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London Alternative Photography Collective

10 Mar

About.

About

 The London Alternative Photography Collective aims to bring together artists and photographers around London who wish to share alternative photography ideas and processes.

(We also have a sister group in Manchester.)

The group currently meets monthly at the Double Negative Dark Room on 178A Glyn Road in Hackney, E5 0JE. The first meeting was in July 2013, and we have had some fabulous alternative photographers to speak, including Sam WhiteHelen Pynor,  Constanza Martinez,George CrazyGLincSarah Leslie Sarah Evan JonesDouglas NicolsonTereza Cerenova, Jennifer Brookes and Gavin Maitland to name but a few!

We provide artists talks, discussions about Alternative Photography Processes, demonstrations and opportunities to collaborate.
We are also keen to create exhibitions in and around London, such as the Light Play exhibitionwe recently curated at Double Negative Darkroom, Hackney in December.

Anyone interested in Alternative Photography is welcome to join.

Things we like to talk about;

Anthotype
Cyanotype
Daguerreotype
Wet-Collodion Plate
Black & White Film Developing
Colour Developing
“Film Soup” / Film Destruction
Pin Hole Cameras
Silver Gelatin Emulsion
Scans / Photocopies
Salt Prints
Gum Bichromate
Van Dyke
Albumen
Polaroid / Polaroid Lifts.
Camera Remodelling.
Camera making.
Lomography.
Analogue V.S. Digital.

Like us on Facebook.

Founder: Melanie K, graduate from MA Art & Science at Central Saint Martins.

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Ongoing Literature Review

21 Jun

It is appearing here…

Turmeric Rhizome and Stem

“Supervision is a complex business and to begin to define good practice, for example in monitoring it, without a careful exposition of just what it involves, its constraints and the parameters of its responsibilities is, in our view, unlikely to lead to an enhancement of quality provision. To encourage review teams to identify what, in their collective opinion, are examples of good practice without any reference to any evidence whatsoever other than their own, predetermined, beliefs is to run the risk of the inappropriate adoption of dubious practices by institutions intent on illustrating their commitment to the newly established, yet ever changing, quality agenda.” [Powell and Green: 40-41]

http://www.postgraduatedirections.org.uk/QualityMattersInDoctoralSupervision.pdf

Rough Draft]

6 month scoping project: literature review on practice-based PhD supervision

Dr Mark Ingham [1]

Contents

Introductions/Backgrounds

Foregrounds/Taxonomies

Geographies/Spaces

Themes/Openings:

  1. What’s the Difference between Practice-Based PhD Supervision and other types?
  2. Digital/On-line Supervision/Supervisors [Digital Spaces for Supervision]
  3. International Research Supervisors Group [Web/Blog Site]
  4. Student Forum

Beginnings/Endings

References/Links

Introductions/Background

Following on from discussions held at the University of the Arts, London supervisor’s forum held on the 4 June 2008, and Border Conflicts on the 21 May 2009 which was co-hosted between The Centre for Learning and Teaching in Art and Design [CLTAD] and the International Centre for Fine Art Research (ICFAR), both centres prepared to foreground a future UAL research project in the emerging field of supervision of PhD students engaged in practice-based knowledge and enquiry.

The 6 months scoping project was to engage in research examining and reporting on current national and international developments and thinking in this field. I was asked to set up a Blog to record and disseminate this research, which in itself has become a useful tool in the investigation. It can be found and engaged with at:  https://ualscopingphd.wordpress.com/

Foregrounds/Taxonomies

It soon became clear that research into art and design ‘practice-based’ and ‘practice-led’ PhD was fairly extensive with a few key players leading the inquiry. Within in this research there were some examples of papers and books [Newbury 1997, Scrivener 2000, Lebow 2008] that particularly addressed the issue of the supervision of practice-based PhDs. It also became apparent that there seemed to be much more research into the role of supervision was being carried out in other areas of PhD study [Lee 2007, 2009, Taylor 2008, Green and Powell 2008? Delany 2009, Kiley 2010].

A good example of this current research has been conducted by Dr Anne Lee, the Academic Development Adviser University of Surrey. In her paper: Developing effective supervisors: Concepts of research supervision she writes, ‘… the range and depth of concepts that a supervisor holds will dictate how they supervise and the type of researcher who emerges at the end of the process. In an age of supercomplexity, when demands of academic and other employers are unpredictable, the skills of the effective researcher, and thus their supervisor, are likely to become even more important.’ [Lee 2007:1]. This in-depth study along with others form the UK and abroad should act as good starting points for further investigation into whether there are particular factors that need to be addressed in the supervision of art and design practice-based PhDs.

