Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Visual Urbanism

Visual Urbanism is an emerging field, which brings together a wide range of approaches to researching and representing urban spaces through visual practice, encompassing (but not limited to) fine art, design, architecture, photography, geography, and sociology. As a visual urbanist, I am excited about developments currently taking place within this field, including a recent conference held at the British Library in October. 

Visual Urbanism: Perspectives on Contemporary Research was the inaugural event of the International Association of Visual Urbanists (iAVU), an organisation that I co-founded with Paul Halliday earlier this year. We were extremely grateful to the British Library for hosting the event and to Holly Gilbert of the Social Sciences Department for helping to implement the event.  At the conference, scholars and artists from across the humanities and social sciences came together for a day of thought-provoking presentations and panel discussions. The event provided a space for in-depth engagement with a range of themes, including urban landscape, social cinema scenes, the virtual, digital photography, memory, migration, and perception. Professor Gillian Rose (The Open University) gave the keynote presentation, which addressed key concerns within urban visual research. Her talk was followed by two panels: Mapping the Field: What is Visual Urbanism and Emergence and Transition: Visual Urbanism in Practice, which focused on innovative approaches to visualising the city. In addition, a series of film screenings presented work by practitioners working across disciplines to explore the urban sphere through documentary and experimental approaches to moving image and sound.

The richness and breadth of the material presented at the event generated stimulating dialogue and an inspiring exchange of ideas. There was a great sense of enthusiasm amongst attendees and participants, which I hope will continue into the future as the field of visual urbanism evolves. The iAVU is committed to creating a forum for the discussion, study and production of urban visual research. We have more events planned for next year, including a series of workshops exploring various aspects of photography, sound and filmmaking. The iAVU website features more information and I will also continue posting here about future developments.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Urban Exploration: the blogging journey begins

Thoughts and images have been whirring through my mind lately at a faster pace than I can keep up with, so I decided to create this site - a space where some of this mental activity can exist outside of my own head and reside in the wondrous world of cyberspace. I'm hoping that this venture into the blogosphere will allow me to express my creativity in a new and different way - allowing me explore the turns and twists of my imagination that I don't often have a chance to examine. I envision this site being a place where I can share my ideas in a less formal and more immediate way than I am normally able - most of my writing tends to be in an academic style, which was required for my doctoral thesis  (which I recently finished, finally!) or for various presentations and conference papers. As much as I enjoy academic writing, I am interested to see what this more fluid and creative platform will provoke, hopefully coaxing some more experimental forms of writing out of me and perhaps some interesting insights along the way.
I aim for this site to be a place to explore all things urban and visual - as an artist and sociologist I seek to engage with the labyrinthine metropolis from layered points of view, using montage both metaphorically and literally within my work. I hope to create layer upon layer of text, image, and possibly sound, using various vantage points depicting the everyday life of the city from close-up, from a more distanced view, and from all points in between. I hope to go on a journey, perhaps taking a few of you with me, exploring the virtual and actual city through imaginative form and content, fusing the abstract with the concrete, while incorporating inspiration from the likes of sociology, geography, art history, visual cultures, film, literature, philosophy, photography, video, digital media, and more...
And so to begin the journey... I shall post a short video I made which is part of an ongoing project exploring the relationship of light, digital technology and the perception of time...