Vendela Grundell Gachoud
My work as a researcher, teacher and artist focuses on photography with critical perspectives on seeing and being in a digital world. My doctoral thesis in art history, Flow and Friction, (2016) investigated how digital interfaces shape spectatorship and how this process is revealed in glitch art online. This investigation of normative and disruptive user positions expands in my postdoctoral project Seeing Differently / Seeing Difference (2018-2020) on photography by people with visual impairments, which demonstrates how ableism affects users. I am currently participating in the project The Politics of Metadata, with a study on diversity in cultural heritage collections online. Driven by societal concerns about the integration of technics and aesthetics, I work in international interdisciplinary settings from my base at Stockholm University. In addition to teaching in advanced education, presentations at conferences and workshops, and collaborations with artists and scholars, my work features in circa thirty exhibitions and twenty publications since 1998 – following a transition from dance that informs an in-depth multisensory approach throughout my work.
Review of Flow and Friction in Eye Magazine in April 2018: eyemagazine.com/blog/post/follow-the-glitch.
Doctor of Philosophy in Art History, Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University 2012 – 2016.
Flow and Friction: On the Tactical Potential of Interfacing with Glitch Art (Art & Theory Publishing, 2016)
Magister of Philosophy in Art History, Aesthetical Disciplines Program, Stockholm University 2010 – 2011.
Scholarship Course in Art History, the Swedish Institute, Rome 2011.
Bachelor of Philosophy in Art History, Cultural Studies Program,
Stockholm University 2005 – 2008.
Internship, the Modern Museum, Stockholm 2007.
Photography Diploma, GFU and Fotoskolan Stockholm,
Folkuniversitetet 2000 – 2002.
Lecturer in Art History, Department of Culture and Aesthetics,
20-50%, 2016-08-19 – 2017-12-31 (temporary since 2012)
Art History I; Art History II; Image, History, Interpretation
Teaching and supervising basic/advanced level theses
Lecturer in Art History, European Humanities, Danish Institute of Study Abroad (DIS), Stockholm and Copenhagen, 25-40%, 2016-05-01 – 2017-12-31
Nordic Contemporary Art; Impressionism in Paris
Course development/management and teaching
Guest lectures at Södertörn University, Gothenburg University, Valand Art Academy, Stockholm University, Fotoskolan Stockholm (photography school),
Danish Institute of Study
Erasmus+ teacher mobility grant, for guest teaching at Universiteit van Amsterdam 2017-05-15 – 2017-05-19, and Universiteit van Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit 2017-12-10 – 2017-12-14.
University Pedagogy I (3 ECTS) and II (7,5 ECTS), Stockholm University 2013/2017.
Current project: The Politics of Metadata (2020)
Postdoctoral project: Seeing Differently / Seeing Difference:
Emancipation and Aesthetics in Photography
by the Visually Impaired (2018-2020)
Funded by Anna Ahlström & Ellen Terserus Foundation
Visiting Fellow, Department of Media & Communications, Goldsmiths University of London
This project aims to analyse emancipatory and aesthetical aspects of images created by visually impaired photographers between 2000 and 2016. In this period, these images move from a sociological focus on therapeutic pedagogies to an aesthetical focus on public displays of art. I home in on the effects of this move on practitioners, producers and viewers in order to investigate how individuals engage with the tension of redefining images that sits uneasily between therapy and art. This tension arises for instance when the images are conceptualized as aesthetic objects yet are described with tropes like “blind”. In an international cross-disciplinary collaboration, the project highlights important under-researched practices whose meanings and manifestations take place where the private and the public clash.
The project develops key areas of my research: photography, spectatorship, and a dynamics between dependence on and disruption of visual techno-logies. Building on the conclusions of my doctoral thesis, I argue that both technical and bodily systems – like sight – can be glitched and that such disruption can expose the socio-cultural coding of human physicality in modes that are standardized as well as deviating. This notion is supported by recent theorizations in media studies that address the glitch as a sensory and bodily experience with political implication. By integrating these perspectives into art history’s framework of situated close observation, my analyses add to the production of knowledge on this topical subject. My position as photo-grapher and art historian ensures a valuable contribution to close contextual-izing image analyses that are much needed to understand this rich material.
Grundell Gachoud, V. (2021) "Making Worlds: Normative and Other Art Histories of Visually Impaired Photographers," in: C. Persinger and A. Rejaie, eds., Socially Engaged Art History and Beyond Alternative Approaches to the Theory and Practice of Art History, 181-199. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Grundell Gachoud, V. (2020) “Tactical Ambiguity: Materiality, Representation and Interaction in Evan Meaney’s Glitched Portraits,” in: S. Whatley and S. Popat, eds., Error, Ambiguity, Creativity: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 21-41. London: Palgrave.
