Critical Media in the Arts: Time, Materiality, Ecology

Arts Building - Lecture Room 3 - University of Birmingham
Tuesday 19 June 2018 (10:30-18:30)

For further information please email Christopher Haworth at


Critical Media in the Arts: Time, Materiality, Ecology was a one-day symposium that saw art historians, media theorists, musicologists, and artists come together to discuss critical engagements with media across the arts.

Informed by the recent turn towards German Media Theory and Media Archaeology in Anglophone art history, the talks and performances encompassed historiography, theorisation, and practical demonstrations.

Douglas Kahn’s keynote speech brought together a new version of the Icarus and Daedelus myth - updated for the ‘Warm War’ - with an analysis of the American artist Leif Brush’s innovative use of trees as antennae to rethink the concept of Survivable Communication in the context of global climate crisis. The other invitees included Patrick Valiquet, who presented the concept of ‘liberal aurality’ via a discussion of experimental uses of mass media in British classrooms in the 1970s; Eleni Ikonaidou and Alaistair Cameron, who discussed sound as a means to analyse, disturb and reconfigure social life; Matthew Hayler, who presented and theorised the concept of ‘Ambient Literature’--digital novels the content of which are partially driven by the location and surroundings of the reader; Thor Magnusson, who presented new work on the analysis, theorisation and taxonomy of new (often digital) musical instruments; and Annie Goh, who discussed her recent creative and activist work on gendered exclusion from male spaces of music technology, done in the context of the Sonic Cyberfeminisms group.

The day ended with two performances in the Dome room: GenDyTrouble: Cyber*Feminist Computer Music by Annie Goh, and Thermal Tripping Through Runtime by Valentina Vuksic.  


11:00 Christopher Haworth, introduction + welcome
Session 1
11:15 Douglas Kahn, “Survivable Communication: Trees”
12:15 Patrick Valiquet, “An Ear for Liberalism: Experimental Music Research and Mass Media Education, 1973-1990?”

Session 2
2:00 Eleni Ikoniadou and Alastair Cameron, “Ecstatic Material”
2:30 Matthew Hayler, “Wandering Bodies - Ambient Literature, Cognition, and Technology”

Session 3
3:15 Thor Magnusson, “Ergodynamics: Towards a terminology beyond ‘guitarplay’”
3:45 Annie Goh, Sonic Cyberfeminisms

The Dome, Bramall Music Building
5:00 Annie Goh, “GendyTrouble: Cyber*Feminist Computer Music”
5:30 Valentina Vuksic,"Thermal Tripping Through Runtime"
6:00 Drinks reception

This Symposium was co-organised by Christopher Haworth and Valentina Vuksic.

The Symposium was supported by the School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music (LCAHM) and the Contemporary Philosophy of Technology Research Group.