The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Post-PhD Life: On Teaching

There's nothing like teaching to demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of one's own education to oneself.

This semester, I was invited to teach an introductory undergraduate course on museums and heritage to about 70 students at my old alma mater. It felt strange to step into the shoes of my former instructors and to teach students in whose seat I was in not so very long ago myself. I was very apprehensive at first: what was I supposed to say? What were the key concepts and how should I communicate them?

It took me a while to choose a good textbook. I ended up using Burcaw's classic text, which is a little outdated in its theoretical stance, but provides a solid introduction to the fundamentals of museum practice. The other candidates were either too theoretical or too US-centred to be of lasting value to those few of my students who would go on to become museum and heritage professionals. The Burcaw book also helped me outline my goals for the course: as it doesn't cover heritage at all, I was on my own for that half of the course, and so used the opportunity to invite lots of local professionals as guest lecturers, to give the students a sense of the range of heritage work and issues, as well as its presence in local public life. (This also meant I didn't have to lecture much for the first half of the semester!)

It was in planning the second half of the term that I realized how far I have come as a scholar and a professional. I decided to begin planning by listing all the things I thought were important to know about museums in point form: this ended up being way more topics than I had lectures available, so I had to cut down. Already, I started to gain confidence, as I didn't have to review any published authorities to come up with this list. Some of the topics, such as marketing, or new technologies, I felt nervous in lecturing about: I am not an expert, and I really thought that my ignorance would show. It turned out, however, that I had somehow (osmosis?) managed to absorb enough pertinent facts to compose a perfectly acceptable 75-minute lecture even on these. As for delivering lectures on my own particular areas of expertise - history of museums, display and design, collections management, curation - I had to censor myself in order to keep from going off topic and over time. My learnings, let me show you them! Plus (and those of you currently writing-up will be heartened by this) I was surprised at how useful my thesis was in composing my lectures. Time and time again I found myself dipping back into my thesis literature review sections to select concepts and references that were relevant. It felt good to know that my thesis wasn't all theoretical, but had practical value in my work.

So it turns out that I am not entirely the abstruse over-educated but under-experienced academic I thought I was. I know lots of useful stuff, and even my thesis contains information that is interesting not just to me and my supervisor and examiners, but also to undergraduates from all different backgrounds (the course doesn't have any prerequisites and is not limited to students of any particular major program, so alongside art, archaeology and history students, I also had people from kinesiology, among others!). I tell you this so that in your life-or-death struggle to finish your PhDs, you can take heart in the hope that you to, will one day feel like you know "enough".

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New PhD Opportunities

The School of Art History at the University of St Andrews is offering 6 fully-funded PhD Scholarships of £15,000 in the areas of Museum & Gallery Studies, Art History and History of Photography to begin in September 2013. The Scholarships will cover the cost of fees (at the UK/EU home rate) and provide a tax-free bursary to successful candidates.

For more information please visit our website
http://www-ah.st-andrews.ac.uk/mgstud/News.html

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2013 VSA Conference - Calls for Proposals

We are pleased to announce that the 2013 Visitor Studies Association calls for Session Proposals and Pre-Conference Workshop Proposals are now open! The deadline for submitting a proposal is December 21, 2012.

Where Innovation Meets Rigor: Shaping the Next Decade of Visitor Studies

VSA invites the informal learning community to join us in creating a conference program to help push the field of visitor studies forward by thinking about the future of our field. This year, VSA will reflect on innovation within visitor studies and the critical importance of bringing innovation and creativity to our work while balancing these efforts with rigor in research and evaluation practice.

Innovation can encompass a broad range of qualities and features in the fields of research, evaluation, and informal learning experiences – from defining indicators and reporting results to shaping policy and defining the value of cultural institutions. Innovation and creativity speak to the future and bring about new ways of knowing and understanding visitors. In contrast, rigor and best practices lead to established standards, efficiency, and tried and true ways of knowing and understanding visitors. Innovation and creativity relate to rigor in research and evaluation in both positive and negative ways. We are seeking proposals that explore different facets of innovation and rigor. What has worked before, what works now, what might work in the future, and how do we balance these questions in practice?

Please submit any questions to the Program Chairs Gayra Ostgaard and Robert Jakubowski at vsaproposal@gmail.com

Please note: The 2013 conference will be held in Milwaukee, WI July 15-19. The conference hotel is the Pfister Hotel; more information coming soon.

Monday, December 03, 2012

New Conference: InART’13

1st International Conference on Innovation
in Art Research and Technology


10-13 July 2013. Évora, Portugal

CALLS FOR PAPERS
 
This first InART-13 will be held at the University of Évora between 10th and 13th of July 2013. This event intends to bring together specialists working in the field of Conservation Science and Applied Researches and Technologies for Conservation of Cultural Heritage from all around the world.
As an interdisciplinary platform of dialogue and dissemination of scientific results, this conference will also welcome professionals, academic staff, early stage researchers and students from art history, museology, archaeology, architectural conservation and practical conservation field. Special attention will be given to innovative techniques, tools and products from Surface/Nano-Science and Environmental areas and to novel dissemination/Outreach strategies and tools for Scientific Conservation.
All interested participants may submit proposals for oral communications or posters.
The proposals should be in the form of a written abstract, in English (one page). These
should be sent in doc or docx format, until 15th of February 2013, to:
according to the template available on the website: http://www.inart2013conference.uevora.pt/files/template.doc
 
Accepted abstracts of papers and posters will be published in a Book of Abstracts, to be
delivered during the conference and to be made available online after the conference.
Accepted oral presentations will be published in two Special Issues of the International
Journal of Conservation Science and Conservar Pátrimonio, according specific instructions to be found on the website of both journals.
 
Further details on the conference venue, registration fees and accommodation may be found at the conference´s home page: http://www.inart2013conference.uevora.pt

Monday, November 26, 2012

Gido Hakvoort & Andrew Lewis 'New Technology in Digital Heritage' - Brown Bag November 14th


New Technology in Digital Heritage: Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Ubiquity, and the History of the Future’

Andrew and Gido are both PhD researchers with the European Research Institute at the University of Birmingham. They are heavily involved in the latest technologies available to the heritage industry and were kind enough to come and give a wonderful presentation on their work and current projects undertaken by the Do.Collaboration centre and University of Birmingham (http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/facilities/hclh/index.aspx).

Do.Collaboration (formerly the Heritage and Cultural Learning Hub) is focused on a wide range of projects including multi-touch and sensory devices, augmented reality, virtual reality, software and hardware that works to improve visitor engagement in the museum environment. The team has a range of backgrounds from scientists to programmers to museum professionals and artists. It is a collaborative and helpful team working together and approachable for questions and advice!