Geographies/Spaces

Practice-based research degrees in art and design are being carried out in many UK, European and Australian institutions and seem to be about to burgeon in the USA.

Peter Hill[2] writes in his July 2010 THE article, ‘Australia led the way in studio-based PhDs; the UK followed a few years later. And now the US is eyeing the water nervously.’ [Hill 2010] This is widespread acceptance of the PhD in the Creative arts as a ‘final’ degree is emphasised in the Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools Future-Proofing the Creative Arts in Higher Education [Final Report 2009] which stated that, ‘The PhD in the creative arts is now the accepted terminal degree in Australia, as it is in a number of other countries such as Britain, Finland, New Zealand and Japan, along with the professional Doctorate of Creative Arts (DCA). ‘[Baker 2009:1]

Beginnings

There are many ‘beginnings’ to how practice-based art and design PhDs have been thought about and written about over the last 30 years. Some of these beginnings have created new spaces from which more thought has been possible. This section is not in any particular order as the thinking is continuous. The dates have been chosen as these seem to mark moments of acceleration in thinking.

2003 – 2006

In 2006 the project report re:search – in and through the arts [2003-2005][3] was published by the European League of Institutes of the Arts [ELIA]. In their opening forward the authors[4] write, ‘ This Project Report rounds off two years of researching, documenting and discussing the various ways in which Higher Arts Education Institutes and artists/ researchers invent, apply, teach and supervise methods of inquiry.’ [Langkilde and Regouin 2006].

The report commented on the need for further development of PhD practice-based supervision by stating,

A follow-up investigation into supervision criteria, requirements for supervisors, development of supervisory teams and research training is critical for the development of research and research degrees and will facilitate international mobility of researchers and of supervisors. Practical proposals included a training course for supervisors and the collation of a list of potential supervisors and external examiners. [Ibid: 14]

This followed the observation on the then current state of supervisory arrangements,

One-to-one supervision is still the norm, although it moves away from a merely theoretical approach common in art history. Contact and direction between supervisor and the doctoral candidate range from one supervisor to a team of supervisors and from intensive to hardly existent. Most supervisors are professional artists employed by the institution. In some countries external reviewers (or examiners) are involved. The status of professors at Higher Arts Education Institutes varies according to national and institutional traditions, possibly hampering the mobility of research and supervisory staff. [Ibid: 12]

1997

UK Council for Graduate Education

PRACTICE-BASED DOCTORATES IN THE CREATIVE AND PERFORMING  ARTS AND DESIGN

5.5 Supervisors

All institutions have similar general regulations covering the arrangements for the supervision of PhDs. These general regulations specify the number of supervisors to be appointed, and that those appointed should be suitably qualified and experienced. They may specify the number of successful previous supervisions the supervisor must have undertaken, and the number of supervisions a candidate may expect as a minimum. However, within these general regulations there is no specific reference made to the supervision of students carrying out practice-based work. This is not to say that such advice may not exist in the form of guidelines within individual departments. If institutions are to adopt the inclusive model outlined in this paper it may be timely for them to consider their current regulations and formal guidelines in this area to ensure that students in the field of creative arts are supported in their work and to ensure that the student’s project is such as to enable it to conform to more traditional research requirements, if the revised regulations so require. It will often be necessary for institutions to appoint two supervisors to cover both the academic and practical aspects, in line with the advice on external examiners below.

Frayling, C. et al (1997). (eds.) Practice- based Doctorates in the Creative and Performing Arts

and Design. N.p. [UK]: UK Council for Graduate Education.

http://www.ukcge.ac.uk/OneStopCMS/Core/CrawlerResourceServer.aspx?resource=CD25644D-0D5A-41DA-8CC4-EEFADA55DB31&mode=link&guid=a57997aa5a9f4450bb141144a86634e6

2004

The practical implications of applying a theory of practice based research: a case study.

At the launch of the AHRB’s framework for doctoral training provision on March 12th 2004, Michael Jubb, in response to a question from the floor, observed that practice based research is “contested territory”. Notwithstanding the fact that scholars and practitioners agree on many points, such as the centrality of artefacts, e.g., paintings, videos, installations, etc., the existence of contested territory means that the doing of practice based research is accompanied by a significant component of methodological development: frameworks and methods are created and tested through the doing of practice based research.

This puts the practice based visual arts and design doctoral student and supervisor in an unusual, if not historically unique position of having to consider both methodology and methodological rigour. This situation, which is a source of inspiration and anxiety for both supervisor and student, requires a level of critical engagement with the debate on the theory and practice of research not demanded of researchers in those disciplines where shared and agreed research principles and methods have become embedded.

