Posts from February 2011

Special Joe Banks Rorscach Audio Lecture

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Wednesday 9th March 2011, 1.15-2.45pm
Room 106, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, London W1T 3UW

Joe Banks (AHRC Research Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts)
Rorschach Audio: Art and Illusion for Sound – Lecture & demonstration

Visual and sound and artist Joe Banks, based as an AHRC Research Fellow in the Institute, discusses the Spiritualistic phenomena explored by his “Rorschach Audio” research project, exploring Jean Cocteau’s Orphée and Art and Illusion by EH Gombrich in relation to Electronic Voice Phenomena (ghost voice) recording. The presentation focuses on perceptual psychology aspects of its subject matter – including live demonstrations of audio illusions and of related psychoacoustic phenomena – with a second presentation focusing on related literary themes to follow this Autumn.

“It is the story of the signaller who misheard the urgent message ‘Send reinforcements, am going to advance’ as ‘Send three and four pence, am going to a dance’.” E.H. Gombrich

“Sometimes we see a cloud that’s dragonish; A vapour sometime like a bear or lion, A tower’d citadel, a pendant rock, A forked mountain, or blue promontory With trees upon’t, that nod unto the world, And mock our eyes with air.” Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra

[Please note that this replaces the previously advertised Samuel Thomas paper on Pynchon, which has unfortunately had to be cancelled due to illness]

No defence against the H Bomb

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Wednesday 23rd February 2011, 1.15-2.30pm
Room 106, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, London W1T 3UW

Nick Barnett (Liverpool John Moores)
“No Defence against the H-bomb: Popular reactions to the Thermonuclear Era”

Further details on the English Literature and Culture research seminar series here.

Live musical accompaniments at Usurp Art Gallery – 24th Feb and 13th March

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Our friends at Usurp Art Gallery in north London present a series of live musical accompaniments to ‘The Origin of Painting’ and ‘Rorschach Audio’ sound installations currently showing at Usurp Gallery…

1. KillaVolts (electronics and video) + Strange Attractor vs Disinformation (live high-voltage electro-medical appliances). Thurs 24 Feb 2011, 7.30pm to 11pm.

2. Steve Beresford (small objects) + Angharad Davies (violin), The Stargazers Assistant (percussion) and Disinformation (electronics). Sunday 13 March 2011, 3pm to 7pm.

Reynir Hutber (KillaVolts) is a video and performance artist and the most recent winner of the Catlin Art Prize. Ben Sassen (KillaVolts) is Junior Professor of Experimental Television at The Bauhaus University in Weimar. Steve Beresford is an internationally renown improvising musician and Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Westminster. David J Smith (The Stargazers Assistant) is an installation artist and musician well-known for his work with the rock group Guapo. Angharad Davies is a classically trained violinist and active performer in contemporary, improvised and experimental music. Joe Banks (Disinformation) is an installation artist and AHRC sponsored Research Fellow at the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture, University of Westminster. Mark Pilkington is the founder of Strange Attractor Journal and author of the new book Mirage Men.

Usurp Art Gallery & Studios
140 Vaughan Road
London HA1 4EB
Admission Free

Usurp Gallery is 2 mins walk turning right out of West Harrow tube, West Harrow is 20 mins from Baker Street by Met Line towards Uxbridge.

Heather Ewing visit from the Smithsonian, Weds 23 Feb

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Heather Ewing (The Smithsonian), ‘The Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge’
Smithsonian-Westminster Colloquium
Wednesday 23 February 2011, 6.30–8.00 pm
The Boardroom, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1B

Heather Ewing is a graduate of Yale University and the Courtauld Institute of Art. An architectural historian, she is a research associate at the Smithsonian Archives and has worked for the Ringling Museum of Art. She is the author of The Lost World of James Smithson: Science, Revolution and the Birth of the Smithsonian (Bloomsbury 2007); and co-author with Amy Ballard of Smithsonian Architecture (Random House 2009). She organised a successful campaign for the placing of a blue plaque at 9 Bentinck St, London W1, the address at which James Smithson wrote his famous will bequeathing his fortune to the United States to found in Washington ‘an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men’. Join Heather for a discussion on the historical and contemporary role of museums, galleries and universities.

The Smithsonian-Westminster colloquium is a scholarly collaboration examining issues of educational, social and cultural policy and practice, and includes, in association with Johns Hopkins University, a major research project on environmental sustainability.

Entrance is free but is by invitation. If you would like to attend please email the coordinator of the Smithsonian-Westminster colloquium, Alan Morrison:

Applications invited for our MA programmes

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The IMCC in association with the Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies invites applications for our new MA programmes, starting in September 2011: MA Museums, Galleries and Cultural Institutions and MA Creative Writing: Writing the City.

These join our very successful existing Masters in Cultural & Critical Studies, English Literature, and Visual Culture – which are also open for applications for September 2011 – and are taught by a course team that for each programme is composed of leading scholars, critics, curators, creative writers and fine art practitioners.

MA Museums, Galleries and Cultural Institutions

This new Masters course looks at the changing roles of cultural institutions in the 21st Century. It has been designed for students wishing to work as curators, arts organisers, museum professional and other contemporary cultural managers, and has been developed through the University’s close relationships with museums and galleries in London. You will examine key issues and themes in the museums and gallery sector, and explores how these are dealt with not just in theory, but also on a day-to-day basis by leading institutions. You will learn about the challenges faced by museums and galleries, how they confront them and how they are developing innovative practices in relation to their collections, exhibitions and audiences. Much of the teaching takes place in collaboration with the partner institutions, on site and working with curators and professionals from the sector.

