The Faculty of Arts and Media delivers a broad range of undergraduate and postgraduate media and creative arts courses across both campuses at Chester and Warrington, and supports considerable foundation degree delivery at a number of partner colleges. The Faculty received our highest research rating in the 2008 research assessment exercise. .

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  • The Furling of the Sails

    Piasecka, Shelley; University of Chester
    Conference report on the Mystic Seaport Museum, Connecticut. A post-conference day trip for presenters and participants of "Melville’s Origins: The Twelfth International Melville Conference.”
  • A Trace of Actions Unseen: The Photographic Error as Photography ‘in performance’

    Piper-Wright, Tracy; University of Chester (2018-11-16)
    In contemporary digital photography the error is an increasingly rare and unusual phenomenon, but it presents valuable insights into the practice of photography. This article proposes time as a specific indicator of difference between the ‘conventional’ photograph and the error, based on a distinction between performativity and performance. The performance of the error takes place in three ‘acts’: the photographic event, image recording and interpretation by the viewer. In each stage the error’s relationship to time is shown to be ambiguous and multifaceted, counterpointing a simplified concept of time which prevails in the conventional photograph. The error exposes the entanglement of actors and relationships within the act of photographing and in so doing destabilises common assumptions about photographs as simple, immediate documents.
  • News Media Representations of Women in Conflicts: The Boko Haram Conflict in Borno State, North East Nigeria (2012-2015) - A Study of Guardian, Daily Trust, Daily Sun, Leadership, Nation, and Thisday Newspapers

    Mbaya, Nancy, B. (University of Chester, 2019-10-23)
    This is a study of news media representations of women in the Boko Haram conflict in Borno state, North East Nigeria (2012-2015) with a focus on six Nigerian national newspapers - Guardian, Daily Trust, Daily Sun, Leadership, Nation, and Thisday. It draws on post-colonial theories like Orientalism and the Subaltern; feminism; and the news media to examine how the news media have represented women in this conflict. The study adopted a mixed method approach combining quantitative content analysis and qualitative thematic analysis. The quantitative analysis examined the manifest contents of the newspaper articles in the sample to find out the pattern of frames used by Nigerian journalists to represent women in the Boko Haram conflict while the qualitative analysis examined information generated from semistructured interviews; documentary data; and the translation of YouTube videos released by the Boko Haram sect. A total of 404 newspaper articles were selected, categorized, and examined using SPSS software. Findings suggest that patriarchal phrases and gender stereotypes permeate news media narratives about women affected by the conflict. This thesis therefore provides a better understanding of how Nigerian news media represent women affected by conflicts and factors that inform these representations. This work also provides a better insight into how the intersectionality of gender with other social structures like class, age, ethnicity, religion, patriarchal discrimination and other forms of oppression have permeated media representations of women in the conflict. Results similarly suggest that the Nigerian media over rely on foreign news media organizations as their major story sources about the conflict. Because of this overreliance, this thesis argues that foreign news media set the agenda for Nigerian news media in their representations of women. This study has contributed to a better understanding of how elite news media in the more developed global North set the news agenda for developing nations of the global South like Nigeria through inter-media agenda setting. 12 Findings also suggest that the Nigerian news media system reflects the social, political, religious, ethnic, and regional factors of the area within which it operates in line with the framework of regional parallelism. This study has contributed to a better understanding of how Nigeria’s North/South dichotomies based on these factors have affected the news media. This thesis concludes that as a product of regional parallelism, the Nigerian news media reflect the intersectionality of gender, social structures such as race, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation and patriarchal discrimination with other forms of oppression to disadvantage women in the Boko Haram conflict.
  • In Darwin’s Garden: an evolutionary exploration of augmented reality in practice

    Summers, Alan; University of Chester
    This chapter discusses the rapid developments in augmented reality and mixed reality technologies, from a practitioner’s perspective of making the augmented reality sculptural work In Darwin’s Garden. From its conception in 2012, to its exhibition at Carbon Meets Silicon II in 2017, the advances in augmented reality technology led to an interplay between the goal of the creators and the technological realisation of that vision. The art, design and technology involved, generated a reactive process that was mired in external influences as the accessibility to augmented reality became commercially valuable and subsequently restricted. This chapter will be of interest to anyone who wants to understand more about the possibilities, technologies and processes involved in realising mixed reality practice and about the commercial culture that supports it.
  • Between Presence and Program: The Photographic Error as Counter Culture

