News

English Literature and Cultural Studies Research Seminars at Westminster, Oct-Dec 2017

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The English Literature and Cultural Studies Research Seminars hosted at the University of Westminster for 2017 are now confirmed, and there’s lots of IMCC involvement, with excellent papers about ongoing research by Leigh Wilson and Martin Willis and an exciting new series of panels organised by and for postgraduate and doctoral students. All welcome (although external visitors will need to sign-in at reception) and followed by the usual visit to the Green Man pub.

Wednesday 11 October, 5-7pm
Room 206, University of Westminster, Wells Street London W1T 3UW

Leigh Wilson (Westminster/IMCC)
“Should We Believe? The Fictional, the Virtual and the Real in the Contemporary Novel”

Wednesday 8 November, 5-7pm
Room 206, University of Westminster, Wells Street London W1T 3UW

Digital Cultures: Art, Literature and Archives roundtable
Chaired: Kaja Marczewska (Westminster/IMCC)

Wednesday 22 November, 5-7pm
Room 206, University of Westminster, Wells Street London W1T 3UW

Martin Willis (Cardiff)
“The Good Places of Sleep? Victorian Utopias, Sleep Research and Consumer Capitalism”

Wednesday 6 December, 5-7pm
Room UG04, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2HW

Materialisation of the Body in Experimental Writing roundtable
Organised by Isabelle Coy-Dibley and Sally-Shakti Willow (Westminster)

Front populaire littéraire (and more)

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There’s an interview in French with our own Elinor Taylor about her forthcoming book The Popular Front Novel in Britain, 1934-1940 in the excellent journal période. Read it here.

J’ai commencé à m’intéresser aux rapports que la littérature entretient avec le communisme et l’antifascisme lorsque j’étais une étudiante de premier cycle. Je m’interrogeais sur la manière dont les écrits modernistes, dont on considère qu’ils ont atteint leur point culminant au milieu des années 1920, ont été transformés par la montée du fascisme et l’avènement de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Je m’intéressais également aux écrivains prolétariens et socialistes, tout en constatant que ces figures, ainsi que les développements sociopolitiques plus vastes des dernières années de l’entre-deux-guerres, n’étaient alors que rarement abordés dans l’histoire littéraire majoritaire. […]. 

While we’ve got your attention: a few more recent publications by IMCC people to plug also …

The latest double issue of New Formations, on the theme of Death and the Contemporary, with contributions from Andrea Brady, Lisa Downing, Roger Luckhurst, Warren Montag, and a host of others, is co-edited by our Georgina Colby. Courtesy of the nice people at Lawrence & Wishart, you can read Georgina’s introduction to the issue for free here.

As if that wasn’t enough, our own Lucy Bond has also co-edited the recent special issue of Textual Practice on ‘Planetary Memory in Contemporary American Fiction’, including her own article on Philipp Meyer’s American Rust. Check out the issue introduction here.

Women, Writing and Freedom October 19th 2017

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Thursday 19th October 2017, 5.30 – 7.30 pm
University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2HW

Women, Writing and Freedom
Keynote talk by Maureen Freely, President of English PEN

In a masculine centred literary tradition that values male over female voices, women refuse to be silenced and continue to tell the truth about their personal and political lives. Join us in exploring the politics of silence and in honouring the voices of women writers everywhere who, despite repression and invisibility, risk all to give voice to the need for liberation and freedom.

Speakers: Maureen Freely, Hema Macherla, Avril Joy, Lynn Michell

Organised by The Contemporary Small Press project at Westminster in collaboration with Linen Press, a small, independent press run by women for women.

For tickets and info please click here.

SALON – LONDON

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A slightly belated plug for a new project, SALON – LONDON, co-directed by our own Georgina Colby along with Professor Susan Rudy (Queen Mary University of London).

Taking inspiration from modernist salons and avant-garde little magazines, SALON is a real and a virtual space for experimental women writers, performance artists, and theorists to come together and share their work, ideas, and activism. The present socio-political climate demands that writers, artists, and academics create a community and foster dialogues that address the capacity of new writing to address current issues. SALON – LONDON will host an ongoing series of events, which will move through various artistic, private, and cultural spaces across London. In time it is envisaged that SALON – LONDON might visit New York and other U.S. cities. The events will vary in form. The series will include readings; performances; pop-up events; discussion and networking evening; and dinners and conversations with experimental women writers and feminists theorists.