Scrivener, S. (2004) The practical implications of applying a theory of practice based research: a case study. Working Papers in Art and Design 3
Retrieved 21.07.2010 from URL http://sitem.herts.ac.uk/artdes_research/papers/wpades/vol3/ssfull.html
ISSN 1466-4917

The Missing Links By John Wakeford

Too many postgraduate students suffer from inadequate support and end up failing. John Wakeford has investigated a number of complaints about shoddy supervision. Here he details some of the worst cases.

Postgraduate prospectuses imply that research students will be supervised by leading scholars who hold frequent and regular supervisions, are accessible at other reasonable times, and provide direction and monitoring of students’ work, thus ensuring that students obtain a PhD in three or four years.

The reality is often different. Many students find their original supervisors too busy, or unavailable because of study leave, promotion, illness, personal problems or retirement.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2004/mar/16/postgraduate.highereducation

2005

re:search – in and through the arts 1 November 2003 – 31 October 2005

http://ec.europa.eu/education/transversal-programme/doc/studies/2003research_en.pdf

TOWARDS A RESEARCH PROFILE FOR HIGHER ARTS EDUCATION IN EUROPE

R e s e a r c h S u p e r v i s i o n

One-to-one supervision is still the norm, although it moves away from a merely theoretical approach common in art history. Contact and direction between supervisor and the doctoral candidate range from one supervisor to a team of supervisors and from intensive to hardly existent. Most supervisors are professional artists employed by the institution. In some countries external reviewers (or examiners) are involved. The status of professors at Higher Arts Education Institutes varies according to national and institutional traditions, possibly hampering the mobility of research and supervisory staff. [p12]

I n t e r n a t i o n a l P l a t f o r m s o f s u p e r v i s o r s , r e s e a r c h e r s

Specialised cross-national networks driven by artists, designers, researchers, students, supervisors, theorists should create platforms for collaboration, training, and reflection. [p14]

F o l l o w – u p i n v e s t i g a t i o n i n t o s u p e r v i s i o n

A follow-up investigation into supervision criteria, requirements for supervisors, development of supervisory teams and research training is critical for the development of research and research degrees and will facilitate international mobility of researchers and of supervisors. Practical proposals included a training course for supervisors and the collation of a list of potential supervisors and external examiners. [p14]

Supervision , r e s e a r c h t r a i n i n g a n d d e v e l o p i n g w a y s o f o r g a n i s i n g r e s e a r c h

Supervision is increasingly considered crucial for the quality of research and for the development of the research profile of the institution. Models include one supervisor, in some countries two or even three supervisors per candidate. Contacts between supervisor and the doctoral candidate range from informal interaction with one supervisor to intensive exchange with a supervisory team. Supervisors are chosen on the basis of academic and/or artistic merit. Most supervisors are professional artists employed by the institution while in some countries external reviewers or examiners are involved.

The academic status of professors at art schools and the scientific standards applied in evaluating research outcomes in the arts, reflect different cultural, national and institutional traditions. In Germany and Poland a ‘habilitation’ degree is the required academic status for qualified supervisors. All countries surveyed adopt a formal process for recruiting PhD staff and for the formulation of special research supervision standards.

Further investigation into the requirements for supervisors in the light of the growing mobility of (research) staff and (PhD) students would be useful for the promotion of international collaboration and international programmes. [p34]

PROJECT REPORT AND COMPARATIVE OVERVIEW

European League of Institutes of the Arts / Universität der Künste Berlin With the support of the Directorate-General for Education and Culture, European Commission

http://www.elia-artschools.org/_downloads/publications/research_overview.pdf

Supervision and Research Training

The Comparative Overview suggests that in spite of the many different degree titles, assessment processes may be far more comparable. In the Comparative Overview as well as in the Final Project Conference, supervision was identified as critical for the development of research and research degrees. Transparency in the qualifications of supervisors would also facilitate international mobility of researchers and of supervisors. The Comparative Overview proposes a follow-up investigation into supervision criteria, requirements for supervisors, developments towards supervisory teams and research training. Training of supervisors is often mentioned as a problem and this is echoed by the Expert Group’s recommendation that a training course for supervisors in arts research should be organised. [p9]

2008

A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ON EFFECTIVE PhD SUPERVISION

David Delany PhD, CAPSL

http://www.tcd.ie/CAPSL/academic_practice/worddocs/Effective_Supervision_Literature_Review.doc.

A review of the international literature on doctoral supervision covering the history of the PhD, factors affecting PhD completion, and an overview of several models of the supervisor-supervisee relationship.

