Title: Movements and Migrancies Graduate Conference

Client: University of Toronto English Department
Date: January 2016—ongoing
Tools: CSS3, Squarespace, Illustrator CC, graphite
Format: Website and Poster
Audience: Academics and English students  

The Graduate English Association at the University of Toronto’s English Department holds an annual academic conference. They approached me to create a poster and website that would represent their chosen theme for the year: movements and migrancies.  

During my own academic experiences, I’ve found that many conference websites are quite hard to navigate. For a conference dedicated in part to movement, I wanted to ensure that the movement through the site was seamless. Also, as the conference is interdisciplinary in nature, I wanted to make sure to draw inspiration not only from the literary world. 

I was given the committee’s Call for Papers (CFP) as a basis from which to develop a series of visual representations. One of the CFP’s epigraphs, a quotation from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, mentions “lines of flght”; I was drawn immediately to the possibility of representing migrations through the non-human, animal world. In particular, I learned that the European starling’s existence in North America is tied to a Shakespeare enthusiast who wanted to transplant across the ocean all the animals that appear in Shakespeare’s plays. The bird struck me as a link to a literary past, as well as a contemporary entrance into discussions of immigration, refugeeism, migrancy, and invasion. 

The starling under dissection forms the basis of the poster, and the starling itself has become the thread that draws through a connection between the poster and the website. Whereas the poster represents the individual starling, the website tries to visualize the movement patterns of starlings in large groups, a movement known as a murmuration. As a movement in tandem, the murmuration resonates with the website as a digital space, open to multiple points of access.