Professor Stephen Barber

School: School of Critical Studies and Creative Industries
Position: Professor of Art History


Stephen Barber has been a Professor since 2002.

He holds a PhD from the University of London, Queen Mary College, supervised by Professor Malcolm Bowie, on Antonin Artaud's sound-art experiments and final work of 1946-48. He has previously held posts at Sussex University, the University of Tokyo, the Berlin University of the Arts, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, the Keio University Research Centre for the Arts in Tokyo, and the California Institute of the Arts, where he was a Visiting Professor in 2007-08. From 2009 to 2015, he was based in Berlin as a Professorial Fellow at the Free University (Interweaving Performance Cultures research centre) and other centres, with research funding from the Henkel Stiftung, the German Ministry of Education, and the DAAD.

Stephen has received many awards and prizes for his research, publications and other projects, from foundations and funding bodies such as the Leverhulme Trust, the AHRC and the British Academy, in the UK; from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Getty Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Annenberg Foundation, in the USA; from the Japan Foundation, the Daiwa Foundation, and the Saison Foundation, in Japan; among many others.

Stephen has published over twenty books, most recently: Performance Projections: Film and the Body in Action (Reaktion Books, 2014) and Pierre Guyotat: Revolutions and Aberrations (Vauxhall and Company, 2016).
A new book, Berlin Bodies, will be published by Reaktion Books at the beginning of 2017.

He is currently working on two new books: a book about the film collaborations of the Japanese artist and choreographer Tatsumi Hijikata in the context of Japan's urban and architectural culture between 1959 and 1973, and on a book about the preoccupation with the space of cities and its transformation in the work of the photographer and moving-image innovator Eadweard Muybridge.

Related links

Research expertise

Stephen Barber's research interests are in the areas of: Contemporary city cultures; Experimental film and performance art cultures; Digital art, installation and performance; Japanese visual cultures, from the 1960s to the contemporary; Cinema architectures; Film projection and screen cultures, 1895 to the present; Archival forms such as scrapbooks, notebooks and abandoned artefacts.

He has published over twenty highly-acclaimed and award-winning books since 1993, such as Muybridge: The Eye in Motion (Chicago University Press, 2012), Abandoned Images: Film and the End (Reaktion, 2009), Artaud: Terminal Curses: The Notebooks (Chicago University Press, 2008), and The Vanishing Map (Bloomsbury, 2006). His principal publishers are Faber & Faber, Reaktion, Chicago University Press, Picador and Bloomsbury. His books have been translated into many languages, most recently into Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Turkish. He has also written many essays for art magazines, including Vertigo, Artforum International and Art in America, and for art catalogues, including a catalogue of the work of the photographer Xavier Ribas, Sanctuario (2005). He has given many presentations and interviews on his research, worldwide.

Among Stephen's recent research projects was one - funded by the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Program and the subject of his research while a Visiting Professor at the California Institute of the Arts - on the cinemas of the Broadway area of Downtown Los Angeles, and on the transformation and re-use of filmic space once the presence of film has evanesced. It was published as a book, Abandoned Images: Film and the End (Reaktion Books). It was widely and favourably reviewed in the TLS and other publications.

Stephen's first book on the work of Eadweard Muybridge, The Eye in Motion (Chicago University Press) was awarded research funding by the Leverhulme Trust and the Paul Mellon Centre, and focused particularly on Muybridge's personal archive in Kingston-upon-Thames and his use of the scrapbook medium to distil the archival memory of his work.

The book was highlighted in such major US publications as The New Yorker and The New Republic.

Stephen's new research on Muybridge's work focuses in particular on its re-creation of the space of cities (Chicago, San Francisco, London and Paris, among others) and its implications for contemporary digital cultures.

From October 2009 to September 2015, Stephen undertook several research projects in Berlin, exploring the multiple imprintation, of history, memory and corporeality, into the city's space, facades and strata, especially through images from film and art works and via the medium of performance; his work in Berlin - funded in particular by the Henkel Stiftung - resulted in two books, The Walls of Berlin: Urban Surfaces: Art: Film (Chicago University Press, 2011) and Berlin Bodies (forthcoming, Reaktion Books, 2017).

Stephen has spent two extended periods of research in Tokyo, with fellowships from the Japan Foundation and the Daiwa Foundation, among other funders. His time in Tokyo resulted in two published books: Tokyo Vertigo (Chicago University Press, 2001, new edition, 2010) on the volatility of the city's digital space, and Hijikata: Revolt of the Body (Chicago University Press, 2010), the first book in English on the experimental artist Tatsumi Hijikata.

He is currently preparing a new book on Hijikata's work, focusing on his many collaborations with film-makers and moving-image artists within the context of immense urban transformations in Japan, notably with the Tokyo Olympics of 1964 and the Osaka Expo of 1970.

