Natural Magic – 5 April 2011 with Calum Colvin

This talk, entitled ‘Natural Magic’, is based on Calum Colvin’s recent exhibition of stereoscopic work at the RSA in Edinburgh. The title comes from the book ‘Letters on Natural Magic addressed to Sir Walter Scott 1832’ by Sir David Brewster and the work explores the unique role photography plays as a mediator between art, science, truth, and fiction.

His series of staged, photographic/painted portraits and manipulated scenarios follow on from his long-standing interest in creating staged photographic tableaux.

These new works are presented through a form of mirror stereoscope, invented by Charles Wheatstone in 1838. The work re-visits some of the debates surrounding the nature of photographic and visual truth which followed these developments, using portraiture, staging, visual illusion and perspectival manipulation to explore these issues.

Join us in the relaxed atmosphere of the McManus Cafe for this free event, which is open to everyone. Enjoy a hot drink, glass of wine or beer with a snack whilst listening to Calum discuss the intersection between art, photography and the truth. Non-bookable but please arrive early to avoid disappointment. Limited seating is available.

The Curriculum for Excellence: Freedom to Teach or a ‘Scotch Mist’? – 1st March 2011

The introduction of the new Curriculum for Excellence in Scottish primary schools has caused controversy and created many new challenges for teachers, administrators and parents. Alongside the recent Donaldson review of teacher education this timely talk will review the effects of these new initiatives.

Traditional curriculum subjects have disappeared and been replaced with eight new curriculum areas, demanding a new response from teachers. How will teachers decide what to include and what to leave out? These dilemmas are not new.

Can we learn from our past or from other countries? And are the emerging international curricula such as the International Baccalaureate Organisation’s primary curriculum and the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) good models to follow?

Join us in the relaxed atmosphere of the McManus Cafe for this free event, which is open to everyone. Enjoy a hot drink, glass of wine or beer with a snack whilst listening to the latest in education thinking. Non-bookable but please arrive early to avoid disappointment. Limited seating is available.

Celebrating the Toon: The Importance of Dundee’s Comics – 7th December 2010

Comics have long been one of Scotland’s most important cultural and artistic exports, with Dundee at the centre of that success. The comics produced by DC Thomson, notably The Dandy and The Beano, have commanded worldwide audiences for decades, and characters such as Dennis the Menace and Desperate Dan are known and loved by millions.

Join us in The McManus Café on Tuesday 7th December at 6pm for this talk by Chris Murray from the University of Dundee as he looks at the origins and significance of some of DC Thomson’s best-loved comic titles, as well as some of the characters who didn’t last the course, such as DC Thomson’s ill-fated early superheroes, Captain Q, The Amazing Mr X, and some missed opportunities (such as Superman and V for Vendatta).

The talk will also examine the influence of DCT’s comics, and will ask some questions about their future in a rapidly changing publishing environment. At a time when comics publishing is under threat from numerous quarters it is important to recognise and protect the legacy of DC Thomson’s comics, and to plan for the preservation of this aspect of Dundee’s cultural heritage.

Doors open at 5.30pm and beers, wine and food are all served in The McManus Cafe, see here for a full menu. This is a FREE event, but there is limited seating available for 60 people so please do arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Twisted by Design: Who do we Think We’re Designing For? – 7th September 2010

Two children from an estate in Preston flank a Digital Busker of the rapper Shaks. By inserting money, tokens or texting in the busker he will play songs produced by local artists.

Join us for the first of our 2010/2011 Dundee Arts Cafe events! This talk will be presented by Dr Jon Rogers from the University of Dundee, and will be held on Tuesday the 7th of September at 6pm at The McManus Cafe (see where to find us on the right for a map).

Jon Rogers writes of his talk
“The story of poverty in the UK is well known. We have a rich set of language tools describe people as living in ‘sink estates’, ‘regeneration areas’ that have ‘wicked problems’ inhabited by the ‘underclass’, the ‘unemployed’… as people portrayed as living outside the Big Society.

A red plastic 5 metre high CCTV camera that communities can use to record local events and send directly to the local newspaper. The camera is pictured on the Callon and Fishwick estate in Preston.

So how can design work in areas where poverty, crime and poor health dominate people’s lives? It isn’t simple. It isn’t easy. And to be honest, I don’t know. But in this talk, I’ll discuss with you some of the things a team of designers, technologists and journalists are doing to re-think how we can strengthen communities in the age of the digital economy.

I’ll show you how we talk to each other and what designs we are testing in their community – from Digital Buskers that you can TXT to play tracks made by Grime Rappers in the community – to a 5M CCTV camera that can upload community activity to youtube at the press of a rather large big red button. In the course of 45 minutes or so, I would like to show you how you can be Twisted By Design.”