Monday, 5 November 2012

TVAD Visiting Researcher 2012-13 Dr Kjetil Fallan

On Tuesday 13th November, TVAD welcomes our Visiting Researcher for 2012-13, Dr Kjetil Fallan. Dr Fallan is Associate Professor of Design History in the Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas at the University of Oslo. He is the author of Design History: Understanding Theory and Method (Berg Publishers, 2010), editor of Scandinavian Design: Alternative Histories (Berg Publishers, 2012), co-editor (with Grace Lees-Maffei) of Made in Italy: Reassessing a Century of Italian Design (Berg Publishers, 2013), and has articles in journals such as the Journal of Design History, Design Issues, Enterprise and Society and History and Technology. Dr. Fallan is an editor of the Journal of Design History

            TUESDAY 13TH NOVEMBER 2012
10 am, 2B05, FMM building: Staff Colloquium on current research
Open to all staff and research students, participants are invited to make short (c.15-20 minute) illustrated presentations about their own research and how it connects with the TVAD nominated theme of ‘Relationships between Text, Narrative and Image’, in order to foster links between researchers and potential collaboration.

12 to 1pm lunch with visiting speaker

1 to 2.30 pm, 2B05, FMM building: Art Talks Lecture: ‘Turning My Story into History: Making Memories Matter’
Our relationships to designed objects are as personal and subjective as are our relationships to fellow humans. How, then, can design historians relate histories of consumption and use, provided that history writing is to be relevant beyond the individual and the singular? Recognizing that the meaning of design is produced as much, if not more, in the context of consumption, ownership and use as in the context of design and production, design historians are faced with considerable challenges, ideological, methodological and theoretical. How to identify the counterpoint of objectivity and subjectivity? Where to draw the line between the personal and the private? What is the difference between memoirs and memories? In short: How does my story relate to his/her/their stories, turning it into History? In this lecture, these questions are explored through the notion of designed objects as ‘material memories’, in the form of a case study: the DBS Kombi bicycle on which the author learned to ride and now collects.

2.30 pm, AA191, Art & Design Building: Research Training Seminar led by KF for all PG, MA and research degree students and supervisors and others: ‘Up Close and Personal: Subjectivity in Design and Research’
The search for objective qualities long reigned supreme as an ideal for both design practice and academic research. And although postmodernism significantly critiqued and challenged that ideal, leading to a widespread acknowledgement that objectivity remains an elusive utopia—at least in the creative and liberal arts—fully embracing subjectivity is still often seen as suspect and problematic. This research training seminar provides a brief introduction to and examples of the topic, and invites discussion on the role of subjectivity in design and research.

            WEDNESDAY 14TH NOVEMBER 2012
10.30 am, LB216, meeting room in Com.Sc.with projector: Student Research Presentations
Each participating student to speak about their own research interests for c.10 minutes (briefing sheet supplied separately, copies on request from GLM)

2.30 pm, D118, off D corridor in main building: Staff Reading Group
Staff and research students to discuss tabled research writing in progress circulated via email by GLM in advance of the meeting. Please email texts to be tabled for the reading group to GLM in good time, and no later than two days in advance.  

            THURSDAY 15TH NOVEMBER 2012
10.30 am, AA191, Art & Design Building: Continuation Meeting
Time reserved for exploring issues TBC, thrown up by the proceedings on Monday and Tuesday and planning future visit(s) and collaboration.

For more information, contact TVAD Coordinator Dr Grace Lees-Maffei,

Photograph by Sigurd Fandango for Dagens Næringsliv

Saturday, 6 October 2012

AHRC Peer Review College 'Follow the Members' Launch

Yesterday, I travelled to the HQ of the Research Councils in Swindon for the first time to attend the launch event of the Arts and Humanities Research Council's Peer Review College 'Follow the Members' initiative. I was appointed to the Peer Review College (PRC) in April 2012, and was one of the new tranche of appointees to sign up for the 'Follow the Members' project. As its name implies, this will track members over the four years of their PRC tenure, through annual meetings, blogging and newsletter columns, filming and developing the AHRC's new website, including a members area. I signed up to write a column for the PRC newsletter on transparency in the funding environment for publication in April 2013) and I was filmed, very briefly, talking about my involvement in the PRC. I found that I got increasingly nervous as I was filmed, when I would have expected to start nervously and become increasingly relaxed. But, it was fun and I met lots of interesting people both on the PRC team, and academic colleagues from around England, Scotland and Wales.

The AHRC Peer Review College webpages include a list of members and their areas of expertise and information about the peer review process:

The ARHC's 'Watch and Listen' pages contain short films and podcasts about funded research and the work of the Council:

Monday, 27 August 2012

Design History: From Service Subject to Discrete Discipline

TVAD's Grace Lees-Maffei and Dr Daniel J. Huppatz (Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia) are to give a paper at the 8th conference of the The International Committee for Design History and Design Studies (ICDHS) in São Paulo (Brazil), 3rd-6th September 2012. The conference theme is Design Frontiers: territories, concepts, technologies.