MODELS OF SUPERVISION

Pearson and Kayrooz (2005) argue that the development of academic supervisors has been constrained by a “lack of robust conceptual understanding of what supervision involves”. In attempting to answer this challenge and capture the multi-faceted nature of effective supervision researchers have used a number of different approaches which vary in sophistication from uni-dimensional metaphors, to unstructured lists of desirable traits, to complex multi-dimensional empirically-driven frameworks. Grant (1999) suggests that the majority of these approaches to understanding and practicing supervision emerge from a liberal humanist view of social relations in which supervision is understood to be an essentially rational and transparent engagement between autonomous individuals. She argues that additional useful insights into the subtleties and complexities of supervision can be gained from considering supervision within a broader psychoanalytic context. [p5-6]

And

Following Cullen et al. (1994), Pearson and Brew (2002) suggest that a more productive approach is to focus on what supervisors are actually doing and why. This is done on the assumption that this grounds discussion in the practice of supervision and the behaviour of participants, ensuring that their learning is situated in their particular research contexts. [P13]

Although the international research literature on postgraduate supervision is replete with examples of what constitutes good supervision practice (Moses, 1985; Zuber-Skerritt, 1992; Christie and Adawi, 2006; Holbrook and Johnston, 1999; Johnson et al., 2000), there is a dearth of longitudinal research that actually assesses the impact of interventions designed to improve postgraduate supervision. [P13]

CONCLUSION

The increasing international importance of innovation and knowledge generation has driven an increase in the research literature on research supervision. However, although a rich array of supervisory models have been proposed to account for the multifarious factors that are associated with effective supervision there is still a salient need for a program of coherent empirical validation. [P13]

Quality Matters in Doctoral Supervision – a critique of current issues in the UK within a worldwide context

Stuart D Powell and Howard Green

Full text at:

http://www.postgraduatedirections.org.uk/QualityMattersInDoctoralSupervision.pdf

3. Conclusions

We have noted above the example of the ‘habilitation’ in France and have suggested thatit is concerned more with the research projects than with the pedagogic issues of supervision. We have also noted that the training of supervisors is now a feature of the postgraduate research scene in many countries.

In the light of these two notes, it seems to us important to consider just what it is that supervisors are being trained for, and again, this brings us full-circle to questions about the nature of the doctoral award to which the student aspires. As we have stressed elsewhere (Powell and Green, 2007), our view is that the student is engaged in acts of learning about how to do research, is studying for an academic award that has criteria which the student needs to demonstrate that he/she has met. Supervision is, therefore, primarily an act of pedagogy – not of research. Hence it follows that research degree supervision should be about how the supervisor can most effectively engage with the learner in the latter’s attempts to provide evidence to meet the criteria for the award.

In one sense it might seem that the art and the science of teaching should readily transfer to the research degree context from the other kinds of [university] teaching that the academic member of staff is engaged in. However, what makes research degree supervision different is the expectation that the student will attain a kind of mastery that is on a par with the supervisors’ and that in respect of the specifics of knowledge the student will necessarily exceed that supervisor. After all, the student has to contribute to knowledge and this means that supervisors must learn things they did not know before.

The ‘curriculum’ in research degree study is therefore about extending knowledge not merely transferring it. The essentials of the teacher/pupil (or master/novice) relationship are different from that which pertains at all other levels of learning and therefore the pedagogy is new. Supervisors who think they can supervise because they can research are necessarily misguided and it follows that systems which mirror this misguided notion are also necessarily at fault. Prior experiences of researching and/or teaching are necessary but not sufficient for effective research degree supervision.

Supervision is a complex business and to begin to define good practice, for example in monitoring it, without a careful exposition of just what it involves, its constraints and the parameters of its responsibilities is, in our view, unlikely to lead to an enhancement of quality provision. To encourage review teams to identify what, in their collective opinion, are examples of good practice without any reference to any evidence whatsoever other than their own, predetermined, beliefs is to run the risk of the inappropriate adoption of dubious practices by institutions intent on illustrating their commitment to the newly established, yet ever changing, quality agenda. [Powell and Green: 40-41]


[1] In 2000 I started a full-time AHRB funded practice based PhD at Goldsmiths College. This was completed in 2005 and I have continued to practice and be involved in practice-based research ever since. This phase of practice and research culminated in an Arts Council for England funded exhibition at Dilston Grove, Cafe Gallery Projects in 2008. As an artist I have been excited by the dynamic relationships between research, theory and practice and how these relationships can be mutually beneficial to my own and others work. As a supervisor of practice-based PhDs I have taken a keen interest in the continuing and often contradictory developments in the way they are thought about in the educational institutions I have worked in over the last 10 years. The paradoxes and fluidity of the various manifestations of practice-based and practice-led research has both intrigued and frustrated me in equal measure.