They currently have a range of projects and funding on going at the centre and are working in partnership with a range of museums, including BMAG, IGMT, the HIVE and The New Library of Birmingham (http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/facilities/hclh/demonstrator/index.asp) . One of the most interesting aspects of the centre is the Prototyping Hall for testing digital outputs of projects on going. The large room is part of the centre’s space and includes large walled touch-screens, touch tables, projectors , mobile technology and a multi-user tracking system that will be able to track up to 40 users at once. There is also a one-way observation room. This Hall allows the researchers to test technology in a simulated environment of a museum, to see how users interact with the technology and each other. I found one of the most interesting aspects of the Hall is the large touch screen on the wall that allows multiple users to touch the screen at the same time; something that I find is sadly lacking in museum touch screens.

Some of the current projects include an EU-funded Regions of Knowledge: Smart Culture (http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/capacities/regions-knowledge_en.html), a £1.5m AHRC partnership with various universities and the Digital Heritage Demonstrator project. All of the projects at Do.Collaboration seek to explore the benefits of touch technology in a variety of ways and link touch screens with mobile technologies.

The presentation today focused around the PhD research of three students, Hafiz, Gido and Andrew. Hafiz could not be with us, but Gido was kind enough to detail his research. Hafiz is working on sensing people around a multi-touch table to see how users engage and approach interactive tables. He is using tracking sensors around the table that can track up to 6 users at once. Also part of the project is to use tracking to personalise the space of a user around the table, allowing them to be in control of their own area. The project also looks at how to attract users to the table and greet them, which is also a focus on personalisation. The idea is that instructions are given to the first users and then passed on to other users through visual observation of the first user. Also the ability to track people through their characteristics, such as height or gait, through the gallery to personalise the interactives to them as they move through the space.

Gido’s project is also dealing with touch screens, but also mobile devices in combination. He has been interested in the varied reasons why people visit a museum and determined that one of the aspects is for hands on experiences. He has questioned what behavioural patterns can be seen with visitors’ interactions around touch tables and mobiles – how can the touch screen increase the social interaction? He is interested in how technologies can be combined: touch, mobile, QR, display, etc. to all become context. Touch tables themselves are very social experiences and can be used by many people, but they are also unfamiliar and very public which means some people prefer not to use them because others can watch what they are doing. Mobile, on the other hands, is familiar and personal, but its output is limited and it creates less social experiences because it is more personal. Gido is interested in how to connect these two technologies together. He would like to be able to use these devices in combination in throughout the gallery space to allow visitors to find more information. Gido is currently creating prototypes to be used in the Prototype Hall to see how people move and interact and how they use the technology to make the experience more social and interactive.

Andrew, meanwhile, is researching on a subject that harkens back to my undergraduate days. He is focused on reconstructing cuneiform tablets. There are, literally, hundreds of thousands of fragments of cuneiform tablets scattered around the world, only some of which are catalogued in the CDLI database (over 200,000 there alone). It is like a giant jigsaw puzzle trying to fit the fragments together and many are badly damaged. Andrew embarked on a project to digitally map 8000 complete pieces to determine the average size of most tablets and found that this could be measured. Most are a 1:1 ratio, and many others are the same ratio that can be found on a Smartphone! Clearly, the Mesopotamians weren’t that different from us! Andrew used photogrammetry to measure the tablets correctly. Now they are able to predict the size of a complete tablet from only a fragment. This will increase the efficiency of the matching process for scholars matches amongst fragments around the world easier. Fragments can now to scanned in 3D and matched up electronically in an online database. Users can manipulate the online images and other users can see how the image has been moved and rotated. As part of the project, Andrew has also been able to print representations of the cuneiform tablets in 3D, which I personally find fascinating!

We have such wonderful technologies available to us today that do amazing things. It is even more wonderful to know that such cutting edge technology is being used in the heritage sector to create visitor interest, solve historical problems and make museums more interactive and interesting! We live in a fascinating time in the cultural sector where technology is increasing in leaps and bounds, museums are becoming much more inclusive and yet, at the same time, the cultural industry is suffering economically. Still, that such projects as Hafiz, Gido and Andrew’s exist is a testament to the people who work in this industry.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Elizabeth Weiser, 'New Rhetoric, National Museums' - Brown Bag, 21 November 2012

A tour around National Museums of the world; a chronological journey of rhetoric from Aristotle to Burke and beyond; and a fascinating insight into how these seemingly diverse concepts link together, through thinking of the museum as a rhetorical space in which communal identities are formed: so Liz presented her ideas in 'New Rhetoric, National Museums'.

This was a fascinating overview of 'New Rhetoric' propounded by Kenneth Burke, but one which was foregrounded in looking at what rhetoric is, where it came from, and what it may have to do with museums.  Museums approach their identities in different ways in different periods: examples were given of Buenos Aires National Museum and Te Papa - we can look at these through different lenses - psychological, sociological, linguistic, historical, professional - but actually Liz argued, the lens of new rhetoric provides a useful framework for exploring national museums and how they are identifiying themselves, their histories and their values.  Rhetoric after all is about asking what this language (in a museum) is trying to lead me to believe about the world, and what it reveals about its author (the museum).  In short, rhetoric is about persuasion.  In particular, epideictic rhetoric is about asking what it is that we value.

Liz discussed origins of rhetoric: from the Sicilians who trained the Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, from the Greeks to the Romans, from the Romans to Augustine and the Early Church.  Gradually, the system devolved from a flexible one, to one more based on presriptions and figures of speech, or rhetorical devices.  Whizz forward through time and space to the USA where I.A.Richards then reappropriated classical rhetoric, merging it with semiotics, and there we have the 'new rhetoric' of Burke.

What has all this got to do with (national) museums?  Well, above all, museums are not neutral spaces.  Neither is intention the same as effect.  Through their displays, their objects, their people, they communicate.  They don't just communicate though by what is present, but also by what is absent.  Certain stories and histories are told by what is there, but also by what is missing.  And no history can ever be fully represented because of this: museums are selective, even if not intentionally so.

For Burke, this moves a step beyond what Aristotle was saying about rhetoric as persuasion.  For Burke, it's all about identity: I cannot be persuaded by someone unless I can identify with them.  Only then is it worth having dialogue.  Rhetoric consists of logic, emotion and truted authority all working together.  Liz pointed out that Te Papa has done a good job of representing this consubstantial relationship between its communities, between logic, emotion and community authority/memory: Maoris can identify with non-Maoris because their histories are similar in two respects: both groups made difficult sea journeys to get to New Zealand, and both groups have substantially altered, yet care for the land.  A particular action has led to a mythic communal action to give a sense of nationhood.

In a similar way, a mythic object may take on a significant status, or an emotional identity for a nation.  Or it may take on more than one meaning in a hierarchy of dialetic.  Examples were given of the Arbroath Declaration of 1320, Ataturk's Mausoleum in Ankara, and the questionable European identity (or lack of it) exemplified through a wordless anthem, and now being concretised in Brussels' House of European History.  Perhaps above all, there's an openness here to ambiguity: if museums are epideictic rhetoric, they are open-ended.

Liz finished her talk by posing some questions, and the discussion once more took us around the world - to Mexico, Canada, Australia, Argentina and Peru, to questioning the distinctions between a novel or theatrical performance and a museum, and finally to consider whether museums have a responsibility to deal with conflict and how they might do this.  Perhaps readers might like to reflect and comment on these questions:
Do museums have an ethical role?
Does this answer to this depend on the type of museum?
Do national museums have a role in the C21st?
Are there communcal myths and mythic images in our own communities?



Elizabeth Weiser is an associate professor at The Ohio State University in the Department of English Studies.  She specializes in modern  rhetorical theory, historiography, and narrative, and her current book project applies these to the national identification engendered in national museums around the world.  Weiser’s first book, titled Burke, War, Words: Rhetoricizing Dramatism, analyzed the birth of modern rhetorical theory as a “third way” between war and totalitarianism, and she sees in museums the potential to instantiate the dialogue that is difficult to sustain outside of aesthetic spaces. In 2008 she was named the best new Burkean scholar in the nation. Her other publications include Engaging Audience: Writing in an Age of New Literacies, and the forthcoming Women and Rhetoric between the Wars.

With a grant from the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, she has spent this fall working with the European Union National Museums Project both here and at Linkoping  University in Sweden, which she says has been a wonderful experience of getting to know European colleagues and their work.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Canadian Update

The Canadian Museum of Civilization is embarking on a cross-Canada tour seeking input from members of the public on what they would like from their national history museum. Lord Cultural Resources has developed an innovative public engagement and consultation process – My History Museum – consisting of a dynamic and interactive website, a survey, hands-on activities set up at kiosks in malls, airports and markets around the country as well as a series of panel discussions and face-to-face roundtables with interesting and interested Canadians.

The public engagement project will help to inform the new positioning and the development of a new permanent exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Civilization – which will soon become the Canadian Museum of History. The new name and the new direction as a museum that will present the national history of Canada and its people was announced by Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable James Moore on October 16, 2012. The transition will take place gradually over the next several years to be completed in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

Over the coming weeks, the Museum will visit the following cities: St. John’s, Newfoundland; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Fredericton, New Brunswick; Montréal and Gatineau, Québec; Toronto, Ontario; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; and Edmonton, Alberta. The Museum has already conducted roundtables and hosted interactive kiosks in Vancouver, British Columbia. Members of the public will be invited to join us for roundtable sessions or to visit our interactive kiosks at public venues and events in these cities. The Museum of Civilization is also consulting with historians, researchers and museologists from across the country.

Contribute to the Canadian Museum of History by visiting www.civilization.ca/myhistorymuseum. You can also sign up for a roundtable session here.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization is the centre for research and public information on the social and human history of the country. Located on the shores of the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec, the Museum is Canada’s largest and most popular cultural institution, attracting over 1.2 million visitors each year. The Museum of Civilization’s principal role is to preserve and promote the heritage of Canada for present and future generations, thereby contributing to the promotion and enhancement of Canadian identity.

Lord Cultural Resources, founded in 1981, is the world’s largest global professional practice dedicated to creating cultural capital worldwide having conducted over 2,000 cultural projects in over 50 countries on 6 continents. We collaborate with people and organizations to plan and manage cultural places, programs and resources that deliver excellence in the service of society. The firm has led dozens of planning assignments for national museums around the world, including the Canadian Museums for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax, and Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa.

Friday, November 16, 2012

NJ Quotes our very own Richard Sandell!

You are invited to attend a panel discussion entitled "Museums, Ethics, and Social Justice" on Tuesday, November 27th at 7pm at Seton Hall University (New Jersey, USA). The event will take place in Seton Hall's University Center, Chancellor's Suite.

The panel will address an issue that is widely discussed among those interested in museums, namely what is the social responsibility of museums with regard to the communities they serve. Are museums just repositories of objects, places where one can spend a pleasant and perhaps even educational leisure afternoon, or do they have a larger  societal  role to play? Some leading authorities on museums, such as Richard Sandell (University of Leicester, UK), author of Museums, Equality and Social Justice (2012), is of the opinion that concerns for equality, diversity, social justice and human rights should be at the core of "museum thinking." Others feel that this is not a role museums should play.

The four participants in the discussion all have much to bring to the table. Anthony Gardner, Director of the State Museum in Trenton (BA, Communications and MA Museum Professions, both from SHU) has been deeply involved in the redevelopment of the 9/11 site as  a member of the Families Advisory Council for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Judith Dobrzynski is a well- known cultural journalist (see: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_H._Dobrzynski). Liz Sevcenko, heads up the Guantanamo Public Memory Project, jointly sponsored by Columbia University and the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, and Eric Ledbetter, is a museum consultant who, until recently served as Director of International Programs and Ethics at the American Association of Museums. Sally Yerkovitch, Director of the Institute of Museum Ethics at SHU as well as an adjunct faculty member in the Museum Professions Program, will moderate the discussion, which we expect to be lively.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Call for papers from MuseumsEtc

We invite international submissions to be included in this forthcoming book, to be published by MuseumsEtc [www.museumsetc.com] in 2013. The full Call for Papers may be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/ReflexivePhoto

SUBMISSIONS
Proposals are welcomed from writers, academics, photographers, curators, artists and other visual practitioners.

This book will bring together the varied ways in which reflexivity manifests itself within photography and the photograph. In this instance we are taking a broad approach to the term (as evidenced in the suggestions below), where “reflexivity” is used to describe:
* The methods and dialogues that practitioners use to interrogate their own work
* The manner in which these devices enable the photographer to engage in an exchange with the work of others and with the world around them

We are seeking chapters that deal with a wide range of issues in relation to the principle of the reflexive photographer. This could encompass - but is not limited to - conceptual, cultural, historical and visual concerns relating to:
* The historical perspectives of reflexivity
* The photographer making visual work that is reflexive
* The photographer writing about and reflecting on their own work
* The use or affect that the materials of photography (the lens, the camera, etc.) have on reflexivity
* The photographer using notebooks and sketchbooks (or equivalent) as a reflexive tool
* The use or affect that different types of editing have on reflexivity
* The photographer writing about the work of others as a reflexive tool
* The analysis of seminal texts from key photographers
* The interview as a means to reveal reflexivity
* The examination of reflexivity where more than one practitioner is at work
* The use of the photograph as a form of life writing
* The use of reflexivity in the context of photography in the digital sphere

Additionally, we are interested in examining different formats for reflexivity:
* The book
* Correspondence
* The manifesto
* The blog
* The diary
* The travelogue
* The exhibition
* Exhibition commentary, interpretation and/or the exhibition catalogue
* The photo collective or group

This list is not exhaustive and we welcome proposals on other themes.

