The Praxis Studio for Comparative Media Studies is a humanities research lab dedicated to the aesthetics and politics of media across formats. It is a space with an infrastructure. It is also a culture, or—as our researchers are wont to describe it—a “pond” for experimental methods that blend media theory with media practice.
The Studio was once the Maker Lab. I changed the name and unbranded our research in 2019, and we relocated that same year, with a shift toward minimal computing techniques along the way. This means we invest in research activities that demand fewer resources, not to mention less technical labor and maintenance, than the MLab’s previous physical computing, fabrication, and multimodal communication projects.
The Studio is also intended to support students first and foremost. Whereas the MLab privileged milestone-driven research toward a specific “kit” or exhibition, the Praxis team follows lines of inquiry clustered loosely around annual themes. Students may develop their own research with feedback from the group, and they may collaborate on projects in partnership with local communities and networks such as SpokenWeb. All Praxis work belongs to our researchers (not to the Studio), and no position is unpaid. I also do my best to host visiting speakers and facilitate Studio events like our 2021-22 “Player Stories” series about how people study play, document it, and narrate their experiences with games.
Below is an official description of the Praxis Studio, together with links to its website, its Twitter handle, and related information about Studio grants, events, and partnerships.
While directing the Studio, I’ve had the honor of collaborating with this incredible crew: Samuel Adesubokan, Tracey El Hajj, Julie M. Funk, Braeden Hallman, Stefan Higgins, Madyson Huck, Hector Lopez, Faith Ryan, Alana Sayers, Lexy Townsend, and Asia Tyson. A thousand thanks to you all! And additional thanks to Asia for giving me permission to include the image below of her Praxis work on player stories and game audio. Here, Asia is studying the game, Inside, developed and published by Playdead.
The Praxis Studio for Comparative Media Studies
September 2019 - present | Humanities Lab | UVic’s Clearihue Building
Supported by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund, and UVic’s Faculty of Humanities and Department of English
Who We Are
We are a group of researchers who study the aesthetics and politics of media by blending theory and history with storytelling and prototyping. We value decolonization, situated knowledge, the space of place, and integrative approaches to media: old + new, analog + digital, still + moving, popular + experimental, immersive + meta.
What We Do
We identify pressing topics in media studies, articulate them as studio themes, research and write about them, prototype scenarios for them, and facilitate events to engage them. Our themes have included:
- Player Stories: examining how people document and narrate their experiences with games
- Uncanning Sounds: bringing literary audio from the past into the present
- Experimental Worldbuilding: imagining better worlds for games and playable fictions
What We Aren’t
We are not a blog, brand, dev team, fab lab, digital humanities project, or humanities computing centre. We do not offer courses, either, but if you want to learn about digital tools and methodologies, then we recommend contacting our amazing colleagues at the Digital Scholarship Commons (DSC), Obsolete Computing and Media (OCaM), and the Humanities Computing and Media Centre (HCMC).
Support and History
We are housed in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Victoria; we partner with English, Visual Arts, the HCMC, and Cultural, Social, and Political Thought; and we collaborate with the DSC and Special Collections. We are members of the SpokenWeb project, and our research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), and the SpokenWeb SSHRC partnership network. We began as The Maker Lab in the Humanities in 2012 and became The Praxis Studio for Comparative Media Studies in 2019. All work belongs to our researchers (not to the studio), and no position is unpaid.
We’re located in UVic’s Clearihue building. You can email our director, Jentery Sayers (he/him/his), at email@example.com.
Featured image of a cassette care of the RVA Punk compilation, Watch Us Go To Work. Main image of Asia Tyson editing Inside gameplay care of Asia Tyson and used with permission. I created this page on 25 January 2022 and last updated it on 3 February 2022.