Africans don’t want your stinky T-Shirts!

„The Ambiguity of (Media-)Technology – and how to deal with it“: Expert-table @ the „Datafication of the Public Sphere“-Symposium (AIL, Vienna)

I have recently been invited to participate in an expert-table format at the symposium „The datafication of the public sphere“, which was held from May 7th – 10th, @ Angewandte Innovation Lab (AIL), The University of Applied Arts Vienna.

Essentially, the symposium – which was an inspiring and exciting event – was generally elaborating on the everyday use of smartphones from a rather artistic-scientific angle, I would say. It was great having been together in a panel with Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber and my college Leonida Mutuku from iHub Nairobi.

The expert-table starts with an introduction of all three speakers. Leonida Mutuku opens the round with a talk on the ICT-scene in Kenya (00:05:50 – 00:23:00) followed by Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber with insights into the latest (mobile)media-devleopments in China (00:24:00 – 00:59:00). Is is then my turn to speak about the ambiguities that are inherent in (media-)technology and how to deal with those from a perspective of media pedagogy and media ethics (00:59:15 – 01:14:30). The session is followed by a discussion of about half an hour.

You may download the paper of my talk here

 

Bastard CROWD [mobile] Expert-talks: Leonida Mutuku, Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber, Michael Waltinger from Angewandte Innovation Lab on Vimeo.

Expert-talks:

Leonida Mutuku,
Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber,
Michael Waltinger.

Bastard CROWD [mobile] The performative installation bastardCROWD[mobile] of choreographer and performer Daniel Aschwanden and media artist Conny Zenk, uses the text “Bastard Culture” by media theorist Mirko Schäfer as a starting point for investigating and questioning the everyday use of smartphones.

The “Selfie”-culture is only one phenomenon in the context of virally spreading digital communication devices. Aschwanden/Zenk, having performed artistic interventions in Beijing, Accra, Addis Ababa and Vienna, emphasize the global phenomenon of superposition of traditional forms of communication through new interface cultures.

The symposium “The datafication of the public sphere” examines the implications of a rapidly increasing digitalization of society and questions the limits of participation. It also asks for options how to embrace and learn about technologies when it comes to monitoring, controlling and exploiting.
08.05.2015

http://www.ailab.at

Video: Edward Chapon

remembering #147notjustanumber

  

Dear CNN, what, please, is ‚African food‘? Thank you!

African Food, CNN

I mean, honestly – we go to Italian, Greek and Croatian restaurants. We might even go out for a Thai dinner or to the Chinese guy around the corner. Why on earth do we, then, have to eat ‚African food‘? Why can’t we simply enjoy Ethiopian, Gambian, South African, or Tunisian cuisine? Just asking.

Anyway, the people you interview, like Pierre Thiam, try really hard to give you a nuanced feel of e.g. different West African countries and even ethnicities. But why bother listening and pick up on that in your online-reporting.

Source:
New York’s African food porn moment – CNN.com

African Slum Journal – giving the slums of Nairobi a voice

African Slum Journal is a  biweekly video episode which tells about the life of people living in slum communities. A weak media sector provides scope for corruption and inequality. By giving African slums a voice we will strengthen the local media sector together with the people who live in the slum.

The video journal is mostly from Nairobi (Kenya) – at times from other parts of East Africa. It’s a great source of non-mainstream coverage of the everyday lives of a certain urban population. Often hopeful, sometimes less – but always real, at last.

Source:
African Slum Journal – Giving the slums of Nairobi, Kenya a voice | African Slum Journal

10 Things Europe can learn from Kenya in Media and Innovation

1. Social Community Management
E.g. rural politics and governance via Twitter

2. Maximizing the Utility of Simple Technology (e.g. Feature Phones) that almost everyone has access to
Dating services, fan culture, market price-information, mobile healthcare, job listing-services, and many more

3. Political and Social Activism
Using widely available mobile media technology such as WhatsApp and Twitter to mobilize society e.g. against gender violence (here: #mydressmychoice)

4. Social Media for Formal Functions
Applying for a passport, locking a SIM-card, complaining about power cuts, applying for higher education college loans  – all via Twitter and SMS. And get sorted out!

