Study visual culture, visual methods at Aarhus, June 2015 (PhD course)

Join us Summer 2015 in Aarhus University for a great (we think) PhD course: Visuality, culture, methods: Exploring the aesthetics of possibilities. The course will include lectures, fieldwork during the Aarhus Northside music festival, and post festival production.

Study visual culture, visual methods at Aarhus, June 2015 (PhD course)

Annette Markham


Join us Summer 2015 in Aarhus University for a great (we think) PhD course: Visuality, culture, methods: Exploring the aesthetics of possibilities.  The course will include lectures, fieldwork during the Aarhus Northside music festival, and post festival production.  Ambitious? Yes. Fun? We hope! Intense? Probably!

Confirmed lecturers include:

Sarah Pink
Professor in Design Research Institute and the School of Media and Communications at RMIT, Melbourne, Australia

Annette Markham
Affiliate Professor of Digital Ethics & Communication, Loyola University, Chicago, and Associate Professor in Information Studies, Aarhus University

Anne Marit Waade
Associate Professor in media aesthetics, visual culture, mediated tourism and experience economy, at the department of Aesthetics & Communication, Aarhus University, Denmark

Description: Visual culture encompasses more than the study of images or the use of visual methods. It takes as its premise the idea that the way people experience their reality goes well beyond the material or the textual. The perspective of visual culture turns our attention toward the centrality of visual experience in everyday life. This course considers the conceptual premises for visual sensemaking and focuses on methods of analysis and interpretation that challenge text-centric approaches. Particularly in contemporary mediatized contexts, seemingly endless streams of images, sounds, and fragments of information characterize and constitute social life. How do we make sense of visual expressions or visual aspects of culture? How do we use visual methods or more broadly, how do we challenge methods that rely on (or were designed for) the analysis of texts? What does a ‘visual culture’ approach look like in practice? The goal of this course is to explore these questions theoretically, discuss case studies, and also practice methods through experimental exercises and assignments.

To enact and explore ideas about visual culture, visual methods, and aesthetic futures, we will build the course around the Northside music festival in Aarhus.   The course begins two days prior to the festival, when we’ll meet in a classroom environment. Then, during the festival we will engage in fieldwork at Northside, using a variety of lenses to explore such things as: the aesthetics of possibility, twilight, remixing the spaces of festivals, dreamscapes, third places, the temporal elements of nostalgia, creating future memories, considering what participatory culture could be, designing ethnographic interventions. Following the festival, we spend two days reflecting, playing with, generating, and interrogating meaning.

During the post-festival analytical workshops, small groups will have the opportunity to create a series of digital or physical exhibitions as in-progress research products.

We invite Danish and International Ph.D. students from anthropology, media studies, visual studies, art history, digital design, information studies, participatory design, archaeology, museology, or related disciplines who study visual practices in different contexts, e.g. media communication and online practices, everyday culture, art and museology, marketing, domestication of technologies, environmental design, teaching & learning, and so forth. Leading scholars within visual ethnography, interpretive methods, digital culture, visual studies, aesthetics and curative culture will take part in the course and give talks and lead exercises to improve the participants empirically and analytically approaches and ideas.


  • The course will include presentations by the instructors on core concepts and debates underlying a visual culture approach, different ways of conducting research within this framework, and exemplar projects.
  • Prior to the in-person meetings, participants will engage in self-guided learning through readings and assignments.
  • Participants will participate in hands-on exercises and present specific methodological issues related to their research projects for feedback.
  • A significant part of the course includes the annual Aarhus music festival, Northside. This event will be a field site for experimental engagement with visual culture and visual methods.
  • More information on this will be provided in upcoming months on the website associated with this.


  • Greater understanding of the links/disruptions/challenges between concepts of visual culture/methods and practices of inquiry
  • Exposure to many new ways of looking at visual culture;
  • Guided experience in applying methods practically within a real-time empirical environment,
  • Experience working with practiced researchers, getting feedback from experts and colleagues.
  • Hands-on workshop experience in analysing materials collected during a 2-day intensive fieldwork study.
  • Hands-on workshop experience designing/producing a creative research outcome in a form that could be publicly exhibited or experienced.

Dates & Times:

  • June 10, 11, 12, at Aarhus University (09:30–16:45)
  • June 13, 14 Fieldwork at the Northside Festival (variable)
  • June 15, 16 Analysis and production (09:30-16:45)

First deadline for application: March 1, 2015. Final deadline: April 1, 2015

  • To apply, participants should submit a 2-page project description, a specific description and list of methodological questions and concerns (2 pages maximum), and a statement of personal interest in the course. This will enable us to best evaluate the applications and will also provide background information for the lecturers and other participants.
  • Seats in the summer school will be granted on a rolling basis after the first deadline of March 1, 2015.
  • If seats remain, applications will be accepted until April 1, 2015.
  • Send your application as a single PDF file to both of the following addresses: and
  • Use these email addresses for any questions, also.

Note: All participants should plan to spend 1295 DKK for a 3-day Northside Festival ticket pass:

Note: There will be an official Aarhus University website for this course soon. Please contact Annette if you have questions.

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