Sussex Humanities Lab - Emotion, Automation and Sonic Socialities

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Ben Roberts

    Sussex Humanities Lab - University of Sussex

  2. 2. Alban Webb

    Sussex Humanities Lab - University of Sussex

  3. 3. Liam Berriman

    Sussex Humanities Lab - University of Sussex

  4. 4. Sharon Webb

    Sussex Humanities Lab - University of Sussex

  5. 5. James William Baker

    Sussex Humanities Lab - University of Sussex

  6. 6. Beatrice Fazi

    Sussex Humanities Lab - University of Sussex

  7. 7. Andrew Robertson

    Sussex Humanities Lab - University of Sussex

  8. 8. Ben Jackson

    Sussex Humanities Lab - University of Sussex

  9. 9. Jack Pay

    Sussex Humanities Lab - University of Sussex

  10. 10. Simon Wibberley

    Sussex Humanities Lab - University of Sussex

  11. 11. Chris Kiefer

    Sussex Humanities Lab - University of Sussex

  12. 12. Alice Eldridge

    Sussex Humanities Lab - University of Sussex

Work text
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At the Sussex Humanities Lab we are building collaborations and networks to support and develop new forms of digital humanities. Our vision is to ensure that information scientists, literary theorists, media scholars, designers, practitioners, technologists, philosophers, social scientists and historians collaborate to serve the fundamental roles of humanities research. Sussex Humanities Lab builds on a long standing interdisciplinary culture at Sussex and is developing a programme that considers our digital past and digital futures. This is reflected in our four guiding research strands:

Digital History and Digital Archives
Digital Media and Computational Culture
Digital Lives, Memory and Experience
Digital Technologies and Digital Performance.

Comprising a team of lecturers, research fellows, PhD students, technicians, and senior faculty, we are interested in developing new research areas across our multi-disciplinary team. Each strand reflects the seed initiatives of the Lab and are a starting point for our research journey. We are dedicated to developing and expanding research into how digital technologies are shaping our culture and society, as well as the way we go about our research. To this end we are developing a number of research projects, grants and network bids. Examples of our current research include:

Playing Tag: Identifying Emotion in Oral History Collections: Although large collections of video and audio files recording oral history testimony have been collected, archived, and aggregated in digital formats, the way we use these files remains largely analogue: We sit and listen and watch them. Research methods from other fields have great potential for the automatic analyses of emotions from postural movements and vocal inflections. By bringing together scholars from the field of oral history and the histories of emotion, social scientists using interview methodologies, sonic and video studies, corpus linguistics, and linguistic anthropology, this research lays the foundations for a new approach to the analyses of oral history collections.

Automation Anxiety: This research explores methods by which the humanities might evaluate contemporary cultural anxiety about automation. From self-driving cars, through high-frequency trading to military drones and organised swarms of shelf-stacking robots, our era is marked by a fascination with a fresh wave of automation technology. This new “rise of the machines” is characterised by the replacement of human decision making with reliance on algorithms, machine learning and other computational techniques whose fitness for purpose cannot be clearly understood by those whose lives they affect (Carr, 2014). The focus of this research is on the cultural anxiety associated with these new technologies and we seek to develop methods, approaches and tools that might be used to analyse and understand it. The question of method is particularly pertinent given that the humanities are themselves being automated. Indeed the debates around digital humanities reproduce much of the anxiety around automation itself. This research addresses the way in which, to paraphrase Ruppert, Law and Savage (2013), automation is increasingly both the
material of culture and the apparatus for
knowing that culture.

Sonic Ecologies and Socialities:  This research brings together new understandings of how we sensorially engage with sound across digitally mediated bodies and computational environments. Our research is inspired by an eclectic range of perspectives, from performance studies and musicology (Coyne, 2010) to neuroscience, philosophy, sensory ethnography and digital aesthetics (Back 2007; Bidelman and Krishnan, 2009; Fazi and Fuller forthcoming). Common concerns amongst these perspectives are: (1) new modes of sensory perception, the sonic mediation of experience, and the possibility of algorithmically addressing such modes and mediations, (2) the augmentation of bodies and sensory methods for tracing and capturing soundscapes, and (3) new performative and compositional methods for creating and curating soundscapes that incite alternative politics of sensing.  

Other activities of the Lab include: visiting fellows scheme, workshops and seminar series.  


Back, L. (2003).
The Art of Listening. London and New York: Bloomsbury.

Bidelman, G. and Krishnan, A. (2009). Neural Correlates of Consonance, Dissonance, and the Hierarchy of Musical Pitch in the Brainstem.
The Journal of Neuroscience,
29(42): 13165-71.

Carr, Nicholas G. (2014).
The Glass Cage: Automation and Us.

Coyne, R. (2010).
The Tuning of Place: Sociable Spaces and Pervasive Digital Media. Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press.

Fazi, B. and Fuller, M. (forthcoming), Computational Aesthetics in Paul, C. (Ed)
A Companion to Digital Art. Wiley and Sons.

Ruppert, E., Law, J. and Savage, M. (2013). Reassembling Social Science Methods: The Challenge of Digital Devices.
Theory, Culture and Society, 30(4): 22–46.

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2016
"Digital Identities: the Past and the Future"

Hosted at Jagiellonian University, Pedagogical University of Krakow

Kraków, Poland

July 11, 2016 - July 16, 2016

454 works by 1072 authors indexed

Conference website:

Series: ADHO (11)

Organizers: ADHO