The material image
Venue:Stockholm School of Economics, Soros Audium
Central to this paper are the material qualities and technological structures of communication media networks and their determining influence on the creation of meaning by its constituent media. I wish to enlighten this through a focus on the technological shift in editorial news media and within this the particular signifying role of the illustrated image. Online technologies now drive news publication. This has profoundly changed the makeup, production and reading of news media and questions the effectiveness of its traditional components and functions. For the illustration what was seen as fundamental, such as the dialogical image-text relationship, the reflective role, and the hierarchy between the publication and the reader, these are no longer definitive in an online environment. Based on historiographic research and media theories of McLuhan, Kittler, Malevich, Galloway and Fuller plus recent fieldstudies, I wish to discribe how the illustrated image is driven by the entrepeneurial understanding of mass media, the popular desire for visual interpretation and reflection and the empowerment through material expression and reproduction technologies. The question I want to address is whether illustration in an online environment is able to reflect these conditions. How can it encompass computation, algorithm, networks and data as its material, yet retain its subjective and reflective qualities as well as remain the visual bridge between content and audience? Already partly explored in games, social media and data visualization, I want to point to the potential present as well as a growing understanding of the importance of the illustrated image.
After her MA illustration Nanette Hoogslag (1964,The Netherlands) worked in various fields of illustration, design and curatorial practice and education. At present she is conducting a PhD research at the RCA (AHRC funded) exploring the emerging field of online editorial illustration.
The PhD research is concerned with the understanding of the particular position and qualities of editorial illustration. It investigates the role and signifying relationships of the illustration within the current printed and online publication platforms and queries its potential to shape new modes of reading and user experience. Digitisation and the rapid emergence of reading devices such as Kindle and the iPad, has meant that e-publishing has become the fastest growing format for the newspaper and magazine industry. The change from print to digital has huge implications for all constituents of the editorial publication, not least for the tradition of illustration.
Illustration and design practice
After I left the Royal College of Art 1991 I established my illustration and design practice in Amsterdam, in 2008 I moved (back) to the United Kingdom. Over the years I’ve extended my visual approach into various different fields from commercial and editorial illustration and graphic design through to communication design, curatorial practices and teaching. A strong visual concept and my ‘Dutch’ design base are core to my work creating engaging and evocative results.