Tag Archives: Dissertation

Defence of Doctoral Thesis in the Field of New Media, MA Ilan Manouach

MA Ilan Manouach will defend the thesis ‘Estranging Comics – Towards a novel comics praxeology’ on 22 April at 12:00 in Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Art and Media.

The defense is organized as a hybrid event. and will be held live at Väre, lecture hall F101 (Otaniementie 14, Espoo), and in Zoom (please click here for link).

Doctoral Candidate: MA Ilan Manouach
Opponent: Dr. Jan Baetens, KU Leuven, Belgium
Custos: Dr. Bassam El Baroni, Assistant Professor in Curating and Mediating Art at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University.

Information at Aalto University web page: EnglishFinnish

The doctoral thesis is available and publicly displayed 10 days before the event here.

Image of Shapereader by Ilan Manouach, a system for tactile storytelling specifically designed for blind and partially sighted readers/makers of comics .

Shapereader by Ilan Manouach.

ABSTRACT

The industry-wide adoption of digital and network technologies has produced long-lasting and unevenly distributed effects in all the sectors of the comics industry. The globalization of markets and services has profoundly reshaped comics labor. Its effects are economic (the precarization of craftsmanship traditions), social (the rise of entrepreneurial fan culture and the consolidation of increasingly diversified communities with novel forms of amateur and semi-professional activity), technical (the introduction of digital tools for the distribution, the archival and retrieval of media artefacts) and aesthetic (the gradual integration in the production pipeline of AI and synthetic media). As is demonstrated by the recent emergence of radical forms of experimentation documented in the Conceptual Comics media collections of Ubuweb and Monoskop, comic artists are often able to leverage the dependencies of the ever-growing network infrastructure of the comics industry. Nevertheless, these disruptions foreground an epistemic crisis in the understanding of contemporary comics, both in academia and in more traditionally established professional spheres.

This thesis embraces an attitude of productive estrangement towards the medium’s forms, material qualities and operations, and constructs comics as a “contemporary object”. According to philosopher Anne-Françoise Schmid, a contemporary object is an extra-disciplinary entity that is massively distributed in space and time. Understanding such an object depends on the increasingly aggregate nature of knowledge production and dissemination in the computational age. Both in theory, with a series of papers in peer-review journals, and in artistic practice, by way of published comics and commissioned curatorial projects, this thesis examines the mutations of the comics ecology as an expansion of the scope of knowledge. It embraces the cumulative impact of digital transformation and articulates a novel comics praxeology predicated on two conditions. First, the thesis appeals for a systematic exploration of comics outside of narrow media purviews, the implicitly disciplinary conceptions, and the dominant historical perspectives in Comics Studies. It aims to develop a conception that embraces a rigorous application of a non-hegemonic interdisciplinarity in comics research. Second, and most importantly, the thesis argues for the expansion of operational agency on the part of comics professionals. This agency is described as a heightened contextual appreciation of the industry’s infrastructural backend, an awareness of its imbricated institutions and a diversification of the professional toolbox. I argue that a novel comics praxeology is a necessary attribute in order to embrace future, speculative, unclaimed or hitherto impossible forms in comics expression.

THE DOCTORAL CANDIDATE

Profile picture of doctoral candidate, MA Ilan Manouach

MA Ilan Manouach

Ilan Manouach is a researcher, a musician and a multidisciplinary artist with a specific interest in conceptual and post-digital comics. His research examines how this century’s frontier technologies such as AI, financial technologies and globalized logistics reshape the comics industry. He is mostly known for Shapereader, a system for tactile storytelling specifically designed for blind and partially sighted readers/makers of comics. He is the founder of Echo Chamber, a Brussels-based non-profit organization with the mission to produce, fundraise, document and archive radical and speculative artistic practices in contemporary comics. The topics of his research and artistic practice include conceptual comics, post-internet publishing, and synthetic media and AI. On the side, Ilan works as a pirate/librarian for the Conceptual Comics Collections at Ubuweb and Monoskop, is an appointed expert in experimental comics for the Belgian government for its national public funding program (CCAP) and works as a strategy consultant for the Onassis Foundation and its visibility through its newly funded publishing activity.

Contact information: email / +30694169008

Defence of Dissertation in the Field of Visual Communication Design, MA Arja Karhumaa

Cover image of EPÄGENESIS: Tekstin muotoilu uusmateriaalisena kirjoitta/umisena. Tutkielma Y by Arja Karhumaa.

Cover of Arja Karhumaa's Dissertation second book Epägenesis: Katalogi X.

The audience is kindly asked to join at no later than 12:00. The defence will be recorded.

Zoom Quick Guide

Event language: Finnish 

Event page: In English In Finnish 

The dissertation is publicly displayed online 10 days before the defence here.

TITLE OF DISSERTATION

EPä/iGENESIS: Tekstin muotoilu uusmateriaalisena kirjoitta/umisena. Tutkielma Y

ABSTRACT

This is an artistic research into the materiality of typographic text. In everyday settings, the conventions of ordinary text documents render their writing almost transparent for their reader. However, at the same time, those conventions are so visual in nature that texts often become recognised even before reading, just by looking. As a designer and researcher, I expose these conventions in Epägenesis, an experimental writing project which is set in motion by appropriating found text from ordinary text documents.

In Epägenesis (eng. “Ungenesis”), the persuasive power of form is illuminated by my entangled gestures of writing, designing and reading, calling into question the established categories of ”form” and “content”. What is subsequently exposed is the situated knowledge and skilled practice of a text designer.

The dissertation consists of two books (X and Y), where X marks the practice-based part, and Y is this study which sheds light on the project. Together, X and Y define a space where practice and theory make new diffractive patterns, producing new knowledge where those two are inseparable.

The book Epägenesis: Katalogi X is a compilation of my experimental texts in four series: Alfa, Beeta, Delta and Gem. In writing these texts, I borrow methods and constraints from conceptual and procedural writing.

In this study, I reread my experimental writing in Epägenesis through theories and concepts which have been used in examining the visual and material aspects of typography. Linguistic and literary studies, art history, and visual and media studies have previously shown interest mainly towards textual artifacts that are recognisably material, i.e. unconventional. Multimodal research also recognises how texts are produced through various practices. In my research, I read typography through new materialist concepts, which suggest that text is always material-discursive regardless of whether its form is conventional or unconventional, transparent or prominent to its reader. New materialist thinking provides a frame where typographic writing is entangled with language and matter, with impact from both human and nonhuman. In my research, I am particularly interested in how this impact gets entangled with the notion of the public.

The history of typography is the history of printing, which carries with it many preconceived ideas about origin, author-ship, and value. The entanglements of writing, printing and typography deserve to be examined carefully in this exact moment when typographic practices and conventions migrate onto digital environments, where they emerge and transform in networks devoid of subjective authorship or discernable origin. This might be a turning point which will reveal that us humans never did our writing on our own. Not only do we write, but through material-discoursive agents something is always also epigenetically written into the world.

Showing evidence of the extensive impact of typography on the lives of publics is not easy, however my thesis begins to propose a certain “sociology of texts”. This is a space where categories of language and image, form and content, convention and invention, collapse. Instead, new differential, entangled relationships are recognised in how typographic choices impact our shared world and its patterns of variation and change. With multiple shifts in perspective, scale, and method, this thesis points to how the smallest punctuation marks are entangled with the vast phenomena of knowledge and power.

 

Image of Arja Karhumaa's work 'Nocturne'.

‘Nocturne’ by Arja Karhumaa.

THE DOCTORAND

Image of the doctorand Arja Karhumaa.

MA Arja Karhumaa.

Arja Karhumaa is a graphic designer who works at the intersection of writing, education, and research. Karhumaa has a history of design practice both in agencies and as an independent entrepreneur. Since 2010, she has focused not only on developing education in visual communication, but also on publication design, and writing that spans the territories of poetry, design, and scholarship. Karhumaa has been awarded with prizes and honorable mentions as well as prestigious jury positions both in Finland and in international competitions. She has worked at Aalto University since 2011 as a Lecturer and Assistant Professor.

Contact: Arja Karhumaa