THE EDITORS
Rosie Miller is a Lecturer and Critical & Contextual Studies Area Leader in the School of Art & Design, University of Salford, UK. Jonathan Carson is Associate Head (Academic) and Senior Lecturer in Critical & Contextual Studies in the School of Art & Design, University of Salford, UK. Theresa Wilkie is Director of Design & Culture and Senior Lecturer in Critical & Contextual Studies in the School of Art & Design, University of Salford, UK. All three previously edited Photography and the Artist’s Book (MuseumsEtc, 2012).

THE DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS 10 DECEMBER 2012.

The full Call for Papers, and details of how to submit your proposal, can be found here: http://bit.ly/ReflexivePhoto

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

ELECTRONIC VISUALISATION AND THE ARTS LONDON 2013

Monday 29th July - Wednesday 31st July 2013
Venue: British Computer Society, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7HA

www.eva-london.org

CALL FOR PROPOSALS
Deadline: 18th January 2013

*Visualising*
Ideas and concepts in culture, heritage the arts and sciences: digital arts, sound, music, film and animation, 2D and 3D imaging, European projects, archaeology, architecture, social media for museums, heritage and fine art photography, medical visualisation and more

OFFERS OF PAPERS, DEMONSTRATIONS AND WORKSHOPS by 18th January 2013

A feature of EVA London 2013 is its varied session types. We invite proposals of papers, demonstrations, short performances, workshops or panel discussions. Demonstrations and performances will be an important part of this year's conference. We especially invite papers or presentations on topical subjects, and the newest and cutting edge technologies and applications.

EVA London 2013 will include a digital art exhibition.

Only a summary of the proposal, on up to one page, is required for selection. This must be submitted electronically according to the instructions on the EVA London website. Proposals may be on any aspect of EVA London's focus on visualisation for arts and culture, heritage and medical science, broadly interpreted. Papers are peer reviewed and may be edited for publication as hard copy and online. Other presentations may be published as summaries or as papers.

If your proposal is a case study, we will be looking for discussions of wider principles or applications using the case study as an example. A few bursaries for EVA London registration fees will again be available if you don't have access to grants.

***********************************************************
As a guide for the subject areas EVA London 2013 welcomes, see
http://stuartdunn.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/wordle-keywords.jpg

Monday, November 05, 2012

EVA Call for Proposals

*EVA London 2013*
*Monday 29th July – **Wednesday 31st July 2013*
Venue: British Computer Society, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7HA
www.eva-london.org

*CALL FOR PROPOSALS*
*Deadline: 18th January 2013*

**Visualising**
Ideas and concepts in culture, heritage the arts and sciences: digital
arts, sound, music, film and animation, 2D and 3D imaging, European
projects, archaeology, architecture, social media for museums, heritage and
fine art photography, medical visualisation and more

OFFERS OF PAPERS, DEMONSTRATIONS AND WORKSHOPS by 18th January 2013

A feature of EVA London 2013 is its varied session types. We invite
proposals of papers, demonstrations, short performances, workshops or panel
discussions. Demonstrations and performances will be an important part of
this year’s conference.  We especially invite papers or presentations on
topical subjects, and the newest and cutting edge technologies and
applications.

EVA London 2013 will include a digital art exhibition.

Only a summary of the proposal, on up to one page, is required for
selection. This must be submitted electronically according to the
instructions on the EVA London <http://www.eva-london.org/> website.
Proposals may be on any aspect of EVA London's focus on visualisation for
arts and culture, heritage and medical science, broadly interpreted. Papers
are peer reviewed and may be edited for publication as hard copy and
online. Other presentations may be published as summaries or as papers.

If your proposal is a case study, we will be looking for discussions of
wider principles or applications using the case study as an example. A few
bursaries for EVA London registration fees will again be available if you
don't have access to grants.

***********************************************************
As a guide for the subject areas EVA London 2013 welcomes, see
http://stuartdunn.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/wordle-keywords.jpg

***********************************************************

Where Innovation Meets Rigor: Shaping the Next Decade of Visitor Studies

We are pleased to announce that the 2013 Visitor Studies Association calls for Session Proposals and Pre-Conference Workshop Proposals are now open! The deadline for submitting a proposal is December 21, 2012.

Where Innovation Meets Rigor: Shaping the Next Decade of Visitor Studies

VSA invites the informal learning community to join us in creating a conference program to help push the field of visitor studies forward by thinking about the future of our field. This year, VSA will reflect on innovation within visitor studies and the critical importance of bringing innovation and creativity to our work while balancing these efforts with rigor in research and evaluation practice.

Innovation can encompass a broad range of qualities and features in the fields of research, evaluation, and informal learning experiences – from defining indicators and reporting results to shaping policy and defining the value of cultural institutions. Innovation and creativity speak to the future and bring about new ways of knowing and understanding visitors. In contrast, rigor and best practices lead to established standards, efficiency, and tried and true ways of knowing and understanding visitors. Innovation and creativity relate to rigor in research and evaluation in both positive and negative ways. We are seeking proposals that explore different facets of innovation and rigor. What has worked before, what works now, what might work in the future, and how do we balance these questions in practice?

Please submit any questions to the Program Chairs Gayra Ostgaard and Robert Jakubowski at vsaconference@gmail.com

Please note: The 2013 conference will be held in Milwaukee, WI July 15-19. The conference hotel is the Pfister Hotel; more information coming soon.

Call for Papers

2013 Conference: Brave New Worlds - Transforming Museum Ethnography through Technology

CALL FOR PAPERS:
Deadline for Submissions: 7 December 2012

We invite papers from curators, conservators, artists, makers, anthropologists, art and design historians, digital media practitioners, researchers and others that explore the impact of technology upon the development and interpretation of museum ethnography, historically and today.
 