5. Mobile Banking (m-Pesa)
Workforce from the cities can send money to rural relatives; pay for airtime, bills and taxes; allow for ‚online banking‘ without having access to the internet; micro-credits without complicated bureaucracy; withdraw money from mobile money agents; substitute for credit cards and formal banking while ‚banking the unbanked‘ – all via SMS and even with a simple ‚brick phone‘

6. Mobile Learning and Education
Allowing for exam preparation and revision with other students; substitute for expensive text-books in certain income levels (not a perfect substitute, though – but better than no text-book at all); child development information for young mothers for early disorder/disease prevention and support-information for raising and educating kids

7. Keeping up and Simplifying Diaspora-Home-Relations
Sending gifts, school fees or money for projects from the diaspora back home

8. Chamas (engl.: Merry-go-Round)
I.e. saving groups and small-scale bureaucracy-circumnavigating ‚community banking‘ (via mobile phones)

9. Accounting
‚Mama Mbogas‘ (grocery selling women in estates‘ streets) use phone apps to track stocks, income and expenses and do some business analytics

10. Crowdsourcing
Extending the longstanding harmabee-culture and taking it ‚online‘, e.g. a child from a certain village shall go to university and the whole community contributes to the admission/tuition-fees // crowdsourcing traffic information for circumnavigating massive traffic jams, e.g. ma3route.com // crowdsourcing information for conflict, crises or hate speech mapping, e.g. ushahidi.com

Many thanks to the colleagues from iHub, Nairobi!

Soon: Conference-participation „The Datafication of the Public Sphere“ investigating the everyday uses of smartphones

bastardCROWD [mobile]_pogramme overview

Are you interested in artistic-scientific explorations on the everyday use of smartphones? Come to the „The datafication of the public sphere“-symposium, May 7th – 10th, @ Angewandte Innovation Lab (AIL), The University of Applied Arts Vienna. I will be there, talking about the ambiguities of media and technology. I will share the paper on this blog here, afterwards.
See you there!

What? 

The performative installation bastardCROWD[mobile] of choreographer and performer Daniel Aschwanden and media artist Conny Zenk, uses the text „Bastard Culture“ by media theorist Mirko Schäfer as a starting point for investigating and questioning the everyday use of smartphones.

The „Selfie“-culture is only one phenomenon in the context of virally spreading digital communication devices. Aschwanden/Zenk, having performed artistic interventions in Beijing, Accra, Addis Ababa and Vienna, emphasize the global phenomenon of superposition of traditional forms of communication through new interface cultures.

The symposium „The datafication of the public sphere“ examines the implications of a rapidly increasing digitalization of society and questions the limits of participation. It also asks for optios how to embrace and learn about technologies when it comes to monitoring, controlling and exploiting.

Programme:

Thursday, 7 May 2015

19:00 Opening

19:30 Keynote by Mirko Tobias Schäfer

21:00 Performance: Daniel Aschwanden, Conny Zenk, Veronika Mayer

Friday, 8 May 2015

10:00-13:00 Masterclass Mirko Tobias Schäfer

14:00-16:00 Expert-talks: Leonida Mutuku, Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber, Michael Waltinger

16:30-18:30 Expert-talks: Philipp Ehmann, Wolfgang Fiel, Matthias Tarasiewicz, Stefanie Wuschitz

19:30-20:30 Performance: bastardCROWD[mobile] Daniel Aschwanden, Conny Zenk, Veronika Mayer, Raphael Michon, Indira Nunez, Nici Rutrecht

20:30-24:00 DJ sound chill-out: David Scheidl

Saturday, 9 May 2015

10:00-13:00 Workshop masterclass: Mirko Tobias Schäfer

14:00-15:00 Lecture: Konrad Becker

15:00-16:00 Expert-talks: Bogomir Doringer, Pinar Yoldas

16:15-17:15 Lecture: Thomas Ballhausen, 17:15-19:15 Expert-talks: Boyan Manchev, Andreas Spiegl

Sunday, 10 May 2015

11:00-17:00 Workshop 1: Making Artistic Technology #2: studio praxistext: playful technologies

Where? 