Grundell, V. (2019) “Rethinking while Redoing: Tactical Affordances of Assistive Technologies in Photography by the Visually Impaired.” Media Theory 3:1, 185-214.
Grundell, V. (2018) ”Navigating Darkness: A Photographic Response to Visual Impairment.” Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies 14:3, 193-210.
Grundell, V. (2016) Flow and Friction: On the Tactical Potential of Interfacing with Glitch Art. Stockholm: Art & Theory. ISBN 978-91-8803-137-2.
Grundell, V. (2016) “Friction as Tactical Experience: Interfacing Photographic Instances through Rosa Menkman’s Sunshine in My Throat,” in: J. Gomes Pinto and R. Matoso, eds., Art and Photography in Media Environments, 39-65. Lisbon: Lusófona University.
Other Publications - Selected
Grundell, V. (2020) “Att se annorlunda: Skadade ögon bryter fotografiets vaneseende” (article, VERK 4 2016) and “Flöde och friktion – ett samtal med Vendela Grundell” (interview, VERK 1 2017), in: L. Bergman, ed., VERK antologi – Texter ur VERK tidskrift 2016 – 2019. Stockholm: Boris Press, 63-69 (article) and 101-111 (interview).
Grundell, V. (2019) “The Failed Fly: Process and Positioning in the Documentation of Living Documents” in: C. Ruth and D. Grünbühel, Living Documents I-V. Stockholm: MDT.
Grundell, V. (2018) “Trött hud: Om bortvänd blick and pirrande fingertoppar”
[Tired Skin: On a down-turned gaze and tingling fingertips]
Grundell, V. (2016) “Att se annorlunda: Skadade ögon bryter fotografiets vaneseende”
[Seeing Differently: Impaired Eyes Break the Habitual Seeing of Photography] in VERK, no. 4.
Grundell, V. (2015) “En stilla retad nerv” / ”A Nerve Slightly Bothered”, in Me – every body volume I, Gothenburg: Olof Persson Projects, 23-30. ISBN 978-91-982056-0-2
Grundell, V. (2021) “Unruliness Online: Activist Visuality in Glitch Art and Disability Aesthetics on Instagram,” in: D. White and S. Hartle, eds., Visual Activism in the 21st Century: Art, Protest and Resistance in an Uncertain World. London: Bloomsbury.
Selected International Conference Papers
2021 “Metadata as a Diversity Tool: Sámi Traces in Institutional Archives Online,” Cultural Heritage and Social Impact: Digital Technologies for Social Inclusion and Participation. Online.
2019 Accepted papers for conferences on medical imagery, the commons and media ecology.
2018 “Seeing More or Less: Troubled Sight and Inner Vision in Photographs by the Visually Impaired,” Art of the Invisible, Courtauld Institute, London. “Material Agency and Sensory Challenge: Exploring Photography through Visual Impairment,” Nordik XII: [no title], Copenhagen University. “User Bodies: (Self-) Representation between Ableism and Disability Aesthetics,” Digital Cultures: Knowledge/ Culture / Technology, Leuphana University, Lüneburg. "Seeing by Taking Pictures Without Seeing: Assistive Technologies in Photography by the Visually Impaired," Human-Technology Relations: Postphenomenology and Philosophy of Technology, University of Twente, Enschede.
2017 “Glitched Bodies: Digital Critique in Photographs by the Visually Impaired”
Digital Existence II: Precarious Media Life, DIGMEX Network, Sigtuna Foundation, Sigtuna.
2016 “Interfacing Poetics: Glitch Art Transforming Spectatorship”
Poetics of the Algorithm: Narrative, the Digital, and Unidentified Media,
Liège University. “The Cyborgian Portrait: Speaking through Photographic Disruption,” Photomedia: Photographic Agencies and Materialities
Aalto University, Helsinki.
2015 “Painting with Something: Media Merges in Contemporary Swedish Photography,” Nordik XI: Uncharted Territories, University of Iceland, Reykjavik.
2014 “Interface Photography: Disruption as Tactical Experience”
Art Photography in Media Environments (ECREA), Lusófona University, Lisbon.
Selected Research Presentations
2020 Coming: Lectures at Stockholm University; Gothenburg University; University of Arts, Craft and Design in Stockholm.
2019 “The Landscape of Digital Humanities,” Digital Humanities Stockholm, symposium at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Fotografi & forskning, photography art and research workshop, Centrum för fotografi in Stockholm.
