Category Archives: community and culture

Adjusting to the COVID-19 reality

Today starts the 3rd week of staggered isolation & social distancing measures imposed for addressing COVID-19, which also affected Universities and research teams. As other PIs around the world, I had to think how the ART/DATA/HEALTH project could adjust to the new reality of the COVID-19 crisis. The ART/DATA/HEALTH project aims to work with communities and citizens to build their digital and data science skills in order to understand large amounts of data – and the way we do this is through creativity and the arts. But plans to run workshops with the project’s key partners and stakeholders were cancelled, while the Brighton Fringe Festival has been postponed until October 2020.

Inevitably we have moved to an extended period of working remotely, in order to realise the vision of the project, which is to benefit communities digest health and wellbeing data through arts and creativity. I have commissioned three artists for the ART/DATA/HEALTH project and they have all now shifted their practice and focus in order to adjust and respond to the issues emerging from the COVID-19 everyday practices and materialities:

  1. The bio-artist, Anna Dumitriu, was initially commissioned to explore domestic violence issues in consultation with the local charity RISE. She has now shifted her focus to also take into account data on the effect of quarantine and self-isolation due to COVID-19 on women (RISE is a Sussex-based charity that supports people affected by domestic abuse and violence. RISE stands for Refuge, Information, Support and Education). Beyond the impact of COVID-19 related measures on women in general and the reported rise in cases of domestic abuse, my collaboration with RISE has aimed to give voice to the experiences of staff. The impact of isolation due to COVID-19 on the wellbeing of charity workers who support survivors of domestic abuse is hence a key research interest for my work in the ART/DATA/HEALTH project. To explore these experiences, feelings and emotions around social distancing and staying at home during this challenging time, Anna and I will be sending art kits to RISE staff, which they can use remotely.
  2. The local community artist Ian Leaver was initially commission to co-facilitate the workshop Staying Healthy in Whitehawk earlier this month, and to co-produce, with local residents, an mural at Wellsbourne Healthcare CIC in Whitehawk. My collaboration with the Wellsbourne is aimed at understanding barriers to access the health services for citizens who live in an area of multiple deprivation. The workshops at the Whitehawk Library planned for earlier this month got cancelled, so Ian and I have been thinking of ways to continue the work, to connect with the community, and offer an opportunity to East Brighton residents to take part in an art project, while they record a daily diary. We are inviting people who live in East Brighton and belong in a sensitive group, or are in isolation  to engage in a creative project.

    The idea is simple: For 14 days or more, participants will track their symptoms, or other activity in relation to your health (for example medication, sleep, anxiety etc). You can use drawing, photo, audio, or write a brief blog to record your daily diary. Ian will then use these diary data to create an artwork that will be permanently exhibited at Wellsbourne Healthcare CIC in Whitehawk. To explain how people can take part in the project we are offering the free online workshop, ART IN ISOLATION which will take place on Wednesday 8th April, 2-3pm. Ian Leaver-Blaxstone and I (Aristea Fotopoulou) will take you through the 14-day art challenge, and will discuss your ideas.

  3. Oddly enough, I originally commissioned VR artist Kate Genevieve to explore the emotional and embodied aspects of connection and isolation, before the COVID-19 crisis. Now her work is even more relevant. Although Kate was lucky enough to connect with workshop participants (staff from various local charity organisations) in real life, and in a physical space (at the Phoenix Art Space in February), she will also be sending out instructions for an arts and crafts activity to participants, as we are working with the loneliness and befriending charity Together Co.

 

For more updates about how the project is adjusting and responding to the new situation read the ART/DATA/HEALTH blog.

The-Ecology-of-Disease-Olaf-Hajek-Illustration

Talk at the BSA South-Coast Medical Sociology Study Group Symposium

BSA eventI look forward to speaking at the Symposium Creating Health and Wellbeing through Creative Endeavour(s) organised by the BSA South-Coast Medical Sociology Study Group in December.

Date And Time: Thursday, 5 December 2019, 13:00 – 16:00

For more info and to book click here

Building an interface between art and data science for health and wellbeing

Dr Aristea Fotopoulou (University of Brighton)

The adoption of personalised digital health environments (e.g. self-management mobile apps), big data (e.g. surveillance of infectious outbreaks) and AI algorithms that inform decisions about social and health care (e.g. IBM Watson Health for social care management) all raise important issues about data and privacy today. Meanwhile, health promotion and communication have also moved to a digitised age, with health organisations using texts and social media in order to educate about health risks and prevention. But what opportunities are offered to develop new arts-based, participatory public health strategies for health and wellbeing in the era of datafication and digital health?

This talk reports on a new project that aims to enhance public engagement with health data through art practice. More specifically, the project explores how art and creativity can enable health literacy and data science skills amongst socioeconomically disadvantaged communities to reduce health inequalities. It is anticipated that the research will build a participatory interface that involves creativity and use of data to improve health and wellbeing, while allowing audiences and participants to reflect on the ethical, social, and political and cultural issues of big data and personalised medicine.

Other speakers:

Cindy Brooks (University of Southampton)

Cindy Brooks is a Research Fellow and Medical Sociologist at the School of Health Sciences and at the NHS Wessex Academic Health Science Network (AHSN). Cindy’s research interests are combining sociological theory with qualitative and mixed methods research to explore and improve the experiences of patients, their families and health and social care professionals.

Louise Baxter (University College London)

Louise Baxter is a Research Associate in Mental Health in the Department of Behavioural Science and Health, University College London. She works as part of the MARCH mental health research network, focusing on barriers to community participation.

Two vacancies Research Officer – Closing date 3rd April 2019

The University of Brighton, School of Media invites applications for two Research Officers (one with focus on Digital Communications & Health, and one with focus on Arts & Health). The two positions are attached to the UKRI-AHRC Innovation Leadership Fellowship project “ART/DATA/HEALTH: Data as creative material for health and wellbeing”. The project creates an innovative and interdisciplinary process offering disadvantaged groups and the wider public new tools, at the intersections of data science with art practice, to approach two key issues in healthy aging and prevention: digital skills and health literacy.

You will be working in consultation with the Principal Investgator (PI) Dr Aristea Fotopoulou and as part of a team to undertake filedwork; liaise with project partners; organise participatory research workshops; manage, store and analyse fieldwork material; co-author research outputs; disseminate findings. A high level of analytical capability, as well as the ability to communicate information clearly (in a variety of forms) are necessary. Collaborating well as part of the project team is essential.

You will have knowledge and/or experience and research interests in one or more of the following areas:

For the post AE4011 ART/DATA/HEALTH Research Officer (Digital Communications & Health): participatory research; digital inclusion; health literacy; self tracking; datafication of health; data visualisation; arts for health and wellbeing.

For the post AE4012 ART/DATA/HEALTH Research Officer (Arts & Health): arts for health and wellbeing; community arts; data visualisation; cultural participatory; digital inclusion; health literacy; datafication of health.

Both posts are 0.5 FTE fixed term posts for approximately 9 months, and we would expect the successful candidate to be in post by the beginning of June 2019. The successful candidate will be based at the new Centre for Research Excellence ‘Digital Media Cultures’ at the University of Brighton. The Centre is an interdisciplinary knowledge network spanning computing, social science, media, art and design.

Details and to apply:

AE4011-19-073 ART/DATA/HEALTH Research Officer (Digital Communications & Health) 

AE4012-19-075 ART/DATA/HEALTH Research Officer (Arts & Health) 

Closing Date for both posts: Wednesday 03 April 2019

If you have any questions please contact the PI Dr Aristea Fotopoulou (a.fotopoulou@brighton.ac.uk)

UKRI Innovation Fellow / AHRC Leadership Fellow

I am thrilled to have been awarded a prestigious UKRI Innovation Fellowship/ AHRC Leadership Fellowship for the research project ART/ DATA/ HEALTH: Data as creative material for health and wellbeing. The project creates an innovative and interdisciplinary process that offers disadvantaged groups and the wider public new tools, at the intersections of data science with art practice, to approach two key issues in healthy aging and prevention: digital skills and health literacy.

More to follow soon.

CFP Special Issue of Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media

Call for Papers Digital Culture Meets Data: Critical Perspectives

Special Issue of Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies

Guest Editors: Aristea Fotopoulou (University of Brighton) and Helen Thornham (University of Leeds)

Algorithms and big data shape our sociocultural and technical relations and our everyday experiences. Considerations of data, algorithms and infrastructure are now central to our critical perspectives on, and approaches to digital culture. The ‘data logical turn’ has been talked about as a necessary critical consideration for digital culture, not least because communication, media infrastructures, practices and social environments become increasingly ‘datafied’. But what does this turn to data mean for our research, scholarship and pedagogic practice? What does it mean for broader epistemological and ontological frameworks? Has the data paradigm arrived as an unquestionable unifying concept for studies of digital culture and digital media, communication, technology? It may be that a shift of focus on algorithms and data is fundamentally disruptive to the ways in which we see our research and disciplines. It may even appear to limit the theoretical and methodological tools through which we increasingly try to understand mediation, the formation of identity, social life, politics and the creative industries. To others, the data logical turn may be plainly repeating the processes of earlier instances of technological innovation. And for some, it may provide an opportunity to frame new theoretical concepts and methodological tools for a whole new set of social, cultural and political phenomena.