Digitalize – a digital artists’ residency with SDNA at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, July 2012. Photographs by Jim Holden.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Brown Bag Seminar Review - 23rd of October 2012


Dr. Rhiannon Mason

Reviewer: Cintia Velázquez Marroni


In this talk, Dr. Mason presented the project about the redevelopment of the permanent display of the Laing Art Gallery, the major gallery in the historical centre of New Castle UK. This gallery, known before as Art on Tyneside, was founded in 1901 and since then has been an important symbol of the region. Dr. Mason’s presentation included both explanation about the practicalities and operations of the creation process, and a theoretical reflection of the issues aroused from the “final product”.

The project was based on the redevelopment of the permanent display of Art on Tyneside, which was renamed “Northern Spirit: 300 years of art from the North East”. The project was particularly interested in how identity was related to a sense of place in the Northeast of England, as prompted by visual representations of the area. The project was funded by several sources and cost about 1.1 8 million.



The project was interested in involving as many different communities as possible. In the end, it involved working with 67 people who represented a wide range of community groups such as artists, visitors and non-visitors, new inhabitants of the region, filmmakers, photographers, youth workers, transport organizations and football associations. In order to include these communities, several activities were carried out to create different platforms to contain the images, sounds and atmospheres of the city in interactive types of digital media like touchscreens, maps, sound pieces, projections, talking head films and Flickr competitions.

In basic and general terms, the redevelopment was underpinned by an interest in the area of identity work and memory in galleries. The project had among its objectives to produce audience generated material that could be exhibited alongside other collections in an engaging and inclusive way. Therefore, this was a project that incorporated both research and production of content. It was designed to integrate communities in the exhibition process, in order to address issues of co-curation and polyvocality; this is, how to get different voices into a display in a dialogical process. Also, they focused on finding different digital technologies that could be used to facilitate the delivery of this process. Finally, Dr. Mason referred to how the ultimate goal of this project was to work towards the democratization of culture in the museum space.

Dr. Mason’s talk was particularly interesting because she presented an auto critical analysis of the different issues in which the project was effective but also those in which it wasn’t or which raised complex problems that were not contemplated in the original design. One of them was, for example, the different limits and negotiations that had to be carried out in order to implement in the design the theoretical perspectives that were desired; for example, polyvocality was considered a basic concept to include in the gallery but designers had several difficulties in organizing the information of the interactives in order to deliver it in a “polyvocal” way.

The auto-critical evaluation of the process was followed accordingly with the implementation of a first, preliminary visitor study to 34 persons in order to analyse the visit experience of the new gallery. Dr. Mason talked about how the data of the study had allowed understanding the process by which visitors do use place as a way of navigating memories around the city and of understanding change. But most importantly, she discussed how although polyvocality had been effectively introduced in the production side (different voices were included and contrasted in the display), it could not be “heard” (identified) by the visitors. This is, although the objective of exhibiting audience generated materials produced by varied communities was to present different perceptions of the city, visitors used them to focus on the issue of historical change: how the city, places, landscapes were different now in regards to the past, and they did so by using strategies of familiarity (analogous experiences, other domains of knowledge, knowledge of place and autobiographical memory).

Finally, Dr. Mason was sharp and very open in recognising that the topic of the democratization of the museum was much more complex than they originally identified. With the development of the project, the team became more aware of the debates around the concept of co-production and they began to have a deeper understanding of the implications of “democratizing curation”. She recognized, though, that the process did achieve to open a bit some areas of the creative process, but she recognized how there are always pre-set conditions, for example, those of the funding that hinder the total democratization of cultural institutions. Also, she referred to how digital media did allow for engaging ways to share and engage knowledge, but that their use was very much limited by age groups.



Also, as part of the assessment of the project, the team reflected on issues such as quality and production. Dr. Mason, for example, explained how the process might have been successful in terms of integrating communities but this might not have been the case of the outcome (the final display product as experienced by visitors). Is the museum interested in engaging people in the process or in the final outcome? In the end, this is not a minor problem since what is a stake is the representativity and sustainability of cultural projects: who and how much is benefited might not match public and political expectations of the assigned budgets.

Finally, based on data from the visitor study, Dr. Mason talked about the way in which, by drawing on Jay Rounds’ ideas about identity work and how people construct, maintain and adapt their sense of identity, museums are ideal settings for the identity and memory work. They provide the scene, the structure, the frames by which personal memories collide and mix with collective memories, and therefore, museums are very much about both the past and the present, the individual and the collective.








Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Calls for Papers for an exhibit catalog in NJ

The Museum of Early Trades & Crafts is seeking proposals for articles to
include in the formal exhibit catalog for the exhibit "Ghost, Ghouls and
Gravestones: The Trades of Burial" set to run September 2013 through
February 2014. All articles should relate in some way to the theme of
the exhibit and the state of New Jersey.

Abstract for the Exhibit:
The only guarantees in life are death and taxes.- Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin had it right, death is one of the few guarantees in
life and starting during the colonial period the final phase of life
helped to support numerous tradesmen in the American colonies, later
states. Among the several trades involved were gravediggers,
coffin-makers and gravestone carvers. Few tradesmen could survive solely
working these trades, unless they resided in heavily populated areas
during prosperous times, but they honed their skills while producing
similar products. While they may not have plied their trades full-time
these men helped their communities to mourn their dead and continue with
life. New Jersey tradesmen, notably John Frazee and Uzal Ward, also made
several major contributions to the mourning practices and styles in the
Mid-Atlantic region. Examples of these styles can be found in Bottle
Hill/ Hillside Cemetery, which also has several prominent graves. The
exhibit will also explore some of the well known ghost stories from the
area that have influenced the way burial trades and mourning practices
are perceived.

Please submit a 150-200 word proposal and C.V, by January 9, 2013.
Notification of acceptance will be made by the end of January.
Articles will be due June 17, 2013.
All proposals and questions should be sent to:

Siobhan R. Fitzpatrick
Curator of Collections and Exhibits
Museum of Early Trades and Crafts
9 Main Street
Madison, NJ 07940
curator@metc.org

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

UKMW12 Conference!

The Museums Computer Group’s annual Museums on the Web conference – UKMW12 – will be held at the Wellcome Collection in London on 30 November 2012.
The theme for UKMW12 is ‘strategically digital’. Responding to the issues faced by museums today, UKMW12 is an opportunity to take a step back from everyday work and think strategically about the impact of the digital revolution on your museum and on the sector as a whole, including: digitally enabling the modern museum and its staff; sustaining the digital agenda and the realities of digital strategies and organisational change; and the complexities of digital engagement and the impact of social media on audience expectations.
[And students are half price!]

Monday, October 29, 2012

Interesting Conference in Oxford next Summer!

