The 2013 AHRA Transgression Conference – An Overview by David Littlefield

The international conference on Transgression, co-organised by MST member David Littlefield and UWE colleague Dr Rachel Sara, is now being followed by a website and a pair of publications due for publication in the autumn of 2014. The conference, which was the 10th conference of the Architectural Humanities Research Association, took place in Bristol UK last November. With more than 60 speakers, including a specially-commissioned film from Bernard Tschumi, the conference heard from architects, artists, film-makers and theorists about the ways in which notions of transgression can help define spatial practice and readings of space. Speakers included a number of MST members including Gini Lee, Mary Modeen, Victoria Walters, David Smith, Rebecca Krinke and Iain Biggs.

“Transgression pushes the limits of experience”, wrote Bakhtin. Bataille suggested a further definition: “Transgression opens the door into what lies beyond the limits usually observed, but it maintains those limits just the same. Transgression is complementary to the profane world, exceeding its limits but not destroying it.”

The conference, therefore, asked how architecture and other spatial disciplines can challenge the norm (codes, rules, social constructs) in order to usefully redefine or re-code practice and the frameworks within which spatial practices take place. Indeed, by examining what is taking place at the edges of architecture, can notions of transgression help redefine the centre of architecture itself? One of the themes to emerge from the conference was, in fact, a recognition of the expanded field which encompasses architecture and the number of practices which have been deployed as architectural tools, including: mapping, exploring, performance, dance, chemistry, archaeology, walking and dreaming. Can notions of transgression – with its implications of subversion, blurring and stepping across a boundary – help in the creation of a new definition of architectural practice and practices?

These questions will continue to be explored in two post-conference publications presently being edited: the book Transgression (Routledge) and the journal Architecture and Culture on the theme of “Transgression: body and space” (Bloomsbury). Ideas were also tested through the publication of an issue of Architectural Design “The Architecture of Transgression” (Wiley)*. The Transgression research cluster at the University of the West of England is also working on a website. In the longer term, the research cluster is considering how the conference can have a lasting and on-going legacy through further projects and networking events.

For further details on Transgression and developing initiatives, please contact:



Red Books and the Erasure of Geography

Hughie O’Donoghue’s artwork, Red Books is the latest addition to the John Paul II Library at NUI Maynooth. MST member, Gerry Kearns has written about the work, and reflects on what it can teach us.

Read the full article at the “NUIM Geography’s  Eye on the World” blog at:


Lifeworlds: Space, Place and Irish Culture: 27-30 March 2014

Venue: Ómós Áite: Space/Place Research Network, NUI Galway

Lifeworlds: Space, Place and Irish Culture specifically focuses on the centrality of space and place in Irish ‘lifeworld’ experiences, both within the geographical boundary of the island of Ireland and the migrant spaces of the Irish diaspora. The conference brings together a unique network of international scholars and community-based practitioners in an effort to broaden our understanding of the role of space and place in the construction of modern Irish culture and identity at home and abroad.

Conference sessions, plenary lectures and the mapping workshop are free and open to the public. Places are limited for all events – early booking is advised.

For full details visit Mapping Spectral Traces


Image: Dancing in the Kitchen (Bridie Callinan and Kathleen O’Loughlin, Co. Clare),
Christy McNamara© 1993-94.

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Urban Humanities

Karen Till has kindly forwarded the following information on a Fellowship opportunity at McGill, Montreal:

Application deadline: 7 April 2014
Term of appointment: 1 July 2014 – 30 June 2015
Stipend: $40,000 + research support
The Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas seeks one postdoctoral fellow in urban humanities with appropriate expertise in one or several of the following areas: cultural studies; media studies; architectural history & theory;urban geography & design. Familiarity or expertise with digital media applications such as 3D-modeling, animation, imaging, GIS, and/or graphic design applications is a plus. The candidate must have a demonstrable research interest in one of the primary research axes listed below and exhibit project management skills and interest.
The Fellow will join an interdisciplinary research project entitled, “Arts and Ideas in Motion (AIM): Parkour Project” developed in collaboration with the Facility for Architectural Research in Media and Mediation (FARMM) in the School of Architecture at McGill. AIM is structured along three research axes that are unified through shared project-based activity in collaboration with community stakeholders and artists. The AIM research program brings together team members in the humanities and artists, performers, and architects to propose alternative disciplinary practices that engages the movement of art and ideas within the urban context. Through the concerted entwining of design, artistic production, and multi-modal intellectual inquiries, methodologies, and expertise, AIM will: 1) investigate how and why ideas move among people and places, how that movement creates new public spaces for collective creation, discussion, and action, and how it makes new communities, often across barriers of language, class, race, sex, age, and nationality; 2) propose, through active participation in artistic creation, an original and active mode of scholarship for the humanities distinct from and complementary to traditional modes of scholarship; 3) make an original contribution to knowledge concerning the way in which artistic practices and works generate ideas that have specific political, social, and epistemological currency. The binding research-creation component around which all scholarly activity will occur is the urban, installation-based Mobile Urban Stage (MUSe) project. MUSe entails the creation of an interactive, multimedia, expandable and reconfigurable structure upon which performances are carried out in the city, publicly. It is through such performative and community-based activity that AIM will engage directly with a diverse audience that will push the work of the three research axes beyond the academy.
Candidates will have a PhD in a field consonant with “urban humanities” and a research program relevant to the central interests of the project. The Fellow will work on his or her own research program, collaborate with colleagues in an interdisciplinary context, and may have the opportunity to teach in his or her areas of specialty. The Fellow will also take part in the development of the project’s program of public outreach, dissemination, events,take a leadership role in project administration, and serve on the project’s Management Committee (approximately 25% time commitment). The Fellowship stipend will be approximately $40,000CDN per annum, plus travel and research support. Applications, consisting of a description of research program, writing sample, CV, and any relevant graphic material (optional; 5MB maximum) must be sent by email (.pdf attachments only) on or before April 07, 2014 to Michael Jemtrud, Associate Professor of Architecture, McGill University at Please also arrange for three confidential letters of reference to be sent to the same email address by the April 07 deadline. Candidates should ask referees to include the candidate’s name on the subject line of the email. For more information:

Understanding fatigue in ME/CFS: An exercise in objectivity

Iain Biggs has kindly forwarded information on an event taking place in Bristol, February 2014. He writes:

“Understanding fatigue in ME/CFS: An exercise in objectivity” is the keynote presentation by Prof. Mark VanNess from the Workwell Foundation USA on Feb. 5th at the Watershed Bristol. More information is available at and tickets, £10, can be bought here


Cultural Geographies Journal – October 2013 edition

The October 2013 edition of the Cultural Geographies Journal is a special edition covering the themes of Absence. Materiality, Embodiment, Resistance. The articles may be of particular interest to members of Mapping Spectral Traces. Thanks to Iain Biggs for alerting us to it.

The online edition is available now. See for more details.


Call for papers: ‘Haunted Landscapes’ One day symposium in Falmouth

Something that might be of interest to Mapping Spectral Traces members and other followers. Thanks to Dr Iain Biggs, who sent these details through.

Subject: ‘Haunted Landscapes’ One day symposium in Falmouth

CFP ‘Haunted Landscapes: Nature, Super-Nature and the Environment’ One Day Symposium hosted
by Falmouth University and the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, UK and Ireland.
Venue: Falmouth University, Cornwall, UK
Keynote Speaker: Professor Ronald Hutton (Bristol University)
On March 8th 2014 Falmouth University and ASLE UKI are pleased to be holding a one day symposium on the subject of ‘haunted landscapes’. From places and spaces haunted by spectres, memory or history to conceptions of landscape as palimpsest, holy wells and ancient sites, literature, art and film have always explored concepts of the supernatural and the landscape and environment. Landscapes can be haunted by echoes and memories of colonization, violence done and irrevocable acts committed. Places may be marked indelibly by the past and by the people who populated and shaped the environment in many different ways. Layers of memory and action can be embedded in the landscape alongside the layering of history in stone. Encounters with the landscape reverberate through the ages and through the rocks, trees, hills and streams that are still present today. Ghosts can shade the atmosphere of a place and some things never leave. The environment bears witness to the super-natural and that which seems paranormal may eventually become a natural part of the environment.
Papers examining any aspect of the super-natural and the environment are welcomed from all disciplines. Subjects can include (but are not bound by):
  • Ghosts and the landscape
  • The Weird and the land
  • The idea of ‘super’ in the super-natural
  • Landscape and memory
  • Landscape as palimpsest
  • Haunted places
  • Actions and emotions embedded in the landscape
  • The past echoing back through the landscape
  • The landscape and the Uncanny
  • Nature and haunting
  • Animals, super-nature and the environment
  • Death, life and rebirth and the environment

Abstracts of 300-500 for 20 minute papers are to be submitted by December 8th to: and

We are also happy to answer any questions.

Walking | Talking: A PLaCE exhibition exploring artists’ approaches and strategies to walking

6th-9th September 2013
Small Room, The Parlour Showrooms, 33 College Green, Bristol

Artists: Iain Biggs, Lydia Halcrow, Carol Laidler and mel shearsmith
Book artists: Virginia Batson, Iain Biggs, Sarah Bodman, Thomas. A. Clark, Anwyl Cooper-Willis, Antony Lyons, Sue Maude, Sarah Rhys and Ahlrich van Ohlen

Details at:


The Big Park Draw 2013

Once again Julian Gregg, Charlotte Murray and David Smith, hosted three open invitation drawing events in Victoria Park, Bristol, UK. They took place in May, June and July.

May and June brought sun, and a wind that threatened to lift the gazebo into the skies. Despite this, families came out and discovered, once again, the joys of drawing, even while they took shelter under a soggy gazebo. The July event coincided with the start of the British heatwave, and a busy Bristol weekend, including the annual St Paul’s Carnival and a thousand-strong choir singing for Water Aid. Nonetheless the sun brought people to Victoria Park, and a wide variety of works in pencil, pastel and ink were produced.

Many thanks to those who came along and enthusiastically took part, and to those who helped us set up.

Images from the Big Park Draw events, including work from the events are constantly being added.
Please visit (and revisit

Reflections on Bdote Exhibition

Reflection on Bdote

Between 29th April and 3rd May 2013, David Smith staged “Reflections on Bdote” at the University of the West of England. This photographic exhibition was a personal response to the Mapping Spectral Traces symposium (MST VI: shadows traces undercurrents) held in Minneapolis in October 2012. The exhibition also included the reflections of other members of Mapping Spectral Traces who attended the event. The contribution of Dakota artist and MST member Mona Smith, provided valuable insight into the meaning and power of the word, Bdote (“where two waters come together” –

The exhibition was split in two parts and shown in two separate gallery spaces in the Bower Ashton Campus of the University of the West of England. In one, four large panoramic canvasses invite the visitor to stop and immerse themselves in the landscape of Minneapolis and its surrounding area. The other part combined languorous video slideshows with still image and text reflections to create a meditation on the trip, and the part that land played in in shaping the experience.

Implicit in the exhibition and its views are the interventions that the turbulent and traumatic history of the area has layered upon the landscape; interventions that were made explicit by the field trips, particularly the trip to Snelling State Park, that were arranged by MST member Mona Smith. David extends his thanks to the organisers of MST VI, and to those who contributed their thoughts and work to the exhibition.

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