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A reflection on the Latent Image Conference

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The Studio for Transdisciplinary Art Research (STAR) conference takes place in Edinburgh this year. Professors Chris Speed and Paul Thomas reflect on the themes of previous conferences and the aims of year’s event, which is led by the Centre for Design Informatics and supported by EFI.

EFI will support the fifth Studio for Transdisciplinary Art Research conference – the Latent Image – which will be held at the Playfair Library and Informatics Forum over 18-20 April.

The Studio for Transdisciplinary Art Research (STAR) conference series (The International Conference on Transdisciplinary Imaging at the Intersections of Art, Science and Culture) was instigated by Professor Paul Thomas in 2010. A conference committee was established from 11 Australian universities, which now has a number of international partners.

Taking place every second year there has been four successful conferences and the fifth will take place in Edinburgh from 18 – 20 April 2018.

Black abstract painting
Chelsea Lehmann, Tenchi, 2016, (detail) high-res digital infrared scan of painting (oil on linen, 24 x 21cm). Courtesy Ide Advanced Imaging Laboratory, Kyoto University, and the artist

The first conference took place in Sydney 2010 where the conference theme was asking questions of what art was adding to the discourse of the image. The concept proposed was a remediated apprehension of the image: an active image and activity of imaging beyond the boundaries of disciplinary definition, but also altering the relations of intermedia aesthetics and interdisciplinary pedagogy.

Mediation and the new media arts have in fact become the new medium of critical and pedagogical discourse: like water is for fish, like culture is for cultural studies, mediation is a concept that is taken for granted now because it is itself the medium in which we think and act, in which we swim.

The second conference took place in Melbourne 2012, where the notion of ‘Interference’ was posed as an antagonism between production and seduction, as a redirection of affect, or as an untapped potential for repositioning artistic critique. Maybe art doesn’t have to work as a wave that displaces or reinforces the standardized protocols of data/messages, but could instead function as a kind of signal that disrupts and challenges perceptions.

The third conference — entitled Cloud and Molecular Aesthetics — was ambitiously located in Istanbul 2014 to draw from an additional international dialogue. The conference posed questions about the cloud as a new formation of data as a global and seemingly immaterial distribution of storage and means of retrieval. The data cloud that exists everywhere and yet is nowhere in particular. As with the protocols of bit torrent files, could the cloud provides a new concept of sound and image “assembly”, distinct from and beyond the materialist machinic diagrams and the practices of re-mixing or remediation that became characteristic of late twentieth-century and millennial aesthetics. The cloud is not an object but an experience and its particles are the very building blocks of a molecular aesthetic in which we live and act.

The fourth conference focused on the Atemporal Image to examine whether our contemporary quotidian lives are becoming increasingly indebted to virtual platforms for social exchange and cultural mediation. The ubiquity of social media has necessitated the birth of virtual graveyards; frozen digital reliquaries marking the cessation of our online busywork. Museums and culture conservationists are hurriedly digitising material fragments of the Anthropocene in an anxious contest against time and entropy.

The fifth conference in the series will take place this April hosted by The University of Edinburgh, led by the Centre for Design Informatics, supported by EFI. The conference investigates concepts related to the Latent Image, with international keynote, speakers Karen Barad, (science), Jan Willem Tulp, (data visualization), Edward Colless (art theory) will drive the discourse around the Latent Image.

Event details

The conference will take place at three venues — Talbot Rice Gallery,  Playfair Library,  Informatics Forum — over 18 – 20 April.

Read more and book tickets on the conference website:

Chris Speed

Programme Director, Design Informatics

Paul Thomas

Professor, UNSW Art and Design ; Director, Studio for Transdisciplinary Art Research (STAR)

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