Problem Solving with Data Science un-Seminar

***** Come brainstorm about data science and the digital arts! At our next Problem Solving with Data Science un-Seminar on Tuesday, May 23 at 12pm in the DSI (Shields Library room 360) we’ll talk with Dr. Gina Bloom about her research matching user voice and body actions with their avatars in a Shakespearian theatrical video game called “Play the Knave”. For more details see below and the attached flyer.  We hope to see you there! *****
May 23 @ noon in the DSI (Shields 360)
“Data bodies at play: Analyzing the human movement and sound captured by a video game.” 
Gina Bloom, Associate Professor of English with collaborators Michael Neff, Colin Milburn, Evan Lauteria and Nicholas Toothman.
Keywords: time series, NLP, digital arts, game analytics
Abstract: We are analyzing movement and sound data collected from users of Play the Knave, a digital game created at the UC Davis Modlab that allows users to create digital performance of scenes from Shakespeare’s plays ( Our system uses Microsoft’s Kinect camera to pick up players’ voices and skeletal data that reflects the movements they make while playing. The game has been installed in ~20 public and educational spaces, producing an archive of ~500 videos featuring two users each. Given its size and digital nature, this archive presents an opportunity to assess whether big data computational analysis can be extended beyond text-based corpuses to the performing arts. We are interested in how users’ voices and bodies evince efforts to adapt to the game’s interface. The game presents two challenges for players: (1) obscure, difficult language from Shakespeare’s plays is supposed to be read aloud; (2) avatars resist certain movements due to limitations in the platform’s ability to read and render complex performer body movements. We want to know: 1) How do players respond when faced with the “glitch” of Shakespeare’s language and/or of the visual interface? 2) How do the voice and body work (or not work) together to create an expressive performance or to manage perceived glitches in the interface? 3) Do players become more expressive in one channel (movement or voice) when they are challenged with expression in another? This research has implications for the study of speech and movement, education, theater and performance studies, and the digital arts and humanities.
What: AN UN-SEMINAR BROWN BAG LUNCH SERIES @ the DSI Wait, what? This is a different kind of seminar. Come brainstorm about cross-University research problems in this multidisciplinary, flipped seminar series where the audience does most of the talking to apply data science and interdisciplinary knowledge to address complex unsolved research problems. The presenter provides the question(s), and the audience leverages their combined backgrounds and expertise to suggest solutions.
Who: All members of the UC Davis research community (faculty, graduate students, postdocs staff) with a background and/or interest in data science. No experience is necessary to attend – some of the most creative solutions have come from other disciplines. Everybody can gain by participating. By watching problem solving in action you will learn a lot about data science, how to ask the right questions to get the answers you need, and how to extract information.
Why? These seminars are fun, enlightening, highly multidisciplinary, thought-provoking, and focus on cutting-edge research in progress.
When:  Tuesdays 12-1pm.
Where: Data Science Initiative, Shields Library room 360. (
Stuck on a research problem you just can’t figure out? Feel like you’re trying to reinvent the wheel? Have a complex research question you don’t know how to tackle but think that the tools must be out there, somewhere? Want to “talk it out” with an open group of researchers and gain new perspectives on your research? Consider applying to be a speaker at our Problem Solving with Data Science un-seminar series. This un-seminar flips the traditional seminar upside down with up to 15 minutes of presentation of a research problem followed by 45 minutes of discussion. You may just leave with more answers, and more questions, to pursue! All members of the UC Davis research community (faculty, graduate students, postdocs, staff scientists) are invited to apply to give a seminar. For more information, contact<>.
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