Visual Intelligences Research Project

About the Project : History

The Visual Intelligences research project is based in the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts (LICA), Lancaster University. It was initiated by staff of the Art Section in 2003 and is now part of the LICA Languages of Process research cluster. It aims to draw together new research into forms of visual intelligence in the fields of art history, theory and visual arts practice.

Professor Nigel Whiteley convened a stream on visual intelligences at the Art Historians' Conference in 2003, with papers by Allen Fisher, Sam Gathercole, Ian Heywood, Margaret MacNamidhe and Claudine Mitchell.

In 2005 Rebecca Fortnum was appointed to the project as Research Fellow. In October of that year she conducted a seminar with ten established artists working in a range of media.

Based around the results of this event, in 2005- 6 a paper What is visual intelligence and how do artists use it? was presented at various symposiums and research seminars:

  • Creative Dates, Conference of North West Art & Design Research Group
  • Theorising Creativity Symposium, University of West England, Bristol
  • Sense of Art symposium, California State University, Stanislaus, USA
  • Research Methods seminar, Royal College of Art, London
  • Research into Practice seminar: University of Hertfordshire
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago

In December 2005 a symposium was held at Lancaster University by LICA and the Centre for Advanced Contemporary Performance Practice entitled The Documentation of Fine Art Processes and Practices. There were ten speakers, representing fine art, dance and craft practices. 70 delegates attended from over 35 UK universities and colleges.

In 2006 Fortnum was awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council small grant to conduct a pilot study of the methodologies of documentation of process with artists Vong Phaophanit, Mary Maclean and Beth Harland. These then formed part of an exhibition, Inspiration to Order, that was shown at various venues throughout 2006-7:

  • California State University Stanislaus Gallery
  • The Winchester Gallery, Southampton University
  • The Wimbledon Gallery, University of the Arts, London

In January 2007 Ian Heywood joined the Project’s research team at LICA.

In April 2007 a symposium Did Hans Namuth kill Jackson Pollock? The problem of documenting the creative process was held at Chelsea College of Art, University of the Arts London. Over 80 delegates heard from seven speakers.  The symposium was a joint venture by LICA:Art, Camberwell College of Art, UAL and the Journal of Visual Art Practice.