4th Global Conference
Wednesday 7th July 2010 – Friday 9th July 2010
Mansfield College, Oxford
Images of the Excluded : Ideology, Interpretation and Context
University of Bolton, United Kingdom
Like other forms of communication visual languages are learnt, they draw upon long established traditions of representation and are inextricably linked to the contexts in which they are articulated.
This paper looks at the research techniques employed in the analysis of visual content and highlights the importance of comparative textual analysis, which includes the examination of documentary commentaries and the extensive use of written and visual primary sources. It demonstrates that the application of these research techniques demonstrates that visual practice is ideological practice and rather than reflecting ‘reality’ images are vehicles for the articulation of a set of desired social relations.
Examples of representations of the liminal are used to demonstrate the disparities between images and the actualities of life and the ways in which images of those on the margins of society present a transformation of a social formation is demonstrated.
Looking at specific examples of images of the ‘excluded’ the ways in which contemporary images draw upon long established traditions of representation and are inextricably linked to the contexts in which they are articulated are explained.
Body Traces: The Present Absence
Department of Visual Arts, University of Ballarat, Australia
“Photography, like casting, combines that which is present with that which is other – the residue of the original which advances and retreats in the mind of the viewer.” Fiona Bradley
The perception of the world through binary opposites has been, and continues to be, a rich source of inspiration to creative artists. Investigations of light and shade, life and death, internal and external, the private and public, the seen versus the unseen, allow the artist to pursue both tangible and intangible manifestations of the human condition.
My intention in this investigation is to engage with the notion of presence and absence, and develop artworks that embody and represent this interaction whilst openly referencing traditions and conventions from different historical and cultural contexts.
Of particular interest to this investigation are the oppositions and relationship of presence and absence in indexical artistic mediums, and it is this binary system which constitutes the main theme of this research. Photographic mediums have been the main focus and starting point for my practical work due to its indexical nature. My work conveys and highlights the ‘present absence’; a term that indicates the abstract yet recognisable traces which remain after a person or thing has gone. Consequently, reactions to parting and death will be important aspects for this investigation since mementos and memorials which honour or stand in for the dead have, certainly in our culture and in many others also, become highly ritualised and clearly represent a situation of ‘present absence’. The practice of Memento Mori and shrines for the dead are a good example of this. These forms then develop their own presence out of the absence of the person or persons they represent.
This paper will therefore focus on this perceived ‘present absence’ in relation to the use of indexical mediums.
Cartoon Fiction and Divine Truth: Views of Culture, Identity and Mysticism in Hergé’s Tintin in Tibet
Peter D’Sena and Tim Myatt
Education Department, London South Bank University and Department of Tibetan & Himalayan Studies, the Oriental Institute, Oxford University, United Kingdom
Hergé’s Tintin is one of the best known cartoon characters in the world. Over the past seventy-five years, his Adventures have been read by millions and next year, the release of Spielberg’s film of the 1943 thriller, The Secret of the Unicorn, will no doubt boost readership further.
Scholars of Hergé have started to analyse the influence of his visual and textual representations of communist, fascist and cold war regimes and hotly debate his use of colonial stereotypes. Of the twenty-four books in the series, Hergé’s personal favourite was Tintin in Tibet. Published in 1960, soon after the Tibetan Insurrection against Chinese occupation and the diaspora hastened by the Dalai Lama’s exile in March 1959, it differs starkly from all the others. Instead of the usual visual clutter, Hergé’s ligne claire style prefers white alpine expanses as backdrops for few protagonists, none of whom are gangsters or villains; and vistas are interrupted only occasionally by images of exotic Buddhist monasteries, monks and abbots. The narrative also differs, focusing on a quest for an old friend, lost, presumed dead in a plane crash deep in the Himalayas. Echos of Hilton’s Lost Horizon (1933) are clear: western fantasies of the innocence, dignity and wisdom of a ‘lost’, remote ancient society, deeply entrenched in faith and in harmony with the natural world, are parodied and accentuated by the cartoonist’s Eurocentrism. A master of popular pastiche, Hergé’s early scenes stereotyping monks’ powers of premonition and levitation in this Shangri La-inspired setting, are followed by a storyline influenced by Shipton’s famous photographs of Yeti footprints (1951). His snowman, though, is not abominable and his Tibetans are noble victims – socio-cultural constructs still satisfying to some western and Tibetan political purposes, as the Dalai Lama’s recognition of Tintin with his Light of Truth Award in 2006 indicates.