Ways of Seeing: Critical, Digital, Spatial


16 February 2018, 8:00 AM — 16 February 2018, 5:00 PM

EASS Digital Humanities Symposium

Bradley Forum, City West Campus,
The University of South Australia, Adelaide.

Symposium Program TBA

Download Call for Abstracts

Ways of Seeing: Critical, Digital, Spatial

A memory garden as an alchemical representation

Image source: http://www.telesterion.com/artofmem.htm accessed 28/11/2017 in Francis A. Yates, The Art of Memory. London: Routledge 1966


This symposium aims to investigate the opportunities “critical digital humanities” might offer for the fields of architecture, design and the spatial humanities. Degrees of criticality could occur around the terms themselves – for example, “digital” presents opportunities to revisit ways of “seeing” knowledge through software and computational tools – or through the design of the interface for access to discovering, searching, as well as sustaining and disseminating information. What new research questions may be conceived through multi-modal forms of engagement with research data? How can we open up our understanding of the spatial through the application of digital tools, platforms and datasets?

Ways of seeing and representing knowledge using datasets of multi-modal forms can be seen as a knowledge building initiative. This way of seeing the world as a “direct experience of reality” is mostly a multi-sensorial response [1]. It also prompts the “inadvertent gaze” or ineffable which involves the mind attempting to have new experiences, therefore the rational mind and the inadvertent gaze are interdependent.

The premise here is that virtual immersion presupposes another way of interrogating the research subject/object [2]. Research questions in qualitative research in the social sciences come from multiple sources and motivations, visual analyses/observations represent some of them. Visual observations may also translate to investigating non-tangible aspects of a particular environment and culture. The visual is therefore essential in “knowing” the subject matter and how to investigate it. How is the digitisation and dissemination of multiple knowledges impacting creative industries, cultural and research institutions and socio-cultural practices? Is digitisation offering new opportunities?

1. Stephen Hirtenstein’s presentation at ‘Nazar: Ways of Seeing,” CAMEA Symposium, University of Adelaide, October 2017.

2. Visual culture is wedded to the idea that immersion comes from narrative as opposed to database structures/ways of organising and building knowledge. Therefore, the immersion through narrative underpins the interpretive process/the subjective and the unknown is included in the construction of knowledge from the outset, this may also be the case for literature and film. Jeanne-Marie Viljoen 15.10.17


Dr Andrew Yip         

University of New South Wales

Dr Rachel Hendery

University Western Sydney

Call for Abstracts

This symposium revisits digitisation processes to invite abstract proposals for 10 minute panel presentations from digital humanities researchers to consider the following 3 main themes:

1. Spatial Practice [conceptual, virtual + material]: interactions with knowledge sets as having, or requiring, spatial practice. The virtual environment leads to particular ways of thinking. How might we release knowledge from the paradigm of static databases to dynamic and interactive fields of relations which prompt new ways of seeing, discovering, accessing an ontological understanding of the humanities to influence and impact upon the diversity of worldviews? What new strengths and innovative questions might be realised through the re- structuring of, or rethinking research databases and Boolean search engines? What breadth of possibilities lie in collating and linking different and sometimes disparate information which is not always located together in the same research database? How might digitally immersive and virtual environments change the way we interrogate knowledge? Does finding alternative ways of “seeing” and “knowing” subject matter motivate different types of research questions?

2. Critical digital humanities [theoretical + philosophical]: This concept has been proposed in a recent publication by David Mark Berry and Fagerjord 2017.

“Computation is a historical phenomenon and can be traced and periodised through historicisation, but more work is needed here. Ignoring the hegemony of computational concepts and methods leads to a dangerous assumption, as it is a short step towards new forms of control, myth and limited forms of computational rationality.” 

(Berry, D. M. and A. Fagerjord 2017. Digital humanities: knowledge and critique in a digital age, John Wiley & Sons, 207-208)

A discussion of these ideas is proposed to consider what critical digital humanities conceptually offers as a field of scholarship and a mapping of the challenges involved? What are the intersections between the digital as a concept and humanist scholarship now? To what extent can the revisiting of the field present new possibilities and new knowledge building opportunities and impact in a post-digital world?

3. Maintaining and sustaining [operational + structural]: Emphasis in the digital humanities is sometimes placed on the conceptualisation of the field of research, its impact as a part of the academy, rather than on the maintenance of digital systems/platforms/databases/projects over time. How might we consider long-term strategies around the maintenance of digital humanities projects? How are these initiatives valued in cultural and research institutions from investment and policy perspectives? How does working between analogue and digital representations create a coherent form of knowledge building?

Guidelines: Preparation of Abstracts

Please submit abstracts of 250 words, accompanied by up to five key words. Please provide brief biographical details of 100 words on another sheet.

On the Cover Sheet please include abstract title, name of author, affiliation and full contact details, including email.

Please submit all abstracts and biographical details to:

 Mr. Chris Burns - chris.burns@unisa.edu.au by 16 January 2018

Abstract acceptance announced by 23 January 2018.


  1. Call for abstracts -  4 December 2017
  2. Abstracts submission - 16 January 2018
  3. Abstract acceptance - 23 January 2018
  4. Panel Presentations - 16 February 2018

Note: invitation for papers will be extended post-symposium for review and collation into a peer-reviewed edited journal.

Full address of Symposium:

Level 5 Bradley Forum, Hawke Building, City West Campus, University of South Australia.