The 2020 British Sociological Association Annual Conference, Dr Tomoko Tamari

British Sociological Association 2020 Conference logo

Tomoko Tamari participated in the on-line (social media) 2020 British Sociological Association Annual Conference, given BSA Board of Trustees decision to cancel the conference, due to the Covid-19 outbreak. To continue support and help the sociological community during these difficult times, the committee encouraged delegates to upload their accepted abstract on their twitter account to share its online presence during the planned Annual Conference week.

Smart textiles, prostheses and the body
Dr Tomoko Tamari
Goldsmiths, University of London

Keywords: Smart textiles, prostheses, algorithms

@mokymiky (Tomoko Tamari) tweet

This paper examines the social implications of prosthetic smart textile for the contemporary body. ‘Wearable technology’ (Quinn, 2002) along with ubiquitous computing, digital sensor technology, microfibers, biomimetics are becoming increasingly integrated into fabrics and clothing design. In this sense, ‘Fabric is our second skin’ (Pailes-Friedman, 2016), which implies fabric is ‘something added’ to our own skin as a prosthetic device. Prosthesis can also refer to both a material entity acting as a functional device and an aesthetic entity as an affective interface in interactions between the body and technology. The paper takes up the application of smart textiles as functional devices for medical and healthcare in order to discuss the merits and potential problems arising from its algorithmic personalization data management and the uncertain calculability of medical practitioners’ ‘tacit’ knowledge (embodied skill and experiences). The paper also focuses on the use of biosensor textiles as affective interfaces in contemporary fashion to examine the qualities and difficulties of bridging the gap between computational cognition and human emotions. By examining these cases, the paper considers smart textiles as ‘pharmakon’ (Stiegler, 2010). On the one hand, these wearable technologies enable smart textiles to become highly complex interactive biomechanical and computational devices which ‘add something new’ to improve human life. On the other hand, smart textiles as algorithmic ‘prosthetic memory’ devices, could not only reduce people’s bodies into quantified data subjects, but also govern the emotional life of individuals. In these circumstances, there could be potential threats towards the autonomous agency of individuals.

Culture, creative industries and the pandemic in the UK: not so GREAT after all?

Martin Smith, ICCE Visiting Fellow

In his highly entertaining book The Great British Dream Factory, Dominic Sandbrook relates that at a reception for show business folk given in 2014 in 10 Downing Street, the then Prime Minister David Cameron boasted to his guests that “We don’t have the natural resources to rival other nations but we’ve got the cultural resources….So tonight let’s resolve to keep on leading the world with our culture.”

Six years later, amidst a looming funding crisis of unprecedented proportions, the Artistic Director of the National Theatre, Rufus Norris, speaking to The Guardian, picked up the theme, though with a very different twist: “We can genuinely claim to be world class.  We contribute to GDP and the reputation of the country. That needs to be remembered as this wears on. The damage that will be done if we are not supported in this time is impossible to make up.”

If there was any doubt as to how low support for the arts and cultural sector sits in the pecking order of the government’s priorities, this has been dispelled by the experience, to date (27th April), of the pandemic.  In striking contrast to government responses in Germany and France, where money has already been paid directly to artists and producers to help keep them afloat, in the UK neither the performing and visual arts sector nor the wider ‘creative industries’, of which it forms the core in most accounts, have received a penny of bespoke state help.  The arms-length funding bodies, Arts Council England (ACE) and the British Film Institute (BFI), operating in emergency mode, are digging deep into their reserves to help as many organisations as possible, through open competition, but demand will hugely outstrip the supply of funds (£160m in the case of ACE).

Longstanding industry charities like the Film and TV Charity, faced with appeals from thousands of out of work freelancers, are being overwhelmed.  Yes, there is support available to any business big enough to be eligible for generic Covid-19 related government relief, for example through the furloughing of staff and VAT rebates.  This will be vital to the survival of many large national and regional organisations (including the National Theatre, the Sage Gateshead and the big museums and orchestras).

However 95% of creative enterprises employ fewer than ten people, a large majority employ three people or less and a third of those working in the creative industries across the piece are self-employed.  Given current eligibility criteria, especially those provisions applicable to the self-employed, it is easy to see why so few artists, creative entrepreneurs, micro-company directors and other practitioners are benefiting from government support.  Catastrophe looms unless the Treasury responds to the intense lobbying of the sector’s trade bodies. (See for example the following open letter:

There are many inferences that can be drawn from this alarming state of affairs.  The most obvious concerns the Treasury’s striking disregard,  as things stand, for the well-being of a sector which ministers frequently describe as world-leading and is branded by the government-funded Creative Industries Council as GREAT under the rubric of its long-running international marketing campaign.  As Rufus Norris noted in his Guardian interview “…..two months ago we had a £110bn creative industries sector, including TV, film, dance and theatre, and it was the fastest-growing sector in the UK.”

Pressed on in the Commons Select Committee on Culture, DCMS Secretary of State Oliver Dowden could only say (on 17th April) that his department was building “an evidence base” for sector specific Treasury financial support.  This is extraordinary given the abundant evidence supplied by the main trade bodies (music, film and TV especially) of extreme hardship amongst their members, many of whose incomes have fallen to zero.

For much of the arts and culture sector, the picture is almost irredeemably bleak and will remain so for as long as people are prevented from assembling for live entertainment. For the wider creative industries however, as classified by the DCMS since 1998 (revised in 2007), the situation is more complex: some born-digital industries, like games and esports, are positively booming during the lockdown. So are parts of the advertising and marketing industry and computer software consultants.

Within the music business there are winners and losers. Universal Music Group, home to Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Drake and Lady Gaga, saw its quarterly revenue climb 17.8 percent, or 12.7 percent assuming constant currencies, to $1.92 billion (1.77 billion euros) during the first quarter of 2020.  Subscription and streaming revenues continued to grow, outweighing declines in downloads and physical sales.  Only a derisory proportion of these digital revenues reaches artists however, unless you are Lada Gaga or Taylor Swift. Newer artists and lesser known bands can no longer tour or plan any kind of future schedule.

This uneven and highly differentiated experience of Covid-19 across the wider arts and entertainment landscape is doubtless part of the reason for the lack of a dedicated government response. Devising a mechanism for helping those worst affected is certainly not a straightforward task, but this should not excuse the continuing failure after seven weeks to come up with any kind of formula to help artists, producers and others in the cultural industries.

Working in the arts and entertainment business has always been precarious for the great majority of practitioners.  Cultural economy markets are taste-driven and unpredictable, subject historically to the dislocation of war, religious conflict and new technology, as well as sudden shifts in patronage and fashion.  To this list of painful and repeated disruptions we must now add the appalling hazard presented by modern pandemics.

The world will return to some kind of recognisable pattern of cultural production and consumption later this year or next, and the public will return to the live experience, possibly with renewed appetite.  Sadly some performance venues and other cultural estate will not survive the crisis: others will open to take their places.  Similarly some arts charities, including publicly-funded organisations, will fail, but others will be born.  What the economist Joseph Schumpeter called “creative destruction” will take on a whole new meaning.

Once the world finally opens up again, probably in phases, the skills required to prosper in this post-pandemic cultural environment – including cultural management and creative entrepreneurship skills – will be in demand more than ever.  But for now, some bespoke help from government would be very welcome, and more in keeping with the narrative of creative industry importance and success than the tin ear currently being exhibited in Whitehall.

Exceptional times

At a time of exceptional change and crisis, developing and utilising entrepreneurial as well as critical and creative thinking is vital. Of course, so many of us are feeling so anxious and upset, the ability to find space to think differently is so hard to find.

