Saturday, April 05, 2008

visual and critical studies graduate symposium at cca

today at the california college of the arts, seven graduate students in visual and critical studies presented their master's theses as part of this year's graduate symposium. the work was excellent and original, the presentations were engaging, and a good day was seemingly had by all.

the presentations were divided into three panels:

reconstructing objects, which included erik scollon's "craft in the expanded field," maya kimura's "the schoolgirl body in pieces: sex as violence in makoto aida's harakiri schoolgirls," and analisa violich goodin's "an imagined absence: images of loss and the performance of representation";

visualizing work and play, which included rae quigley's "the stinking rose: a food festival at play in the production of social order" and victoria gannon's "day laborer landscapes: seeing informal hiring sites; and

charting the digital domain, which included guinevere harrison's "neogeography: mapping our place in the world" and lee pembleton's "the work of art in the age of digital reproduction."

i served as moderator of the last panel and thoroughly enjoyed guinevere's exploration of online maps and the way they can foster individual and collective expression and action and lee's reworking of walter benjamin's germinal essay by way of louis althusser's concept of the hail. during my comments, i noted how both presentations represent exciting new directions in digital media studies in that they a) move from text to visual culture; b) pay attention to cultural and economic contexts; c) transcend silly and ultimately unhelpful utopian vs dystopian debates; and d) approach the web as not merely a platform for consumption but rather for consumption and contribution - the participatory web. it was a thrill to be a part of this panel.

overall, i really enjoyed the day at CCA and am excited about what they are doing. i was particularly impressed with the graduate students and their ability and willingness to cross disciplinary boundaries, fuse methodological approaches, and assume roles and voices that are at once deeply critical, deeply creative, and deeply engaged.

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