May has been a busy month for me, and busy months tend to go by very fast. It's been a long month, though. Just last week I was in Liverpool presenting with my colleague Ernesto Priani (UNAM) at the International Conference on Latin American Cybercultural Studies at the University of Liverpool.
The conference was brilliantly organised by Claire Taylor and Tori Holmes, who not only presented as well but made sure all delegates felt at home at all times. It was a fully multilingual conference, with Spanish, Portuguese and English spoken and read fluently. For me the conference raised important questions on multidisciplinary and multicultural approaches to cultural objects and practices, and on the need to foster stronger relationships between the digital humanities and humanities scholars working on and with digital (and analogue) technologies.
You may get an idea of what Ernesto and I talked about by looking at our slides, which we uploaded to Slideshare as soon as we finished showing it at the conference.
After the conference and our working sessions together in real life (Ernesto lives in Mexico and I live in London, so so far had only worked remotely) we'll be reworking our paper with all the new ideas and feedback we got in Liverpool.
I also created an archive of the tweets tagged with #latamcyber.
Yesterday I participated in "Flash Symposium: Short papers on short fiction" at the School of Arts, Birkbeck College, organised by Zara Dinnen and Tony Venezia from the Contemporary Fiction Seminar (and The Comics Grid!). It was a highly-stimulating, inspiring, fast-paced session, which was divided in two sections. The first one, in which I participated, was made of 5 papers of 5 minutes each. Our section was brilliantly chaired by Bianca Leggett (Birkbeck), who didn't have to use the bell she was given to indicate our times were up.
Matt Sangster (Royal Holloway) was first with a paper titled "Short Forms and Unalloyed Genre"; he gave a concise and eloquent overview of short fiction starting with Monterroso and Borges. Matt was followed by Henderson Downing (Birkbeck), whose beautifully-crafted psychogeographical, Benjaminian presentation had the longest title of the panel: "Between the long roll of thunder and the long fine flash: a brief history of a little pamphlet bought from a pop-up shop on Redchurch Street in December 2010 on the shortest day of the year." Daniel Rourke (Goldsmiths) talked about "The Doctrine of the Similar (GIF GIF GIF)", offering a critical homage to the fragmentary beauty of the looping, animated, mashed-up .gif. Finally, before me, Holly Pester (Birkbeck) read her paper, "Visual Poetry: Objectness as a Necessary Shortness", showing evocative visual examples from modernist poetry (Gertrude Stein) and concrete Brazilian poetry.
My own presentation was titled "Before & Beyond [Adobe] Flash: Hans Bordahl's and David Farley's Online Comics as Short Digital Narratives". As if to prove my point that Adobe Flash is not as great as many think it is, my Flash-based presentation froze the room's laptop midway, which was very frustrating. It was fitting, though, that something like that would happen when we were talking about constraints and the relationships between form and format, etc.
The papers will be collected for a special issue of postgraduate journal Dandelion, On Brevity, for autumn publication.
Following the short papers session Ariel Kahn (Roehampton/London Met Film School) chaired a conversation with Andy Poyiadgi (film-maker, Schizofredric); Tom Humberstone (comics artist/editor, Solipsistic Pop); Heidi James(writer, Carbon, The Mesmerist's Daughter); Geoff Ryman, 253, Air).
The conversation had a natural flow to it and very interesting issues on the creative effects of different types of constraints, structural, aesthetic and political differences between long and short form, etc. were discussed. It was particularly nice to hear Geoff Ryman and Heidi James read from their own work, and I regretted Tom Humberstone did not show any of his work to members of the audience who may not know it.
I have shared my presentation and my paper on a separate post on this blog.
Should I also remind you the abstracts deadline the Alcal de Henares international comics conference is May 31st?