Session 5

Thursday 16:00 - 17:30

High Tor 3

How to be a fake girl in the Chinese speaking world

  • Shih-chen Chao

University of Manchester

In the recent years in the Chinese speaking world (China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan), there has been a trend of boys and young men dressing up as girls and young women. They are known as Weiniang (fake girls). Arguably this trend began with the youth sub-culture of Cosplay (Costume Play) tightly associated with the ACG (Anime, Comic and Game) culture. Cosplay has provided a safe haven for meetings of fans of ACG to enter a role-playing world where they adorn clothing to emulate the appearance of any ACG character they take great interest in. Some cosplayers take advantage of this chance to practice a gender ‘swapping’, that is, female cosplayers adopt and perform a male ACG role, or vice versa.

The notion of Weiniang was sprouted from an ACG background and now it has been gaining popularity online and off line. A semi-professional Weiniang performance troupe Alisi Weiniang Tuan was established in 2009 to further promote the notion to make it more viable to the general public. Numerous amateur groups and cosplayers participate in the practice of ‘gender swapping’ and share their footage/photos on social media platforms, in an attempt to be praised by the general public as ‘he is more feminine than a real female!’

This paper aims at examining this popular sub-cultural phenomena as a case study from the aspect of attempting to answer: what types of features of the appearance do fake girls in the Chinese speaking world usually pursue in order to be an ultimate fake girl of ‘being more feminine than real female’? To answer this question, the notion of neural network will be applied (either using Python or Mathematica) to perform facial feature recognition by feeding a large data set of images of fake girls collected from famous fake girl websites of the Chinese speaking world, in the hope to discover whether there are a certain types of appearance and facial features one should adopt in order to be a ‘successful’ fake girl. The answer to the research question would shed a different light on the gender studies in the Chinese speaking world.

Digital Art History Projects

  • Maria Golovteeva

University of St Andrews

My paper investigates how various digital technologies are implemented in the sphere of art history. I outline main issues that digital art history projects are trying to solve and, based on that, analyse three main categories of such studies defined by technologies used and areas of investigation. First category involves networks analysis: such projects use data analytics programs (Gephi, Network Workbench) to examine connections between particular groups or individuals (artists, collectors, art dealers, etc.), art markets and other networks of exchange. Second type of digital art history projects involves Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and mapping. Such studies use both maps and data sets through online programs like MapBox, Timemapper or Neatline to analyse changes over time and space. Third category deals with high-resolution imaging and dynamic image presentation. These projects deal with panoramic or high-resolution imagery, conservation images, including x-radiographs and infrared reflectography, and digital facsimiles of longer works. Besides examining each category and specific digital technology implemented, I look into several successful examples of every category and investigate how they have contributed to the sphere of art history.

Non-Linear Timelines: Modelling Time in Speculative Fiction

  • Sebastian Zimmer

Cologne Center for eHumanities

A broad range of speculative fiction narrations incorporate non-linear timelines. Such timelines are affected by relativistic effects, they occur because of actions like time travel and (fictive or real) phenomena like time dilation, anti-time (opposite orientation of time flux relative to a reference frame), frozen time (time stands still relative to an observer), or alternate realities/parallel universes. These phenomena are enabled or entered via diverse (fictive or real) technologies like time machines and engine systems, astronomical anomalies like wormholes and black holes, or magic.

The author will present a way of meaningfully modelling and visualising time spans of such non-linear fashion, and events that take place during that time. Since the concept of (non-)linearity is only applicable when considering at least two dimensions, the model incorporates several temporal reference frames: one for a subject of interest (“anomaly frame”), e. g. a person travelling through time, and one for each involved universe’s chronology as perceived by an inert observer within that universe, pursuing a conventional (and thus continuous) world line (“observer frames”).

This means that the model allows to incorporate several timelines/universes as well as an unlimited number of non-linear chronologies independent from one another. Chronologies have a proper time (time as perceived by an object following that course) and are subdivided in time spans that can take place in different timelines. Time spans have a start date and end date in the observer frame, as well as a time dilation factor (in special relativity called the Lorentz factor) that defines the time “speed” ratio of anomaly frame and observer frame.

The 3D visualisations of non-linear chronologies provide an intuitive understanding of what is going on with a subject of interest experiencing time non-linearly.

Also, a web application for creating such non-linear timelines is presented. With the application, users can compute the proper durations of time spans and generate 3D visualisations themselves.