Maths and Videogames in Media

By Roxana Pomplun, third year BA Media and Communications student

Media at Greenwich is not just about media and broadly speaking humanities. Sometimes you need to remember your maths and coding. And this is when it gets exciting! Hands-on Archaeology of Early Computer Graphic Arts – this is the topic area of a unique seminar series, held by Dr Stefan Höltgen from the Humboldt-University Berlin here at Greenwich. The seminars cover fundamentals of Computer Art theory and technologies, as well as programming workshops in BBC BASIC. Part of the schedule was also a trip to South Kensington, where we visited the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. At the Science Museum we went to the exhibitions Mathematics: the Winton Gallery and Information Age in form of a guided tour conducted by Dr Höltgen.

Throughout the collection of early mathematical machines, he pointed out specific examples, ranging from the ‘Moniac’, a machine that modelled the British Economy using the flow of water to represent money, over an astronomical telescope and regulator clock (with regards to the Greenwich Observatory obviously) to a differential analyser that was used for secret military research purposes during the second world war. Within the Information Age exhibition he was referring a lot to Alan Turing’s work, like the Pilot ACE which embodied Turing’s idea of a universal machine (Turing wrote the specification for computer many years before a prototype was built) that was able to perform any logical task. Dr Höltgen further showed us examples of early microprocessors and microchips that revolutionised digital technologies. Eventually, we had a joint discussion on how all that what we just have seen relates to media technologies and the subjects of our studies before we continued our trip and headed over to the V&A.

This time we were all strolling though the exhibition by ourselves, at our own pace. The videogames exhibition offers a range of topics related to video games and shows not only pieces about production and design but also considers topics such as race, sexual objectification, political criticism, online communities, fan art, etc. – to put it in a nutshell: there’s basically something to see for anyone. There were many aspects that made me relate to and think of various experiences. When looking at the stages of character design I remembered the work of a friend, who studies animation in Greenwich. I was particularly happy when I saw examples of how professionals work with Unity – a game engine that I used myself for the Creative Coding module in year 1 to create visuals. Since we live in an era, where almost everything became interactive, you can also interact with parts of the exhibition, in either requesting further information about a topic or simply playing video games (there was a whole section dedicated for visitor to actually play). I really enjoyed this exhibition and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in gaming or digital arts (hurry, though, it’s only on until February 24th).

The trip was a great experience and I was happy to take part in such an opportunity, as in the whole seminar series. The seminar series was initially organised for the MA Media and Creative Cultures programme but is also open to other media students within the Greenwich School of Design. Hence, as a 3rd year BA Media and Communications student I appreciated to be given the chance to participate in such extracurricular sessions, particularly because I personally set my research focus on the computer science aspect of media technologies. But enough of myself, as a student of this wide-ranging programme, I would recommend every media and communications student to take part in additional events and courses like this. Make the most of your time as a student here and enhance your general experience in opening up to different areas within this extensive industry, because you’ll always learn something from it and different experiences are extremely necessary to excel in your career.

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