    Piper-Wright, Tracy; University of Chester
    Common photographic errors such over or under exposure, blur, or inadvertent cropping are increasingly rare as technological developments in digital photography have sought to eradicate the error from practice and perception. Efficiencies such as camera automation and image preview are often designed to remove the ‘unreliability’ of the human element in order to produce accurate and consistent images. The error, occurring on the margins of practice and increasingly rare, provides a counterpoint to this prevailing image culture by revealing the interdependence of photographer and camera through unintended outcomes. This chapter explores the ideological assumptions entwined in the development of camera technologies, and how cultures of practice based on a hierarchy of control between camera or photographer arose. Through examples drawn from the research project In Pursuit of Error, the chapter demonstrates how the error disrupts this hierarchy by evidencing the shared subjective agency of camera and photographer. The methodological framework of Actor-Network Theory is used to interrogate the relationship between photographer and camera and reveals them as equal ‘actants’ in the event of photographing. The embodied photographer’s attitude of play, experimentation and not-knowing is interdependent on the camera as a co-creator of unexpected image events which disrupt the conventions of photographic representation.
  • The north as a fantasy playground: The landscape photography of Raymond Moore

    Daly, Tim; University of Chester
    The photographer Raymond Moore (1920-87) who was born in Wallasey, studied painting at the Royal College of Art and in the mid-70s, taught photography at the influential Trent Polytechnic in Nottingham. In 1981, Moore was the first British photographer to have a retrospective at the Hayward Gallery, London. There are two published monographs of his work, Murmurs at Every Turn (1981) and Every So Often (1983). Although Moore’s work drew influence from European and American sources, his work has a characteristically British undertone. Since his death in 1987, photography’s expanded field of practice has emerged, freeing artists and photographers to explore themes and concerns beyond the established silos of practice of documentary and landscape. Moore’s photographic career overlapped several significant points in the history of the medium, yet his highly individualised practice sat outside both established and emerging conventions. Despite this rich complexity, a continuing legal uncertainty over the legacy of Raymond Moore’s archive has prevented a critical reevaluation of his work – his work is no longer accessible and as such, has not been exhibited or republished like many of his contemporaries.
  • Long Grove Asylum Medical Journal

    Daly, Tim; University of Chester
    The piece documents the disposal of a large scale Edwardian asylum complex that closed in 1992. I documented the aftermath of the site from 1993-98, before private development into an executive housing estate. Unbeknownst to me and at the same time, county archivist Julian Pooley was rescuing abandoned documents, medical journals, ephemera and artefacts from the same location. These would later be housed in the Surrey History Centre in Working. The work is a coming together of these two collections with new documentary photographs of the estate as it is today. The work takes the form of a dossier, styled as a large medical journal and contains multiple elements which can be viewed in any order. Alongside photographs taken in situ are photographs of the artefacts held in the archives, creating an unusual mixture of primary and secondary documentation. Within the dossier are details from large hand-written registers left abandoned at the site, chronicling the patient journey from admission onwards. In addition to these formal records, the dossier also includes ephemera relating to the hospital's social programme, a portfolio of curiously redacted press photographs, team photographs of the medical staff, maps and patients personal effects all of which were left abandoned.
  • Art_Textiles

