The keynote speakers for the U2 Conference 2018 are Catherine Owens and Stuart Bailie. A special In Conversation session will feature Andy Rowen and Steve Stockman. Plenary session speakers are John Brewer, Professor of Post Conflict Studies in the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University, and Professor Fiona Magowan, FAcSS, Fellow of the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute and the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen’s University.

More information below about each of these speakers.

Keynote Speakers: Catherine Owens and Stuart Bailie

Credit: Johnny Savage

Catherine Owens

Catherine Owens is an Irish artist living and working in New York City. Her work is largely installation based, originating from ideas that evolve through drawings, painting, sculpture, photography, film, video, sound and virtual reality.

Owens has exhibited works at Feldman Gallery, New York, Morris Healy Gallery, New York, Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan, the Kerlin Gallery and the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin Ireland.

As well as her own solo art practice Owens is known for her collaborative work with U2. As creative director of screen imagery for animation, film and video, she created visual content for five U2 world tours from 1992 – 2010, from ZooTV to U2360°.

She directed and was a producer on the first digital 3D film (U23D) made for Imax theatrical release in 2008. Shot in South America, its creation spearheaded a series of major technological breakthroughs in 3D filmmaking. The New York Times hailed it as “The first IMAX movie that deserves to be called a work of art.”

Using the technical and production knowledge gained while collaborating on large scale global projects over the last 20 years, Owens has incorporated this information into her current work, creating a series of LED based light works that seamlessly bring technology and mark making together.

In November 2017 she will exhibit a series of new LED light based Triptych painting and a 360° soundscape at Kustera Projects in Red Hook Brooklyn.

Other collaborative projects include directing visual content and animation for the San Francisco based group Kronos Quartet and for the Chinese Pipa player Wu Man, whose Carnegie Hall debut featured an intricate 20-minute animation composed of watercolor paintings.

Owens has attended four Lincoln Center Director’s Labs in New York as a guest artist and was a keynote speaker at SIGGRAPH in 2008, where she spoke about working in 3D under the title; Giving Technology Emotion: From the Artist’s Mind to U23D.

In April 2010 she traveled to India to make a 3D documentary about Kumbh Mela, the largest spiritual gathering in the world that takes place once every 12 years.

And in 2012 she shot her third 3D film project, a documentary on the Irish Dancer Colin Dunne – It was broadcast on the BSkyB 3D and the Sky Arts network in November 2012. The Theatrical version was launched at the Jameson Dublin Film Festival in February 2013.

In 2014 she launched “Field Prints” a set of prints representing impressions of the vistas found close to her studio in the Blackwater Valley, Co. Waterford, Ireland.

Owens has spoken widely about the interaction of Art and Technology, recently delivering speeches at the ‘VR On The Lot’ conference at Paramount Pictures, Los Angeles, ‘The Art Of VR” Sotheby’s, New York and INSPIREFEST, Dublin Ireland.

Credit: Carrie Davenport

Stuart Bailie

Lecture title: “Holy Wars And Northern Stars: U2 and Conflict In Ireland”

Stuart Bailie is a music writer and broadcaster based in Belfast. He has been a music industry professional for 30 years, writing for NME, Mojo, Uncut, Q,  The Times, The Irish Times, The Irish Independent, Classic Rock, Music Week, Belfast Telegraph and Hot Press.

He has written U2 cover stories for NME, The Sunday Times Culture and Alternative Ulster and has covered the band for many more publications. He wrote the sleeve notes to the U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle DVD and was Associate Producer of a BBC Radio 2 documentary on U2 in 2001.

In his feature on U2 for NME in 1992, while discussing with Bono the contradictions implicit in rock ‘n’ roll, he mentioned to Bono that William Blake’s poem “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” tries to reconcile similar contradictions. He then heard Bono reply, “I know. I’ve just written a song for our next record called ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience,’ after reading Blake,” making Bailie quite possibly the first person outside of U2 to know – in 1992 – that U2 was planning to release music inspired by Blake’s poems Songs of Innocence and Experience. (Thanks to Dirk Rüpke at u2tour.de for bringing this to our attention.)

Bailie lived in London for 11 years and was Assistant Editor of NME from 1993-1996. He also wrote sleeve notes for Clannad, Nanci Griffith, Steve Earle and The Waterboys. He wrote the authorized story of Thin Lizzy, The Ballad Of The Thin Man, in 1997. He was the writer and narrator of Still In Love With You: The Gary Moore Story (BBC TV, 2011). He was the author, originator and narrator of So Hard To Beat, a two-part documentary on the story of music from Northern Ireland. (BBC TV, 2007), and a scriptwriter for BBC Radio 2 documentaries on U2, Glen Campbell, Thin Lizzy and Elvis Costello.

Bailie wrote the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s essay on popular music, A Troubles Archive Essay and is currently writing a book about music and conflict in Northern Ireland, to be released in 2018. He blogs at www.digwithit.com.

Andy Rowen and Steve Stockman In Conversation: “If You Twist and Turn Away: The Power of Songs to Change a Life”

 Andy Rowen

Andy Rowen is a childhood friend of Bono’s who became an inspiration for U2’s songs “Bad” and “Raised By Wolves.” Bono has said before about Andy that he is “a friend of mine, about as close as you can get, [who] squandered his intelligence and his gifts to heroin. … Ireland in the ‘70s was a tough place. On any other Friday at 5.30 pm in 1974, I would have been on Talbot Street in a record shop. On May 17th I rode my bike to school that day and dodged one of the bloodiest moments in a history that divided an island. 3 car bombs coordinated to detonate at the same time destroyed Dublin’s city centre. My old friend Andy Rowen (Guck Pants Delaney we used to call him) was locked in his father’s van as his dad ran to help save the victims scattered like refuse across the streets. The scene never left him, he turned to one of the world’s great pain killers to deal with it. … Andy says, ‘Heroin is a great pain killer until it kills you.’ He survived. A hero to me.”

Steve Stockman

Steve Stockman is minister of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in Belfast. He is a blogger, poet, peace activist and wrote Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2. e is a co-founder of the 4 Corners Festival  and a regular contributor to BBC Radio. He is married to Janice, has two daughters and is delighted that his beloved Manchester City has become one of the best soccer teams in the world!

Plenary Session Presentations

John Brewer

Lecture title: 1998 as a Cultural Moment in Belfast

John Brewer is Professor of Post Conflict Studies in the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast. He was awarded an Honorary DSocSci from Brunel University and is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow in the Academy of Social Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He has held visiting appointments at Yale University, St. John’s College, Oxford, Corpus Christi College Cambridge, and the Australia National University. He has been President of the British Sociological Association. He is Honorary Professor Extraordinary at Stellenbosch University and is a member of the United Nations Roster of Global Experts. He is the author or co-author of sixteen books and editor or co-editor of a further six.

Fiona Magowan

Lecture title: Can Music End Conflict? Ethnomusicology and Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Politics of Persuasion and Peacebuilding

Fiona Magowan is Professor of Anthropology and a Fellow of the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University, Belfast. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and was a former Chair of the Anthropological Association of Ireland, Chair of the Music and Gender Study Group of the International Council of Traditional Music and Vice President of the Australian Anthropological Society. She is a member of the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Ethnomusicology Committee and has conducted fieldwork on the performing arts, sense, emotion and ritual in north east Arnhem Land, Queensland, South Australia, as well as in Brazil and Mozambique. She is author or editor of seven books and PI of the PACCS funded project, Sounding Conflict: From Resistance to Reconciliation (2017-2021) and the GCRF funded project, Dance, Art and Drama in Conflict Transformation in Mozambique (2018).


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