IM Issue 5, 2010 Editorial

Conference Proceedings
6 July 2009, Victorian College of Arts, Melbourne, Australia


This special issue of IM Journal contains the proceedings of the Diegetic Life Forms and Diegetic Logic: Assessing Image-based Scholarship Conference held on 6 July, 2009 at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia.

The conference arose from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) funded project entitled Assessing Graduate Output in Nineteen Australian Film Schools. The aim of this project was to demonstrate in quantitative and qualitative terms that evaluation of creative works is as consistent as evaluation conducted in traditional discipline areas. The Melbourne conference was the first of the two conferences associated with this project. Both conferences were set up to explore the nature of image-based scholarship and to address questions such as: What does it mean to write with images? What kind of creative logic is at play when each image may well contain thousands of “words”. What makes this multidimensional, diegetic and lifelike communication so efficient and so powerful? How do we evaluate this process and arrange academic regulations to moderate the evaluation process? In our ‘Call for Papers’ the conference participants were invited to consider further these five specific questions:

  • Can we describe image-based scholarship in a way that is consistent with the methodology of conventional axiomatic and objective scholarship? Generally, some elements of image production are very conventional – researching the project-topic for example (with its central research question, hypothesis, clear premises, reasoned argument based on evidence). Can this conventional scholarship framework be extended to the image-based scholarship as a whole including assessment?
  • Is there something “aesthetic” and subjective about image-based scholarship that cannot be specified by conventional means (such as pre-linguistic, musical unconscious, instinctive phenomenological poetics, schizological, genealogical elements and more)? Do we need another type of scholarship to deal with this subjective element of the image production and assessment?
  • Can we theorize image-based scholarship as the third way of scholarship that is neither conventional (objective) nor aesthetic (subjective) but is a (constructivist) combination of both elements which, although complex to assess, is self evident to peers.
  • Whatever answers we have for the above three questions is it possible to establish appropriate assessment standards and procedures along the lines of existing Australian Screen Production Education and Research Association guidelines.
  • In particular, is it possible to establish:
    • national and international guidelines for assessing screen production works?
    • national and international guidelines for assessing group work?
    • national and international guidelines for peer review standards?
    • academic guidelines for assessing festival/publication quality and standards?
    • comparative guidelines for comparison with conventional scholarly outcomes such as authored books, chapters, articles etc.?
    • can all these rules and guidelines be elegantly framed within a simple assessment sheet?

This conference is closely linked with the activities of the Australian Screen Production Education and Research Association (ASPERA). The conference committee members and the principle project coordinators were all past or present officers of the ASPERA’s Executive Committee. These include:

Victoria – Leo Berkeley (RMIT) and Prof. Ian Lang (VCA)
New South Wales – A/Prof Gillian Leahy (UTS)
Western Australia – Dr Josko Petkovic, Murdoch University (NASS)
Queensland – Nicholas Oughton (Griffith University)
South Australia – Alison Wotherspoon (Flinders University)

A large reference group consisting of twenty-six project assessors also supported the conference:

Queensland Assessment Group
Nicholas Oughton (Griffith)
Helen Yeates (QUT)
Geoff Portmann (QUT)
Charles Strachan (Griffith)
A/Prof Michael Sergi (Bond)

New South Wales + ACT Assessment Group
A/Prof Gillian Leahy (UTS)
Prof Ross Harley (COFA)
A/Prof Hart Cohen (UWS)
Dr Maree Delofski (Macquarie)
Tim Thomas (University of Canberra)

South Australian Assessment Group
Alison Wothersoon (Flinders)
Cole Larsen (Flinders)
John McConchie (Flinders)
Ian Dinning (UniSA)
Shane McNeil (Flinders)

Western Australian Assessment Group
Dr Josko Petkovic (Murdoch)
Dr George Karpathakis (ECU)
A/Prof Martin Mhando (Murdoch)
Ken Miller (CUT)
Dr Larissa Sexton Finck (UWA)

The conference itself was the final component of the Media Arts Congress conceived and coordinated by A/Prof Su Baker, Dr Josko Petkovic, Dr Paul Thomas, Prof Ian Lang and Leo Berkeley. The other two components included: Media Art Scoping Study, Vital Signs: Revisited, 4 July 2009, VCA, Melbourne, coordinated by Dr Paul Thomas ( and Combined Roundtable Forum: Imaging Futures, 5 July 2009, VCA, Melbourne, coordinated by A/Prof Su Baker.

Looking further afield, the conference was particularly fortunate to have Tony Dowmunt from Goldsmith University as one of its international guest speakers. Tony was subsequently instrumental in forming the UK assessment group that will serve as an international control group for the Australia assessment project groups.

The papers included in this IM issue will serve as a good springboard for the next project conference, namely:

Diegetic Life Forms II:
Assessing Image-based and New Media Scholarship
Murdoch University
3-5 September 2010.

Josko Petkovic
March 2010