Academic Session 28: UEA 2015

41st Annual Conference & Bookfair
Sainsbury Institute for Art, UEA, Norwich
9 – 11 April 2015

Surface Affects and Shiny Things: Bringing meaning to light

Session Convenors:

Nic Maffei, Victoria Mitchell and Marcia Pointon, Norwich University of the Arts, and

The visual qualities of a surface that shines are such as to attract or distract the eyes, which themselves are often attributed with gleaming, shining or glinting. The silkiness of high polish invites tactile attention too, or deters for fear of spoiling. Shine may materialise through use or careful positioning of an object. It is often not inherent in a material but may be derived from working up a shine. Within art, design and architecture, materials (metal, plastic, glass, fabric, wood, paint) and processes, often labour-intensive (polishing, burnishing, glazing), can combine to reveal shine. The manifestations of shininess can imply bodies in motion and individual subjectivity, while the gloss of film or magazines points to a more socially pervasive ‘look’. Although dependent on specular-reflective properties of light and absorbency of materials, reflective patina or sheen is often intentionally sought, in order to generate affect or effect.

This session addresses the cultural, historical, critical and often paradoxical meanings of ‘shine’ as this pertains to the making, using or viewing of objects and surfaces. Depending on context, shininess might suggest religious or poetic allusion, sensory engagement, luminosity, spectacle, desire, cheapness, cleanliness, protection, health, wealth and perhaps also disgust (as in the surface of slime). Shininess was held in high regard in Byzantine and Anglo-Saxon art, as also for many designers of the mid-20th century. Spurred on by fashion, the superficial nature of shininess has been linked to postmodern theory on late-capitalism.

Richard Checketts (University of Leeds) ‘Candor meus irradiet’: Glass, money, and the transformation of material

Helen Hills (University of York) The Sacred Lustre of Silver and the Trauma of the Matter

Diane Silverthorne (Central St Martins, University of the Arts)
Fin-de-Siècle Vienna and Beyond: ‘Shine’ in modernist and post-modern art

Paul Smith (University of Warwick) Taking the shine off it? Colour theory according to Wittgenstein

Judith Rauser (University of Hamburg) Knights in Shining Armour: Virtuous bodies and metallic shine in late 19th-century painting and photography

Leonard Diepeveen (Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia) Ironic Shine in Contemporary Art

Laurie Taylor (Birkbeck College, University of London) Glossy vs. Matte: The art of surface

Timothy van Laar (College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan) Smudges