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.