Paper: ACASA Triennial Symposium on African Art



On March 22nd I presented research based on my PhD, a paper titled Half Tiger: Digital Technology and Visual Aesthetics. The paper was presented on the only panel on Digital Arts at the ACASA African Art Histories Symposium.

The panel titled  Art and the Digital Revolution in Africa was organised and chaired by Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie from the University of University of California, Santa Barbara.  Ogbechie organised the panel to start the conversation and exploration around the meaning and use of digital practice in African Art. Digital and Technology Art is a topic that is rarely covered by African Art historians but is becoming increasingly more prominent in how art and socio-cultural practice is being engaged and shared in the region.

Papers on the panel included:

Sign Writers in Ghana: From Handmade to Digital, by Mariaclaudia Cristofano of Sapienza Università di Roma. A lovely and humorous paper on the overtly graphical shifts that are now present in digital signage in Ghana  following the practices and traditions of the sign painting culture of the region.

Obsolescing Analog Africa, by Delinda Collier of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A paper that parallels the histories of technology culture in the West ie. cybernetics, with practice that have long been present in pattern making and complex forms in Africa cultural practices. She refer to Jean Katambuyi Mukendi as a primary case. A paper that brings up some important issues, but one that does not necessarily fit with my (Tegan Bristow’s) philosophy of how African technology art should be addressed, meaning not always through the lens of Western techno-culture.

Opening-up Place through Sound, by Carol l. Magee of the University of North Carolina and Emeka Ogboh (Sound Artist). A paper on the role of Sound Art and what it offers an understanding of places like Lagos in Nigeria, using Ogboh’s Lagos Soundscapes as the primary case in point.

My paper dealt with looking at notions of the socio-cultural in African cultural practice and how this is augmented by communications technology. In parallel the paper begins to take note of certain visual aesthetics mechanism that are at play as an influence of how “cultures of technology” are evolving and being understood in the different regions in Africa, based on their particular histories with communications technologies.

I look forward to these papers being published as some of the first in the “history of art chronicles” that begin to deal with influence and presence of media and digital art in African arts and culture practice. Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie is editor of Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art Histories and Visual Culture, in which he hopes these papers will be published further.








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