Technologies and traces of memories

17 June, Exeter, UK
WG4 Meeting on “Technologies and traces of memories” 

This interdisciplinary workshop kicked off the activities of WG4 on traces and technology. It included interdisciplinary presentations exploring the interplay between memory practices and technological advances. The workshop was organised by Dr Nikita Chiu, Senior Lecturer in Innovation Policy at SITE, University of Exeter. #tractsresearch

Interdiscplinary scholars explore the interplay between technological transformation and memories at Exeter

Exeter 14 July 2022 - A team of interdisciplinary scholars, artists and specialists recently explored the interplay between rapid technological advances and practices of memories at a workshop convened at Exeter Business School. The workshop – “Technologies and Traces of Memories” -- is part of a wider international project entitled TRACTS – Traces as Research Agenda for Climate Change, Technology Studies, and Social Justice, and is funded by COST – European Cooperation in Science and Technology.

“As technological advances, social movements, and geopolitical developments converge rapidly to transform societal dynamics, there has never been a more pressing time to engage in transdisciplinary dialogue to anticipate and address risks posed by such disruptive changes. TRACTS provides an avenue for experts from Arts and Humanities, STEMS and Social Sciences to brainstorm and envision a more responsible and sustainable future.” said Dr Nikita Chiu, convenor of the workshop. Dr Chiu recently joined Exeter Business School as Senior Lecturer in Innovation Policy. As TRACTS Working Group Lead on “Traces and Technology,” Dr Chiu hopes to advance scholarship at the intersection of Technology, Innovation Management, and Global Governance within the Business School and beyond.

The workshop brought together an eclectic team of visual artist, curator, geoinformatics specialists, education and global governance scholars for a day of intensive discussions and foresight exercises in which they critically assessed and reflected on the socio-economic impact brought by the increasing commercialization of future and emerging technologies, such as AI and satellite constellations.

Themes examined at the workshop include an artistic critique of misinformation brought by AI-enabled visual images, challenges associated with forgotten/untrackable technologies in orbits, immersive museum experience enabled by virtual reality (VR), as well as the tracing of tourism activities through geoinformatics.

It also highlighted how significant technological advances had increasingly blurred the boundaries of reality, perception, and memories, particularly in the area of Deepfake. The commercialization of emerging technologies (e.g. big data, AI, earth observation satellites) was also an area of focus because of its ability to enable the collection of a vast amount of historic data. While these information can help advance disease prevention, crime monitoring, and early warning of natural disasters, there is a need for the development of governance frameworks to ensure the responsible and sustainable growth of societies.

The exploratory workshop was concluded with a tour curated by Dr Phil Wickham at the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum. The Museum, based at the University of Exeter's Streatham Campus, is home to a rich collection of memorabilia and technologies that marked significant moments in our collective memory of the moving image, including one of the original Cinématographe Lumières, and the camera which is believed to have captured the Battle of the Somme.

In the coming year, Dr Chiu looks forward to collaborating with Dr Ivan Šulc (University of Zagreb, WG Co-Lead) and Prof Francesco Rotondo (Università Politecnica delle Marche) in convening an exciting series of transdisciplinary inquiry in the second year of the project.