The Surface Studies Network was started in 2013 by Rebecca Coleman (Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London) and Liz Oakley-Brown (English Literature and Creative Writing, Lancaster University). Despite coming from distinct disciplines and working on different historical periods and cultures, Rebecca and Liz began thinking about the ways in which surfaces were everywhere and nowhere; cropping up in different readings that we were doing – on skin and tactility, mirrors and interaction design, lines, walking and making, and in ideas about spatial and temporal change and mapping. However, with a few exceptions, at that time we noted that surfaces have not really been explored in and of themselves. Surface Studies is therefore an attempt to direct attention to the co-ordination, textures and experiences of surfaces.
Rebecca and Liz's collaboration resulted in a co-edited Special Section of the journal Theory, Culture and Society on 'Visualising Surfaces, Surfacing Vision' (2017) which includes written essays and visual art works. Essays are by Meredith Jones, Sophie Day and Celia Lury, Susanne Kuchler and Tim Ingold. Art works are by Anais Moisy, Jen Southern, Chris Speed and Chris Barker, Sarah Casey and Karen Shepherdson. The art works can be viewed here.
This website began as a space to map out and develop the emerging field of what we termed 'Surface Studies': an area concerned with working on and with different kinds of surfaces, including - but not restricted to - skin, screens, lines, interfaces, fabric, and the earth.
Liz continues to work on Surface Studies and will relaunch the Surface Studies Network - designed to bring together those researching or interested in surfaces - in 2023.