Last Saturday 20th October, our colleagues from Warwick University organised the workshop “Visuality of Text: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Display of the Word”, an opportunity that the CREWS project could not miss. What made this workshop especially interesting was the truly interdisciplinary nature of this event, which brought together academics researching material writing and professionals and artists whose work involves the display of texts.
The workshop started with three historical case studies from very different periods that showed the use of text on objects. Archaic Greek sculpture was covered by Nick Brown, Harry Prance presented on Byzantine eucharistic objects and Katherine Cross focused on Anglo-saxon weaponry.
The next session moved on to the presence of epigraphy in modern times. Alison Cooley explored ways of displaying ancient epigraphy in museums to make it appealing to the wider public despite the linguistic barrier, with a special emphasis on the Ashmolean Latin Inscriptions project. Then, a professional carver, Giles Macdonald, showed the technicalities of inscription design and carving in today’s market. The following presentations also focused on the aesthetic dimension of the text, with a presentation about its use in advertising by the graphic designer Emily Jones and in art by Stephen Raw, textual artist and designer. To close the workshop, the artist John Newling spoke about some of his artistic projects and how he uses written and oral texts in his artistic work and performances.
Although these topics may seem too different and originated in very distant disciplines, the general feeling was that all the talks in the workshop did blend very well and, in fact, the connections among them were brought up repeatedly during the day. Several topics were common in all the presentations that day; perhaps the most important of those was the treatment of inscriptions as visual objects, highlighting their display on a certain material and in a specific space. We also saw different uses and functions of text and how the audience engages with them. But I especially liked how all talks in one way or another touched on the transformational power of texts. A text can change your mind, give an extra function or power to an object, transform a space and affect society.
The workshop was a total success and it seems like the organisers have the intention of doing a new edition next year. We are all looking forward to it!
~ Natalia Elvira Astoreca (PhD student on the CREWS project)