Below is a list of graduate students affiliated with the Transformative Technologies Research Unit. If your research intersects with research themes of TTRU please contact us.
Alex Edney-Browne is a PhD candidate in Screen and Cultural Studies. Her thesis investigates the psychological and physiological affects of military drones on people living under drones and US drone operators. It seeks to discover the embodied experiences of drone warfare, with a particular interest in instances where the drone interface produces unexpected affects and/or facilitates subversive relations between so-called “enemies”. Alex’s research is interdisciplinary, engaging with science and technology studies, screen theory and critical international relations.
Tessa Leach is a PhD candidate in the History & Philosophy of Science department at the University of Melbourne. Her research examines the turn towards the nonhuman as an object of study independent of concepts of human access in philosophy and cultural studies. Of particular interest are the fields of actor-network theory and object-oriented ontology (OOO), as well as the manifold other recent theoretical approaches that have their roots in an anthrodecentric approach. This informs a study of several anthropomorphic technologies such as the Kinect, artificial intelligence and sex robots. In her thesis, an attempt is made to focus on machine phenomenology and to address the uncomfortable question of what experiences these artefacts might be capable of when removed from the human-nonhuman relationship.
Tara Lomax is a PhD candidate in the School of Culture and Communication. Tara’s research examines franchise cinema as a transformative mode in the contemporary media landscape, through its relationship with contemporary networked culture and transmedia strategies. Examination of the contemporary franchise provides insights into how the cinematic text has been transformed by developments in screen technology. Franchise cinema exists at the nexus between significant creative, industrial, and technological developments in screen media, as it facilities a richly layered textual canvas that merges both material and digital forms of innovative technology through the project of imaginary world-creation and virtual environments. Tara is also interested in the historical transformations and innovations of screen technology led by Lucasfilm Ltd and Industrial Light and Magic across the history of contemporary Hollywood cinema.
Andrew Lynch is a PhD candidate in the School of Culture and Communication. His research probes the ramifications of shows such as Game of Thrones (HBO, 2011-ongoing) and The Walking Dead (AMC, 2010-ongoing) – which blend Quality/prestige style with cult or “genre” content – on the television format. The academic study of this type of programming is often referred to as Quality TV and is aligned with the emergence of cable and new modes of distribution made possible in the digital era. These cult-prestige hybrid shows are expected to be received with the objectified cultural capital that has become a central part of HBO‘s brand identity, and which it has had to defend against prestige newcomers like Netflix, but can generate fierce fan discussion across a variety of formats (podcasts, online recaps) and thus stay “in the conversation”. As more and more of these TV “networks”, now more accurately called “content producers”, become independent digital streaming services (over-the-top) they must each fight for their subscriber base against fierce competition.
Ben Nicoll‘s research evolves around a cultural study of five “minor” videogame technologies: the Vectrex, the Zemmix, the Neo Geo, the Sega Saturn, and Twine. Various methodologies have been proposed for the study of videogame platforms – ranging from those that stress the importance of understanding how a platform’s technical limitations both enable and restrict creative labour, to those that argue for a more discursive understanding of platforms as arrangements of cultural practices. Yet rarely does the existing research derive its case studies from anywhere but the dominant historical lineage of successful videogame platforms. What about the history of failed, forgotten, and marginalised videogame platforms, of which there are plentiful examples? What would a study of these media objects look like, and how would it differ from the existing scholarly research? Ben argues that by focusing on the seemingly minor moments of videogame history, we can identify much broader ruptures and historical transformations taking place. These transformations speak to how videogames are understood as a cultural form, and how this understanding has changed over time.
Thao Phan is a PhD candidate in the media and communications program at the University of Melbourne. Her research interests are in feminist technoscience and feminist STS. Her thesis analyses gender and Artificial Intelligence and is concerned with locating the gendered body across different discursive sites: in early scientific discourse (Alan Turing and the Dartmouth Summer Research Project), in representations on film (science fiction), and in technologies embedded in everyday life (intelligent personal assistant softwares). The aim of this research is to map a co-constitutive framework for understanding gender and technology in which each constructs the other. That is, understanding technologies as being gendered, and understanding technologies as making gender.
Alexa Scarlata is a PhD candidate (2014-2017) in Media and Communications, and Cultural Studies. Her research interests are in the informal and digital distribution of video content, media piracy and the political economy of transnational television programming. Her thesis critically examines the recent introduction of streaming services in Australia and considers their impact upon the traditional broadcast and subscription industries, particularly television production. It explores issues having arisen over how to safeguard local scripted content in an increasingly globalised media world. Is this a new international circulation opportunity for high-quality, distinctly Australian programming, or will local streaming services, as algorithmic taste-makers, merely produce homogenised, culturally nonspecific texts? Finally, what are the broader implications of this, considering the television medium’s traditional national storyteller role?
Simon Young is a PhD student in Classical archaeology working on observer experiences of ancient cityscapes. Simon’s specialty lies in the field of the emergence of Hellenistic style poleis in Asia Minor from the 2nd century BC to the Roman Imperial period. He especially focusses his research on: city planning, building types and their evolution, questions of social identity and the difficulties in defining ancient identity. During his research, he has become well-acquainted with 3D visualisation software (and through the use of photogrammetry and 3D printing) and has created archaeologically correct digital reconstructions of cityscapes. He is also working on incorporating Virtual Reality devices to experience ancient cities on site, and has worked with the Oculus Rift to create a few examples. Simon is also working closely with a colleague in Turkey on a project with the view of extending the use of Virtual Reality devices in the field of archaeology. For further information about Simon’s immersive reality projects, go to his Lithodomos site.