“I’ve been lucky to be at all four of the Visual Methods Conferences so far, and this one in Brighton has lived up to what’s become a very strong tradition. It drew a very diverse group of academics and practitioners together and gave them space to talk, think and play. Brighton was an ideally lively venue and it was good to see broad range of local and international speakers and delegates enjoying what it has to offer. As ever, one of the strengths of the format was encountering some genuinely different forms of scholarship on an equal basis. The focus on methods has meant that this has become a good meeting ground for the arts and humanities, social sciences and technology, and I hope it long continues in this vein.
For me, there were two particular highpoints. The first was the space to get away from the relentless PowerPoint presentation plus ten minutes for questions format which always runs out of time and is sucking the life out of intellectual life in academia. Instead there were opportunities to participate in workshops, panels that made space for discussion and respect for the need for mixing time. The other was discovering that the cursory background digging I’d done when I first encountered digital storytelling was defective – they’re a really interesting group of people doing important things. It’s not the same things as the participatory video community I’m part of, but there are things to learn there. Now I’m going to the US in January to get some training.
There’s lots to look forward to in the future as well. Singapore in 2017 seems really appealing and I’m confident that the series will continue. I hope we continue to build on what’s been achieved in Leeds, Milton Keynes, Wellington and now Brighton. I hope Visual Methods never becomes a discipline, but rather remains a meeting point; a crazy jumble that is even better than it should be . Until next time….”
I was delighted to have both my participatory video projection performance “RE/F/r.ACE” and a paper on the same project accepted for Visual Methods. As a visual arts practitioner I was not sure what to expect from a conference focused on visual research methods – as opposed to, possibly, the outcomes of these methods. I have to say that in some of the sessions I did have my fears realized! A number of speakers did regard the artistic methods used as just tools to further their investigations – I would argue that art, the visual, IS (or should be) the result, the new knowledge. But as the conference progressed and I learnt to navigate my way through the programme, I did indeed find tracks which satisfied and supported my own ways of working, in particular the “Critical Perspectives on Visual Methodologies” sessions, all of which had stimulating and challenging presentations. I was also more than satisfied with the help and support given by the conference organisers for my performances on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. The location for the projection, the Unitarian Church on New Road, was excellent, and we had good interaction from both locals and remote participants. In addition I met fantastic people amongst the other attendees, some of whom I hope to collaborate with in future. All in all a very successful and enjoyable week in Brighton!
Having been involved in some of the initial discussions in shaping the Visual Methods Conference, I came away feeling that the three days had more than met my early expectations. Often, when ‘cooking up’ a project, so to speak, the big ideas are the inspiration but they often seem to flounder when the reality and practicalities kick-in. The themed approach of the conference, punctuated by some inspirational keynotes enabled complex ideas to be organized in such a way as to provide space for those big ideas, whilst offering rich ground for more detailed analysis and debate. As a Digital Storytelling practitioner and more recent PhD researcher, I welcomed the inclusion of Digital Storytelling which has traditionally been practitioner-focused in conference settings, into a broader academic research-focused arena. It was particularly fascinating to chart the similarities between digital storytelling and participatory video approaches to research, whilst examining the differences, not only in methodology, but also in the spaces in which each are being used. Digital Storytelling is an under-theorised practice which is gaining traction within the research community in academia. Although ethics are high upon the agenda within digital storytelling, placing the practice in this environment brought to the foreground questions that are perhaps taken for granted by the DS practitioner community. Visual Methods provided a much-needed space in which academics and practitioners were brought together through the lens of visual research methodologies – a welcome opportunity to step back, critique, analyse and realise the potential of digital storytelling.
The 2017 committee is very much looking forward to welcoming you to the Singapore Institute of Technology, where the conference theme, “Visualising the City”, promises to be an exciting exchange of ideas involving all things urban. We hope to show you not just official Singapore, but the hidden corners, neighbourhoods and communities that texture and shape this tropical island. Alongside the three core open strands from Brighton (Narrative and Visual Methods, Exploring Digital Visual Methodologies and Critical Perspectives on Visual Methodologies), one new strand will be on the science and technology of visual methods, where we hope to attract a wide range of interdisciplinary contributions.