Yet, there seems to have never been a greater need to be thoughtfully innovative by facilitating ‘new value creation’ and taking a lead in promoting, encouraging, assisting the potential for new collaboration within the creative, cultural and social innovation sectors. Initiatives that model strong collaboration within the academy as well as with communities and industry that aim to priorities issues of innovation, inclusivity, diversity, professional and financial sustainability, globalisation as well as employability are of huge value to students, industry as well as policy makers and much needed.

In the week before “lockdown” we worked with colleagues from the creative sector to bring together and share the best advice possible for self-employed and began to connect with the broader ecology to support the lobbying to Treasury, DCMS and Arts Council England. We continue to do this.

We know that many will have to wait until June if self-employed or the results of an application to the Arts Council England or other funders as we are all settling in to a difficult “new now”. Waiting or maybe on furlough, or working out how to financially survive. Hard times for all, and difficult to maintain optimism and creativity or problem solving skills.

We have reached out and offered support to our alumni and to Lewisham based creative and social enterprises. Our Enterprise colleagues are also developing an offer.

While we are developing and delivering immediate advice, we are also working with others to analyse financial and business models to see what trends we can observe to support cultural, creative and social enterprises and advise funders on areas of the ecosystem that may need greater or different support.

One thing that is clear is that new ways of engaging with audiences, beneficiaries, users, funders will be necessary, some are already emerging. We congratulate those practitioners and their generosity and One of the strengths that our base at Goldsmiths gives us is our ability to use social science, design and creative as well as critical theory and tools. Developing scenarios, understanding patterns of behaviour as well as being able to engage with futures and finance have always been key skills that we have developed at ICCE.

In our work at ICCE and beyond we are encouraging people, funders and organisations to think about how they can prepare for re-engaging, rather than just focusing on the immediate worries. Giving tools for survival now as well as evolving.

Through this we have already created techniques to develop fresh strategies and ways of working. Acknowledging that original forms of service delivery, finance, new collaborations and perhaps even closure or reinvention will be required.  We hope our approaches will help support individuals and organisations to move from the immediate anxiety, to creative potential and through that we will be ready to find new survival technique.

What seems clear though: to get through the immediate, communities of support will be vital and new networks of collaboration must be developed as we support one another and share ideas. We’re keen to be part of that process.

Adrian De La Court and Siân Prime

Workshop Translating Cultures: Issue on Negotiating Social, Artistic and Scientific Exchanges at Waseda University, Tokyo

Workshop poster

This event was organized by Dr Naomi Matsumoto (Goldsmiths) and Dr. Taka Oshigiri (University of West Indies at Mona), focusing on exchange knowledge between Japan and the West through the concept of translation. The project is based on an interdisciplinary approach (museology, cultural history, literature, medical history and sociology) and expected to explore a complex knowledge formation process in the context of globalization.

Tomoko Tamari was invited to give a talk for the event. Her paper title was Consumer Culture and Japanese Modernization in the early 20th Century: The Birth of Department Store.

The paper explores how nascent consumer culture developed in the context of Japanese modernization, paying particularly an attention to department store where was an emerging public space to provide modern lifestyles with new ideas and consumer experiences. Taking up the historical development of Mitsukoshi department store as a case study, the paper attempts to reveal its significant social, cultural and political role in creating new lifestyles for Japanese modernization. Focusing on Mitsukoshi’s innovative merchandising, the paper applies Bourdieu’s notion of ‘cultural intermediaries’ in order to examine the ways commodities shift between practical and symbolic/aesthetic value. Also drawing on Foucault’s ‘The Order of Things’, the paper considers dynamics of knowledge of things and modes of classification in the context of the socio-cultural roles of the modern department store.

ICCE and British Council’s Creative Spark programme: Mainstreaming Creative Entrepreneurship Education in Uzbek Universities

Madina Badalova, Foundation for Arts & Culture

On 3-4 February, the British Council hosted a conference to discuss the opportunities of further mainstreaming creative entrepreneurship education in Uzbek universities.

