8 Mar 2023 10.00 - 14.00 S1, Alison Richard Building, Sidgwick Site


Convenor: Carleigh Morgan (CDH Methods Fellow)

This project begins from the premise that ‘transparency’ is not clear at all. Transparency is historically mediated, culturally constructed, and ideologically complex. Understood expansively, transparency is enmeshed with a variety of functions and associations, having been mobilised as a political call to action; a design methodology; a radical practice of digital disruption; an ideological tool of surveillance; a corporate strategy of diversion; an aesthetics of obfuscation; a cultural paradigm; a programming protocol; a celebration of Enlightenment rationality; a tactic for spatialising data; an antidote to computational black boxing; an ethical cliché; and more.

We will explore the multidimensionality and intractability of transparency and investigate how the demand for more of it—in our algorithms, computational systems, and culture more broadly—can encode assumptions about the liberational capacity of restoring representation to the invisible. As a group we will conduct a survey of transparency and its political ramifications to digital culture by learning about its conceptual genealogies; interrogating its relevance to art and architecture; questioning its limits as an ethical imperative; and mapping it as a contemporary strategy of anti/mediation. Drawing on a combination of artworks, historical texts, cultural touchstones, and moving images, these workshops will give participants an opportunity to attend to transparency’s complex configurations within contemporary culture through a media theoretical lens. This project is designed to facilitate collaborative study; foster inter-disciplinary discourse; promote experimental learning; and develop a more theoretically nuanced and historically grounded starting point for critiquing transparency and its operations within digital culture.

Target audience:

This workshop is open to graduate students, early-career researchers, and staff at the University of Cambridge.


Participants may be asked to complete some preparatory reading, screenings, or reflections prior to each session. Participants are requested to complete this simple information questionnaire before the event.

Cambridge Digital Humanities

Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk