“What have the Arts and Humanities ever done for us?” This was the title of Provost Linda Doyle’s opening talk, which launched the Trinity Arts and Humanities Research Festival on the 25th of September 2023. In conversation with the Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute Professor Eve Patten, the Provost, whose own research encompasses both engineering and the arts, spoke about the importance of parity of esteem between Arts Humanities disciplines and STEM subjects. She also emphasised the value of the creative arts in how they manage ambiguity and interrogate power structures. She commented on the important changes she has noticed between the arts and sciences recently, highlighting that
“In the last number of years there has been an incredible reaching out between the disciplines. And I think that reaching out is needed because of the problems we face in the world. which can only be tackled through a diversity of viewpoints, multifaceted approaches and different ways of thinking. Everywhere I see those tentacles.”
Throughout the week-long festival that was part of START, Trinity’s contribution to European Researchers Night on September 29th, questions around Ethical AI, the place of the Digital Humanities in education, and human-centric technology were front-and-centre. Researchers from across Trinity’s Arts and Humanities presented their work in innovative and engaging forms, inviting the public to reflect and participate in dialogues on the present and future of technology.
The Trinity Long Room Hub was busy each day with presentations and round-tables that fostered the confluence of arts and sciences at Trinity. These included a discussion and podcast recording between musicologist Dr Martin Clancy and the Schuler Democracy Forum’s Ellie Payne and Mark Little on the topic of AI and music copyright; performance pieces from Dr Scotty McQueen, who dismantled conspiracy theories in the age of technology through his dramatic persona “Crazy Conspiracy Dude”; and a relaunch of the Art + Science Salon podcast series, where cross-disciplinarians Dr Amelia McConville and Dr Autumn Brown spoke to their guest Dr Aisling Murray, founder of the Beta Festival, about art, science and technology beyond the university. Professor Lorraine Leeson, Trinity’s Vice-Provost for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, gave us an in-depth look at Irish Sign Language as she spoke about new research in deaf studies, including the use of machine translation between sign language and spoken languages.
The Human+ Fellows were central to the week. Dr Kata Szita was one of the many lecturers, postdocs and PhD students that welcomed passing students, staff members, and other Trinity visitors to “Booth Banter” in the Arts Building throughout the week. There, they discussed some of the philosophical questions they encountered in their research. Szita engaged members of the pubic with the question of “who am I in virtual reality?” Meanwhile, Human+ Fellow Dr Dalila Burin brought out her VR equipment at “Explore AI,” the ADAPT Centre’s interactive showcase of cutting edge research on AI in the Douglas Hyde Gallery. In her demonstration event “From virtual to reality… and back!” enthusiastic volunteers got the opportunity to experience what it feels like to embody a virtual avatar by wearing an IVR visor.
Exploring some of the big questions in technology and creativity, researchers from Trinity’s School of Creative Arts (Dr Jennifer O’Meara, Dr Neill O’Dwyer and Dr Nicholas Johnson) spoke with Caoimhe Wandel-Brannigan (the PIX-ART project) and anyone in the room who wanted to join the Festival’s ‘Long Table’ and get involved in the discussion. Attendees were presented with specific guidelines on etiquette for this ‘performance of a dinner-party conversation’, including the warning that ‘at 3:15pm, there will be an end, but no conclusion.’
Dr Jennifer Edmond, Associate Professor of Digital Humanities, shared insights from the hit Dublin Fringe Festival interactive quiz show “Who Wants to Write an Email?”, which she co-developed with Laura Allcorn, founder of the Comedic Institute of Inquiry.