6th Global Conference
Diasporas

Saturday 6th July - Monday 8th July 2013
Mansfield College, Oxford

Call for Presentations
This inter- and multi-disciplinary project seeks to explore the contemporary experience of Diasporas - communities who conceive of themselves as a national, ethnic, linguistic or other form of cultural and political construction of collective membership living outside of their 'home lands.' Diaspora is a concept which is far from being definitional. Despite problems and limitations in terminology, this notion may be defined with issues attached to it for a more complete understanding. Such a term which may have its roots in Greek, is used customarily to apply to a historical phenomenon that has now passed to a period that usually supposes that diasporans are those who are settled forever in a country other than the one in which they were born and thus this term loses its dimension of irreversibility and of exile.

In order to increase our understanding of Diasporas and their impact on both the receiving countries and their respective homes left behind, key issues will be addressed related to Diaspora cultural expression and interests. In addition, the conference will address the questions: Do Diasporas continue to exist? How do they evolve? What is the footprint or limit of Diaspora? Is the global economy, media and policies sending different messages about diaspora to future generations?

Presentatiosn, papers, performances, workshops, presentations and pre-formed panels are invited on any of the following themes:

Queering Diaspora
Diasporic identities and practices invariably position heterosexuality as central to the past (the imagined homeland) and the future survival of the diasporic community through implicit and explicit norms, traditions, and expectations. How do members of diasporic communities who identify with subordinated forms of sexuality such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or other queer identities negotiate hetero-normativity in their communities? Do questions of diasporic cultural and social survival heighten homophobia? Or conversely, are diasporic spaces more easily queered? We welcome papers that address how LGBTQ members negotiate sexuality and diasporic identities, and consider the implications for intersectional theories of diaspora.

Diaspora, Sex, and Gender
If heteronormativity can shape diasporic identities, so too can historical norms of patriarchal power and the practices and social infrastructure associated with them. How, for instance, are diasporas and diasporic communities complicit in the general social practices that buttress inequalities or abuses? Do differences between sexes produce different perspectives on what constitutes diasporic identity? Does this disparity result in the co-existence of competing diasporic identities or 'imaginaries' that are tied to sex and gender identity? Or, on the other hand, does diaspora offer opportunities for change or for alternate social performances of sex and gender to arise? Does the distance between the home/land left behind and the new home offer an opportunity to break with the past and with tradition? To what extent can we speak of 'gendered' diasporas?

Visible Diasporas
Cinema, television, youtube and other mass media, and the visual arts are instrumental in representing diaspora or making diaspora visible both to itself and to others beyond the diasporic community. In the case of cinema, the presence and impact of displaced / globalised populations of audiences, spectators and producers of new mainstream /Hollywood /Bollywood cinema are crucial to the emergence of this post-diasporic cinema, as these narratives from texts to screen constitute a fundamental challenge for the negotiation of complex diasporic issues. How does the visual language of these various media shape or define diaspora? Those presenting on this topic and whose papers focus on cinema and other visual narratives/media are encouraged to show short excerpts or clips from their primary texts or to provide handouts rather than simply to describe the visual media. Long, descriptive summaries of film, for instance, are discouraged.

Invisible Diasporas
While there are multiple ways in which diaspora is made visible, what are the ways in which diasporas are made invisible? How do diasporas escape the attention of, or are actively made invisible by, the global media the collective institutional consciousness of such bodies as state governments and organisations such as the United Nations, etc.? Are these diasporas invisible because of their relatively small size or because they exist within other diasporas or in the shadow of other, larger visible diasporas? Is their invisibilty the result of a lack of awareness or documentation? Ignorance and apathy? Or are they forced into silence and invisibility due to the exigencies of power? That is to say, is their visibility actively repressed? Or do these diasporas engage in making themselves strategically invisible as a kind of self-defensive cloaking or masking mechanism necessary to survival? Do discrimination, assimilationist ideology or other forces ensure that this takes place either actively or passively over the course of time?

e-Diasporas and Technology
Technology has changed the way we think about diaspora. The internet, youtube, email, skype, social media, etc. have produced what has become known as the virtual diaspora and has had a profound effect on the way that diasporic communities interact with 'home/land' and each other. When communication can take place in such an immediate way, distances are shrunk and the boundaries between 'here' and 'there' are problematised or made more porous if not actually erased. Such connectivity only intensifies the interstitiality or cross-border mobility of diasporans who are able to engage virtually in more than one social environment. In a discussion of so-called e-diasporas, questions of access, mobility, connectivity ultimately lead to questions of privilege. Who is able to connect and who is not? And how does technology and the connections it provides allow the diaspora to reshape 'home' from a distance and vice versa?

The Limits of Diaspora - Problematising 'Diaspora'
What are the 'limits' of diaspora? What is its 'footprint'? What are the inter-generational issues that cause diasporas to evolve over time, to move toward or away from assimilation in then mainstream culture of the present home? How and why do diasporas redefine themselves? In what ways does 'diaporic identity' perform a gate-keeping function that includes but also excludes? How are diasporic identities contested? What are some of the ways to identity and define the subject in changing political boundaries where cultural interactions are amplified? What are the processes of social formation and reformation of diasporas in an age of increasing globalisation? What are the circumstances that give diasporas a window of opportunity to redefine their social position in both the place of origin and the current place of residence? How do we 'problematise' or critique diaspora?

The Evolution of the Critical Language of Diaspora
This topic is related to the previous one but focuses more specifically on the discipline of diaspora studies itself. What new cross-'ethnoscapes' and cross-'ideoscapes' are emerging and what new methods can be used to theorise the web of forces that influences Diasporas? Rogers Brubaker posits the current phenomenon of a diaspora 'diaspora' or an increasing dispersal of the concept and the ways that diaspora is represented, understood, and theorised. Stephane Dufoix discusses the need to "go beyond 'diaspora' in the same way that Rogers Brubaker and Frederick Cooper have shown it is useful to go beyond 'identity'" (Diaspora. Berkeley: U of California P, 2008. 108). What is the current state of diaspora studies and what is the trajectory of its evolution? How does globalisation affect the ways in which we understand diaspora? In what ways are the realities of contemporary diasporas posing challenges to the critical language of the discipline? What's next?

The Steering Group particularly welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals. Papers will also be considered on any related theme.

What to Send:
300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 8th February 2013. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 10th May 2013. Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: DIAS6 Abstract Submission.

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). Please note that a Book of Abstracts is planned for the end of the year. We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs

Ram Vemuri and Rob Fisher: dias6@inter-disciplinary.net
Jonathan Rollins: jrollins@arts.ryerson.ca

The conference is part of the 'Diversity and Recognition' series of research projects, which in turn belong to the At the Interface programmes of ID.Net. All papers accepted for and presented at the conference will be published in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be invited to go forward for development into 20-25 page chapters for publication in a themed dialogic ISBN hard copy volume.