ANGEWANDTE INNOVATION LABORATORY (AIL)
FRANZ JOSEFS KAI  3
1010 VIENNA, AUSTRIA

The University of Applied Arts Vienna presents the Angewandte Innovation Lab (AIL) , an ambitious project whose goal is to facilitate an exchange between various disciplines such as art, design, economy, science, and technology.

Links:

Symposium: The Datafication of the Public Sphere
Bastard CROWD [mobile]
bastardCROWD [mobile] (Facebook-Event)

Kenyan Short Film „Yellow Fever“ Explores White Beauty Ideals on African Women

„My sister is asleep.

She is chocolate.

I am toffee.“

These are the thoughts of one of two Kenyan teenage sisters who are having their hair braided at the hair saloon, that lead into the short film Yellow Fever – a mixed-media animation by Kenyan filmmaker Ng’endo Mukii.

The short film explores the colonizing influences of Western, caucasian beauty ideals on young African women as these are disseminated through mainstream media and advertising.

„Any white complexion“, as the film notes, seems to be „beauty. And that is now what drove the girls to try and use ‚beauty creams to bleach themselves.“ So did the women that braids the hair of the other teenage sister in the short film. She is what is commonly known as Mkorogo in Kenya – someone that uses skin bleaching products, but had just enough money to apply it on the hands and face, which are most often visible, but now yellow.

During my own research in Nairobi, I have also partly noticed this more-than-disturbing imposition of beauty ideals on anyway beautiful people. Due to economic reasons often an ‚elite-problem‘, women that bleach their skin are also infamously known as rangi ya thao. This is a mash-up from the Kiswahili words rangi ya (=color of) and thao, which is a sheng abbreviation for „thousand“. The notion refers to the 1.000 Kenyan Shilling note, which is sort of brownish in color – and this is seemingly the color one gets when one bleaches, which, in turn, can only be afforded when one has enough thaos in the pocket. In short, rangi ya thao refers to a wealthy woman that bleaches her skin as well as to her skin tone which is a result of the bleaching.

This is what Ng’endo Mukii says motivated her exploration:

I am interested in the concept of skin and race, in the ideas and theories sown into our flesh that change with the arc of time. I believe that skin and the body, are often distorted into a topographical division between reality and illusion. The idea of beauty has become globalised, creating homogenous aspirations, and distorting people’s self-image across the planet.Ng'endo Mukii ( Director, Animator, Editor)

 

Source:
Kenyan Animated Short Film ‚Yellow Fever‘ Expores Colorist & Self-Image Among African Girls And Women“ (Article on okayafrica.com).

Africa’s Mickey Mouse: Ugandan Artists offer alternative visual worlds with local relevance

Graduates from Kampala (Uganda) have created Katoto, a whacky old man from a south-western Ugandan tribe who can be described „as your funny uncle who gets up to mischief“.

The interesting thing about Katoto is that it incorporates local relevancies (e.g. ethnicity, belonging) while at the same time tapping into more global phenomena (e.g. Katoto taking on the „Ice Bucket-Challenge“ or trying to take a „Selfie“). Notably, the format of the cartoon takes into account available local media settings; and mobile phones, like in other African countries, are among the probably most widely spread media forms. Considering that, the Katoto-cartoons are relatively short in duration (about 1 minute), so they can be easily shared via WhatsApp 1. There is also a Katoto YouTube-Channel, containing eight videos that have been watched about 133.000 times all-together at the time of writing this post.

Key to the creation of Katoto, according to its creators, are the culture and language of the Ugandan people. Katoto is a chance of a Ugandan self-portrait in an entertaining way. In order to make the strips accessible and convey meaning beyond the local language that Katoto speaks (and one that is also neither understood by all Ugandans nor by all of Katotos creators), the character and jokes are made as physical as possible, being „almost like pantomime“.

Source: „Ugandan dream to create a global cartoon character“ (BBC; Clip on YouTube)

Notes:

  1. From my own field research in Nairobi (Kenya), I have found that WhatsApp, in the last year or so, has become increasingly popular and started to be used more widely, i.e. not by upper class elites only.

#‎jesuiskenya‬ ‪#‎147notjustanumber‬

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