Find out more on their website here: https://www.salon-london.org/

Manifesto! BBC Radio 4 August 7th-11th

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Manifesto!

For our UK listeners, BBC Radio 4 is broadcasting a series of five half-hour programmes on the Manifesto this week, including contributions from the IMMC’s David Cunningham. You can catch the first programme, broadcast on Monday 7th August, here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09013tg#play Subsequent episodes are at 1.45 pm each day.

When Marx and Engels published their Communist Manifesto in 1848, their rallying cry set the tone and the rhetoric of movements and revolutions to follow – in art as well as politics. Artists adopted the form, with spectacular results. The artist’s manifesto is where art and politics meet. They gave rise, and political purpose, to some of the great avant-garde art movements of the 20th century. But they also took politics into new realms of possibility, transformation and imagination. Simultaneously apocalyptic and utopian, artists’ manifestos demanded new worlds, proclaimed new communities and upset the order of things. Over five programmes, artists, historians, authors, architects and cultural critics explore how the manifesto became a creative call-to-arms and ask whether, in this new age of discontent, it still has a place in the world today. From Futurism, Dada and the Surrealists – via the neo-avant garde movements of the 1960s, Situationism, Fluxus and Auto-Destructive art – to the present, including Gilbert and George and the Stuckists, the International Necronautical Society, Black Dada and Grayson Perry’s Red Alan manifesto. Produced by Simon Hollis and Jo Wheeler

Alexander Galloway at Carroll / Fletcher

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May 24, 2017, 7pm
Carroll / Fletcher, 56-57 Eastcastle Street, London W1W 8EQ
£5 tickets available here.

How Did the Computer Learn to See?
Alexander Galloway

How did the computer learn to see? A common response to the question is that the computer learned to see from cinema and photography, that is, from modernity’s most highly evolved technologies of vision. In this talk Alexander Galloway will explore a different response to the question: the computer learned to see not from cinema but from sculpture. With reference to the work of contemporary artists, along with techniques for digital image compression, we will explore the uniquely computational way of seeing the world.

This event is organised by IMCC in collaboration with Carroll / Fletcher. It will feature as part of a Critical Digital Humanities project run by the Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies at the University of Westminster and Dartmouth College, USA, funded by the British Academy.

Alexander R. Galloway is a writer and computer programmer working on issues in philosophy, technology, and theories of mediation. He is author of several books, most recently a monograph on the work of François Laruelle, and is a professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University.

For more information, please contact Kaja Marczewska: k.marczewska@westmister.ac.uk

Proving Grounds: Biosphere 2 – Then and Now

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Friday May 19th, 6pm
University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2HW, Room UG04
Free admission, but please book here as space is limited.

Kathelin Gray, Biosphere 2 co-founder, in conversation with Dr Rob La Frenais, independent curator

Biosphere 2 was a massive project in the Arizona desert which, in 1991-94, completely enclosed 2 teams of humans, animals and plant life in a closed, sealed environment, creating laboratory conditions to study interactions in a biospheric system, to better understand global ecology, and as a spinoff, towards bio-regenerative conditions in space travel. When Biosphere 2 closed its doors in September 1991 for a two-year experiment in closed systems living and experimental ecology, it was, as it remains, years ahead of its time. The antagonisms which led to the termination of the Biosphere 2 experiment, in 1994, seem all the more absurd in retrospect, particularly in respect of the then involvement of Steve Bannon, now in the Trump administration.

Kathelin Gray who was involved throughout the experiments, says: “ It is ironic that with the reopening of the ‘space race’ to Mars, this work is now being re-examined and in some cases re-invented. The passage of time shows just how important this work was. We need to revisit ways in which we can demonstrate our impact on the ecology and the complex inter-relationships which make human existence on earth possible yet so fragile to our own impacts. Physiologically, culturally and chemically we are all earthlings. Our fate is indissolubly linked with the health of our fellow earthlings: microbes, soils, plants, animals, a concept that was once considered alternative thinking”.

There is still considerable debate about the continuing resonances of the largest project of this type that has ever taken place in the world. Much scientific knowledge was gained from Biosphere 2, despite controversy at the time. What was equally important was that it was also an art-science project, with the Institute of Ecotechnics as scientific coordinator. ‘Theatre of All Possibilities’ and ‘Theatre for the Reconstitution of Reality’ partnered in the experiment, bringing in an ongoing radical cultural experiment taking place inside Biosphere 2, “redefining performative architecture and the role of historical innovation on the world stage” (Gray). This collective, collaborative initiative has established multidisciplinary projects still ongoing worldwide, based in different ecosystems, with the Institute of Ecotechnics.

Rob La Frenais, curator of The Arts Catalyst for 17 years, founder editor of Performance Magazine and now an independent curator, himself visited and interviewed the Biospherians through the glass in the 90’s and will engage Kathelin Gray in a lively and provocative conversation about the legacy of Biosphere 2.

This event marks the launch of Proving Grounds, a new series of workshops and events organised by IMCC and the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM) at the University of Westminster. The aim of the series is to critically engage with issues of inter- and trans-disciplinarity in relation to speculative, hypothetical or experimental research at the intersections of the arts, humanities and sciences. More information about Proving Grounds will be available at the event.

Empire II @ La Biennale di Venezia

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May 13th – November 26 2017
Castello 1610/A, Riva Dei Sette Martiri, Venezia 30122

Empire II

An artist-led satellite project at the Venice Biennale this year includes work by our own Steve Smith. Curated by Vanya Balogh, Empire II will feature three chambers; beginning with an extensive library, engaging in film history and theory, curated attentively by participating artists from their personal book collections and intended for browsing and perusing; leading further on to a single screen darkroom, a pulsating digital heart, showcasing a sequence of 115 imaginative short films programmed to play on the continuous loop; and on to the final imaginary space, the Virtual Reality port which will evolve over time in collaboration with various artists.

Empire II Venice will be accompanied by a 260 pages, full colour limited edition catalogue, designed and produced by Victor Hotz Studio in Switzerland, and will host a number of intermediate events during the Venice Biennale to be announced after the inauguration week. It will feature participating artists, filmmakers, critical speakers and special guests in form of presentations, special evening screenings and outdoor projections across Venice, including talks and group discussions related to film, technology, science and art.

Further info here.
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/425050341168709/

Exhibitionary Cultures: A Journal of Visual Culture Reader

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A quick plug for the new Journal of Visual Culture Reader, a virtual themed issue, which includes material assembled from JVC’s extensive archives. To celebrate the coinciding in 2017 of the Venice Biennale, documenta, and Skulptur Projekte Münster, the ‘Exhibitionary Cultures’ reader includes – all free of charge – an array of contributions by artists, architects, academics and critics, curators, and museum and gallery educators, including David Cunningham of the IMCC’s critique (co-authored with Stewart Martin) of the Documenta 12 Magazines Project. Other pieces cover subjects as wide-ranging as the 55th Venice Biennale, the American Museum of Natural History, the Guangzhou Triennial, the Buenos Aires commons, South Africa’s Apartheid Museum, Maison des Civilisations et de L’unité Réunionnaise, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Singapore Biennale, and the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900.

Find the entirely gratis reader here: http://journals.sagepub.com/page/vcu/collections/virtual-issues/exhibitionary-cultures

Thomson & Craighead at Frieze New York

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Carroll / Fletcher at Frieze New York 2017 
Randall’s Island Park, May 5 – 7, 2017 (Booth B20)

Thomson & Craighead, Frame

Over the last two decades, Thomson & Craighead (b. 1969 and 1971, both UK) have developed a pioneering body of work, using technology as a means to explore one of the fundamental questions of our times: what does it mean to be human in the digital era? For Frieze New York, Carroll / Fletcher presents a selection of artworks that tackle subjects as varied as meme politics, the self-help industry, and the ever-more relevant notion of an impending apocalypse.

To download a copy of the press release, click here.

Making Nature walking tour

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Thursday 1th May, 6.00 – 6.45 pm
Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1

Making Nature: How We See Animals walking tour

Our former MA student Talita Jenman is leading a special tour of the Wellcome Collection exhibition ‘Making Nature: How we see animals‘. Talita ran the Arts & Culture programme at ZSL London Zoo before taking her MA in Art and Visual Culture. She has previously given talks at the National Gallery on artists and animals and wrote her dissertation on animals and their representation on social media.

There is no need to book (though spaces are limited). Just meet your guide beside the Information Point on level 0. Further details here.

The Return of Radical Philosophy

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A piece of good news in these times: the journal Radical Philosophy, which suspended activities for a few months at the beginning of 2017, and with which the IMCC has had a long connection, is up-and-running again. Renewed, redesigned and open access. Relaunching in the autumn. Further details to be found here.

Panel Discussion on Lady Macbeth at Soho Curzon, with Monica Germana, April 25th

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Our colleague Monica Germanà will be taking part in a panel discussion following a showing of the new film Lady Macbeth organised by Birds Eye View at the Soho Curzon on Thursday 25th April at 6.30pm. Other panellists include actor Florence Pugh, Alice Birch (Writer), Empire Magazine’s Terri White, The Debrief’s Sophie Wilkinson and Dr. Kaja Franck.

Lady Macbeth is directed by William Oldroyd and is based upon the novel by Nikolai Leskov. Birds Eye View is a non-profit organisation established in 2002, which is dedicated to turning up the volume of the female voice in film through “action!” not just words.

Find out more and book tickets here.

Tasty & Smelly, Tate Modern, April 27-30 2017

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April 27-30 2017
Tate Exchange, Tate Modern, London

Tasty & Smelly: A different way to connect to art

Could appreciating art have more in common with savouring a cup of coffee than you thought? Could our senses of taste and smell help define who we are?

Taste and smell give us a nuanced sense of what we like and are powerfully linked to emotions and memories. Just the hint of a smell can take us back to another time and place. The tang of something on your tongue can unravel thoughts and associations. Some aspects of taste and smell are things always we carry with us and others are things we acquire over time. They can reflect our individuality and our cultural backgrounds. They reveal how we grow through our changing circumstances, histories and journeys across the globe. In Tasty & Smelly you are invited to play, explore and experiment with your senses of taste and smell, and discover how they shape your sensory world, individually and collectively. From designing multi-sensory labels for artworks, creating teas that respond to the architecture of the building, chilling out in a scented mediation pod to re-organising the Tate collection by spicyness, these events and installations encourage you to playfully engage with taste and smell and the associations that they create.

Produced by students and graduates from our MA programmes at the University of Westminster the activities aim to tease out some of the many ways we carry our tastes, preferences and cultural histories with us when we enter into an art museum. Plus, through interactive demonstrations and hands-on experiments presented by researchers from the Centre for Experimental Aesthetics, Technology and Engineering, University of London, you can discover the unexpected strategies your brain uses to make and share matters of taste, from the most sensory ones to the art-world.

To register for one of the workshops or activities or to find out more email: tastyandsmellyevent@gmail.com  Or see: https://www.facebook.com/tastyandsmelly/

New Kluge Digital Resource Project

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The Data Futures project is pleased to announce the establishment of the Kluge Digital Resource (KDR). Based on the IMCC’s collaboration with the Alexander Kluge Foundation, dating back to 2014, the Kluge Digital Resource, which comprises texts, images, out of print books, and more than 3,000 films and videos, is being made available to the wider academic community. The KDR is currently being delivered to collaborating institutions including the Universities of Princeton and Westminster, but will eventually form a public service supporting the emerging field of Kluge Studies, and has recently welcomed Cornell University Library as a founder member, so confirming the KDR as the comprehensive international reference for Kluge Studies.

Watch this space for further information …

Cornell University Library joins the Kluge Digital Resource (KDR) project press statement: https://www.data-futures.org/dl/cornell_press.pdf

Post-Punk, Politics and Pleasure – seminar, April 5th

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Wednesday 5th April, 5.00 – 6.30 pm
Room 206, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, London W1T 3UW

Post-Punk, Politics and Pleasure
David Wilkinson (Manchester Metropolitan University)

As the Sex Pistols were breaking up, Britain was entering a new era. Punk’s filth and fury had burned brightly and briefly; soon a new underground offered a more sustained and constructive challenge. David Wilkinson’s new book Post-Punk, Politics and Pleasure in Britain situates post-punk in its historical and political context, showing how residual flickers of utopianism illuminated the movement’s monochrome gloom. The book also locates post-punk in the crossfire of a key ideological struggle of the era: a battle over pleasure and freedom between emerging Thatcherism and libertarian, feminist and countercultural movements dating back to the post-war New Left. Tracing these tensions through a series of case studies on bands such as Scritti Politti, The Fall and the Slits, the book concludes by examining how the struggles of post-punk resonate down to the present.

The seminar will be followed by our last visit of the semester to the Green Man pub … All welcome!