MA Creative Writing: Writing the City

The new MA Creative Writing: Writing the City is the first to focus entirely on the city of London. The course will allow you to explore the city as subject matter from a range of perspectives and across all genres. Taught by professional writers and researchers, the course will also offer plenty of opportunities to network with other writers, agents, TV producers and performance poets. The course aims to provide a theoretical and practical platform to enable you to develop your understanding and become part of the London writing scene. The course is based in the University of Westminster’s flagship building at 309 Regent Street, which means you will be writing about the city in the heart of London with ready access to the capital’s excellent academic, social and cultural opportunities, including the vibrant West End theatre scene.

Applications can be made through UKPass

For further details on these MAs, and on our other Masters programmes in Cultural & Critical Studies, English Literature, and Visual Culture: see our website here, email, or call +44 (0)20915 5511.

The Institute welcomes Lise Majgaard Mortensen as a Visiting Junior Research Fellow

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The Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture at University of Westminster, London, welcomes Lise Majgaard Mortensen as a Visiting Junior Research Fellow.

Lise is completing a PhD in the Institute of Language, Literature, and Culture at Aarhus University, Denmark, entitled Ekphrasis in Flux: A Reconsideration of the Ekphrastic Object in an Age of Remediation. Her project proceeds from the conjecture that, as a product of contemporary culture, literature is bound to reflect our increased visual literacy, as mass media and new media are recasting the structure of human experience. Through a focused study of the contemporary novel, she trace an increased urgency in the lesser visual medium of literature to explore the inherent differences between the visual and the textual. Her research is concerned with the ways in which – and the reasons why – contemporary authors take on the challenge of representing moving images, film and digital media through the medium of text.

Here’s to your time in London, Lise!

W.J.T. Mitchell at the Institute on 13th June 2011

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Hosted by the Institute, Tom Mitchell will be at the University of Westminster on the afternoon of 13th June, with a number of shiny interlocutors, to discuss his new book Cloning Terror: The War of Images, 9/11 to the Present. Watch this space for further details.

From The University of Chicago Press website: The  phrase “War on Terror” has quietly been retired from official usage, but it persists in the American psyche, and our understanding of it is hardly complete. Nor will it be, W. J. T Mitchell argues, without a grasp of the images that it spawned, and that spawned it. Exploring the role of verbal and visual images in the War on Terror, Mitchell finds a conflict whose shaky metaphoric and imaginary conception has created its own reality. At the same time, Mitchell locates in the concept of clones and cloning an anxiety about new forms of image-making that has amplified the political effects of the War on Terror. Cloning and terror, he argues, share an uncanny structural resemblance, shuttling back and forth between imaginary and real, metaphoric and literal manifestations. In Mitchell’s startling analysis, cloning terror emerges as the inevitable metaphor for the way in which the War on Terror has not only helped recruit more fighters to the jihadist cause but undermined the American constitution with “faith-based” foreign and domestic policies.

Bringing together the hooded prisoners of Abu Ghraib with the cloned stormtroopers of the Star Wars saga, Mitchell draws attention to the figures of faceless anonymity that stalk the ever-shifting and unlocatable “fronts” of the War on Terror. A striking new investigation of the role of images from our foremost scholar of iconology, Cloning Terror will expand our understanding of the visual legacy of a new kind of war and reframe our understanding of contemporary biopower and biopolitics.

W. J. T. Mitchell is Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago. He is editor of the interdisciplinary journal Critical Inquiry, a quarterly devoted to critical theory in the arts and human sciences. A scholar and theorist of media, visual art, and literature, Mitchell is associated with the emergent fields of visual culture and iconology (the study of images across the media). He is known especially for his work on the relations of visual and verbal representations in the context of social and political issues. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Morey Prize in art history given by the College Art Association of America. His publications include: “The Pictorial Turn,” Artforum, March 1992; “What Do Pictures Want?” October, Summer 1996; What Do Pictures Want? (2005)The Last Dinosaur Book: The Life and Times of a Cultural Icon (1998)Picture Theory (1994)Art and the Public Sphere (1993)Landscape and Power (1992); Iconology (1987)The Language of Images (1980)On Narrative(1981); and The Politics of Interpretation (1984).

The intermedial experience of horror

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Wednesday 9 February 2011, 1.15-2.30pm
Room 106, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, London W1T 3UW

Jarkko Toikkanen (Visiting Research Fellow, IMCC)
“Suspended Failures: The Intermedial Experience of Horror”

Our new Visiting Research Fellow will be presenting a ‘promo’ for the research project on horror that he will be carrying out at the Institute this year. He has suggested that participants might like to read Robert Frost’s poem ‘The Fear’ in advance of the seminar.  An online copy can be found at:

Further details on the English Literature and Culture research seminar series here.

Reminder: Sustainability Matters at the Whitechapel, Thurs 10th Feb

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Thursday 10 February 2011, 7pm
Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, London E1
Price: £8.00 (includes free glass of wine).

Next season’s Whitechapel Salon organised by the IMCC in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery will be on ‘Cultures of Capitalism’, with the first event scheduled for May. In the meantime though a final reminder to book your ticket for the last discussion in this year’s ‘Matter Matters’ Salon at the gallery. Social historian Iain Boal, philosopher Kate Soper and cultural theorist Allan Stoekl discuss the matter of sustainability. Chaired by David Cunningham.

Book your ticket at: