Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Texts / Cities - Call for Papers

TEXTS / CITIEs: from the 1970s to the present

A one-day seminar at the TVAD Research Group, University of Hertfordshire

Thursday January 23rd, 2014

Convened by Dr. Daniel Marques Sampaio and Mr. Michael Heilgemeir, University of Hertfordshire

This seminar will explore relationships between texts and urban spaces in contemporary culture and society. The aim is to bring together scholars within an interdisciplinary range of art, design, and media practices to examine, analyse and interpret the complexities of those relationships, looking at the movement from text to urban space and back.

Cities have often been compared to palimpsests, their streets, buildings, and subways pleated, crumpled, written and rewritten over and over again: as material texts, poïesis. What is at stake in this conflation of city and text? Can the city be read, does it indeed operate like a text? How do urban spaces relate to artistic, political, or economic texts and ideologies, and vice versa? What transformations occur between the designing and imaging of urban spaces, and the building and eventual inhabiting of those spaces? How do the technologies employed in designing and imaging architectural and urban spaces (computer modelling and simulation, CGI renderings of future buildings, etc.) contribute to the ‘idea’ or representations of a city? In what ways can data and imaging influence understanding of, and policies within cities?

These are some of the questions we invite; further topics could include but are not limited to:

  • Analyses of representations (fictional, cartographic, theoretical) of urban spaces and of the ‘urban experience’;
  • New media, Big Data, imaging technology, and daily life in contemporary cities;
  • Ideal cities, utopias, dystopias, heterotopias;
  • Political and economic ideologies and urban spaces;
  • Arts in the city;
  • Textual interventions in urban spaces (graffiti, advertising, etc.).


To submit a proposal for a 20-minute paper, please send an abstract of 300 words, five key words, contact details, affiliation (if any), and a short biographical note, to: Dr. Daniel Marques Sampaio and Mr. Michael Heilgemeir

Selected papers will be presented at the seminar and may be included in a planned peer-reviewed issue of the journal Writing Visual Culture

Friday, 21 June 2013

Writing Visual Culture: Digital Comics - Call for papers

Writing Visual Culture is the open access, double-blind peer-reviewed journal of the TVAD Research Group. The journal's focus is the relationship between text, narrative and image. We are currently seeking submissions for a new themed edition examining the world of digital comics.

The medium of comics is undergoing a period of transition as the popular mode of creation, distribution and consumption shifts from print to digital display. This is a transition that has been underway since before the general adoption of the World Wide Web and recent advances in portable digital display has only served to accelerate the pace of this change.

Digital comic pioneers have pushed at the boundaries of the medium and explored the possibilities offered by the inherent interactivity of the medium and the multimodality of computing devices. Today, smart phones and tablet computers provide a single platform of consumption on which comics, film, animation, games and other interactive visual media are equally at home. Now as comics gradually leave behind the tropes and trappings of print and embrace those of the screen, we also see the emergence of new hybrid forms that appropriate tropes from other screen-based media.

Against this background, papers focused towards the following areas would sit well within our themed edition of Writing Visual Culture:

•    New and emergent digital comic forms and technologies.
•    Changes to the underlying structures of the form as a result of digital mediation.
•    Crossovers, adaptation and hybridisation between comics and videogames.
•    Motion comics and animated adaptations of the form.
•    Acts of reading and the impact of digital mediation.
•    Aesthetic and Literary analysis of digital comic narratives.
•    Digital distribution, changes in the industry and the threat of piracy.
•    Webcomics, widening readerships, minority voices and fan cultures.
•    Multimodality and comics relationship with larger transmedia narratives.

Although other areas relevant to the study of digital comics will also be considered.

Abstracts of 200 words for papers of 3000 to 6000 words should be submitted via e-mail to Daniel Merlin Goodbrey at by Monday 19th August. Abstracts should specify the research question or issue that you are addressing and make clear the connection between your paper and the Digital Comics theme. Proposed papers must be original and not have been published already or accepted for publication elsewhere.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

‘Writing Design’ talk for ‘Writing and the Object’ A Writing in Creative Practice Seminar

The Higher Education Academy Discipline Workshop and Seminar Series, 2012-13
13 Jun 2013, Middlesex University, The Burroughs, London, England, NW4 4BT

We write about objects, we produce writing as objects, we write in order to generate objects and sometimes we write in spite of objects, yet within the academy we witness these possibilities in only a limited way. In this day-workshop, seven speakers, or groups of speakers, will consider some of the relationships between writing practices and the object in art and design and how we engage with them at art school.

TVAD Coordinator, Grace Lees-Maffei will talk about her edited book Writing Design: Words and Objects at 'Writing and the Object' a Writing in Creative Practice seminar, and part of the the Higher Education Academy Discipline Workshop and Seminar Series, 2012-13. 

More information about the event - 

More information about the book, Writing Design - and

10:00 Registration - Visitors to the campus will be met in the Quad, College Building. Tea/Coffee will be available in the main room for the day (GG71).
10:30 Welcome 
10:45 Session 1: Using Objects as Starting Points - Alke Groppel-Wegener - Staffordshire University. Written assignments seem quite scary for a lot of art and design students, while objects are familiar - they can be seen, handled, explored, sometimes broken but more often made. Alke Groppel-Wegener will propose two ways of using objects in study skills for art and design students, which ultimately lead to formal academic essays for her students: on the one hand using objects as starting points to inspire research and writing projects; on the other hand producing objects based on the exploration of hidden academic practice. 
11:15  Session 2: Writing design - Grace Lees-Maffei - University of Hertfordshire.
How do we learn about the objects that surround us? We gather sensory information through viewing and using objects, but we also learn about objects through written and spoken words. The intersection of design and language remains under-explored. Grace Lees-Maffei will introduce her latest edited book Writing Design: Words and Objects its aims and main arguments. Examples discussed will include the reforming zeal of design criticism, and the way words mediate between people and objects, the role of language in design practice, design which rejects words, transcends words and situations in which words fail to describe design.  
12:10  Session 3: Haunted objects - Luke White - Middlesex University, History of Art and Design. Most methodological approaches to visual analysis understand themselves as approaching the object in terms of its positivities, naming and examining what the object is and what properties it has, and/or determining it in the equally positive terms of an authorial intent, a socio-historical origin, or its significance for a given user or viewer. What, however, if we understand the object as (necessarily) "haunted", and what if we take these hauntings as the real concern of our engagements with art? Drawing on Jacques Derrida's Spectres of Marx, and examining in particular an experience of Damien Hirst's Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, I propose a shift from "ontological" to "hauntological" approaches. My contention is that haunting is at the heart of our actual engagement with cultural objects and images, and that we therefore ought to be dealing with a complex phenomenology of spectrality and revenance when we discuss them. Derrida's essay, written to consider the legacy of Marx's Communist Manifesto, also allows us to further ask whether this "hauntology" of the object is particularly apposite to the investigation of the phenomenology of a commodified, capitalist culture such as our own. 
12:40  Session 4: Art, design and Dyslexia: multisensory routes to writing - Pauline Sumner Middlesex University, Dyslexia Support. Writing presents particular challenges for dyslexic art and design students.  Pauline Sumner will consider some of the myths and the realities of the relationship between dyslexia and art & design, and reflect on some of the multi-sensory approaches she and her colleagues use in addressing these challenges in bringing dyslexic art & design students to writing. 
13:10  Lunch 
14:10  Session 5: Writing before animation: generative writing as part of a design process - Peter Thomas - Middlesex University, Academic Writing and Language and
Ossie Parker - Middlesex University, Animation. This session will reflect on the teaching of a generative writing cycle within an animation project. This kind of writing performs what Peter Medway calls a ‘shaping’ role in the design process. We will show that although rare, explicit instruction on writing within studio practice like this has considerable potential, as it allows us to engage students in exploring often underexploited elements of their repertoire of studio practices.  
14:40  Session 6: The creative and the personal in writing on site - Tony Side and Anne Massey - Middlesex University, Interior Design/Architecture. This presentation will consider the use of writing in analysing sites for architectural projects. In particular it will focus on the value of drawing on subjective perceptions, emotions and creative writing in responding to sites, and reflect on the role this approach can play in final year written portfolios by Interiors students. 
15:10  Session 7: A Museum of Fashion: Writing about Fashion Through Archive Collections - Emma Dick - Middlesex University, History of Art and Design; Richard Lumb - Middlesex University, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture; Marion Syratt Barnes - Middlesex University, Library; Peter Thomas - Middlesex University, Academic Writing and Language. This presentation considers the importance for novice design writers/researchers of engaging directly with objects they write about, and reflects on an approach to managing this engagement in considered stages. The stages begin with personal (often undervalued) perceptions and move out towards integrating these with facts, contextual information and other people's ideas. We will refer to work done by a multi-disciplinary teaching group with first year undergraduate students from the Fashion directorate, as part of their contextual studies module. 
15:40  Tea 
15:55  Discussion involving the presenters, our respondent, Stewart Martin, and the delegates, to reflect on themes emerging from the day, and their application to Art and Design, teaching and writing 
17:00  End.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Costume & Culture joining The Guardian Fashion Network

TVAD researcher, Barbara Brownie, will soon be writing regularly for The Guardian's Fashion Network on the subject of Costume and Culture. Barbara's blog, which explores costume and clothes from a material cultures perspective, has been running since December and has since been adopted by The Guardian.

From June 11, Barbara's articles will appear weekly. The introductory post is already available here:

The Costume & Culture blog is online here: