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Dr Oliver Vodeb

Researcher, Lecturer


Biography *Available for supervision PhD and Masters Oliver Vodeb's work combines and overlaps diverse strategies and manifests in different forms: writing/theory, public communication-design/art/photography, creative/conceptual direction, lectures, workshops and collaboration. His research is engaged with processes and institutions that determine our every day life and design social futures. He lives in Melbourne, Australia. Oliver understands theory and practice as interrelated. Thus he adopts an inter/extra-disciplinary research approach that collaborates with distinguished academic publishers such as Bloomsbury (Design Philosophy Papers, Design and Culture), University of Ljubljana, Universidad Caldas, and Intellect books UK while at the same time creating a new and independent scene that fosters more fundamental change of communication/design at the societal level in order to become relevant in times of radical uncertainty and environmental degradation. Theory: He is interested in how critical theory can illuminate the complex processes of production, distribution and reception of public communication design in order to generate public communication as a responsible social, political, economic and cultural practice. He is particularly interested in relations between concepts of response-ability and communication effectiveness, and the social construction of design and other forms of pubic communication as profession, practice and praxis within academia, the market, and non-institutionalised environments. Practice: Oliver is interested in communication practice that works at the level of the practical intellectual, the critic, and sometimes the activist, instead of at the level of service provider. Some History: In 2007 he received a PhD in sociology of communication/design from the Faculty for Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. In recent years, his theoretical research and practical projects have focused mainly on socially responsive communication, design/visual communication, advertising, critical (media) literacy, critical pedagogy, (new media) networking environments, media activism, design and advertising cultures. He is also very much interested in photography. He has lectured at several Universities and conferences around the world. From 2003- 2011, he taught "Theories and practices of media and communication" at the Design department at the Academy of Fine Arts, University of Ljubljana where he established an interdisciplinary area of critical studies of communication design. From 2011 to 2014 he worked at the Griffith University, Queensland College of Art, Design department in Brisbane as director of the visual communication program and co-developer and implementer of a new Design Futures program that focused on social and environmental response-ability. Design Futures was also about changing a skills-based vocational training into a serious university research-based design education. In 2014 he became an academic at the communication design department of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, where he has focused on communication design for social futures in the area of communication design/advertising. Oliver Vodeb is author of the book "Socially Responsive Communication" (published by the Faculty for Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana 2008) and wrote, co-edited and co-curated the book ´┐ŻDemonstrating Relevance: Response - Ability, Theory, practice and imagination of Socially Responsive Communication´┐Ż (published by Memefest and Faculty for Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana 2010). Both books are key texts for anyone interested in Socially Responsive Communication. His latest book project "InDEBTed to Intervene- Critical Lessons in Debt, Communication, Art and Theoretical Practice" was published in January 2014. It is the first systematic interrogation of Debt as an instrument of social/economic/political control through the lens of communication/design/art. Before 2004 Oliver Vodeb was advisor to the Slovenian advertising industry on selected projects. In 2004 he co-founded Poper Studio for Communication in the Public Sphere, where he practiced as conceptual and creative director from 2004-2012. Poper, based in Ljubljana, broke new ground with its interdisciplinary theoretically informed conceptual approach and the consistent use of socially responsive communication/design. He co/authored and directed a series of socially responsive communication projects for City Museum of Ljubljana, for the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Slovenia, and for the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ljubljana. He launched an unprecedented self-initiated national campaign for the Erased people that helped resolve the biggest human rights violation in Slovenia. And he participated in a cutting-edge presidential campaign that shifted political communication from commercial branding to dialog and, with his colleagues, created the first peer to peer production based open source fashion brand. Oliver founded the Memefest Festival of Socially Responsive Communication and Art in 2002 and has remained the curator, editor and main organizer of the project since it's beginning. The festival nurtures and rewards theory, research, and communication that works towards a more equal society. Committed to social and environmental change, critical pedagogy, and dialogue, and with participants and collaborators from more than 60 countries, the festival is a unique alternative to the surface-spectacle-driven advertising and design festivals and other competitions that drive our understanding of good communication. Memefest is designed as a tactical, educational, communication and research tool. As a tactical institution and network, it connects academia, professionals, activists, artists, theory and practice. This online social network is free of any intentionally embedded surveillance and hidden commercial value extraction of published data. Oliver Vodeb is currently working on a book on food democracy, a number of public interventions in support of the Australian Aboriginal struggle against colonization and a small research project on workshops as research, pedagogy and intervention.

PhD candidate and honours supervision

Higher degrees by research

Accredited to supervise Masters & Doctoral students as Principal Coordinating Supervisor.

PhD topics and outlines

Advertising: Advertising as a culture, communication approach, technology, ideology; Advertising Design; Advertising and social responsibility; Advertising and social innovation; Advertising critique.

Design Pedagogy: Design Pedagogy: critical pedagogy, socially responsive design pedagogy, radical pedagogy; Design education and social innovation.

Food Design: Designs relation to food: production, distribution, consumption, representation; Food systems and design; Social innovation in Food Design; 

Media Activism: Media Activism as a alternative communication culture, approach, technology. Critique of mainstream media, tactical media, social networks, surveilance, autonomous zones;

Social design: Communication Design which is aiming to effect society in a way which bennefits the life of people and improves the environment

Fields of Research

  • Design Practice And Management - 120300


Also published as: Vodeb, Oliver; Vodeb, O.
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