fu·sion (fy zh n) noun.
- The merging of different elements into a union.
- The blending of different elements to form a larger nucleus with the simultaneous release of energy.
- A combination of different ingredients and techniques from very different cultures or countries.
This issue contains articles on any aspect – past and present – of the communication, media and creative industries which explore, analyse or otherwise attend to issues of fusion and hybridisations.
In this issue of fusion the contributions explore matters at the limits of digital representation, issues of cross-media representation and the virtual practice of representation in research.
In this special issue contributions explore the status of the studio as an active constituent of learning in the history of art, architecture and design education, but not integral to other learning platforms.
In general the villages, towns and small to medium sized cities situated in the countryside have been derived from the agricultural landscape. As such the relationship between the rural landscape and townscape is clearly defined by the historic boundaries between agriculture and urban culture creating rural islands of populations. And the idea or concept or regional development, once imagined to be unlimited, is now on a collision course with new kinds of limits – limits to biodiversity, and the limits to the flows of energy and water – in contrast to increasingly unlimited digital flows (mostly methods of genetic experimentation and forms of entertainment), leaving rural islands to compete globally for population and productivity, and stretching the boundaries of regional identity. This issue of fusion asks contributors to consider the historic agri/urban boundaries which once determined critical regionalism.
This issue comprises papers from the New Uses of Literacy Symposium initiated by the Cultural Studies Association of Australia (CSAA) and staged by the School of the Arts and Media at the University of New South Wales, and other specially commissioned contributions. The symposium theme emerged from ongoing local and international debates about the different approaches to ‘literacy’ in contemporary Cultural Studies. According to Stuart Hall, “there would have been no Cultural Studies” were it not for Richard Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working Class Life (1957). The importance of literacies as a topic reflects Graeme Turner’s concern that the research projects of many students (and many academics, we may add) “are too often reduced to their topic rather than situated with the broadest possible relation to a body of ideas, concepts and approaches” (What Become of Cultural Studies? 2012). This issue of fusion asked contributors to return to Hoggart’s seminal text to (re)consider current scholarship in the intersecting disciplines of Literacy Studies and Cultural Studies, and other interrelated fields of research including Media Studies, Communication Studies, Screen Studies, and the Creative Industries.
Not until the rise of modern industrial city in the mid-nineteenth century did the problem of housing become a serious issue for planners, architects, social reformers and state officials. With the divide between the city and country, the rise of the Metropolis and its subsequent transmutation into the Megalopolis put pressure on governmental agencies to establish housing policies to accommodate unprecedented urban migrations, and residual regional populations. The ideals underpinning early modernist architects’ concern with social housing projects and its relationship with the city were met with obstacles or ended up as a failure when transformed into reality. With the advent of globalization, the fluidity of capital investment and mass migration compromised the project of social housing together with its urbanity. The neo-liberal political order is unable to meet the crisis that is taking place in the margin of every megalopolis around the world. The essential role of social housing in the city keeps haunting architects, planners, governments and communities. In this situation, the relationship between the city, urbanity, social housing and quality of life are becoming fundamental issues for an increasing number of professions in the 21st century.
The theoretical underpinnings of the MASK symposium on Performance, Performativity and Communication in the Professions and Creative Industries are found in the work of Erving Goffman, for example, Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959) and its application to professions; Bourdieu’s (Bourdieu, 1984; Bourdieu & Nice, 1977) concepts of practice, habitus and field in reproducing norms in social organisations, including professions; and concepts of performativity, power and embodiment from Judith Butler (1997, 2013). These scholars help explicate the formation and maintenance of identity in changing social conditions.
There is a renewal of interest in these questions as social pressures and digital media create a climate of permanent performance, at work, leisure and home. Together with aspects of surveillance in contemporary western cultures it is hard to know when one is ‘off’ camera. Some writers, (e.g. novelist Marilynne Robinson, 2010) suggest this is leading to societies where inner experience is devalued in preference for the consumption and exchange of outward appearances; others (Finkelstein, 2007) point to time and places such as the French Imperial courts where similar pressures prevailed. There is also recent research on performance as methodology (Haseman, 2006; Hadley, 2013).
These debates have implications for scholars in the field of theatrical performance itself, however mediated, as well as cultural commentators and those researching professions, identity and the challenges of the changing communication environment.
Issue 8 – Professional education in the e-learning world: Scholarship, practice and digital technologies.
We live in a time in which education in every form is increasingly exploring the possibilities of e-learning. In the higher education context discussions about the nature of online technologies, and how to utilise its affordances, proliferate. Such discussions are tied to the central question of ‘what is the project of a contemporary university?’ This leads to a myriad of questions such as: In this era of MOOCS, digital platforms and pre-prepared online interactions, what is it that is of value? What is the currency of universities? Is this current movement a crisis or can it be seen as a liberating force, creating spaces for innovation and creative practice? Does change allow us to let go of previous ways of thinking and address issues of the local, national and global world? Does it allow us to blur the boundaries of disciplines and ideas and see through the lens of hybridisation? How do we work in a fragmented and modularised yet also connected world? How do we conceptualise our practice and work with students in these environments? How do students experience these environments and translate their experiences? And how do these questions and their implications alter our approaches to practice and scholarship? This special issue of fusion includes articles that focus on these questions and explores the possibilities of education in an e-learning world.
Ever since Vasari published the Vite in 1550, art history has been skewed in favour of named individuals whose biographies can be unveiled or re-evaluated. However, the majority of contributions to visual culture do not fit this criterion. If it is impossible to determine an artists’ name, some of the most significant cultural and commercial imperatives for new scholarship are lost. Due to related methodological prejudices, analyses primarily drawn from material culture have been reserved for ‘inferior’ contributions to visual culture. The presentation of anonymous objects has been avoided or maligned by art galleries, because the public wants names. Museums, by contrast, do not appear to have this problem.
The distinction between high art and low art may no longer be a concern for researchers, but anonymous visual culture remains the preserve of a brave few. This issue of fusion includes articles that consider the roles played by anonymous creators, the ways in which the problem of anonymity has shaped visual culture, and the consequences (or benefits) of anonymity for contemporary art, communications, and design.
Selected and collated writing and creative/other works from the inaugural Land Dialogues Conference in April, 2016. The Land Dialogues conference was three days of presentations of interdisciplinary scholarship by researchers and artists working in dialogue with, within or about land. The conference covered diverse and divergent approaches to the key thematic phrase ‘Land Dialogues’ and especially encourage interdisciplinary attitudes to place/space and human/non-human convergence discourses.