Ways of Machine Seeing

11 July 2016, 11:30 - 15:30

Darwin College

A digital methods development workshop organised by the Cambridge Digital Humanities Network

Convened by Anne Alexander, Alan Blackwell, Geoff Cox and Leo Impett.

How do computers change the way we see the world? Join us for a workshop which will bring together researchers from a wide range of disciplines to explore the entanglement of machines and seeing from new perspectives.

We will take as the starting point for discussion two seminal texts, which grapple with seemingly very different aspects of the relationship between machines and vision: the cultural critique of John Berger’s 1972 documentary series Ways of Seeing, and David Marr’s 1982 Vision, a foundational text in computational neuroscience. While one of Berger's concerns, it could be argued, was understanding how humans seeing with machines changed the ways in which they could represent the world, Marr was interested in the theoretical work necessary to make machines which could see. Yet fundamental to both approaches was the presumption that while knowledge is integral to vision, the relationship between knowing and seeing is complex and unsettled.

Can Berger's assertion that "every image embodies a way of seeing", be brought into fruitful dialogue with the concerns of researchers working in the field of computer vision, which has been deeply influenced by Marr's theorisation of vision as a series of information-processing tasks?

Should we enlarge our perspective beyond robots which "see” in order to work in a factory, through self-driving cars, recognition and response to embodied human experience, the cultural meaning of images that have been selected algorithmically, and the question of how the reciprocal nature of vision is affected by the intercession of computational filters between viewer and viewed?

Please note that places are strictly limited and are by invitation, or via acceptance through the call for contributions below.

If you are interested in presenting at the workshop, please send a short abstract and biography to Dr Anne Alexander by Friday 24 June. Contributions to the workshop do not have to take the form of a formal paper presentation, but participants should outline what perspectives or insights they would bring to the discussion.
Please note, attendance at the workshop is free, but we can only offer reimbursement of travel expenses for invited speakers.