Audiences, Participation & Engagement, Emerging Voices

CMCI Emerging Voices Conference 2019

Lauren Cantillon

On Thursday 6th and Friday 7th June, the CMCI department was delighted to welcome over 100 speakers and delegates from around the world to our annual postgraduate conference, CMCI Emerging Voices. Held in Bush House, this year’s conference theme was ‘Beyond Disciplines’ – chosen by the organising committee to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the majority of research work within the CMCI department.

The programme offered papers ranging across depictions of queer sexualities in women’s Holocaust writing (Roseanna Ramsden, Northumbria University), gender representation in bro-country music (Robyn Shooter, King’s College London), and mediating the fashion/tradition dichotomy in the case of kimono (Carolin Becke, University of Sheffield). A personal highlight was the session delivered by Dr J. Daniel Luther, who took the audience through the evolution of the ‘Queer’ Asia film festival . They described its initial beginnings in 2016 as a conference held at SOAS, through to the changed format today – for this year’s festival, free screenings are being held not only at SOAS but also at KCL, the British Museum and University of Warwick. It was a masterclass in self-evaluation and being confident in your understanding of your audience in order to grow an event that bridge both an academic and public space in a successful way.

Several CMCI PhD students utilised the conference as a platform present their current research and previous MA work to a fresh audience. We were delighted to hear from Stella Toonen with her paper ‘Co-creation, co-production, co-curation: a critical analysis of the definitions used around collaborative museum practice’; Catalina Urtubia and her paper ‘Online catalogues in art museums in Chile: A potential tool for audience engagement?’, and Camilo Sol Inti Soler Caicedo on ‘An Uber for Dancers: Can online platforms improve the conversion of embodied capitals?’

We were treated to two fascinating keynotes across the two days; firstly by Professor Hongwei Bao of the University of Nottingham, and to conclude with Suhair Khan, Google Arts & Culture’s UK partnerships and projects lead. Professor Bao’s lecture focussed on the work of Chinese artist Xiyadie, who uses traditional Chinese paper cutting techniques as a way to express his erotic fantasies, and media platforms used and run by the LGBTQIA+ community in South East Asia. Professor Bao also discussed some interesting methodologies – I am indebted to him for mentioning ‘scavenger theory’ (Halberstan, 1998). Our second keynote was a rollercoaster ride through the world of Google’s Arts & Culture arm. Suhair took us through the myriad of projects that Google Arts & Culture have developed, such as #OpenHeritage, #BigBanginAR, #ScientificSuperpowers and, of course, #ArtSelfie, stating that “there is no end purpose, [the projects are] meant to evoke serendipity, and be fun and engaging.” A fun fact shared with the audience was that Google allegedly does not store any photos uploaded on the #ArtSelfie app, removing the photos once there is an identified match.

Two big organising lessons were learnt by this year’s committee: namely that international Skype is always going to be a technical challenge, and that 30 minutes is the optimum time for a coffee break! I would like to thank my fellow organising committee members, Katrin Schindel, Elena Terranova, and Rebecca Young, for being such a brilliant team to work with over the past six months.

We wish to thank all speakers and delegates for taking the time to prepare such engaging papers and contribute to a very fruitful two days of discussion and debate – we hope to see you again next year!