For further details of the conference, please visit:
http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/at-the-interface/diversity-recognition/diasporas/call-for-papers/

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Wonderful Opportunity with a Short Deadline!

Meet the Reviewer - Made for Trade

7 November 2012, 11am – 4.30pm
Pitt Rivers Museum,University of Oxford
An opportunity to critically interrogate the process of curating a temporary exhibition with curators, designers and conservators. Learn how a particular display of ethnographic objects was conceived and evolved and participate in a critical evaluation of the result.
This event marks the first of a new series of events offering professional development opportunities for MEG members and non-members.
BOOKING CLOSES FRIDAY 2 NOVEMBER 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Random Thing on the Internet Today

It is things like this that fill me with giddy glee and make me love my thesis topic.

"We are looking to implement iPads as part of an interactive simulation experience we offer to 25,000 students per year here at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. Specifically we aim to increase student retention of the material covered in the simulation through uses of the iPad that allow us to effectively appeal to an increased number of learning modalities (Linguistic, Logical, Spatial, Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, and Intrapersonal) as well as appeal to some of those important 21st Century Skills that are so important to today’s students (Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Communication, and Creativity). "

-Anthony Pennay
Director of the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Presidential Learning Center
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation
 
Mostly it's because I come across quotes like this A LOT in my research. It's not just for the iPad, you can substitute any mainstream technology you like. The point is usually the same. The idea that technology + children = learning! That somehow, reading it on an iPad is more likely to lead to retention.
 
Then, of course, you go trolling the Internet and find a whole list of articles, none of which have anything to do with museums, but everything to do with education that says the computer is not the fix to learning and that, actually, using the computer will not increase knowledge retention (will, in many cases, decrease it). How is it that after more than two decades with the Internet, museums and scientific theory still aren't crossing?
 
Of course, if they are going to cross, can they wait a few more years until I've published my thesis please?
 
[Please note that I found this quote on a post on an online network that I belong to, which sends me email updates to the email account linked to this blog - only slight hypocrisy using emailed research to say that children don't learn better on a computer!]

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Review for the 17 October Brown Bag Seminar with Patricia Cronin.



" . . . The artist sees the world as incomplete and attempts to complete it in their studio; that is what I attempt to do.”
~Patricia Cronin, Brown Bag Session 2012.

On Wednesday, 17 October, New York conceptual artist and Professor of Art, Brooklyn College, Patricia Cronin, visited the University of Leicester School of Museum Studies Brown Bag Seminar Series, to discuss her journey as an artist and her most recent project, ‘Dante: The Way Of All Flesh’. Cronin’s current work is a meditation on the human condition, using Dante Alighieri’s ‘Inferno’ as aesthetic inspiration. Using the mediums of oil painting, watercolour and bleach drawing, Cronin explores the socio-political dimensions of justice and revenge as enacted by intra and inter-personal narrative experience. Before discussing the ‘Dante’ series however, Cronin shared reflections upon the past ten years of her life as an artist and how some of her previous projects have contributed to this new series of works-in-process. Cronin began the seminar session with a brief discussion of ‘Memorial to a Marriage’ (featured as the image upper-left).

Fine art at its best, has a profound ability to promote empathy in the viewer/audience, evokes in the viewer a sense of mutual recognition and creates a point of reference that links the life experience of the viewer to the perceived meaning of the artwork. In this way, Patricia Cronin’s work seeks to support a better understanding of the human condition while manifesting personal resonance. Her graceful treatment of socially policised, feminist subjects potentially makes topics and challenges that are of particular concern to LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) communities, personally relevant to non-LGBT communities.

‘Memorial to a Marriage’ depicts Cronin and her wife tenderly lying together in bed. The Neoclassicism of the sculptural technique depicting a what is initially to many viewers, an androgynously beautiful shared intimacy, calls to mind the narrative sculptural pieces of Renaissance of Italy, causing Cronin’s aesthetic to be at once familiar and unfamiliar to audiences acquainted with classical and Neoclassical traditions. It generally takes a moment for the audience to realize that the sculpture depicts two women in bed together, rather than a man and a woman. This observation, teamed with the title: ‘Memorial to a Marriage’ rather than ‘Sisters’ or ‘Shelter from the Storm’ affords no doubt in the viewer’s mind that this work is dedicated to a same-gender marriage.

‘Memorial to a Marriage’ is a sculptural experience that potentially creates an empathetic bridge.  In that moment of immediately accepting the work as a lovely, ‘traditional’ Neoclassical sculpture, followed by the viewer’s dawning realisation of the ‘non-traditional’ subject matter of the sculpture, an audience that may not understand or accept the concept of same-gender marriage, may momentarily undergo a shift in consciousness. In ‘Memorial to a Marriage’, viewers are gently invited to acknowledge and reflect upon whatever biases they may have on the subject of same-gender marriage and lifestyle choices. It is a stunningly intelligent challenge to the justification of unexamined social prohibitions.

Of course, none of the potentially profound socio-political impact of Cronin’s work was the original creative catalyst her work. Her technique and aesthetic sensibility are informed by her own daily life, her sense of identity and expression of personhood. ‘Memorial to a Marriage’ was created in response to Cronin’s frustration at not being able to have the love that she shares with her wife recognized legally. ‘Memorial to a Marriage’ will be the tombstone for Cronin and her wife’s gravesite; it is Cronin’s very public expression of her marriage, written/carved in stone, for all to witness.

In addition to ‘Memorial to a Marriage’, Cronin also briefly discussed her research into the life of Harriet Hosmer and the influence that Hosmer had on Cronin’s own aesthetic praxis. Cronin’s research into the life of Hosmer resulted in both an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum and in the publication of ‘Patricia Cronin: Harriet Hosmer, Lost and Found’ in 2009. The academic research of the Hosmer project was again, motivated by a burgeoning sense of identification that Cronin had in response to the history of Hosmer’s life and Hosmer’s aesthetic agenda.

The life of Hosmer, ‘Memorial to a Marriage’, all of the varied, intense projects of Cronin’s life hereto and her current ‘Dante’ series are expressive of the guiding principle of her working method as an artist. Cronin “--sees the world as incomplete and attempts to lend completion”. She is interested in the people, events and places that are ‘hidden in plain sight’. Cronin hopes to lend ‘presence to absence’ and in some cases, absence to presence.

