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  • Writer's pictureGEM LAB

Works-in-Progress: Encased Futures//Sensations and Seamlessness

w/ Kerim Dogruel & Laura Laabs (Goethe University)

//Nov. 16, 2022

//5:00-7:00 PM


//1250 Guy, FB 630.15

The 2022-23 Works-in-Progress series is back with a double workshop with Kerim Dougrel and Laura Laabs of Goethe University. Kerim will discuss the history and aesthetics of transparent cases through RCA Phantom Teleceiver and the miniature cityscape of the future exhibited at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Laura will discuss the well-trodden promises of immersion and seamlessness and the re/configuration of the PlayStation Brand through Astro’s Playroom, a pre-installed platform game/tech demo on PS5.

Encased Futures | The Futurity of Microelectronics and Miniature Cityscapes w/ Kerim Dogruel

Circuit-boards and other microelectronic circuits are often described through metaphors of self-contained cities and urban planning. Signals supposedly travel on data-highways, information is stored in one part of the machine, while being processed in another. While every metaphor that describes a media function is flawed to some degree, they are telling about the cultures that produce, use, and reiterate on them. Why this metaphor and not another one? What is it about miniature cities and infrastructures that lend themselves to being used so frequently as a site of comparison for visible microelectronic components?

In this workshop, Kerim Dogruel looks at the shared and overlapping histories of microelectronics, miniature cities, and architectural models. Exposed electronics are the exception to the rule of black-box aesthetics of most contemporary media technologies. What happens when they become visible? By looking at the 1939 New York World’s Fair and its dual exhibition of miniature cityscapes of the future (Democracity and Futurama), and new technologies wrapped in transparent cases (RCA Phantom Teleceiver), Dogruel tries to tease out their shared aesthetic principles and the promises they make.

Sensations and Seamlessness | How 'Astro's Playroom' and the DualSense Controller Re-/Configure the PlayStation Brand w/ Laura Laabs

In November 2020, Astro’s Playroom was released as a pre-installed platform game/tech demo accompanying Sony’s latest console, the PlayStation 5. Astro’s Playroom employs genre logics of platform games in order to position players as explorers and insiders of the PlayStation brand. At the same time, as a tech demo it familiarizes players with the proprietary DualSense controller, thereby fostering speculations about potential future gameplay integrations of its technical capabilities and marking the controller as the ‘unique selling point’ of PS5. In this on-going dissertation chapter, Laura Laabs expands on the ‘threshold’ metaphor Gérard Genette uses to circumscribe paratexts – a term that complicates ideas of unified works and binary differentiations between inside and outside, game and non-game. With the help of this term, Laabs critically interrogates and historicizes the well-trodden promises of immersion and seamlessness that Astro’s Playroom makes in order to stabilize the PlayStation 5 and turn the PlayStation brand itself into playable content at a moment in time in which the importance of brand loyalty and console exclusivity is uncertain.

Kerim Dogruel is a PhD candidate in the Graduiertenkolleg “Configurations of Film” at Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany. He finished his BA in film studies and philosophy at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, and his MA in Audiovisual Media and Cinema Studies (IMACS) at the Goethe University, Frankfurt, the University of Liège, and the University of Montreal. From 2018-2020 he worked and taught as an assistant professor at the Institute of Theater, Film and Media Studies. His research interests include media theory, animation, and game studies.

Laura Laabs is a PhD candidate at the research training program “Configurations of Film” at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. She holds a BA in Theater, Film and Media Studies from Goethe University, and an MA in Film and Media Culture Studies from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Since 2020, Laura Laabs has been serving as an editorial member of the German game studies journal Paidia. Zeitschrift für Computerspielforschung.


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