Dr Benjamin Matthews

Dr Benjamin Matthews

Lecturer

School of Creative Industries (Design and Natural History Illustration)

Understanding the intersection of humans and technology

Dr Benjamin Matthews’ research examines emerging technology and its impacts on cultural interactions and the future of work.

Benjamin Matthews in classroom

Dr Benjamin Matthews is an academic who is researching how emerging technologies can be used to help solve human problems and make lives better. The themes of Benjamin’s research around human behaviour and future work connect with those of UON’s School of Creative Industries FASTlab (Future Art Science and Technology lab).

“I’m interested in what happens at the intersection of the social and the technical. For example, how can we use virtual reality (VR) technology to help people who are mobility challenged,” Benjamin said. “It’s about using a human centred design process to make people’s lives better.”

Benjamin’s research impacts people in vulnerable positions who are the end users of new technology, as well as those who are engaged in the process of helping the end users. Through his research he is teaming up with Sydney not-for-profit The Centre for Inclusive Design.

“In terms of finding applications for emerging technology we strongly focus on seeking out inclusive user groups and those groups of people who are frequently left out. For example, I currently have a PhD student working on the creation of a mindfulness app that addresses exam performance anxiety in university students. Inclusive design is an important part of the approach we are taking. We bake that into our process and make it part of how we talk about our research.”

Benjamin is a founding member of the Early Career Researcher (ECR) Inclusive Transformative Technology Scrum – a transdisciplinary research network of ECRs focused on research and innovation in applied and clinical applications of emerging extended reality (XR) technologies. He said the transformative effects of extended reality (XR) technologies have great potential for use in a range of contexts including health, psychology, medicine, education and training.

“The scrum will bring together scholars from Creative Industries, Psychology, and the Medical and Health Sciences as there is a huge need for investigation into how research conducted into Human Computer Interaction (HCI) within a scholarly setting can be translated effectively for applied use within these contexts.”

A 2020 symposium organised by the scrum featuring key international scholars in the various fields aims to unlock the potential of their transdisciplinary, collaborative focus on the transformative role of XR technologies.

“We’ll be asking attendees at the symposium to engage in a co-creation process and discuss what they feel is coming in the future for this field. The material that flows from the symposium will capture the zeitgeist of this research from the PhD level through to world leading scholars and will be published in a special issue of the Journal of Virtual Creativity.”

The Robot Ate My Homework – The impact of automation

Benjamin is collaborating with his School of Creative Industries colleague Associate Professor Mark Roxburgh in a project called The Robot Ate My Homework to examine the impacts of automation on the future of work in the design profession, with an initial focus on the context of visual communication design.

“As they become more advanced, machines and computers are able to take on more complicated tasks that would normally require human input. This has obvious implications for the workforce and the broader social fabric,” he said.

“Having worked in the industry for many years I’ve seen designers grapple with the increasing effects of automation in the design process,” Benjamin said. “Now as an academic I’m trying to understand how we need to prepare our students for the rapidly changing world of design we currently inhabit.”

“This research will offer insights to both industry and educational institutions and will aim to answer central questions like ‘what will visual communication design look like in ten years time’, and ‘how do we shape formal tertiary education in Newcastle and Australia to deal with that scenario?’”

As part of this project, Benjamin and Mark will host a panel at the 2020 Design Research Society annual conference with the conversation aiming to capture the current state of thinking about artificial intelligence and design so academics can prepare students for a seismic shift in work practices.

“Increasingly we’re seeing software released that incorporates artificial intelligence and machine learning that automatically executes processes of design. Similarly, there are new software’s that will have the ability to ‘learn you’ in real time and adjust the user interface to radically increase a user’s efficiency,” Benjamin said.

“You also have software like Adobe Animate that automatically create 3D animated characters which allows anyone to fairly easily create a computer-generated version of themselves in characterised form. Just a few years ago that was unimaginable and would require a high-tech studio setup. Essentially these systems are allowing anyone to become a visual communications designer, which has obvious impacts on the profession.”

