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SENSING: The Knowledge of Sensitive Media

Research group funded by the Volkswagen Foundation

Sensors give things objects and machines the ability to “feel” – from smartphones and smart homes to wearables and implanted sensors, human and animal bodies and plant and elementary environments are thereby interconnected, scanned, recorded and measured. Interactions between living entities and smart machines/environments/things are characterized by technical sensitivity, some of which act quasi-autonomously and are only marginally dependent on human decisions.
Physiological sensory perception is also increasingly being recorded and controlled by technology, through eye tracking, motion and image sensors, for example, or methods of emotion recognition. How does the usage of networked sensor technologies affect and alter human perception, feeling, knowledge and action? And how does this change the relationships between people, the environment and technology?
The term SENSING encompasses just such complex constellations of both organic and technical perception and grasping at the world. Charged with this double duty, the term allows us to inquire into current processes of the production of meaning and knowledge in sensitive media. SENSING also identifies a critical-productive distance to practices, discourses and policies of current sensor media. What inclusions and exclusions, what advantages and disadvantages do sensual-sensory interfaces and networks hold for humans and others?

Fotos: B. Schneider

With the generous support of the Volkswagen Foundation SENSING: The Knowledge of Sensitive Media brings together a group of doctoral students of media sciences who are researching questions of computer-technologically networked sensor technology in individual projects. The topics and the format of the research training group are oriented towards theoretical questions relevant to media studies as well as current working fields and practices. The students are accompanied by a team of professors with experience in media science and media practice, covering the areas of media use, media aesthetics, media cultural history, media theory and media ecology. Using concrete examples of sensor technologies, sensory design and technical-organic operations, the doctoral students will investigate their theoretical approaches in a practical phase of up to twelve months at partner institutions and companies. During the practical phase of the doctoral students’ work, the partner institutions provide a multifaceted space to experience and explore: They offer a locus for exchange where doctoral students can contribute and test their findings, relate their research questions to concrete applications and discuss them with practitioners, while at the same time opening up a field of professional experience for the future both inside and outside the university.

The organisational centre and the inter-university framework of the Research Training Group is the Brandenburg Centre for Media Studies (ZeM), which is a joint research institution of the universities of the State of Brandenburg to which the participating professors belong.

Term: 4 years
Begin: 1 October 2018
7 PhD positions and 1 post-doc position