique of political economy along the traditional class line; nor do conventional strategies for consolidating the racial and gender identity prove satisfactory in the battles against radically new forms of digital control and exploitation. The situation demands an interdisciplinary and multimodal approach that can both excavate the techno-cultural history of media in Asia and envision possible strategies to move beyond our preset predicament. Against this context, the members of this research cluster develop two distinctive, yet mutually-supplementing, research trajectories under ICCS’s general theme of “Conflict, Justice, and Decolonization” : 

(1) Archival Futures: we believe that all “new” media technologies can be situated within the archeological and genealogical strata of the old, and the excavated audiovisual data can always shed new light on present forms of digital surveillance, control, and exploitation. With case studies from film, television, telephone, and other media formats and genres, members of the group look into the ways in which “old” media infrastructure and industries historically transformed social identity, civic participation, and reconfigure the mnemonic landscape and historic landscape of Asia from colonialism, cold war, to globalization. In the meanwhile, we will also re-situate the “archival” problematic within the contemporary context of propaganda, disinformation, and the violent erasure of collective memories imposed by the state.           

(2) Digital Governance: with strong support from NYCU’s own faculty in communication, information technology, and computer science, we will also develop a study group (or a series of mini-lectures) with an aim to critically examine a series of key notions central to the mechanism of contemporary media infrastructure and techno-politics. These keywords would be: platform, virtual reality, algorithm, ubiquitous computing, remote sensing, surveillance, immersion, among others. With a group carefully chosen core readings and hands-on guided practices every 1-2 month, members of the group would be able to familiarize themselves with the technical and material specificity of media technologies and gradually develop a genuinely inter-disciplinary approach to reading, analyzing, and interpreting the specific forms of governance shaped by, or associated with, digital objects and infrastructure.   

Research Topics