Accepted Paper:

The trial of visibility: Academic communicative device in an artistic-commercial context.  


Alexandre Camus (University of Lausanne)

Paper short abstract:

A research project unfolds during a jazz festival with a communicative device designed to demonstrate the university new expertise in Digital Humanities. The paper focuses on the articulation of this academic device into the ecology of the festival where academic content is prone to be reformulated.

Paper long abstract:

This communication examines how a top engineering university endeavours to publicly demonstrate its expertise in the recently invested field of Digital Humanities, in the context of a jazz festival. One of the leading projects of this strategic move towards DH aims to digitize the concert recordings archive of this festival. The university aims to benefit from the potential visibility of the worldwide renown and media coverage of the festival. Thus, the project unfolds during the event through academic posters, technology demonstrators and team members. What happens to a communicative device designed with academic aesthetics (technical words, lots of text, prototypes and "homemade" posters) when it is embedded in a commercial communicative ecology such as that of the festival (few words, use of everyday language, professionally designed visual objects and marketed artefacts)?

Relying on two years' ethnography within the project, including in the role of project presenter during the festival, my analysis focuses on the sociotechnical mediations of visibility, in other words, on the ensemble of humans and objects that need to be aligned in order to support the visibility of the project in this situation.

Despite serious preparation and real expertise, the communicative device designed by the research team is put to test. In fact, rather than benefiting from a branding window, the research project hardly fits into the communicative ecology of the festival. The public demonstration of expertise turns into a trial where academic content is prone to be reformulated by the commercial situation.

Panel T032
Science Communication