What an honour for our seminar to be given the opportunity to share ideas about ‘work in progress’ with such an acclaimed artist and scholar. The second half of the Brown Bag session was a creative exploration of the ‘Dante’ series, suffuse with questions:

“How will the placement of the paintings of the ‘Dante Series’ within the chosen gallery space create a narrative dialogue between the paintings?” “What type of gallery space will be used?” “What can museums and galleries do to help engage with work?” “What is the relationship between the techniques used and the subject of the work of art?” “Is the Neoclassical aesthetic of Cronin’s work  a form of ‘safe subversion’?” “What is the dynamic relationship between conceptualization, social interactions, the medium used, technique and the ownership of the ‘real estate’ or physical context where any given work of art is installed?”


Depicting her ideas in oil, watercolours and bleach, all of Cronin’s current work has a sense of timelessness about it, rather than any sort of postmodern specificity. Cronin is interested in the most intrinsic of questions about what it means to live passionately in accordance with one's own beliefs--to courageously live one's personal 'truth'. There are two main bodies of work-in-progress that Cronin shared with the Brown Bag Seminar: her 'Dante Series' and her associated work in the portraiture of corruption. 

Cronin’s re-interpretation the ‘Inferno’ from Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’—in which the dead reside in a hell of their own design—considers the physical nature of the painting process itself, in relation to an exploration of the essential experience of humanity, desire and betrayal. To the right of this text, please observe one of the images of the ‘Dante Series’.

Working with intense, dazzlingly robust primary reds, blacks, blues, and stark whites, upon huge canvases, featuring twisted, sometimes headless, always faceless figures, some male, some female, that appear to be struggling against the binding edges of their visual frame, their torment exceeding the limitations of their context, Cronin strokes the canvas in fluid lines and florid shapes slashed on raw linen--soft linen, emphasises Cronin, that texturally is “--as natural as skin”. For some of her subjects Cronin paints as little as possible so that the application of the painting technique resonates with the psychological life of the subject.  

 In contrast to the large 'Dante Series' works, Cronin's bleach paintings of notoriously corrupt political figures are much smaller, roughly 14x10 inches. Again, Cronin has chosen her technique to suit her subject; she feels that the process of the medium itself treats the subject of the painting as they should be treated. For example, bleach drawings of corrupt political figures that are warped and will disintegrate over time due to exposure to light. In this way, the display context becomes a vital component to the ongoing progression of Cronin’s technique.

In the case of the bleach drawings, the materials that the artwork is made out of may disintegrate over time with exposure to light. This process becomes allegorical to the subject—the disintegration of the soul from corruption. As was remarked by one of our seminar members, the only way for bleach drawings—or corrupt political practices—to survive, is if the corruption remains in the dark. Bringing these images of  corruption into the light of day will destroy them. Cronin has posited that in the gallery presentation of the bleach paintings, she may simply pin them to the wall (again, the display technique allegorical to how Cronin feels the subject deserves to be treated).

Though Cronin had originally assumed that the ‘Dante Series’ would attract the interest of a factory-like or dungeon-like exhibition space, the gallery that has expressed interest in showing Cronin’s interpretation of the ‘Inferno’, is an open, airy, beautiful and bright environment, with a magnificent staircase leading between the levels of the exhibition space. Cronin laughed that it is almost as if the Ninth Circle of Hell is about to be hosted within Paradise! And yet, this seemingly inappropriate setting may be in better keeping with the idea of 'Hell' and 'Heaven' as a frame of mind, that one person’s ‘Hell’ is another’s ‘Heaven’, than a more decorously ‘hellish’ gallery setting (would be). Perhaps a lovely, light-filled environment will prove the perfect juxtaposition for the intensity of Cronin’s vision of the ‘Inferno’.

To paraphrase and summarise Cronin’s gracious response to all of the seminar’s insistent questions, her work, though fiercely politicised, is very personal. Her work is always an expression of her life and perception of the world. Cronin tries to ‘lull’ her audience into a sense of security—to provide them with a ‘familiar’ contextual orientation for non-traditional subject matter, in order to encourage an alteration of social consciousness and awareness. Certainly, this is a very challenging aesthetic to successfully create and the display context—that is, the physical characteristics of the exhibition—has a remarkable impact upon the ability of the painting or sculpture to communicate the artist’s intentions. Cronin feels that the gallery/museum space is partnered to the unfolding process of her art (to the development of the ‘life’ of any given work of art).

The essence of Cronin’s process is transformation. Intimating that everything that the artist experiences in life, is a part of the creative development of art, Cronin observed that resultant to the interactions of our Brown Bag session she was already a different person than she had been upon arrival. Indeed, everyone in the room seemed impressed with the new perspectives garnered from the discussion and was enlivened by a delightful if all too swift passage of an hour’s conversation. Safe journey and best wishes to Patricia Cronin for her continued tour of the United Kingdom, due to include a lecture at the Victoria and Albert Museum, hopefully to be followed by a visit to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, in Glasgow, where of one of the smaller versions of ‘Memorial to a Marriage’ is now on permanent display.

Many thanks to Janet, Jocelyn and Richard for bringing Patricia Cronin to the Brown Bag Seminar Series and thank you as well, to Linda, for audio recording Prof. Cronin’s visit (currently accessible as an mp3 file for the benefit of our Museum Studies distance learning community at the departmental, in-house Blackboard site). 

For those not able to access the University of Leicester Museum Studies in-house departmental website and/or for those that simply want to know more about Prof. Cronin’s work, the following website links are offered for perusal:


http://www.patriciacronin.net/newpattie/news.html This page is a part of Prof. Cronin’s website. It features news updates and information about her most recent work.

http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/web/academics/faculty/faculty_profile.jsp?faculty=29 This is Prof. Cronin’s academic/staff information page at Brooklyn College.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_Cronin This is Prof. Cronin’s Wikipedia page.

http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/patricia_cronin/ This is the Brooklyn Museum page for the 2009-2010 Exhibitions: Patricia Cronin: "Harriet Hosmer, Lost and Found".

http://www.patriciacronin.net/html/Cronin_First%20Proof.pdf   This is the pdf file for a review/reflection piece by Prof. Cronin regards: "Harriet Hosmer, Lost and Found".

http://www.glreview.com/article.php?articleid=180The Second Life of Harriet Hosmer’ is the transcription of a short interview that Prof. Cronin did with Cassandra Langer for ‘Gay and Lesbian Review’ in 2010. In it, Cronin discusses not only the life of Harriet Hosmer but her own work, notably remarking: “[Harriet Hosmer’s] Neoclassical forms were very inspiring to me when I made ‘Memorial to a Marriage’. I made this three-ton marble mortuary statue of my partner and myself in what I considered to be an American nationalist form, to address what I considered a federal failure, which is that same-sex couples can’t legally wed throughout the United States.”

http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Cronin-Harriet-Hosmer-Found/dp/8881587327 This is a link to the Amazon page for "Patricia Cronin: Harriet Hosmer, Lost and Found".