Language and the Problem of Female Authority, Deborah Cameron, Friday 28 April

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Friday 28th April 2017, 5.30 pm
Fyvie Hall, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, London W1T 3UW

Language and the Problem of Female Authority
Professor Deborah Cameron (Worcester College, Oxford)

The inaugural public lecture hosted by the Westminster Forum for Language and Linguistics.

Professor Cameron is Professor of Language and Communication and a Fellow of Worcester College at Oxford University. Her research interests are Language, gender and sexuality; language attitudes/ideologies and ‘verbal hygiene’; discourse analysis; language and globalization. She is also actively involved in communicating with a wider audience about language and linguistic research. Parts of her book The Myth of Mars and Venus were serialized in The Guardian newspaper and she has contributed to numerous BBC radio programmes, including Woman’s Hour, Word of Mouth, Thinking Allowed and Fry’s English Delight.

Reserve your free ticket here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/language-and-the-problem-of-female-authority-tickets-33205721206

Technostalgia Launch at Carroll / Fletcher, March 23rd

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March 23rd 2017, 6.30 – 8.00 pm
Carroll / Fletcher, 56-57 Eastcastle Street, London W1W 8EQ

Technostalgia Launch Event, with Alison Craighead in Conversation

To mark the opening of the Moving Museum’s new platform of web-based anthologies, Alison Craighead of Thomson & Craighead and the IMCC will be in discussion with Professor Beryl Graham, Professor of New Media Art at University of Sunderland, and co-founder and editor of CRUMB at Carroll / Fletcher in London. Moderated by Carroll / Fletcher Associate Director Coline Milliard.

Technostalgia, the inaugural anthology edited by Coline Milliard, will go live next week and explore the aesthetics of early technologies, their legacy and impact, as well as their fetishization and appropriation in a contemporary artistic context. Participating artists include Cory Arcangel, Constant Dullaart, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Peter Luining, Lorna Mills, Paper Rad, Mark Richards, Gustavo Romano, Evan Roth, Paul Slocum, Thomson & Craighead, and Ubermorgen.

The event will be live streamed by this is tomorrow
Please RSVP@themovingmuseum.com

Jackie Chan vs. Walter Benjamin seminar, March 8th 2017

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Wednesday 8th March, 5.00 – 7.00
Room 206, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, London W1T

Jackie Chan vs. Walter Benjamin: Postcolonial ‘utopias of the body’ in kung fu comedy cinema
Luke White (Middlesex University)

In the late 1970s, Hong Kong martial arts cinema took a turn from the tragic-heroic register to that of comedy, propelling Jackie Chan – the genre’s pioneering and most successful kung fu comedian – to first local and regional, and then global, superstardom. Many critics have read the rise of the kung fu comedy, which coincided with a shift away from the militant nationalist or anti-colonial themes of movies such as Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury (1972), as turning away from politics, reflecting the waning of the turbulence of the 1960s and the new accommodation to a globalised neoliberal order. The research project from this paper derives, however, explores the performing body as a key site where a continuing politics is played out.

The paper analyses Jackie Chan’s performance style in the film Project A (1983) in relation to Walter Benjamin’s readings of the slapstick violence of Mickey Mouse cartoons and American silent-era performers such as Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. The ‘utopia of the body’ that Benjamin discovered in these both offered a critique of capitalist modernity and also promised to fulfil the emancipatory potential lodged within it. The paper sets out to rethink the relevance of Benjamin’s arguments to the specifically postcolonial situation of Chan’s filmic production in 1980s Hong Kong, and to consider what kind of a response (both accommodated and also subtly subversive) his performances might constitute.

All welcome! Followed by the usual drinks in the Green Man.

Spatial Justice at the Tate

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Saturday 4th March, 12.00 – 6.00 pm
Tate Modern, London

Spatial Justice Workshop

Friend of the IMCC, Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, is playing the leading part in a great day’s events at the Tate this Saturday, organised by the Westminster Law & Theory Lab with Tate Exchange and People’s Bureau. Free to all – including tea and cake!

Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos defines spatial justice as the conflict that emerges when one body wants to move into the space of another body. This opens up questions of symbiosis, creative confluence and regeneration, but also issues of power imbalances. The event hopes to explore ideas about the role of developers, art institutions and artists in dealing with issues of spatial justice and productive ways of reflecting them in their practices. The programme includes a Clay Workshop and Tea Trolley Dances, as well as an interview and discussion with Andreas.