“The role of design is increasingly becoming about the ability to curate and understand what is most impactful and relevant for a client. I believe the training of designers will still require engagement with the fundamentals of design, but it will simultaneously involve a shift to a greater emphasis on the use of super high-tech computational tools and understanding them in a context that is both present and future focused.”

Creative Collectives

As technology has increased Benjamin says there has been a shift in industry where most of the work has been outsourced to small businesses or groups of creative individuals. One strand of his research focuses on these ‘creative collectives’ and how they use technology to work together.

“Close to ninety percent of creative industries work is done by small businesses that have 12 employees or less so it is highly likely our graduates will go into that kind of business space and engage in micro-entrepreneurship,” Benjamin said.

“It’s an interesting area where people are consciously deciding to go out on their own and join with other contactors to use their collective skills to create things and engage in practice that suits them.”

Benjamin’s chapter in the book The Critical Makers Reader: (Un)learning Technologyis an interview with the founder of a collective ‘Enkel’ in Freemantle.

“The idea of that book is to share learnings about network based making so people can get access to them and use those understandings in their own practices,” he said.

“The chapter gives an overview of how Enkel has successfully operated. Their participants engage in social entrepreneurship, run workshops and events, and work with business, government and non-profits as facilitators and consultants. They conduct social innovation experiments, like establishing temporary makerspaces, MOOC study groups and living labs in a range of settings, including co-working hubs and facilities owned by local government.”

“The skills required by a collective are the types of skills we teach in our Bachelor of Creative Industries – collaboration, creativity and entrepreneurship. We are equipping the designers of the future with the skills needed to succeed in this rapidly evolving world.”

Photo credit: Katherine Williams

Understanding the intersection of humans and technology

Dr Benjamin Matthews’ research examines emerging technology and its impacts on cultural interactions and the future of work.

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Career Summary

Biography

I am a Lecturer in Design in the School of Creative Industries, with an interest in strategic communication design, design management, the post-industrial circumstances of the creative industries, emergent network cultures and media art.

My scholarly approach is transdisciplinary, and includes engagement with: design; organised networks; creative teams; innovation; media work; celebrity; collaborative cultures; urban/street cultures; visual culture; emergence; translatability; mimetic theory; and media anthropology. 

I also collaborate with artists to write catalog essays and to curate cross platform media.

I completed an cross-disciplinary PhD at in 2010 (English and Communication), before moving into media industry roles in Newcastle and Sydney for several years, and was eventually invited to contribute to new undergraduate and masters programs during 2016 with UTS, and 2017 at Western Sydney University.

I have a passion for connecting teaching and learning with contemporary industry practice and growing strong networks of interaction with prospective employers and creative institutions.


Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies), University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours), University of Newcastle

Keywords

  • Collectivism
  • Design
  • Digital Communication
  • Emergence
  • Globalisation
  • Media Work
  • Network Cultures
  • Organised Networks
  • Post-Industrial Journalism
  • Precarity
  • Social Enterprise
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Strategic Design
  • Transdisciplinary Design
  • Transdisciplinary Innovation

Languages

  • English (Mother)

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Creative Industries
Australia
Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Creative Industries
Australia
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Book (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2018 Burns LS, Matthews BJ, Understanding Journalism, SAGE, 288 (2018)

Chapter (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2019 Matthews B, 'Enkel Collective: Making Change Makers', The Critical Makers Reader: (Un)learning Technology, Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam 173-180 (2019) [B1]
2019 Matthews B, 'New Hypothetical Continents: Experimenting with U/Dystopia', Anywhere Viii, Centre of Visual Art (University of Melbourne) and Parsons Fine Art (Parsons School of Design, The New School).), Melbourne & New York 40-45 (2019)

Journal article (8 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2020 Matthews B, See ZS, Day J, 'Crisis and extended realities: remote presence in the time of COVID-19', Media International Australia, 1329878X2096716-1329878X2096716 (2020)
DOI 10.1177/1329878x20967165
Co-authors Zisiang See
2020 See ZS, Matthews B, Goodman L, Jones D, Hight C, Egglestone P, et al., 'Extended Reality Interactive Wall: User Experience Design Research-Creation', Virtual Creativity, (2020)
Co-authors Zisiang See, Donovan Jones, Craig Hight, Paul Egglestone
2018 Burns LS, Matthews BJ, 'First Things First: Teaching Data Journalism as a Core Skill', Asia Pacific Media Educator, 28 91-105 (2018)
Citations Scopus - 4Web of Science - 4
2017 Matthews B, 'Anti-hierarchical culture in media-based creative collectives: sketching originary analyses', Anthropoetics, 22 (2017)
2017 Matthews B, 'Precarity, globalism and resistance in emergent collectivism: the case of Enspiral', Global Media Journal: Australian Edition, 11 (2017)
2017 Burns LS, Matthews BJ, ' Post-Industrial Journalism as a Creative Industry', World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, International Journal of Social, Behavioral, Educational, Economic, Business and Industrial Engineering, 11 1543-1551 (2017)
2015 Matthews B, 'Virality and the new ostensive: Ai Weiwei s leg-gun meme', Anthropoetics, 21 (2015)
2015 Matthews B, 'Victimary Thinking, Celebrity and the CCTV Building.', Anthropoetics: The Journal of Generative Anthropology, 20 (2015)
Show 5 more journal articles

Review (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2018 Matthews B, 'Review of Defiant Earth: The Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene (2018)

Conference (13 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2020 Matthews B, Roxburgh M, 'Will visual communication designers be replaced by machines?', Brisbane (2020)
DOI 10.21606/drs.2020.1
Co-authors Mark Roxburgh
2020 Matthews B, 'Introduction to the XR and Creativity Symposium: Transformative Technologies for Good', XR and Creativity Symposium Report: Transformative Technologies for Good, University of Newcastle (2020)
2018 Matthews B, Payne C, 'Teaching Digital Humanities for the Creative Industries: Immersion and Making', Uni SA, Adelaide (2018)
2017 Matthews B, Sheridan-Burns L, ' Post-industrial journalism as a creative industry', Post-industrial journalism as a creative industry , Vienna, Austria (2017)
2017 Matthews B, 'The Figure of Utopia, Originary Thinking and the New Hypothetical Continents Art Project', The University of Stockholm, Stockholm. Sweden (2017)
2016 Matthews B, 'Post-Hierarchical Culture in Media-Based Creative Collectives: sketching originary analyses', Kinjo Gakuin University, Nagoya. Japan (2016)
2016 Matthews B, 'Precarity, Collectivism and Activism: Enkel and Enspiral', The University of Sydney, NSW. Australia (2016)
2015 Matthews B, 'Emergent Collectivism in Professional Communication in Australia and New Zealand: 'Enkel' as a case study', Aarhus University, Aarhus. Denmark (2015)
2015 Matthews B, 'Ai Wei Wei s Leg-Gun Meme, Virality and the New Ostensive', High Point University, High Point, North Carolina (2015)
2009 Matthews B, 'The Decline of Literary Studies: diagnoses, treatments and anthropological outcomes', QUT Creative Industries Precinct, Brisbane, Australia. (2009)
2008 Matthews B, 'Interpreting Lycidas: fictionalizing/arriving at a literary anthropology/originary scene?', Chapman University, Ca. USA (2008)
2007 Matthews BJ, 'Problem of the real: Interpretation and literary anthropology', Research Higher Degree Student Congress 2005. Proceedings, Newcastle, NSW (2007) [E2]
2007 Matthews BJ, 'Staging the significance of literacy interpretation', Research Higher Degree Student Congress 2006. Proceedings, Newcastle, NSW (2007) [E2]
Show 10 more conferences

Other (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2020 Matthews B, See ZS, Orr N, Coates A, 'XR and Creativity Symposium Web Media', (2020) [O1]
Co-authors Nik Orr, Zisiang See
2020 Matthews B, See ZS, Orr N, Coates A, 'XR and Creativity Symposium Web Media', (2020) [O1]
Co-authors Nik Orr, Zisiang See

Report (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2020 Matthews B, See ZS, Orr N, 'XR and Creativity Symposium Report: Transformative Technologies for Good', School of Creative Industry, 18 (2020)
Co-authors Zisiang See

Thesis / Dissertation (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2010 Matthews BJ, others, Wolfgang Iser and literary anthropology, University of Newcastle (2010)
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 8
Total funding $208,040

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20204 grants / $88,656

Media and Entertainment Research Centre (MERCury) establishment program$70,000

Funding body: Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle
Project Team

Dr Simon Weaving (Lead); A/Prof Craig Hight; Dr Simone O'Callaghan; Dr Jane Shadbolt; Dr Ben Matthews; Dr Stuart McBratney; Mr Jack McGrath; Dr Zi Siang See; Claire Pasvolsky; Karen Nobes; Prof Richard Vella

Scheme Research Programs Pilot Scheme
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2020
Funding Finish 2021
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

ECR Inclusive Transformative Technology Scrum$14,896

Funding body: Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle
Project Team

Dr Benjamin Matthews (Lead), Dr Rewa Wright, Mr Zi Siang See, Dr Jamin Day, Ms Shanna Fealy, Dr Donovan Jones and Mr Adam Manning

Scheme Strategic Network and Pilot Project Grants Scheme
Role Lead
Funding Start 2020
Funding Finish 2020
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

2020 FEDUA 'Finish that Output' scheme funding$2,500

Funding body: Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle
Project Team

Dr B Matthews (Lead); A/Prof M Roxurgh (UoN); Dr B Shannon (UoN).

Scheme FEDUA 'Finish that Output' scheme
Role Lead
Funding Start 2020
Funding Finish 2020
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

2020 Faculty of Education and Arts Stragetic Early Advice and Feedback Scheme$1,260

Funding body: Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle
Project Team

Dr Benjamin Matthews

Scheme 2020 FEDUA Strategic Early Advice and Feedback Scheme
Role Lead
Funding Start 2020
Funding Finish 2020
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

20194 grants / $119,384

Early Career Researcher HDR Candidate Scholarship$110,384

Funding body: The University of Newcastle

Funding body The University of Newcastle
Project Team

Benjamin Matthews, Jamin Day, Craig Hight, Zi Siang See

Scheme Early Career Researcher HDR Candidate Scholarship
Role Lead
Funding Start 2019
Funding Finish 2023
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

Faculty of Education and Arts New Start Grant$5,000

Funding body: Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle
Scheme New Start Grants
Role Lead
Funding Start 2019
Funding Finish 2019
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

iLead New Media$3,000

Funding body: UON Global

Funding body UON Global
Project Team

Simon Weaving, Benjamin Matthews, Zi Siang See

Scheme iLead
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2019
Funding Finish 2019
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

School of Creative Industries Travel Grant$1,000

Funding body: School of Creative Industries | University of Newcastle

Funding body School of Creative Industries | University of Newcastle
Project Team

Benjamin Matthews

Scheme School of Creative Industries Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2019
Funding Finish 2019
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed0
Current1

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2019 PhD SafeSpace VR: An Assistive Technology Based Virtual Reality (VR) Application PhD (Design), College of Human and Social Futures, The University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
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Research Projects

The Robot Ate My Homework: Automation and the future of work for design professionals 2020 -

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are driving rapid advances in visual communication design practice. Our research investigates whether the design industry and design education are prepared for a seismic shift in work practices. We are seeking answers to the following questions: How well prepared is the design profession for AI and automation? What kind of design work is vulnerable to automation and machine learning? What kind of skills will designers need to work with AI and automation? What should curriculum look like to ensure graduates will not be replaced by machines?

Collaborators

Name Organisation
Associate Professor Mark William Dart Roxburgh University of Newcastle
Doctor Barrie Shannon University of Newcastle

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Dr Benjamin Matthews

Position

Lecturer
School of Creative Industries
College of Human and Social Futures

Focus area

Design and Natural History Illustration

Contact Details

Email ben.matthews@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 498 54909
Fax (02) 4921 5896
Links Personal webpage
Twitter
Research Networks

Office

Room Level 4
Building Newspace
Location Newspace

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