The event was held as part of British Council’s Creative Spark programme, which builds international partnership between UK and Uzbek educational institutions to develop creative entrepreneurship skills.

Gerald Lidstone, Director, and John Newbigin OBE, Visiting Fellow, ICCE

95 participants including the senior representatives of the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialised Education, the Ministry of Public Education, the Ministry of Innovation, the Ministry of Economic Development, the El Yurt Umidi Foundation, the National Quality Inspection, the National Testing Centre, the representatives of Uzbek universities involved in this project, as well as the representatives of the private sector (Humo Group / Ground Zero) took part in the forum discussions.

Dinah Caine CBE, Chair of Council, Goldsmiths University of London

From Goldsmiths, Dinah Caine, John Newbigin and Gerald Lidstone participated. This was part of the British Councils largest international project linking across seven countries in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan), South Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia) and Ukraine.

In the UK the Uzbekistan partnership has worked extensively with Sian Prime and Adrian De La Court on developing new Entrepreneurship Curricula in Uzbek Universities.

New Toolkit on AI Technologies in Museums Launched

AI: A Museum Planning Toolkit

In 2019 the Museums + AI network, led by Dr Oonagh Murphy, Lecturer in Arts Management, engaged with 50 senior museum professionals, and leading academics across the UK and US to develop new insights into AI in a museum context.

Alongside industry focussed events Dr Murphy ran a series of events called Curator: Computer: Creator that encouraged diverse voices to join the conversation on what AI might look like for museums in the near future in partnership with the Barbican Centre (London), and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (NYC).

During these workshops and events, she worked with a network of museum professionals to test, challenge and refine models of practice, workshop formats, and development tools – this toolkit is one of the results of that work.

“We hope the toolkit will serve as key resource for museums when developing future AI projects. The toolkit is designed to start a conversation, it does not provide all the answers, or indeed offer solutions, but instead it serves as a foundation for critical engagement with these technologies and the possibilities and challenges that they offer”. Dr Murphy

ICCE Events and Experience Management MA students create an immersive event at the Royal Academy of Arts

MA Events & Experience Management students (19/20) at the RA, photo by Sara Linden

The MA Events and Experience Management students at ICCE were invited by The Royal Academy of Arts to create an experience for their Late event Barcelona Modernisme night. The students took inspiration from the ongoing Picasso on Paper exhibition and created an immersive experience – The Goldsmiths Paper Café.

Photo by Walice Wang, MA EEM student

Having worked closely with the Royal Academy event manager Imogen Willetts, and with guidance from course director Sara Linden, the concept was created by the students and developed during several months. On Saturday 15 February it was time to present the finished experience to the Royal Academy Lates audience of 1,200 people!

Students had made use of their creative and artistic talent to design a paper workshop set in a Barcelona fin-de-siecle café, where all the utilities were made out of paper. The visitors could create their own collages, in the spirit of Paolo Picasso. Four actors – dressed in elaborate costumes made out of paper – hosted the event, and helped to get the creative juices flowing.

Actor wearing Picasso costume, photo by Justine Trickett, RA photographer

The Paper Café provided a cosy and intimate atmosphere within the sold-out Royal Academy event, which took place over two floors and included experiences ranging from immersive theatre to dancing to Spanish guitar music. Visitors to the Paper Café threw themselves enthusiastically into the paper art making – and its popularity meant that there was never an empty seat around the café tables.

Students preparing the event, photo by Walice Wang, MA EEM student

Collaborating with The Royal Academy of Arts provided a unique opportunity for the Events and Experience Management MA students to directly apply their knowledge to a practical project and showcase their talents.

Alessandro Pisu, senior events manager at the National Gallery, who has previously worked with the EEM MA students on an assignment, visited the event with a guest. He said: “I greatly enjoyed our time at the Paper Café of the Royal Academy. We thought the students transformed the Belle Shenkman Room in a way that was both creative and in line with the rest of the RA Late. It was a real treat to be part of it!”