'Design History: From Service Subject to Discrete Discipline' 
Design history is undergoing an identifiable shift from a relatively marginal and insecure position as a service provider operating within design education, to a recognizable and independent research discipline. This paper examines both the relationship between the practice and purpose of design history within design education as it is taught and researched in various countries, as well as the subject’s emerging status as an independent discipline.  

The paper will also be published in the conference proceedings.

Find out more at the ICDHS2012 conference at 

Find out more about the work of Dr Daniel Huppatz at 


Saturday, 30 June 2012

TVAD Journal Relaunched as Writing Visual Culture - New Issue Out Now!

TVAD's double-blind peer-reviewed open access journal, Working Papers on Design, has been relaunched for 2012 as Writing Visual Culture at a new open access home. This move better reflects both the content and quality of the articles we publish as they expand beyond design across the visual and material culture fields, and as they represent more than working papers, rather we publish expert peer-reviewed scholarship.

The first issue of the relaunched journal (vol. 5, 2012) is 'Ways of Knowing: Art and Science's Shared Imagination' is edited by Dr Pat Simpson (University of Hertfordshire). This volume presents selected papers from an interdisciplinary symposium at the University of Hertfordshire hosted by the Fine Art Practices Research Group, in the School of Creative Arts on October 1-2, 2010.

The three main questions addressed by the essays are: “What are the interplays between scientific visualisations and the arts?”, “Can art be a contribution to knowledge?” and, “If art and science are understood as equally necessary and complementary ways of knowing the world, how does this understanding enrich them?” This volume does not offer any simple answers, rather it raises a number of supplementary questions about how certain constructs of art and of science may be argued to link up with concepts of how knowledge might be defined.

This first edition of Writing Visual Culture is also a memorial to Dr Robert Priddey, a young and eminent astrophysicist particularly keen on bridging the ‘gap’ between the arts and the sciences, who was instrumental in setting up this conference. Tragically, he died suddenly before the conference took place.

Image: a single spark showing the sequential break-up of the main fragment (the strongest line), the branching of the smaller ejected parts and the compensatory movement of the fragment to balance momentum. Photo © James Leonard Collett]


Preface: Ways of Knowing: Art and Science's Shared Imagination - Perspectives from the Sciences, Humanities and Creative Arts, Simeon Nelson 

Introduction: Ways of Knowing, Pat Simpson 

Occult Arithmetic: Music, Mathematics & Mysticism, Robert Priddey, Alice Williamson

Natural Calligraphy, James Leonard Collett

On what we may infer from scientific and artistic representations of time, Craig Bourne and Emily Caddick

Between Zero and One: On the Unknown Knowns, Simon Biggs

Register to read Writing Visual Culture now at     

Monday, 16 April 2012

Shock, horror: flawed information on Wikipedia...

Pondering my visit to Golders Green Cemetery next weekend (to pay my respects to Bram Stoker as part of the centenary symposium at Keats House) I noticed with dismay that Wyndham Lewis had somehow been missed from the list of noteworthy 'residents' on the Wikipedia entry for the crematorium. That'll be my first ever contribution to Wikipedia then...

Monday, 12 March 2012

Alice McEwan presenting research on George Bernard Shaw's clothes

Alice McEwan, TVAD Research Group member and a AHRC PhD Student in the School of Creative Arts is giving a paper ‘Pay attention to my clothes’: curating Bernard Shaw through dress at Shaw’s Corner' at the CHORD Workshop  ‘Dress, Textiles and Heritage’ on June 13, 2012 at the University of Wolverhampton.

For playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw, dress was an important facet of his identity: a crucial marker of his political and personal vision, and a way of making himself instantly recognisable. Conscious of the semiotics of dress and how meaning is constituted in clothing, Shaw deliberately used clothes in his programme of self-representation and self-curation as a way of manipulating and controlling his public image. Likewise cultural perceptions of the famous playwright were often directed through his manner of dressing or through sartorial metaphors. Artists such as those with socialist and utopian visions in the Czech avant-garde represented Shaw’s particular style of dress through new graphic media to epitomize the modern, urban man. His clothed body photographed in the distinctive suits became a symbol of model citizenship and civic competence; but equally it became a potent visual marker for ‘brand GBS’, conferring status and identity. Cartoonists such as Max Beerbohm, aware of the emphasis placed on dress by Shaw, deliberately satirised his philosophical associations through clothing: ‘Coat, Mr. Schopenhauer’s; waistcoat, Mr. Ibsen’s; Mr. Nietzsche’s trousers’.

Today Shaw’s Corner, the country home of Shaw now managed by the National Trust, functions as a museum dedicated to representing his life and work. Many items of clothing survive in the collection. Clearly these have the potential to express a richly textured and layered narrative in the semiotic sense: but what about the physical, material embodiment? How does the dress of this famous historical personality create meaning in ways that might be described as aesthetic, haptic or financial? What happens when the actual items of clothing are displayed alongside the many and varied cultural representations, and what kinds of possibilities are offered up by these inter-connections? This paper seeks to examine the challenges posed for the curatorial staff in the present, and looks at the ways of conveying the modernity, energy and vitality embodied by Shaw’s dress in his own lifetime, to a modern audience

More information about the event including the programme, location and booking details is available at: