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Ways of Machine Seeing

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.
When Jul 11, 2016
from 11:30 AM to 03:30 PM
Where Darwin College, Cambridge
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Ways of machine seeing: A digital methods development workshop organised by the Cambridge Digital Humanities Network

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

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.

Call for contributions: Ways of Machine Seeing workshop, 11 July 2016
Darwin College, Cambridge

If you are interested in presenting at the workshop, please send a short abstract and biography to Dr Anne Alexander (raa43 @ by Friday 1 July. 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.

We are a network of researchers at the University of Cambridge who are interested in how the use of digital tools is transforming scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. This transformation spans both the content and practice of humanities research, as the diffusion of digital technologies opens up new fields of study and generates research questions which breach traditional disciplinary boundaries.

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