First-Year Seminar: Ways of (Machine) Seeing


In his eye-opening BBC documentary series Ways of Seeing, John Berger illuminated to us that the very process of seeing is not as spontaneous as we tend to believe, but historically and technologically constructed. As the technology of computer vision becomes increasingly woven into new software applications and systems (e.g., self-driving cars, Google Lens, and Amazon Go store), we now feel the pressing need to ask: how do machines, and, in particular, computational technologies, change the way we see the world? This course introduces students to key approaches to film and media studies by investigating issues concerning human and machine vision in both historical and contemporary contexts. We ask: how do we see? How is viewing a film in the movie theater different from watching TV in domestic settings or TikTok videos on your phone? How do gender and racial difference exert an impact on our visual perceptions? How do computers process digital images and videos and automate tasks performed by the human visual system? How shall we understand our intensified entanglement with machine vision in algorithmic capitalism? We will engage with a range of diverse discourses in continental philosophy, history of art, feminist film theory, digital media studies, and emerging debates on computer vision and AI. We will hold regular screenings and lab sessions to explore different media forms and apparatuses that mandate different modes of seeing, ranging from painting, film, photography, the stereoscope and other precinematic devices to VR, AR surveillance cameras, and facial recognition systems. Required Screenings: Mondays @ 4pm
Course Attributes: EN S; FYS; BU Hum; AS SSC

Section 01

First-Year Seminar: - 01
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