The Visual and the Verbal: Research Symposium, University of Brighton, Wednesday 17 June, 2015

Organised by Catalina Mejia Moreno and Emma Cheatle

Keynote Speakers: Jonathan Hill (The Bartlett, UCL, London) and Julieanna Preston (College of Creative Arts, Massey University, New Zealand)

‘It is not the voice that commands the story but the ear’. Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, 123.

Lectures and presentations in architectural theory and design settings are almost always constructed through combinations of the visual and the verbal. The lecture is spoken against or around a backdrop of visual images, usually slides; the design presentation consists of verbal explanations to a set of drawings. Ensuing discussions evolve through visual and textual relations.

Many practitioners from various fields use or have used ‘voiced’ forms: Luce Irigaray looks closely at the voice as a haptic presence; Laura Mulvey at the politics of the image; Jane Rendell the positioning of the author; Roland Barthes at the rhetoric of the image; Peggy Phelan at the ontology of performance; Julia Kristeva at the use of oral language Shoshana Felman at the nature of speech; and Walter Benjamin used radio broadcast as a dissemination tactic.[1]

We are architectural academics and teachers who both use and analyse relationships between the visual and the verbal in our writing, practice and teaching. From ideas and discussions around the intersections between visual, spoken and written media, we propose this symposium as a generator of new questions and forms. We will examine both the format of the spoken – whether lecture, conversation or presentation – and the integration or status of the visual within it, drawing out their particularity, structure, politics and poetics. Although expressly interested in the role of drawing, we will also consider the relations of other complementary media such as photography and film.

[1]Laura Mulvey, ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, in Laura Mulvey, Visual and Other Pleasures (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989), 14–26; Luce Irigaray, ‘Flesh Colors’, in Luce Irigaray, Sexes and Genealogies (trans.) Gillian C. Gill (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 153–4; Luce Irigaray, The Forgetting of Air in Martin Heidegger, (trans.) Mary Beth Mader (London: Athlone, 1999); Jane Rendell, ‘From Architectural History to Spatial Writing’, in Elvan Altan Ergut, Dana Arnold, Belgin Turan Ozkaya, (eds.), Rethinking Architectural Historiography (London: Routledge, 2006), 135–150; Jane Rendell, ‘Architecture-Writing’, in Journal of Architecture, 10/3 (June 2005), 255–64; Roland Barthes. The Rhetoric of the Image, in Roland Barthes, Image-Music-Text  (London: Flamingo, 1984); Peggy Phelan, Unmarked: Politics of Performance (London: Routledge, 1993); Julia Kristeva, Revolution in Poetic Language (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984); Shoshana Felman, Literary Speech act: Don Juan with J L Austin, or, seduction in two languages (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983); Leica Rosenthal (ed.) Radio Benjamin (trans.) Jonathan Lutes (London: Verso, 2014); Shundan Yusaf, Broadcasting Buildings: Architecture on the Wireless 192745 (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2014).

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