    Bristow, Maxine; University of Chester (Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, United Kingdom, 2015-10-10)
    'Barrier, ref: 9774-14', is a series of 10 modular sculptural components, 5 of which were exhibited as part of the international 'Art_Textiles' exhibition at The Whitworth Gallery, Manchester 10 October 2015-31 January 2016. Occupying four main galleries, 'Art_Textiles' brought together works dating from the 1960s to the present day by 27 artists from around the world who use textiles as a powerful tool for expressing ideas about the social, political and artistic. The exhibition included iconic feminist pieces from the 1970s by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Faith Wilding, Miriam Shapiro, Elaine Reichek as well as contemporary works by artists such as Grayson Perry, Tracey Emin and Lubana Himid. A 96 page catalogue with a forward by the Whitworth's director Maria Balshaw, introductory essay by deputy director and curator of the exhibition Jennifer Harris and further essays by Pennina Barnett and Julia Bryon-Wilson accompanied the exhibition. Designed so that they could be variably (re)configured according to the exhibition and installational context, the modular sculptural components take the form of temporary barriers or handrails which play between a work of art and functional object. As a free standing form, the handrail directs us through space, but it also operates as a barrier which divides space, defines boundaries and alternately either denies or allows access. Articulating space in a physical way, the work also addresses the broader metaphorical connotations of borders and boundaries and their implications in terms of traditional discourses of power. Whilst the work creates a boundary that dictates the movement of the viewer and affords significance to the space that it delineates, the boundary is clearly arbitrary and open to revision. Consciously referencing seminal hard-edged minimalist modular configurations such as Donald Judd’s floor-based open frame-like structures, these works are upholstered and intricately embroidered through the labour intensive process of darning. However, rather than take centre stage, they might easily be mistaken for institutional furniture, where the self-effacing labour intensity of their production could go unnoticed. For the 'Art_Textiles' exhibition they formed a barrier around the artist Susan Collis's work which similarly involves an enormous amount of hidden labour and plays with our perceptions of everyday objects, whereas in previous configurations they have quietly protected the more spectacular work of Grayson Perry.
  • A Mile Apart

    Connolly, Lynne; University of Chester (Lynne Connolly, 2017-10-18)
    Abstract: This paper explores through the use of photography, a parallel mapping of the ‘unspoken’ domestic sphere, the myth of the safety of home, and set against political and external events in a unique period of recent history. It is focused on Belfast, Northern Ireland and the period of ‘The Troubles’. It examines the nature of the space we inhabit, the vernacular, the everyday and how this might influence our identity. Drawing on the work of Bachelard (1969) it will also explore how the vernacular can be located in a different time frame, and therefore allows for a new representation and perspective. The recreation of a wholly new space that partially exists in our experience and further exists in our interpretation of that through memory. It exists in our own parallel universe of understanding wherein we become spectators in the drama of our past. In this research the camera is working in a reversal of representation, using potentially unreliable memory to recreate moments of past events. These moments are often fragments or elements of scenarios. It is not the reliability of memory that is in question but rather the need to have validation of a remembered thing in speaking and visualising of it. Through a series of constructed images, this paper will explore this journey of representation, memory and how the photographic mnemonic becomes a device to explore divergent memories in relation to the home as well as external influences on identity and memory.
  • Visual communication in the 21st Century: A study of the visual and digital communication experiences of post-Millennial university students

    Maheshwari, Vish; Moss, Danny; Lyon, Andy; Sillitoe, Kathleen L (University of Chester, 2018-08)
    Higher education (HE) visual communication students, who are considering careers in the creative industries of advertising and marketing, need a high level of skills in visual and digital literacy. However, students born after 1995 (post-Millennials), now entering HE, appear to present with fewer visual communication and digital skills than previous cohorts. This research provides a case study of post-Millennial students and examines the extent to which they are learning visual communication skills through their use of widely available digital media technologies. Four groups of post-Millennial students were investigated: one group of Level 4 Computer Science students; two groups of Level 4 Advertising students, from different years; and one group of Level 6 Advertising students. The students were surveyed using interview, questionnaire, observation and focus group. The resulting data was coded and analysed to extract themes. A further layered analysis, using a Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) framework, was then carried out. Using this CHAT framework, deviances were found within the activity system of this HE advertising programme delivery. The most fundamental change was in the dissonance found between the student participants’ and HE’s learning objectives. This was in the context of a complete reversal of the relative importance of the communities within the students’ activity systems. They had become ‘flipped learners’. These CHAT related findings are arguably relevant to wider HE settings. The research also found that the students in the focus groups had a high dependency on the Internet. They used it to search for, and download, images and text. They also preferred to use the Internet to source knowledge or information, rather than to approach staff. Their visual literacy skills appeared to be weaker than those of previous cohorts. Despite their weaknesses, many students had a high level of confidence in their own ability that was not reflected in their work. A strong theme of ‘need for speed’ was highlighted, with many students believing that speed of production was more important than the quality of an artefact in professional work. The systemic changes highlighted by the CHAT framework, together with the research’s other findings, suggest potential implications for the teaching of HE students of visual communication and for the future of the creative industries. Further research is indicated in the areas of the effects of young people’s: use of the mobile phone on visual literacy skills; perception of industry needs; increasing dependency on the Internet for the acquisition of knowledge; and their need for speed.
  • Literary and Historic Flâneuses: Observation, Commentary, Enterprise and Courage in Late-Nineteenth-Century Women’s Professional Lives

