Fellow Dr. Elena Pilipets

Dr. Elena Pilipets

  Fellow at CAIS from May to October 2019


The Platformed Value of Engagement: Affect, Control, and Participation on Tumblr

With the digitization of the communication and the entertainment industry, traces that we leave when we use social media networks become part of the affective economy of attention, sharing, and recommendation. Operating as data-intensive distributors of content, internet corporations translate participation into a source of control and value generation. Popular platforms thrive on intensive engagement, but what happens when their distinctive experiential affordances noticeably change?

In my CAIS project I explore the latest transformations in the community- and algorithm-driven networks revolving around the social micro-blogging site Tumblr. In December 2018, after being suspended from Apple’s App Store over child pornography issues, Tumblr banned all “adult content” from its users’ Tumblogs in a move that negatively affected multiple body-positive and art-related platform subcultures. Especially the failure of automated filtering tools in this context, the proliferation of porn bots and the phrase “female-presenting nipples” from Tumblr’s new moderation guidelines attracted major criticism.

Adapting (visual) digital methods to follow hashtags and memes that were shared in the aftermath of “Tumblr purge”, I approach platforms as mediators of conflicting business models, lifestyle practices, and political interests. In particular, I focus on memes through which Tumblr’s restrictive policies were playfully reappropriated and provided with new intensities and connotations.

Main Research Topics
  • Media/Cultural Studies
  • Affect Theory
  • Platform Studies
  • Internet Memes
  • Digital Popular Culture
Curriculum Vitae
  • 11/2018: Dr. phil. in Media Theory and Cultural Studies, PhD-Thesis “Pop:Mediations. (Dis)Connecting Affect and Meaning in Digital Popular Culture”, Department of Media and Communication Studies, Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt
  • 10/2014-10/2018: Research Assistant in Media and Culture Theory, Department of Media and Communication Studies, Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt
  • 09/2013-09/2014: Doctoral Student Research Grant “Visual Culture”, Faculty of Humanities, Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt
Publications and presentations
  • Pilipets, E. (in print, 2019) Contagion Images: Faciality, Viral Affect and the Logic of the Grab on Tumblr. In: Schober-de Graaf, A. (ed.) Popularisation and Populism through the Visual Arts: Attraction Images. London: Routledge.
  • Pilipets, E. (2018) Queer Workings of Digital Affect: The Hypermediated Body of Conchita Wurst. Transformations. Journal of Media, Culture & Technology. Issue 31: Technoaffect: Bodies, Machines, Media, 138-155.
  • Pilipets, E. & Winter, R. (2018) Repeat, Remediate, Resist? Digital Meme Activism in the Context of the Refugee Crisis. In: Wimmer, J. Wallner, K, Winter, R. & Oelsner K. (eds.): (Mis)Understanding Political Participation. Digital Practices, New Forms of Participation and the Renewal of Democracy. London: Routledge, 158-177.
  • Pilipets, E. & Winter, R. (2017) Mainstream und Subkulturen. In: Hecken, T. & Kleiner, M. (Hg.) Handbuch Popkultur. Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler, 284-295.
  • Pilipets, E., Wieser, M. & Winter, R. (2017) About:Kate. Bildungsprozesse crossmedialer Serialität. MedienPädagogik. Zeitschrift für Theorie und Praxis der Medienbildung. Heft 26: Neue Fernsehserien und ihr Potenzial für eine kritische Pädagogik, 138-164.
  • Pilipets, E. (2016) Queer Memes. Von seriellen Metamorphosen und transkontextuellen Assemblagen im Social Web. In: MedienJournal Vol. 40: Repräsentationen und ethische Herausforderungen, 50-64.
Visting Fellow
Janna Joceli OmenaUniversidade Nova de Lisboa, iNOVA Media Lab/ICNOVA
Janna Joceli Omena
Research focus
  • Platform Studies
  • Digital Methods
  • Social Media Technicity
Curriculum Vitae
  • 2013-2015: MA in Contemporary Culture and New Technologies at Universidade Nova de Lisboa
  • 2016-2020: Doctoral Researcher in Digital Media in the UT Austin I Portugal Digital Media PhD Program.
  • Founder and coordinator of SMART Data Sprint