The development and application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies in the audiovisual sector has been growing in recent years. Over-the-top services (OTT), distributed directly to viewers via the Internet, are particularly associated with a shift towards automation through algorithmic mediation in audiovisual content, led by platforms such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, among others. In a series of talks along 2022, international experts will share state-of-the-art knowledge about the impact of algorithmic systems on the design, production, and reception of audiovisual content. We want to initiate a conversation between researchers, professionals, and viewers that, being directly about the audiovisual and cinematic experience, inevitably touches themes such as the datafication of society, the transformation of the meaning of culture, and the governance of automation systems.


TALKS 2023

Learning from Audiences in Algorithmic VOD Recommender System Research

2023 February 8th, 5 pm (GMT / UTC)

Mattias Frey

City, University of London

Early-stage research (and indeed wider commentary) on recommender systems for video on demand (VOD) services such as Netflix tended to focus on the novelty of technology and suppositions about the technology’s effects. Real users, and the ways in which algorithmic recommender systems fit into users’ larger media repertoires, were often ignored. Based on a long-term research project and mixed-method empirical audience study, this talk seeks to put audiences at the centre of our understanding of algorithmic recommender systems and point ahead to further means of inquiry through which research on VOD recommender systems can productively progress into a middle stage.


Algorithmic Decision-Making, Creativity, and the Movie-Making Machine

2023 May 10th , 11 AM (GMT / UTC)

Pei-Sze Chow

University of Amsterdam

Film studios both commercial and independent are becoming increasingly reliant on AI-powered tools to help make decisions about which screenplays to greenlight, which actors to cast, and what stories to tell on screen. Such algorithmic tools primarily aim at minimising risk while simultaneously positioning themselves as enhancing the creativity of screen practitioners. This talk considers how such AI 'decision-support' tools now being used in the film industry are perceived as creative co-creators and outlines key themes and a research agenda focusing on how to make sense of the impact that such tools will have on the art and business of filmmaking.


Queer film and tv in the age of streaming: reorienting audiences

2023 October 25th, 2PM (GMT / UTC)

Tyler Klatt

Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, University of Florida

This talk foregrounds queer spectatorship in the age of streaming to investigate the multiplicity of ways viewers experience the Netflix platform. Streaming services, like Netflix, invite new ways of watching television that challenge the historical construction of the TV as a live, mass, and family-oriented medium from the broadcast period. Similarly, novel distribution technologies rooted in mobile media, platforms, AI, and big data upend the traditional space and place logics of cable era television, defined by the image of the television console as a stationary screen. This presentation analyzes images of television viewers that appear on the website and its television commercials from the company's founding to the present, to trace the historical transformation of TV's audiences. By bringing queer viewing experiences into the spotlight, this talk investigates the intersections between gender, sexuality, and new media technologies to explore the impact of streaming on queer life and queer worldmaking.


The Algorithm Knows I'm Black

2023 September 27th, 3PM (GMT / UTC)

Daniel Meyerend

University of Michigan

In October of 2018, several Black Netflix users took to Twitter to air their grievances about images in movie thumbnails featuring Black actors with minor roles, even when the movie itself was a majority white cast. In response to these critiques, Netflix claimed that because users are not asked about their racial identity, it is impossible to personalize the individual Netflix experience using identity markers. This article explores the interplay between algorithmic cultures and representations of race, examining the identity and voices of users and how their agency is affected within algorithmic systems. Users are seeking agentic traction in these algorithmic spaces, and this research begins to address how Black users are positioning themselves to make sense of the digital constraints placed on them. Black subscribers of Netflix heavily critiqued the algorithms used to advertise content to them, and I examine how Netflix constructs Black users as Black subjects in order to keep them engaged with the platform.


Talks 2022

Algorithms and Taste-Making: Exposing the Netflix Recommender System's operational logics

2022 May 5th, 4 pm (GMT / UTC)

Niko Pajkovic

Ryerson University, Canada

The Streaming Wars continue to heat up, recommendation systems like the Netflix Recommender System (NRS) will become key competitive features for every major over-the-top video streamer. As a result, film and television production and consumption will increasingly be in the hands of semi-autonomous algorithmic technologies. But how do recommendation systems like the NRS work? What purposes do they serve? And what sorts of impacts are they having on film and television culture? To respond to these questions, this talk will (1) examine how algorithms are impacting processes of taste-making and (2) re-evaluate some of the critical theoretical perspectives that have come to dominate the discourse surrounding algorithmic cultures.


Algorithmic logics and the construction of cultural taste of the Netflix Recommender System

2022 May 26th, 11 am (GMT / UTC)

Fatima Gaw

University of Philippines

This talk investigates algorithms and their construction of cultural taste through a socio-technical analysis of the Netflix Recommender System. I examined the key algorithmic processes in the intersection of its technological infrastructure, cultural processes, and social relations. Drawing from media logic and computational logic, I propose the concept of ‘algorithmic logics’ to define the assumptions, processes, and mechanisms that govern the construction of taste within the Netflix platform. I identified these four logics of taste – datafication, reconfiguration, interpellation, and reproduction – and argue that they reappropriate old apparatuses of social control and generate new capacities in engineering cultural processes.



This is event is coordinated by:

Paulo Nuno Vicente

Universidade Nova de Lisboa, ICNOVA

Catarina Duff Burnay

Universidade Católica Portuguesa, CECC