The focus of this special issue emerges from the ECREA conference of late 2017 and is motivated by conceptual and critical questions about the relationship between digital culture and data. We ask:  What theoretical and empirical perspectives on data and digital culture can be used to augment and diversify our research and educational approaches? How might we challenge data paradigms or aim to show alternative or complementary ways to address digital culture and communication?

We invite contributions that critically engage with digital culture and data specifically in relation to research, scholarship and pedagogic practice. We invite contributions that include (but are not reduced to) the following Themes:

  • Media studies and datafication
  • Researching media and culture using data methods
  • Data visualisation, art and design
  • Data cultures and neoliberalism
  • Data activism and citizen engagement
  • Data literacy
  •  Data and audiences
  • Data and gender, race, class inequalities
  • Datafication and the creative industries
  • Feminist approaches to data
  • Machine learning and AI
  • Data and the body
  • Smart cities, data and sustainability
  • Social bots and the management of sociality

Articles should be in the range of 6000-8000 words (including all references). Please send a 500-word abstract and a 100-word biography to the editors: A.Fotopoulou@brighton.ac.uk and H.Thornham@leeds.ac.uk by 31st August 2018. Authors of accepted abstracts will be notified by 1st October 2018. Full papers will be submitted 1st December 2018 and will undergo peer review following the usual procedures of the journal. The invitation to submit a full article does not guarantee acceptance into the special issue. The Special Issue will be out in 2020, and in time for REF.

Brief Bio of Guest Editors:

Dr. Aristea Fotopoulou is Principal Lecturer in Media and Communications at the University of Brighton, where she leads the MA Digital Media, Culture & Society. Her research focuses on critical aspects of digital and emerging technologies, with current emphasis on critical data literacy, digital health, and AI. She serves as Chair of the European Communication Research & Education Association (ECREA) Digital Culture and Communication Section. Publications include:

  • Fotopoulou, A. (forthcoming) Data practices, gender and citizenship. In Stephansen, H. and Trere, E. (eds) Citizen Media and Practice. Taylor & Francis/Routledge: Oxford.
  • Fotopoulou, A. (2018) From networked to quantified self: Self-tracking and the moral economy of data sharing. In Papacharissi, Z. (ed.) A Networked Self: Platforms, Stories, Connections. New York: Routledge.
  • Fotopoulou, A. (forthcoming) Citizen Media and Gender. In Baker, M., Blaagaard, B. and Pérez-González, L. (eds) The Routledge Encyclopedia of Citizen Media. New York: Routledge.
  • Fotopoulou, A. (2017) Feminist activism and digital networks: between empowerment and vulnerability, Palgrave Studies in Communication for Social Change, Palgrave MacMillan. (monograph).
  • Fotopoulou, A. and O’Riordan, K. (2016) Training to self-care: Fitness tracking and the knowledge-able consumer. Health Sociology Review.
  • Fotopoulou, A. and Couldry, N., (2015) Telling the story of the stories: online content curation and digital engagement. Information, Communication & Society, 18(2), pp.235-249.

Dr. Helen Thornham is an Associate Professor of Digital Cultures at Leeds University and has published widely on the social and cultural transformations of digital technologies. Her interdisciplinary work has been funded across RCUK, including AHRC Knowledge Infusion Grant (AH/H500065/1), EPSRC Community and Cultures Network+ (EP/K003585/1), and ESRC Defence, Uncertainty and Risk Project (ES/K011170/1).

Publications include:

  • Thornham, H (2018 forthcoming) Gender and Digital Culture: Irreconcilability in the Digital. Taylor Francis
  • Thornham, H & Gómez Cruz (2017) Not Just a Number? NEETS, Data and Datalogical Systems. Information, Communication & Society
  • Thornham, Helen & Maltby, Sarah (2017) ŒBeyond Pseuydonmity¹: The socio-technical structure of online military forums. New Media and Society DOI 10.117/1461444817707273
  • Thornham, H & Gómez Cruz (2016) Hackathons, Data and Discourse: Convolutions of the data(logical) in Big Data and Society DOI: 10.1177/2053951716679675
  • Thornham, Helen & Maltby, Sarah (2016) The Digital Mundane and the Military Media, Culture and Society DOI:
  • 1177/0163443716646173
  • Thornham, Helen & Gómez Cruz, Edgar (2016) [Im]mobility in the Age of [im]mobile phones: young NEETs and digital practices. New Media and Society DOI: 10.1177/1461444816643430

Call for Papers_Convergence PDF