Coding and Representation

This interdisciplinary conference examines the way that coding and representation are enmeshed.  Cultural instances will be examined from the nineteenth century to the present.  Fine art, graphic imagery, film and photography, literature, scientific concepts and political form will be considered.  In an era of electrical, and eventually digital, communication, the use of codes and machine code in transmission became ubiquitous.  The conference considers representation in this broad range of categories in the light of the constraints and possibilities of code.  This conference coincides with the last few days of the exhibition currently on at the Guildhall Art Gallery, London ‘Victorians Decoded: Art and Telegraphy’. Those attending the conference will have the chance to view the exhibition on Friday evening, after the opening keynote paper to be given at the Guildhall Art Gallery by Mary Ann Doane (author of  The Emergence of Cinematic Time: Modernity, Contingency and the Archive, 2002).  The second day of the conference is held at The Courtauld Institute for Art with a concluding keynote paper by Gail Day (author of Dialectical Passions: Negation and Postwar Art Theory, 2010) and Steve Edwards (author of Martha Rosler, The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems, 2012).

We are grateful for the generous support of the AHRC; the McDougall Fund; King’s College London, Faculty Research Committee; and Media History.

The exhibition and conference emerge from the 2013-17 research project, ‘Scrambled Messages: the Telegraphic Imaginary 1857-1900’.  We acknowledge the generosity of the AHRC in funding this research.

Ticket holders will be entitled 50% discount (£4.75) to The Courtauld Gallery’s permanent collection and temporary exhibition on Saturday 21 January. Tickets will be valid throughout the day. Student and Art Fund tickets are £4.





Friday 20 January 2017 (DAY 1) Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, London EC2V 5AE
18.00 – 18.20 REGISTRATION
18.20 – 19.30 Keynote lecture
Mary Ann Doane (Department of Film and Media Studies, University of California, Berkeley): The Face in Early Cinema and the Discourse of the Universal
Session chaired by Clare Pettitt (Department of English, King’s College London)
19.30 – 21.00 Drinks reception
Saturday 21 January 2017 (DAY 2) The Courtauld Institute of Art, Strand London WC2R 0RN
10.00 – 10.45 REGISTRATION
10.45 – 11.00 Welcome and Introduction: Cassie Newland (Scrambled Messages Research Team, King’s College, London)
11.00 – 12.15 Session 1: Distance
Kate Flint (Art History, University of Southern California): Space, scale, and imagination: Robert Dudley’s paintings of the Atlantic Cable
Duncan Bell (Political Thought, Cambridge University): Cyborg Imperium, c.1900
Session chaired by David Edgerton (History of Science, King’s College London)
12.15 – 14.00 BREAK FOR LUNCH (lunch provided for the speakers and chairs only. Seminar Room 1)
14.00 – 15.15 Session 2: Transmission
Grace Brockington (History of Art, University of Bristol): Art and Esperanto: universal visual languages in the age of the telegraph
Sarah Wilkes (Institute of Making, University College London): Touching Emotions: Materials as Media for Communication.
Session chaired by Elizabeth Edwards (History of Photography, Emerita, De Montfort University)


15.15 – 16.00 TEA/COFFEE BREAK (provided in Seminar Room 1)


16.00 – 17.15 Session 3: Impedance
Richard Taws (Art History, University College London): Paris in Code: Information and Impedance in Nineteenth-Century France
Matthew Kerr (English Literature, Southampton University): Seas, Signals, Novels, and Noise in the Nineteenth Century
Session chaired by Tilly Blyth (Head of Collections, Science Museum, London)
17.15 – 17.30 Comfort break
17.30 – 18.40 Keynote lecture
Gail Day (Cultural Studies, Leeds University) and Steve Edwards (History and Theory of Photography, Birkbeck, University of London): Differential time and aesthetic form: uneven and combined capitalism in the work of Allan Sekula


Session chaired by Caroline Arscott (The Courtauld Institute of Art)
18.40 END