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Darren Gary Berkland

Darren Gary Berkland is a South African-born PhD candidate in the Centre for Post-Digital Cultures at Coventry University, UK. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, completing an Honours in post-colonial literatures and a Master’s in media studies and visual design. His current research interests explore the complex relationship between the selfie, the mirror, and the way we embody our mobile devices through gestures. He has presented papers on gesture at various symposia and conferences across a variety of disciplines including photography, journalism, and health and wellbeing. Darren was a team member on the Google Digital News Initiative project Coventry Blitz VR which aimed to explore the pedogeological possibilities of virtual reality and gamification. He was also an organising member of Coventry University’s research event, On Gesture: Approaches and Questions, that examined the topic across mediums and disciplines investigating gestures intermedial role between theory and practice. His most recent publication is titled “Selfie-screen-sphere: Examining the selfie as a complex, embodying gesture”.

Articles of Darren Gary Berkland

Gestural translations from within the (post)digital: a Flusserian analysis of phonic gestures

Bridging the gap between Vilém Flusser’s theorising around language and work on gesture, this paper will examine the collection of gestures that form a constituent ‘vocabulary’ of our mobile phone use. The presented research examines a wide array of gestural taxonomies that take the form of dictionaries and notations which have been used in attempts to define such developing vocabularies. However, the paper is critical of these taxonomies as it argues they reveal a central problematic at the heart of any gestural vocabularies: the reduction of the body into the biomechanical; an assortment of weighted pulleys and levers. As a result of this, these gestural taxonomies are shown to create technical images of the body reducing it further to nothing more than a functionary of an apparatus. In response to these limitations implicit within such taxonomies, the paper reconsiders today’s developing gestural language in terms of the writing of Flusser. It argues that his work allows for gesture to be examined as phenomena, and in viewing these gestures as situated and witnessed phenomena, it becomes possible to perceive of them not simply as symbolic movements of the body, but rather as a form of translation. The paper then argues that what is being translated through these phonic gestures can be understood as a postdigital condition that has emerged following the alleged end of the digital revolution. To evidence these claims, the paper performs a gestural analysis of Luke Collins’s short film, Swiped (2019) that demonstrates an interaction between two individuals attempting to navigate a peculiar (post)digital situation.

Gestural Translations (PDF 593.77 KB)

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