Self-Imaging: Identity, Disruption, Transformation. An online lecture series on Global Pop Cultures

Designing the Self. The self as a draft and design object

Curated by Judith Mair

The competence of design is in its drafting, the visualization of alternatives. How could things potentially be?

In the context of Global Pop Cultures, we dedicate ourselves to the semiotic, signifying dimension of design. We decode the norms, feelings, and messages hidden behind the visual surfaces that reach us daily from the global mainstream and avant-garde niches.

“Designing the Self” thinks beyond the constructed contradiction of authenticity and artificiality. We are interested in the transitions, the space between the fading borders, between male and female, digital and analog, real and fake, high and low.

The spectrum gathered in the following eight episodes ranges from Bizarre Bodies, Foreign Mangas and Gender Salons to Virtual Identities and Chips Crises as well as Fake Nails and Face Filters.

October 1

October 8

Creative Identities across Art and Science

Curated by Richard Reynolds

The impact of science and technology on contemporary Pop Cultures is immense – so great that sometimes it is difficult to see it in perspective. Technology shapes the culture that we make, as well as the modes in which cultural productions are experienced and shared. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has further underlined the myriad ways in which science-based technologies have become inseparable from every part of our cultural life.

The four guest speakers in the ‘Creative Identities across Art and Science’ events are all engaged in exploring how Pop Cultures thrive at the boundaries of what is and what can be technically possible. Their practices range from engaging in scientific research through music (Kelly Snook), the realisation of self-image through technology (Manos Tsakiris), the interplay of micro and macro biological processes in identity and creative expression (Jill Scott), or the suggestion that aspects of our creative and cultural life resonate from the DNA structures that encode and transmit life itself (Cvetana Ivanova).

October 15

October 20

October 22

Staging the Self

In this section, we look at different aspects of staging, mainly related to event culture, from pop music and club events via performance art through to political protests. Self-staging plays a major role in these fields, not only for those on stage who intend to create a certain image or convey a specific message, but also for the audience or participants. As “actors” on a dancefloor or as selfie shooters on social media, the audience is always “part of it”. At the same time, we explore recent developments such as changes in “staging the self” through the streaming of music and the ultimate victory of earphones, or why an artist creates a virtual Instagram persona to explore the relationship between social media and reality. Finally, we will organize a live event where a dissemination platform turns into a collaborative stage and transcends the boundary between audience and presenter.

Curated by Daniel Späti, Chair Project Team Shared Campus, Designer & Promoter of Cultural Events, Zürich.

October 29

Picturing the Self

Curated by Jörg Scheller

Through low-threshold online platforms, mobile digital gadgets and easy-to-use software, the production, distribution and consumption of self-images and self-imaging has become a global mass-phenomenon. The 21st century is experiencing the rise of an interactive and participatory, yet thoroughly commercialized public visual sphere centered on self-representation in networked image cultures. More than ever before, "the self" – allegedly genuin, authentic, singular – appears as the other side of the coin of homogenization and standardization. Against this backdrop, the section "Picturing the Self" comprises scholarly and experimental, artistic approaches to "the self" in visual culture. In podcasts, video essays, video lectures and artworks, our contributors explore the intersections between visible images of "the self" in social media and imagined self-images, while also taking into account historical precursors in cinema, photography and Videotelephony. The latter are presented on November 12, whereas November 19 is dedicated to the present.

November 12

November 19

Hearing the Self

Curated by Masahiro Yasuda and Takuro Mizuta Lippit

While images enable a powerful transformation and reconstruction of identities, sound provides an ephemeral yet profound awareness of the self through its reflective, resonant, and immersive characteristics.

Mediated forms of music, with the help of technologies of transduction and amplification such as the phonograph, electric guitar, and the loud speaker, have defined our auditory culture from the last century giving rise to notions of "pop". One can hear the self through mass-produced/distributed music and its collective listening.

Artists working in sound, however, apply a different kind of listening that is both analytical and visceral. Their works address fundamental issues surrounding sound such as the inevitable distance required for listening or the uncanniness of disembodied voices. The self we hear here is personal, expressive, and in constant negotiation.

In this lecture series we have invited exceptional artists working in sound and experimental music. Extended listening and the voice is used for examining ideas of reconciliation, exnominaiton in the pedagogy of music, creative forms of sound synthesis, and personal connections made during a pandemic.

Featured Artists: Sheryl Cheng, The Formant Brothers (Masahiro Miwa and Nobuyasu Sakonda), Ken Ueno, Wataru Asada

November 26

December 3

Writing the Self

Curated by Joseph Imorde and Jörg Scheller

This section explores the relation between written text and identity formation, identity expression, identity debates in present and past pop(ular) cultures. While it has been argued that the global networked societies ("Turing Galaxis") lead to end of book culture ("Gutenberg Galaxis"), more text is written and circulated than ever before, from the source codes that increasingly shape our interactions in physical space as well to new forms of "Confessional Writing" on social media. What forms of presenting oneself in contemporary digital media cultures are topical and which historical currents flow into the allegedly "new"? Among others, our contributors explore the challenges and potentials of decoupling online and offline self when writing under pseudonyms on the internet, and how ideas of identity as conceived in postmodern theory have shaped contemporary political debates.

December 10

December 17