University at Buffalo
Department of


Art & Design

Art History

Visual Studies

MFA Alum Joshua Unikel at ACAF Residency in Shanghai

June 12, 2017  by: Natalie Fleming

MFA Alumnus Joshua Unikel will be in Shanghai for a residency through the ACAF China Fellowship Program.  During this residency, Unikel will work on a new body of work, titled Suspicious Registration, which uses graphic design as visual essay to explore sociocultural as well as print media issues related to access, cross-cultural miscommunication, and the politics of making visual art that, at some stage, is always already made in China.

This program places Australian and international artists in studios across China, including the rural artistic communities in China and the cosmopolitan art centre of Shanghai. Based in one of these studios and for a period of two months, Fellows work alongside ACAF’s Chinese and international Fellows to engage in cross-cultural artistic exchange, produce new works for exhibition in China, Australia and other regions, and develop regional networks and understanding. The Fellowships include planned events, workshops, seminars and dinners, with leading Chinese artists, curators and collectors. Where possible, Fellowships are timed to take advantage of major biennales and festivals in the local area, enabling greater artistic and commercial network development and intensified immersion in local arts and culture.

Additionally, Unikel also recently gave a lecture at NonfictioNOW 2017 at the University of Iceland, titled “Some Verses on Versos.”  The lecture put his recent work in the context of a long-standing division between artists and writers based on book design conventions, printing technologies, and ideological divides.  The panel, entitled “Essaying the Literary/Visual: Between Text and Image,” featured the visual essayist Lucinda Strahan as well as poet and editor Jessica Wilkinson, and focused on  hybrid works that use both literary and visual languages.

He will present again at the upcoming Electronic Literature Organization Conference 2017, at the University of Fernando Pessoa, from July 18th to July 22nd.  This talk, with graphic design colleague Zachary Kaiser, will focus on their collaborative project titled “As // If”.  As // If is a series of time-based codework poems that translate historic visuo-spatial works of poetry through programmed patches into permutative audio and code translations. The project grapples with what poets might gain from a machine’s ability to read, translate, and re-embody analog visual poetry.

Unikel works at the intersection of visual and literary art, focusing on the overlap between graphic design and the literary essay. Currently, he is the co-editor of Beyond Category and assistant editor of Seneca Review. His work has been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, DesignPhiladelphia, Griffith University Art Gallery (Brisbane), and elsewhere. His work has also appeared in The Journal, Western Humanities Review, TriQuarterly, Fugue, The Normal School, [PANK], The Collagist, and other national journals. Unikel has lectured on visual and literary art at The University of Oregon, Michigan State University, Carnegie Mellon University, Stony Brook Manhattan, AIGA Pittsburgh, The Open Book Workshop, AIGA Design Educators Conference, and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference.

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