His current research work involves close international collaboration notably with research centres of the Berlin Free University, and with Tokyo Keio University, in particular on a new research project on performance cultures, experimental film and urban space.

Teaching areas & responsibilities

PhD supervision responsibilities

Professional activity

  • 2008 - 2015Series editor (Solar series) for Chicago University Press
  • 2002 - 2012Research advisor, Austrian Science Foundation
  • 2002 - presentSeries editor (Locations series) for Reaktion Books
  • 1990 - presentAdvisor on funding applications to many UK organisations and funding bodies, such as the Leverhulme Trust and the AHRC

Educational and professional qualifications

  • 1990PhD University of London (Queen Mary College)

Conferences & events

Stephen has given many international public lectures, readings and presentations of his research, at venues such as the Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Royal Academy, Royal Festival Hall and ICA (London), Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Casa delle Letterature (Rome), Rockefeller Foundation (Bellagio), UCLA (Los Angeles), Japan Foundation (New York), Museum of Modern Art (Vienna), Schaub├╝hne (Berlin), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), Kasbah Museum (Tangier), and many others. He has devised and organised several conferences and research events for the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), notably in collaboration with Cabinet Gallery in London.


Recent collaborations with such institutions as the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Museum of Modern Art, Vienna; Keio University Research Centre for the Arts, Tokyo; and the Kingston Museum's Muybridge Collection.

Research groups & programmes

Research supervision

External research supervision

  • 2007 - 2008Andrea Lambert MFA
    California Institute of the Arts
  • 2007 - 2008Ama Birch MFA
    California Institute of the Arts
  • 2005 - 2008Carrie Tarr PhD
    Kingston University
  • 2002 - 2006Duncan White PhD
    Kingston University
  • 2001 - 2006Matt Melia PhD
    Kingston University
  • 1994 - 1997Sara de Freitas PhD
    Sussex University
  • 1994 - 1997Aaron Williamson PhD
    Sussex University


Number of items: 36.


Barber, Stephen (2010) The Skladanowsky Brothers: the Devil knows. Senses of Cinema(56), ISSN (online) 1443-4059

Barber, Stephen (2010) Coma: the art of unconsciousness. Mute,

Barber, Stephen (2009) Vers la zone. Europe: revue litteraire mensuelle(961), pp. 160-173. ISSN (print) 0014-2751

Barber, Stephen (2009) Genealogies of film's ruination. Vertigo, 4(2), p. 30. ISSN (print) 0968-7904

Barber, Stephen (2008) Pasolini and Sade: a maleficient obsession. Vertigo, 4(1), pp. 50-51. ISSN (print) 0968-7904

Barber, Stephen (2008) The last words of Antonin Artaud: on the cinematic dimension of the envisioned final notebooks. Vertigo, 3(8), pp. 10-11. ISSN (print) 0968-7904


Barber, Stephen (2017) Berlin bodies : anatomizing the streets of the city. London, U.K. : Reaktion Books. 280p. ISBN 9781780237206

Barber, Stephen (2016) Pierre Guyotat: revolutions and aberrations. London, U.K. : Vauxhall & Company. 74p. ISBN 9780992835521

Barber, Stephen (2014) Performance projections: film and the body in action. London, U.K. : Reaktion Books. 256p. ISBN 9781780233697

Barber, Stephen, ed. (2013) Pasolini : the massacre game : terminal film, text, words 1974-75. New York, U.S. : Sun Vision Press. 96p. ISBN 9780985762506

Barber, Stephen (2012) Muybridge, the eye in motion: tracing cinema's origins. Washington, D.C., U.S. : Solar Books. 200p. (Solar Film Directives) ISBN 9780983248057

Barber, Stephen (2011) The walls of Berlin: urban surfaces: art: film. Chicago, U.S. : Solar Books. 189p. ISBN 9780982046463

Barber, Stephen (2010) Abandoned images: film and film's end. London, U.K. : Reaktion Books. 189p. ISBN 9781861896452

Barber, Stephen (2010) Hijikata: revolt of the body. Chicago, U.S. : Solar Books. 144p. ISBN 9780982046432

Barber, Stephen (2008) Artaud: terminal curses: the notebooks 1945-48. Chicago, U.S. : Solar Books. 152p. ISBN 9780979984761

Cunningham, Gail and Barber, Stephen, eds. (2007) London eyes: reflections in text and image. New York, U.S. : Berghahn Books. 228p. (Polygons: Cultural Diversities and Intersections, no. 13) ISBN 9781845454074

Barber, Stephen (2006) The vanishing map: a journey from LA to Tokyo to the heart of Europe. Oxford, UK : Berg Publishers. 160p. ISBN 9781845205102

