Invited Speakers

Gary McLeod(Virtual)

Assistant Professor, Department of Visual Design, University of Tsukuba, Japan

Session Description

A time-traveling first-person armchair detective adventure into photomedia

‘Slow Glass’ is a fictional material conceived by science-fiction writer Bob Shaw for a 1966 short story called Light of Other Days. When light passes through, the image from the other side appears delayed at fixed lengths of time or ‘thicknesses’ ranging from a few seconds to ten years. For photographer Naoya Hatakeyama, this slow glass is now realized in a wide range of recording methods best summarized by Jai McKenzie as ‘photomedia’ where photography is just one of a range of devices in which light is the defining characteristic. Coupled with space and time, photomediating devices (e.g. cinema, video, mobile phones, and photocopiers) not only ensure that past recorded moments can be in the present, but they also come in different ‘thicknesses’. Although digital photomedia has immediate benefits (e.g. convenience, reach, response), there is a need to recognize the temporal nuances of all photomedia and to help learners (as photomedia users) understand how they are refracting light (not reflecting upon it) and how quickly or slowly that happens. For media philosopher Vilém Flusser, this would be a matter of possibilities of freedom in the face of automation, highlighting an unbridgeable gap between the temporality of photomediating devices and inaccessibility to users. Time in photography often refers to illustrating a passage of time that usually cannot be seen, but temporal nuances do more. For instance, the use of a DIY pinhole camera can encourage a user to reconsider when to start and stop an exposure, how their gesture looks to others, and how else to use the time of waiting for a picture to appear. Such thinking can mean a difference between viewer and participant, or, between ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ with images. Photography has long supported development of visual literacy, but adventures in photomedia are needed to keep it honest.


Gary McLeod (pronounced ‘Macloud’) is an assistant professor in the Department of Visual Design at the University of Tsukuba, Japan where he teaches photomedia. He holds degrees in Fine Art (Wimbledon School of Art), Digital Arts (Camberwell College of Art), and received a Ph.D. from London College of Communication in 2016 for practice-led research into photographs made during the Challenger Expedition (1872–1876). Although trained in commercial digital photography, much of his photomedia practice is concerned with everyday camera use in terms of time, image, and responsibility. His forthcoming book ‘Rephotography: expanding conversations about place over time’, part of the ‘Photography, Place, Environment’ series edited by Liz Wells, takes a critical look at common practices of revisiting locations in previously made photographs. He has also recently completed a rephotographic study of tsunami-affected areas in the build-up to the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games, funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

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Dr. Sarah Blair

Royal College of Art, London

Session Description
Shapes and Shadows

This presentation will envisage the future of visual literacy via a hundred years of examples in the Arts of visual thinking, expression, and communication, drawing on Modernist abstract experiments and contemporary explorations of delightfully experimental visual/verbal modes such as infographics.

I will simplify by highlighting how two broad approaches to visual translation render different qualities of insight that are hugely helpful in creative educational contexts. I call these ‘shapes’ and ‘shadows’: the first lending a generalising clarity to complex detail; the second drawing out underlying patterns otherwise scarcely apparent. Thus, one mode simplifies helpfully, and the other conjures an illuminating echo.

These two ideas will be used to demonstrate that engaging with visual forms makes possible a special condition of awareness that complements and enhances other types of literacy very favourably. Indeed, switching into visual mode sharpens and intensifies understanding by forcing critical thinking to happen—energising functions such as prioritisation, thematization, analogy, and metaphor.

I will suggest that, rather than thinking of the present era as becoming ‘more visual’, what we are witnessing is a proliferation of visual modes via new technology, though inevitably deeply rooted in the tendencies of older creative strategies and conceptualisations. The possibilities of the digital need to be viewed in this light, and the present generation of art-and-design students are actively mixing analogue and digital processes and formats to explore and communicate not just how they see the world, but how all their senses engage with it. This is a very rich model for educational growth.


I have meandered between text and image for as long as I can remember, and have spent much of my teaching life in art schools encouraging cross-fertilisation between visual and verbal literacies. Now at the RCA, I work in a small team to support and encourage our highly creative and visually eloquent students in developing their way with words.

My research interests include every variety of visual-verbal hybrid, from comic strip to pictogram, rebus to emoji; I am deeply curious about the ways in which verbal grammar and syntax bear a relationship with the aesthetic principles of visual forms. Paul Klee‘s taking a line for a walk is a marvelous analogy for taking a thought on a journey, or a noun through the transition of its sentence. Trained in Illustration, verbal and visual languages seem to me to share a great deal regarding form and function: sentences and texts have ’shape‘, whereas images carry speculations, articulate processes, and issue instructions routinely.

A current project, strongly connecting with the remit of this conference, is a translation of the foundational elements of linguistic grammar into playful visualisations that aim to bring their core energies to the surface. I will be looking at how visual and verbal may have very productive conversations in this regard at IVLA 2022.


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Marjaana Kangas 

Adjunct Professor., University of Lapland, Finland

Session DescriptionPromoting wellbeing and multiliteracy through playful learning and media education

Health and well-being are widely regarded as the most precious values in our lives, and promoting good is a global goal in education. In addition, the promotion of new literacy, learning to be multi-literate, is key to managing global change and learning to be a creative and active citizen. The past ten years have shown that playful learning has increasingly become one of the top pedagogical approaches in education. It is widely acknowledged that playful learning supports learners’ creativity and innovation, management of risk-taking and enjoyment of learning. Globally, there is a mission to find new ways to encourage creativity and playfulness in learners and, thus, support their learning and well-being. In my keynote, playful learning is based on the view of the specific meaning of play and playfulness in human learning. Playful learning also refers to game-based learning and gamification. Against this backdrop, the fundamental goal of my keynote is to provide research evidence about playful and gamified learning in different learning contexts and to consider how multiliteracy can be promoted through playful learning and media education.


A forerunner of the research on playful learning pedagogy in Finland, and a co-developer of a playful learning environment, an innovative play and game-based learning environment designed for 21st-century education. The dissertation The School of the Future: Theoretical and Pedagogical Approaches for Creative and Playful Learning Environments (Kangas, 2010), was rewarded by Lea Pulkkinen Award in 2012.

My research has mainly focused on understanding teaching and learning processes in various learning contexts, especially on the use of play, games, and digital tools in 21st-century education. Playful learning, students‘ and teachers‘ agency, digital media literacies and competencies, out-of-school practices, and creative collaboration have been at the core of my research interests. The research includes topics from early childhood to adult education.

I have worked in many multidisciplinary research teams and research projects funded by European Social Fund, Business Finland, Ministry of Education or Finnish National Agency for Education

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Google Scholar: Google Scholar/ Marjaana

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