Keynote Speakers

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Emma Boswell

Emma Boswell - The Helicopter Girls

Keynote: Utilising Drones for Cinematic Filmmaking and Creating Augmented and Virtual Realities

This keynote address will include an examination of unmanned areal vehicles (UAVs or ‘drones’) in filmmaking; discussing new methods of storytelling from both an artistic and commercial perspective. In particular, the talk will explore the democratization of photography through drone filming, including a discussion of pioneering flights in restricted areas and the emerging ubiquity of drone footage in film, TV and documentary features. The benefits of utilising drones for enhancing storytelling will be considered - from filming rock bands on icebergs in Greenland to capturing immersive documentary footage for The Crossing in dense, congested areas. The future of filmmaking technologies will also be considered, particularly considering aspects of 360-degree footage and augmented virtual realities.

Emma Boswell has series produced and directed numerous documentaries and factual programmes. She is one half of The Helicopter Girls (THG). THG are BNUC-S qualified pilots and directors, and fly octocopters carrying high-end broadcast cameras. Their work includes: Mission Impossible 5, BAFTA award winning ‘Detectorists’, ‘And Then There Were None’, ‘Fungus The Bogeyman’ and commercials for clients such as Barclays and McDonalds. Driven by a passion for filmmaking, THG draw on their substantial experience in broadcast programmes and combine it with their love of exploring the impact of new technology and where it can (literally) take them as filmmakers - from the allure of the lens to discovering the language of what works and doesn't, and a fundamental understanding of cinematography methods that truly benefit rather than distract from the narrative.

Professor Pawel Frelik

Professor Pawel Frelik - Marie Curie Sklodowska University, Poland

Keynote: Rehearsing Tolerance - Representations of Individual and Social Difference in Speculative Video Games

As the only cultural site that systematically interrogates social, economic, and political issues, speculative fiction (an umbrella term encompassing science fiction, fantasy, and, to a degree, horror) has the capacity to think beyond the here-and-now and serve as a tool of critique and education – including the issues of individual and social representation. Its cultural work in video games is particularly enhanced by the medium’s interactivity: games require active participation and, while entertaining or challenging, can affect people’s views and mindsets. Given speculative games’ potential for promoting tolerance and social change, a well-developed awareness of how they can and do, overtly or covertly, promote or hinder progressive mindsets is crucial.

Addressing this potential of speculative video games, the keynote talk will set out to do three things. Firstly, it will outline a theoretical framework for analyses of social representation in speculative video games, going beyond the narrative component and considering the visual (skin, clothes, accommodation), aural (accents, soundtrack), and participatory (agency or non-agency) aspects of games. Secondly, the talk will examine selected game texts, both AAA and independent, with regard to these representations, demonstrating how they do or do not fulfil their potential. Finally, the discussion will point out how players themselves seek to extend this potential through modding and other fan practices.

Paweł Frelik is Associate Professor in the Department of American Literature and Culture at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University (Lublin), Director of the Video Game Research Center at MCSU, and Visiting Professor of American Media at the American Studies Center, University of Warsaw. His research interests include science fiction, video games, fantastic visualities, digital media, and transmedia storytelling. He has published widely in these fields, serves on the advisory boards of Science Fiction Studies, Extrapolation, and Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds, and is the co-editor of the New Dimensions in Science Fiction book series at the University of Wales Press. In 2013-2014, he was President of the Science Fiction Research Association, the first in the organization’s history from outside North America, and now serves as Vice-President of the European Association for American Studies and as SFRA’s Immediate Past President.

Dr Samuel Aaron

Dr Samuel Aaron - Cambridge Computer Laboratory

Keynote: Live Coding: the intersection between the arts, research and education

Code is one of the most powerful, creative and transformative media available. However the potential of code is still largely incomprehensible and out of reach for most of our society. How and why should we address this as a problem? In order to help us unpick and explore these simple yet deep questions we will follow the story of Sonic Pi - a live coding music synth designed for the arts, research and education.

Sonic Pi was originally created as a response to the challenge of finding new ways to teach code in schools. It has since evolved into an extremely powerful and performance-ready live coding instrument suitable for professional artists and DJs. It is also a rich research platform for exploring questions related to liveness, time and concurrency in programming languages. Yet, despite this rapid evolution it has maintained its core mission - to be simple enough for 10 year olds.

Through Sonic Pi as a lens we will be forced to confront some interesting and challenging questions: - How is code creative? How can we communicate through code? Can programming languages be expressive interfaces? Can notation become an instrument? To what extent is performance a form of education and education a kind of performance?

Samuel Aaron is a researcher, software architect and computational thinker with a deep fascination surrounding the notion of programming as a form of communication. His research focuses on the design of novel domain specific languages to explore liveness, conceptual efficiency and performance within programming languages.

Samuel works as a Research Associate at University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, where he has created Sonic Pi, a powerful live coding environment for realtime sound synthesis targeted for education. Sonic Pi has been used successfully to teach programming and music within schools but also to live code music for people to dance to in nightclubs.