2018 “Unruliness: Images against Normality,” lectures at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Coventry and Nottingham Trent universities. “Making Change through the Humanities: Institutes, Ideas and Infrastructures,” symposium at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. “Cultural Techniques,” workshop at Stockholm University. Linneaus University, Växjö.
2017 “Data-driven Research in the Humanities,” symposium at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. “Performativity and Artistic Practice” and “Acting Images: Understanding the Agency and Materiality of Imagery and Visual Culture,” workshops at Stockholm University. Stockholm University Research Days, presentation here.
2016 “Glitchar och glitch-konst. Museet som gränssnitt: Flöde, nätverk och störande konst” [Glitches and Glitch Art. The Museum as Interface: Flow, Network and Disruptive Art], the Modern Museum, Stockholm
A selection from Stockholm University publication database
Flow and Friction
2016. Vendela Grundell (et al.).Thesis (Doc)
This thesis aims to analyze how interfacing affects viewer experiences and viewer positions, and how glitch art online makes that effect visible. Glitch art is concerned with disruptions in the systems that govern how for instance photography is produced, circulated and displayed in a digital image flow. The system’s usually undisrupted operation emerges through the friction created between the key components of the study: the viewer, the photo-based mediation, and the interface where the two meet. These components are encircled by the relation between individual and system, whose increased integration with one another requires a sharper eye: a tactical spectatorship in response to how the interface of the image flow can turn the individual into a part of the system. The unfolding of such a spectatorship is investigated through three questions: What can a viewer see and do by interfacing with the website, and with what means? How is the photo-based material on the website produced, displayed and conceptualized? How does the website and its photo-based material – glitched and not glitched – position the viewer haptically and epistemologically?
With a cross disciplinary approach, three media phenomenological case studies present glitch artworks in an online environment. The case study on Phillip Stearns’s project Year of the Glitch concerns the website’s index and archive pages as well as still images with a focus on camera reconstruction, verbal conceptualization, and image materiality. The case study on Rosa Menkman’s website Sunshine in My Throat includes index and artwork pages, two artworks with still and moving images as well as a thematization of the entire online environment being glitched. The case study on Evan Meaney’s project Ceibas Cycle focuses on the index page and an interface-based artwork, two video works as well as a portfolio of photographs that are not glitched. The timeliness of the case study materials – created between 2004 and 2012 – is anchored in systems aesthetics, in which technical problems are explored as a cultural critique since the 1960s. The qualitative analysis both emphasizes and problematizes experience, as a complement to quantitative studies about images in relation to a digital flow.
The study analyzes how glitch art shapes experiences both by following the interface and by disrupting it. The effect of the underlying system thus appears in a material that has not yet been given an in-depth art historical analysis with a particular focus on the individual viewer. With such a focus, glitch is conceptualized as systemic friction in this study, which clarifies how the artworks online produce knowledge about the interface by providing the individual with a possibility of creating tactical breaks into the image flow. The results of the study consist of the ways of seeing that develop such a possibility – and they gain relevance as they make visible how the flow usually operates in invisible ways. These results point out that the experience of the artworks – and by extension, other experiences of images online – can alert viewers to their own activity within the image flow. If the system sets boundaries for experiences of and through the interface, a tactical spectatorship becomes possible when a glitch gives the individual an opportunity to try different positions towards these boundaries.
Friction as Tactical Experience
2016. Vendela Grundell. Art and Photography in Media Environments, 39-65Chapter
Chapter Abstract: Photography made, spread and viewed through a digital interface is conditioned by protocols that determine its possibilities and limitations. Yet, the inconsistencies of photography keep these conditions under negotiation. This inconsistency is brought out through glitches: a phenomenon defined as error, flaw, malfunction, or here: systemic friction. As glitches are generated, harnessed and aesthetically articulated, they crack open a space for individuals to work with and around systemic frames. This article explores haptic disruption as a form of negotiation that sharpens attention towards photography experienced through a screen. The site of this sharpening is a website: Dutch artist Rosa Menkman’s Sunshine in my throat. Here, a pervasive digital architecture is precariously co-present with an intimate viewing experience. Contingency exploited in the digital material thus becomes embodied in photographic as well as human materials. Connected to an ungraspable network while alone in the aesthetic encounter, the viewer navigates minimal yet strikingly sensorial circumstances that yield intentional as well as random haptic disruption. Menkman’s work merges viewer, photographic instance and shared interface – and rubs them against each other in a way that generates a certain kind of time: moving across the site, gazing at images still and stilled, interfacing with machinic and human. In this process, the individual is incited to test a tactical position towards the system.