AUB Staff are working in Partnership with Cambridge University and the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism to present a two day collaborative conference entitled ‘Visions of Enchantment’ which sees some of the leading academics in the field from across the world present, including Professor Antoine Faive (Sorbonne University) and Dr Marco Pasi (University of Amsterdam)

The conference provides a modern take on an age old subject and artform – underpinned by AUB staff and their research specialisms.

The conference will feature 5 keynote lectures by distinguished academics alongside 36 twenty-minute papers by senior scholars and current and recent graduate students with a specific research interest in occultism and visual culture and is organised partly by Judith Noble, Senior Associate Lecturer in BA (Hons) Film Production.

Judith said: ‘Visions of Enchantment signals a major and very welcome re-examination of the place of the occult and esoteric within visual culture, and especially within modernism. The organisers were delighted with the quality of the responses to the call for papers and we hope that this will be a landmark event.”

Dominic Shepherd, Lecturer on BA (Hons) Fine Art who recently had work in the Saatchi Gallery provided the cover image for the conference alongside Phil Jones, Senior Lecturer on BA (Hons) Graphic Design who created the poster.

Dominic said: ‘This conference is an opportunity for academics to critically explore historical aspects of the esoteric and Art . My involvement is with the present, curating, in the form of a digital exhibition, a selection of work by contemporary artists who continue to explore the legacies raised at ‘Visions of Enchantment’. The AUB is an institution where creative practice thrives, with the AUB acting as the conference partner this presentation will be an acknowledgment of contemporary visionary practice.’

Paul Ward, Professor of Animation Studies and Course Leader in MA Animation will also chair a panel. The themes explored in ‘Visions of Enchantment’ overlap with Paul’s research work for Animation Studies – magic, animism and specifically the ‘fantasmic’ aspects of animated documentary.

One of his most recent published articles “Mechanics and Magic: Animation as Magical Process” in S. Leyssen and P. Rathgeber (eds.) Images of Animate Movement. Representations of Life/Bilder animierter Bewegung. Darstellungen von Leben. [Eikones series, published in German and English] (Paderborn: Fink Verlag, 2013) examines animation as a form of ‘mechanical magic’.

The talks and curated screenings Paul also did as part of the Holland Animation Film Festival as the HAFF Fellow for 2012, also explored animation and magic and more recently, at a workshop at the Design School at the Politecnico di Milano. He has been invited to present a paper at Cork University next February –  titled “Animation as atavistic magic”.

The conference runs from 17th-18th March 2014 at Cambridge University.