    Grennan, Simon; Hall, Leo (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2019-02-09)
    Abstract Discussions of the conception of that exemplar of late-nineteenth-century and early-twentieth century urban modernity, the flâneur, have focused on both critique of the figure’s masculinity and more radical and nuanced conceptions of women’s flânerie. This article considers both the re-gendering and ungendering of flânerie in the character of three flâneuses in fiction published in the 1870s, 1880s and 1910s: Madame Sidonie, Henrietta Stackpole, and Elsie Bengough, and related dissonances and synergies in the career and work of London actress and cartoonist Marie Duval, active 1869–1885. It will argue that changes in types of reading supervened upon the boom in the production and distribution of serial publications during this period, resulting in the embodiment of new female professional identities, relative to both changing experiences of urban life and changing experiences of reading. The article makes a distinction between new ideas of these types of urban professional woman and the development of the identity of the New Woman after 1894. It examines the historic comprehensibility of the fictional flâneuses to readers of Zola, James, and Onions, according to the new opportunities and prohibitions that constituted the lived experiences of the developing urban entertainments industry of the period, in Duval’s comic strips and vignettes in the weekly London magazine Judy, or The London Serio-Comic Journal.
  • The Materiality of Conflict in Contact: Improvisational Explorations in 'Pitch'

    Sarco-Thomas, Malaika; University of Chester (Dance Studies Association, 2018-12)
    This presentation investigates the 2017 site-based dance film project Pitch, featuring choreography by Charlie Morrissey, as an investigation into the materiality of conflict within contact improvisation practices. New materialist philosophies invite reconsideration of matter as animate in ways which dance improvisers might be said to already perceive the body. Deborah Hay’s knowledgeable cells, and Steve Paxton’s animal body can arguably be read in light of Karen Barad’s notion of posthumanist ‘iterative intra-activity’ in which the consideration of the differentiated mass of thebody as nonhuman becomes another kind of choreographic agent within the performance.Working processes within the project, which included focusing on the tactility of conflict as friction and the consideration of resistance itself as a material, placed emphasis on the dancers’ material experience of the body as a key performative strategy. In this sense, matter became figured, in the words of Barad, not ‘as a mere effect or product of discursive practices, but rather as an agentive factor in its iterative materialization’ (2012: 32) in which the identity of the dancers became ‘radically reworked’. From an analysis of the choreographic process and film product, this presentation will investigate how contact improvisation practices which focus on the tactile experience of matter can be said to be examples of iterative intra-activity on multiple perceptual levels. Tactile confrontation of ‘the other’ and his/her struggle toward aliveness in movement, and confrontation of the porous materiality of the human bodybecome hallmarks of the film.
  • Relatos de cuidado: respuestas creativas al cuidado de la demencia

    Grennan, Simon; Priego, Ernesto; Wilkins, Peter; University of Chester; City University of London; Douglas College (City University of London, 2019-07-31)
    Spanish language translation of 'Parables of Care: creative responses to dementia care, as told by carers'.
  • Trauma and death in the digital age

    Waller, Rhian (SAGE Publications, 2019-07-05)
  • Excitable tissues in motion capture practices: The improvising dancer as technogenetic imagist

    Sarco-Thomas, Malaika; Falmouth University (Intellect, 2013-10-01)
    This article outlines the potential of dance improvisation practice to function as a technological interface with one’s environment, drawing parallels between the performances of Twig Dances (Sarco-Thomas 2010) and technologies used in the life sciences to map living matter onto still frames. A postphenomenological approach is used to compare improvisation scores with image-making technologies. Scores that invite corporeal responses to the non-human, and kinaesthetic responses to organic matter, are highlighted as technologies which stand further exploration and examination as they mediate our experience of the world. A diversifying field of somatic practices is proposed as a means to investigate the potential knowledges generated by ‘excitable tissues’ enlivened through improvisational practices.
  • Diving Into the Wild: Ecologies of Performance in Devon and Cornwall

