A review of Human Interfaces 2017.
This year’s conference held at Norwich University of the Arts was once again a fascinating, informative and enjoyable event. The organising committee and the executive were delighted to receive so many supportive emails and messages, so if you weren’t able to travel to the event this year, then we hope you can get involved in the range of events and discussions throughout 2017-18, and perhaps hear you speak at next summer’s conference.
Speakers and contributors.
This year’s opening keynote was Charlotte Jansen, who in her Publication ‘Girl On Girl: Art And Photography In The Age Of The Female Gaze” discusses a wide range of practice, for example Zanele Muholi, who “exemplifies different pictorial independent self-defining system of viewing” “visual activism through photography“. Charlotte concluded this relevant and important talk by discussing the influence of the Front-facing camera, and the influence in developing a system of dissemination which she argued has become democratic in ways which transform the medium, the discussion after the talk also raised some excellent debate.
Thursday 20th July
Kicked off with Prof. Jonathan Shaw, Chair of APHE summarising the Association’s activities and developments over the previous three years, and then continued with Duncan Forbes who spoke eloquently regarding ‘Takuma Nakahira’s Circulation: Date, Place, Events: from the Optical to the Operative Unconscious.’ Taking us through a fascinating narrative of Nakahira’s involvement in the Paris Biennale 1971. Nakahira created an ever-evolving visual storyboard, torn down and replaced, deliberate and casual, an intelligent disorder – time and circulative flow – people, images, transportation, liquids, food-stuffs all things circulative, transmitting its meaning sub-linguistically new language outside traditional methods. Nakahira’s unremitting attempt to penetrate order/convention, overturning photographic practice – the work is about photography to some degree but more inter-medial, hijacking of dominant media flows, the underlying context is that it never concludes.
Louise Latter discussed Birmingham Open Media (BOM) Hacker culture, involving their fellows and research partnerships with people such as University of Birmingham. Working with public engagement programmes which open out and demystify role of artists. And the forthcoming exhibition/intervention ‘Instructions for Humans’ which will feature both Nye Thompson (Backdoored.io) and Pete Ashton who also spoke about their own practice in partnership with BOM. John Hillman delivered a paper ‘Articulation of a negation or misunderstanding of photographic form.’ Reconfiguring using misunderstanding, from the visual to the processual, as system-based. The symbolic substance of socio-economic of everyday photographic image. Faithful experience what is implied rather what is described, the narrowness of the visual form.
The afternoon began with SPE’s Honoured Educator, Barbara Jo Revelle delivering ‘Swimming against the tide.’ During this excellent talk, Barbara told an engaging story of a journey through life and the subject. Key to the narrative was/is her determination to face up to the resistance and obstacles put in place by ‘the old guard or establishment’ in every aspect of the subject, and making it work for her. Referring throughout to the importance of using the camera to do something you’re afraid to do. This is epitomised in her unflinching portrayal of family life, the subsequent censorship placed upon it, how this shaped the work at the time, and changes it in the present. In fact, censorship is the through line of all the mid to later work. “When art has politics, there is action, the chance for change.” The other key themes emerging were the ways Barbara approached making her work, and how this bonded people, whilst pushing social and cultural boundaries. A fascinating talk, and very well received by conference delegates. The session concluded with Sara Andersdotter discussing her Practice-based PhD.
We concluded proceeding on Thursday with the Third Annual Education Awards: The Aphies:
The awards continue to grow in stature, this year we have Bloomsbury publishing as our education partner, and we were once again able to offer via our partnership with SPE the chance for the winner to speak at their 2018 conference in America. Therefore, the expectation was high, and the atmosphere tense. Once again, it was great to get such a range of insights into the practical aspects of course content and approach to the changing state of expectation, both from institutions and from student cohort. The 5 presentations (the standard was very high this year) energised the audience, and a voting system brought an enjoyable informality to the proceedings. So, it’s off to Philadelphia for this year’s winner Paul O’Leary, well done, and thank you also to the other excellent presenters: Daniel Alexander, Maria Allen, Sara Andersdottir and Judy Harrison. Also of note was the first student presentation which opened the proceedings by Daniel Ainsworth from University of Huddersfield who discussed ideas behind and production of the website pupilsphere. After the dust had settled and as is our tradition, it was time for the conference meal, great food and, also as is our tradition, great company
Friday 21st July.
Matt Collishaw began proceedings by introducing the story behind Thresholds, its planning, technical creative challenges, realisation and subsequent success. Richard Sawdon Smith, talked through the catalyst and realisation for his current work InSideShow: An immersive experience of the 3D Body the process remains ongoing, exploring the infinite surface created 3D model. Jonny Briggs then spoke intimately about his current practice, beginning with starting points in order to explore notions of getting at from different places “Popping the bubble of familiarity to pervert normality.” Working to locate different visual vocabularies that combine and merge with their surroundings, to forefront the contradictions of being human, as a conversation between thought and intuition, the images “giving a voice to uncertainty.” James Cant discussed his project ‘Home cooking’ of how separation facilitate an empathetic encounter. Spencer Rowell spoke about his study and analysis of self- portraiture via psychoanalysis, of interiority finding a voice with a visual and written language. David Barnes: Discussed his project ‘Loyal order of Moose.’ Developing an in-depth knowledge exploring documentary forms – how social conventions find a hold through association, fluid forms of documentary especially fiction find a place in the overall narrative. Sarah Crew: in her third person, performative travelogue “HILANG airways” produced a fascinating approach to ideas of the powerful triangle of person, animal and technology, with flight and the landscape. Producing a montage of disorientated interspersed with language and conventions of conditions of travel. Louise Baird-Smith from Bloomsbury, spoke about pitching a book ideas, and the process of commissioning an academic text – instructive presentation about the questions relevant to the process of commissioning a range/types of books. We closed the conference with Andy Earl who talked through his esteemed career as a freelance photographer, fore-fronting the importance of ideas and connection to the subject, to be positive energetic and inclusive.
Lastly – on behalf of the executive committee, we thank you for making our time an enjoyable, exciting and we hope valuable 3 years. It has been such a pleasure to be part of, and equally wonderful to work with such brilliant colleagues, we will no doubt miss it greatly – however its now over to the new team, they will be fantastic, so all the very best to Assunta, Liam, Simon and Andrew.
Have a great 2017-18 and many thanks for making this a very enjoyable time as the APHE Executive Committee.
Richard, Linda, Andrew and Jonathan.