Digital bread and circuses

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Digital Bread and Circuses (2013-2017)

Part of the project Screens as Material [1]at HUMlab Umeå University, Sweden [2].

Anna Foka (Associate Senior Lecturer at HUMlab, Umeå University) is studying and constructing multisensory conceptual digital prototypes of ancient entertainment spaces (Greek Theatre, Roman Amphitheatre, Hippodrome).

The proposed prototypes aim to challenge our understanding of the Roman amphitheatre (and consequentially other ancient entertainment sites such as the Greek theatre, Circuses and Hippodromes) and as (presently) epistemologically embedded in textual and oculocentric traditions in research and popular culture representations. It is an in-depth investigation of the manners in which historical and cultural reproductions, are shaped by and correspond to the audiences’ digital aesthetic expectations and own historical culture(s). For the period: 2014-5, the suggested project will focus on the deeper context of the Roman amphitheatre (and it will later incorporate the Greek theatre) as an ancient entertainment locus; Prototypes will target the sites’ comprehensive materiality, multisensory sensibility, and aim to go beyond already shaped assumptions about gender, hierarchies, and entertainment in antiquity.

Understanding the Greek theatre and the Roman amphitheatre beyond their materiality and narratives, both as a situated socio-cultural topoi and historical artifacts requires an expansion of expressive and interpretative media used, as well as the integration of different kinds of knowledge. Aside contemporary microhistory and thematic analysis, one needs to adopt a critical making methodology: a combination of existing material and literary sources and different sensory arrangements that can enable a more holistic approach of the experience of an amphitheatre. A model shaped by layers of “data” combined with different perspectives: a site that will be used simultaneously for engagement, as well as critical comparison and work, and can produce knowledge that cannot be achieved otherwise.


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