Barber, Stephen (2006) Caligula: divine carnage. Chicago, U.S. : Solar Books. 156p. ISBN 9780971457812

Barber, Stephen (2004) Jean Genet. London, U.K. : Reaktion Books. 160p. (Critical lives) ISBN 1861891784

Barber, Stephen (2004) The art of destruction: the films of the Vienna action group. London, U.K. : Creation Books. 148p. (Persistence of vision) ISBN 1840680970

Barber, Stephen (2002) Projected cities. London, UK : Reaktion Books. 208p. (Locations) ISBN 186189127X

Barber, Stephen (2001) Extreme Europe. London, U.K. : Reaktion Books. 128p. (Topographics) ISBN 1861890915

Barber, Stephen (2001) Tokyo vertigo. London, U.K. : Creation Books. 147p. ISBN 1840680369

Barber, Stephen (2000) Edmund White: the burning world : a biography. London, U.K. : Picador. 310p. ISBN 0330376535

Barber, Stephen (1999) Artaud: the screaming body. London, U.K. : Creation Books. 126p. ISBN 9781840680096

Barber, Stephen (1996) Weapons of liberation. London, U.K. : Faber & Faber Ltd. 128p. ISBN 9780571172771

Barber, Stephen (1995) Fragments of the European city. London, U.K. : Reaktion Books. 107p. (Topographics) ISBN 0948462663

Book Section

Barber, Stephen (2011) Traces and surfaces. In: Gandy, Matthew, (ed.) Urban constellations. Berlin, Germany : JOVIS Verlag. pp. 174-177. ISBN 9783868591187

Barber, Stephen (2011) The films of the Skladanowsky Brothers. In: Langford, Michelle, (ed.) Germany. Bristol, U.K. : Intellect. (Directory of World Cinema) ISBN 9781841504650

Barber, Stephen (2010) August Walla: Devil/God, image/text. In: Hunt, John Dixon , Lomas, David and Corris, Michael, (eds.) Art, word and image: two thousand years of visual/textual interaction. London, U.K. : Reaktion Books. pp. 317-328. ISBN 9781861895202

Barber, Stephen (2010) The films of the Vienna Action Group. In: Weiner, Robert G. and Cline, John, (eds.) Cinema inferno: celluloid explosions from the cultural margins. Plymouth, U.K. : Scarecrow Press. pp. 217-225. ISBN 9780810876569

Barber, Stephen (2007) Introduction: Part II: The modern age: London in image. In: Cunningham, Gail and Barber, Stephen, (eds.) London eyes: reflections in text and image. New York, U.S. : Berghahn Books. pp. 119-121. (Polygons : cultural diversities and intersections, no. 13) ISBN 9781845454074

Barber, Stephen (2007) An indescribable blur: film and London. In: Cunningham, Gail and Barber, Stephen, (eds.) London eyes: reflections in text and image. New York, USA : Berghahn Books. pp. 123-134. (Polygons : cultural diversities and intersections, no. 13) ISBN 9781845454074

Barber, Stephen K. (1999) La matiere de lecriture: sur Pierre Guyotat. In: Forest, P and Sollers, Philippe, (eds.) De Tel quel a L'infini: L'avant-garde et apres : colloques de Londres et de Paris, mars 1995. France : Pleins Feux. pp. 123-135. ISBN 9782912567611

Conference or Workshop Item

Barber, Stephen and Lloyd, Fran (2014) Challenging the frames of performance: memory, trauma and activism in the multimedia and interdisciplinary performance practices of dumb type in 1990's Japan. In: Trauma and Utopia: Interactions in Post-War and Contemporary Art in Asia; 09-10 Oct 2014, Tokyo, Japan. (Unpublished)

Barber, Stephen [Speaker], Davies, Rachel [Speaker], Horrocks, Chris [Speaker], Mancke, Carol [Speaker] and Maude-Roxby, Alice [Speaker] (2009) The art of intervention: Kingston University responses: Japanese mob. In: The art of intervention: critical perspectives on the intersections of private and public memory; 14 Feb 2009, Kingston upon Thames, U.K.. (Unpublished)

This list was generated on Fri May 26 04:10:59 2017 BST.
Performance projections: film and the body in action (London, UK, Reaktion Books, 2014)
Hijikata: The Revolt of the Body (Chicago, USA, Solar Books, 2010)
Muybridge, The Eye in Motion: Tracing Cinema's Origins (Washington, D.C., USA, Solar Books, 2012)
The Walls of Berlin: urban surfaces: art: film (Washington, D.C., USA, Solar Books, 2011)
Abandoned images: film and film's end (London, UK: Reaktion Books, 2010)