    Sarco-Thomas, Malaika; Falmouth University (Routledge, 2015-03-31)
    This chapter explores different examples of site-based dance performance in Devon and Cornwall, analysing them for the different ways they invite audiences and performers to engage with nature. The essay maps a continuum for engaging with the outdoors via a table that categorises different sited dance activities and performances from 2001-2014, drawing on findings of reports which identify the health benefits of engaging with green spaces. Works are analysed for their ways of encouraging viewing nature, incidental involvement, and purposeful, somatic involvement with the outdoors. The chapter argues that such performance initiatives offer conceptual and social frameworks for outdoor experiences that provide individuals with health-giving benefits whilst simultaneously proposing ways to think differently about our relationships to wild places.
  • Questioning through Doing: Shaping Praxis through the Individual Dance Project

    Sarco-Thomas, Malaika; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018-04-27)
    How might flow theory explain dancers’ experience of technique class? Can auditory learning stimulate a deeper understanding of tap dance? How does “play” build group cohesion in improvisation? These and other questions can spark undergraduate dance research. Artistic research at the undergraduate level creates an opportunity for students to exercise a range of skills as scholars, facilitators and performers. This case study will look at the Individual Dance Project (IDP) as integral to the Bachelor (Honors) in Dance Studies course offered by the University of Malta’s School of Performing Arts as an example of high-impact teaching where students are guided and challenged to build unique projects which investigate a phenomenon in both theory and practice.
  • Introduction to the book: Interdisciplinarity in the Performing Arts: Contemporary Perspectives

    Sarco-Thomas, Malaika; Aquilina, Stefan (Malta University Press, 2018)
    The introduction to this book includes an overview of current discourses on interdisciplinary research and practice within the performing arts, and gives an overview of chapters contained in the book. Interdisciplinarity in the Performing Arts: Contemporary Perspectives contributes to current discussion about the intrinsic interdisciplinary nature of the performing arts, while also identifying the potential which theatre, dance, and music have in creating bridges with other disciplines like neuroscience, social sciences, philosophy, pedagogy, and therapy. Coordinated by the School of Performing Arts of the University of Malta and featuring contributions from KU Leuven, Ghent University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), Royal Holloway (London), Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Brazil), and Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland), this publication explores questions brought forward by approaches to performance that interweave theory and practice, through examples of methodologies, philosophies, interpretations, and applications of interdisciplinarity today.
  • Interdisciplinarity in the Performing Arts: Contemporary Perspectives

    Sarco-Thomas, Malaika; Aquilina, Stefan; University of Malta (University of Malta Press, 2018)
    Interdisciplinarity in the Performing Arts: Contemporary Perspectives contributes to current discussion about the intrinsic interdisciplinary nature of the performing arts, while also identifying the potential which theatre, dance, and music have in creating bridges with other disciplines like neuroscience, social sciences, philosophy, pedagogy, and therapy. Coordinated by the School of Performing Arts of the University of Malta and featuring contributions from KU Leuven, Ghent University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), Royal Holloway (London), Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Brazil), and Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland), this publication explores questions brought forward by approaches to performance that interweave theory and practice, through examples of methodologies, philosophies, interpretations, and applications of interdisciplinarity today.
  • Momentum, Gravity, and 'Sensational Facts': Attending to Interdisciplinary Materiality through Contact Improvisation

    Sarco-Thomas, Malaika; University of Chester (University of Malta Press, 2018)
    This chapter maps out some initial territory for examining how the movement practice of contact improvisation, a form born in the 1970s out of the explorations of Judson Dance Theatre artists, might be seen to offer a sensation and attention-based approach to matter. I suggest that such an attention-based practice can be understood as crucially interdisciplinary when viewed through the lens of new materialism. In doing so, I discuss the imaginative privileging of the sensate, characteristic of contact improvisation, as a frame through which to point to the significance of two further performance forms: the author’s solo performance Twig Dances and Min Tanaka’s Body Weather training. I conclude by identifying how these scores, which might be broadly identified as ‘contact [and] improvisation’ practices, open up questions of how performance philosophies that seek identification with, or question another, are significant to interdisciplinary investigations of materiality, including scientific processes. Such attention-based scores introduce new understandings of material entanglement, through embodied improvisation, which can be desirable to what this essay will call an experiential posthuman project. As such, ‘posthuman’ is understood in this essay as an approach whereby a collective set of forces, and attention-based processes, study material encounters through post-anthropocentric perspectives. I argue that such attention to materiality may be seen as interdisciplinary, when viewed as both a physical and imaginative performance practice.

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