CFP: Picturing Sound: The Static Visual Paratext of Music

University of Glasgow
December 12, 2019
Stichtag: 23.08.2019

In 2019, the hub of Text/Image cultures Glasgow University will host a conference on the topic of reception, consumption, and framing of music through the prism of static visual culture. Leading authority in the field of musicology and musical multimedia analysis Nicolas Cook has suggested that we have seldom experienced music in isolation from visual accompaniments and marketing strategies, the importance of which has not always been recognised. As part of a broader discussion on music and other media, he writes specifically on record sleeve art and its relation to music, maintaining that certain sleeves ‘contribute to the construction of musical meaning’, are ‘part of the discursive framework within which the music inside them is consumed’ and ‘function as agents in the cultural process, sites where meaning is negotiated through the act of consumption’.

Cook’s contention resonates with existing dialogues and theory found in the field of Comics, a medium that has often come into proximity with music culture. Specifically, and as already noted in a handful of articles, comic art has often propagated and discussed the mythology and emblematic signs associated with genre and music history. Comic artists such as Robert Crumb have also famously produced album covers for LPs. Yet, as this example shows, the way music is being received, consumed and experienced has also been framed by many other graphic traditions, such as photography and illustration, which along with various other media form the paratext surrounding a musical work.

As a result of their shared fundamental nature as temporal media, discussion surrounding the interactive nature of music and moving image (specifically in relation to film and television) is well-established and continues to progress. However, we see the relationship between music and the static image as a rich, yet virtually unexplored semiotic field with a long history, and now seek to shift the focus towards it. We therefore warmly invite speakers to investigate and participate in our discussion of music and static image interplay, drawing upon, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • Comics and printed illustrations
  • Photography
  • Sleeves and cover art of LPs, CDs and other records
  • Clothing and memorabilia
  • Stage production and performance
  • Visual marketing and industrial issues
  • Festival culture
  • Education
  • Audiovisual identity of digital platforms (Spotify, iTunes, etc.)

We are also interested in including performances within and around the conference. Please contact us if you are involved in relevant artistic practices, or if you know someone who is.

Submission guidelines:

  • Please ensure the length of proposed abstract is 250-300 words and, where appropriate, indicates your institutional affiliations. Please also provide a short bio (100 words max).
  • Ensure the abstract provides a clear and accurate overview of subject matter since this may be used as part of the conference’s promotional material.
  • All submissions should be sent to by 23/08/2019

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