Harbin Snow and Ice Festival, China

The Snow Festival

Michael Hitchcock, Professor in Cultural Policy and Tourism, attended the Harbin Snow and Ice Festival in January this year as part of his role as the cultural tourism consultant on the

UNWTO‘s tourism master-plan for Heilongjiang. The festival is one of the largest of its kind in the world and comprises two large sites.

The snow festival is visited during the day and has huge and elaborately carved snow sculptures.

The Ice Festival

The Ice Festival is usually visited in the evening and has massive ice sculptures that are lit up from the inside. The ice sculptures are made from blocks of ice cut from the nearby frozen river. Temperatures can fall to minus 40 degrees in this northern part of China, but this January temperatures fluctuated between minus 10 and minus 25.

Professor Michael Hitchcock

In April Michael will be travelling north again to Finland where he will be a keynote speaker at the Souvenirs 2020 conference.


Exploring Data Analytics and Filmed Entertainment in the Journal of Cultural Economics

In a newly online paper, forthcoming in a Special Issue of the Journal of Cultural Economics, Dr Michael Franklin and co-authors examine how data analytics can be used by producers to help create profitable and compelling films.

The article, Leveraging Analytics to Produce Compelling and Profitable Film Content, which will feature as part of the Special Issue Economics of Filmed Entertainment in the Digital Era derives from extended work begun at the Mallen Conference at StudioBabelsberg with colleagues from France, Germany, Spain and the USA.  This European and Atlantic effort addresses advances in digital technologies, increasing availabilities of granular big data, rapid diffusion of analytic techniques, and intensified competition from user-generated and original content produced by subscription video on demand platforms, which have created unparalleled needs and opportunities for film producers to leverage analytics in content production.

The publication comes at a time of heightened interest in the role of algorithmic culture, AI applications in creative domains, and the widely heralded streaming wars, as major competing VOD services ramp up activity across the globe. The research forms part of Dr Franklin’s film industry work that combines attention to risk, valuation and organisation.

Alongside academic literature outputs, Dr Franklin presents research directly to industry. One recent example being the invited presentation: Thoughts on using data effectively for the UK independent film industry at the British Screen Advisory Council Business Seminar – UK Independent Film: proven talent incubator with mounting commercial challenges kindly hosted by Reed Smith in the City of London.

ICCE Expert Speaks at World Intellectual Property Office

Copyright: WIPO. Photo: Pierre Albouy. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 IGO License.

ICCE’s Dr Nicola Searle, Senior Lecturer and Digital Economy Fellow, recently spoke at the World Intellectual Property Office’s (WIPO), a UN agency, international Symposium on Trade Secrets and Innovation in Geneva.

Dr. Searle presented her work on the economics of trade secrets, where she highlighted the role of trade secrets in encouraging innovation and supporting economic growth. She discussed her recent paper in Computers & Security, written with Professor Atin Basuchoudhary, entitled Snatched Secrets: Cybercrime and Trade Secrets Modelling a firm’s decision to report a theft of trade secrets. The paper develops the role of trade secret policy in innovation and links the cybercrime literature with the economics of trade secrets. Modelling the interaction between a trade secret owner and the government, the paper finds against mandatory reporting procedures for cyber breaches of trade secrets.

Copyright: WIPO. Photo: Pierre Albouy. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 IGO License.

The Symposium brought together lawyers, economists, businesses and policymakers from around the world to discuss changes to trade secrets, policy developments and the growing importance of trade secrets to firms. With fellow panelists, Dr. Searle discussed recent developments in trade secret policy and their potential impact on innovation. It is anticipated that economies throughout the world will expand the use of trade secrets and their legal protection. However, as, by definition, trade secrets are secret, little is known about this important facet of intellectual property.

You can read more about the WIPO Symposium on Trade Secrets and Innovation and access presentations, including a video recording of the event.

More of Dr. Searle’s work is available on Goldsmiths Research Online.