2014 conference logo

Tenth International IAWIS/AIERTI Conference
and Twenty-First Annual Scottish Word and Image Group Conference

Scottish Word and Image Group logo IAWIS/AERTI logo

Riddles of Form: Exploration and Discovery in Word and Image


We invite submissions of proposals for 20 minute papers (abstract 250-300 words).
The deadline for submissions is Friday 6 December, 2013.

Please contact us at swig2014@gmail.com to submit abstracts or with any further queries. Please indicate the title of the session at which your proposal is aimed and supply full contact information. There will also be general sessions on Word and Image topics, so proposals do not necessarily have to fit into the sessions specified.

"For the harmony of the world is made manifest in Form and Number, and the heart and soul and all the poetry of Natural Philosophy are embodied in the concept of mathematical beauty... The waves of the sea, the little ripples on the shore, the sweeping curve of the sandy bay between the headlands, the outline of the hills, the shape of the clouds, all these are so many riddles of form, so many problems of morphology." (D'Arcy Thompson, On Growth and Form, 1917)

"At the great drama of evolution the naturalist is but the awakening spectator... Science is not in books… From bookshelves we have to gather the results of the science, and apply them practically in the actual garden… Here then is the goal of our biological education, not memory knowledge, but power… We shall learn together how to bring science into our life, and life into our science." (Patrick Geddes, Inaugural Lecture at Dundee, 1888)

The conference theme is Riddles of Form: Exploration and Discovery in Word and Image. It will examine representation of science and technology in text, poetry, art, popular culture, film, print and digital media, etc. Dundee has a particular history and reputation in both sciences and arts and is thus an ideal venue for the theme.

Taking its cue from the writings of two of the University of Dundee's great visual thinkers and polymaths, D'Arcy Thompson and Patrick Geddes, "Riddles of Form" seeks to investigate the roles of exploration and discovery in word and image studies, and in particular the creative links between word, image and science in its broadest sense. What can science tell us about word-image relationships? How have art-forms that rely on both word and image been altered by science? To what extent does our understanding of science (professional and popular) depend on the interplay of word and image in (for example) scientific diagrams and models? How do other word-image inter-relations function within scientific research and discovery? How might new conceptual topographies in verbal and visual media be explored "scientifically"?

The conference will specifically invoke Dundee's scientific and cultural history through the foundational work of D'Arcy Thompson and Patrick Geddes. It will also showcase the city's history of polar exploration and technological innovation. However, the conference's approach to 'science' is in no sense limited to the Anglophone tradition defining it in the narrower sense of the natural sciences, but will restore and celebrate the full range of its original humanistic associations. Hence we invite papers on all kinds of human knowledge, enquiry and analysis, and how they are conceptualised, conducted or communicated through forms of verbal and visual media.

SWIG will be collaborating with various organisations within the city to host accompanying exhibitions, events and films. The 2014 conference will be a high-profile event, with four packed days of panels and keynote talks, plus a day of optional trips. Speakers will also have the option of presenting either in English or French.

Dundee is a vibrant city, with a long history of scientific discovery and exploration, but also illustrated publications, comics, animation and computer games design. It has recently been chosen as the location for the only branch of the world's premiere museum of art and design, the Victoria and Albert or V&A, outside London. This is currently under construction on the city centre waterfront, to a revolutionary design by Kengo Kuma associates, Tokyo. Dundee has also made the final shortlist of four in the competition to become UK City of Culture for 2017. We are hoping that IAWIS 2014 will be another significant milestone in the city's bid for this future status.

CONFERENCE KEYNOTE SPEAKERS INCLUDE: Martin Kemp, Emeritus Professor of the History of Art, University of Oxford; Murdo Macdonald, Professor of the History of Scottish Art, University of Dundee.

OPTIONAL TRIPS INCLUDE: a visit to Little Sparta, left in trust by the world-renowned 'avant-gardener' and word-image artist, Ian Hamilton Finlay.

SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS INCLUDE: highlights from the text-based art and artists' books collections of the University of Dundee, as well as work from the D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum Art Collection and the Scottish Centre for Comics Studies.

There will also be an opening civic reception and a closing conference dinner at a prestigious local venue

Details of the conference sessions can be found here. There will also be general sessions on Word and Image topics, so proposals do not necessarily have to fit into the above sessions, but if you wish to be considered for a particular session, please state this in your proposal.

All speakers must be registered members of IAWIS/AIERTI before the start of the conference. Click here for the membership page.

Download this Call for Papers as a pdf here.

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