Call for contributions

The Department of Applied Design, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), is pleased to invite contributions to the International Visual Methods Conference 2021, hosted online from Cape Town from 13-15 December 2021. 

Since its inaugural event in 2009, the International Visual Methods Conference has developed a reputation as a leading interdisciplinary forum for researchers, artists, visual scholars and other practitioners to engage in dialogue with one another.  

CPUT would like to build on the success of the conference series with a dynamic, inclusive event in the heart of Cape Town: World Design Capital 2014 and home to some of the foremost creative industries in South Africa. Cape Town boasts a vibrant creative, visual arts and design culture, and has hosted an annual Design Indaba, a “Festival that has attracted and showcased the world’s brightest talent since 1995. Design Indaba has become a respected institution on the global creative landscape” (, 2020). Cape Town was also the first city in Africa to be named a UNESCO City of Design in 2017, recognising the city’s design status and commitment to promoting and developing the cultural and creative industries.


The theme of this year’s event is ‘Decolonising Design’ – a pressing concern for the creative arts in the global South in general and for post-apartheid South Africa in particular. Discourses of decolonisation have gained traction in recent years, in the domain of higher education and not least in the arts and humanities. At a conceptual level, decolonisation implies a ‘dismantling’ of the dominant epistemological assumptions that have historically shaped the arts and humanities. These assumptions are often rooted in Western ideas (and ideals) of knowledge. They typically neglect perspectives and contributions from the historically disenfranchised – the Other, the colonised – and minimise the influence of scholars, designers, and artists in the Global South. 

In the visual and applied arts, including design, we seek to problematise, explore, and embrace the social and cultural perspectives of those at the peripheries of Western knowledge. We therefore invite contributions that discuss or explore, in a critical manner, the following aspects:

  • Ideological and ethical underpinnings of modern visual methods
  • The portrayal and interpretation of cultural knowledge through visual and narrative means
  • Collaborative and participatory methods that go beyond traditional design disciplines (e.g., participatory video, digital storytelling, photo elicitation)
  • Underrepresented, marginalised or resurgent visual methods
  • Design thinking as a decolonising practice
  • Depicting ‘small/mundane stories’ in the Global South
  • The role of visual methods in communicating disruption and complexity
  • Construction of non-Western representational systems
  • Exploring indigenous methodologies and concepts, e.g. land as pedagogy; practices of refusal

We invite contributions from various disciplines, including applied arts and design (jewellry, fashion, graphic, industrial, etc.), visual anthropology, architecture, communication studies,  urban planning, computing and the social sciences. Contributions can be in the form of extended abstracts, panel proposals, workshop proposals, and/or proposals for visual exhibitions or physical activities. We particularly encourage creative, interactive ways of engaging online, such as digital exhibitions, online workshops, live but virtual tours, virtual public art, digital guided walks – photo safaris, digital drawing-based activities, cultural tours, and treasure hunts. 

We also invite presentations that include showing films (individually or in themed panels).

Please indicate in your abstract that you would like to be part of the short film festival.

We encourage multi- and transdisciplinary contributions. 

Conference format

The conference will primarily take place as a virtual event, with potential ‘offline’ activities in Cape Town, South Africa. The platform of the conference is under consideration and will be announced soonest. 


1 February 2021 – call for contributions opens 

9 April 2021 – extended deadline for first round of submissions

14 April 2021 – 2nd call for submissions

30 April 2021 – deadline for final submissions

June 2021 – feedback and acceptance

July 2021 – registration opens

Week of 13-17 December 2021 – main event

Submission procedures

All submissions must be made via Easychair at 

Submissions are to be made as abstracts, with a maximum word count of 500. 

Submissions will be reviewed by a panel of international and local experts.

Journal publications

We are in conversations with various journals to invite submissions from the conference to be published, such as Visual Methodologies., Design and Culture, Visual Ethnography and Visual Studies.