[2] Peter Hill is an artist and writer and adjunct professor at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, Melbourne.

[3] The report states that, ‘Supported by the European Commission, ELIA and the Universität der Künste Berlin undertook the re:search in and through the arts project in 2004-2005 with the aims of mapping the diversity of approaches to research and research degrees in a European context and accelerating the process of networking and collaboration. The project was designed to contribute to the wider policy debate on recognition for the arts, arts research and Higher Arts Education.[2006:10]

[4] The report’s forward was co-written by Professor Kirsten LangkildeVice-President and Dean of the College of Architecture, Design and Media, Universität der Künste Berlin and Professor Maarten Regouin, Hanzehogeschool Groningen and President European League of Institutes of the Arts – ELIA

Bibliography
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6 month scoping project:
practice-based PhD supervision
Baker, S and Buckley, B
2009
Future-Proofing the Creative Arts in Higher Education
Scoping for Quality in Creative Arts Doctoral Programs
http://www.creativeartsphd.com/docs/ALTC_Report_Final.pdf
02.03.2010
Biggs, M and Büchler, D.
2009
Supervision in an alternative paradigm
TEXT Journal
http://www.textjournal.com.au/speciss/issue6/Biggs&Buchler.pdf
26.07.2010
Candy, L.
2006
Practice Based Research: A Guide
Creativity & Cognition Studios:
University of Technology, Sydney
http://www.creativityandcognition.com/resources/PBR%20Guide-1.1-2006.pdf
23.07.2010
Cormier, D.
2008
Rhizomatic Education : Community as Curriculum
Author’s Blog
http://davecormier.com/edblog/2008/06/03/rhizomatic-education-community-as-curriculum/
27.06.2010
Cullen, S.
2009
Resource Guide to Dissertation Supervision on Taught Undergraduate and Postgraduate Programmes
The HEA
http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/hlst/documents/resource_guides/dissertation_supervision.pdf
21.04.2010


Delany, D.
2008
A Review of The Literature on Effective PhD Supervision
Centre for Academic Practice and Student Learning,Trinity College, Cambridge
http://www.tcd.ie/CAPSL/academic_practice/worddocs/Effective_Supervision_Literature_Review.doc.
27.06.2010
Frayling, C et al
1997
Practice-based Doctorates, United Kingdom Councilfor Graduate Education, 25th November 1997
UK Council for Graduate Education
http://www.ukcge.ac.uk/Resources/UKCGE/Documents/PDF/PracticebaseddoctoratesArts%201997.pdf
05.02.2010
Hill, P.
2010
How to pass the sight test
Times Higher Educational
http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=412481&c=1
22.07.2010
Kiley, M.
2010
Research into doctoral education
Oxford University: OXFORD LEARNING INSTITUTE
http://www.learning.ox.ac.uk/rsv.php?page=327
26.07.2010
Langkilde, K  and Regouin, M.
2006
FINAL PROJECT REPORT:
TOWARDS A RESEARCH PROFILE FOR HIGHER ARTS EDUCATION IN EUROPE
ELIA
http://ec.europa.eu/education/transversal-programme/doc/studies/2003research_en.pdf
05.02.2010
Lee, A.
2007
Developing efective supervisors: Concepts of research supervision
University of Surrey
http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1006&context=info_sci
01.04.2010
Lee. A.
2009
Some implications of European initiatives for doctoral supervision
Vitae.com
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01.07.2010
Leonard, D et al
2006
Review of literature on the impact of working context and support on the postgraduate research student learning experience
The HEA
http://www.npc.org.uk/whatiswherecanifindhowdoi/Useful_Documents/DoctoralExperienceReview.pdf
01.04.2010
Mainhard,T et al.
2009
A model for the supervisor–doctoral student relationship
Springerlink.com
http://www.springerlink.com/content/c5j1777230g35076/fulltext.pdf
22.02.2010
Mey, K.
2008
Between Paternalist Care and Laissez-faire –On current models of PhD Supervision in practice-based research in Art and Design
State of Play Project Arts Centre, Conference
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13.05.2010
Park, C.
2005
New Variant PhD: The changing nature of the doctorate in the UK
Lancaster University, UK
http://www.grad.ac.uk/downloads/documents/Reports/
13.05.2010
Powell, S  and Green, H.
2008
Quality Matters in Doctoral Supervision –
a critique of current issues in the UK within a worldwide context
http://www.postgraduatedirections.org.uk/QualityMattersInDoctoralSupervision.pdf
22.07.2010
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Thinking of research supervision as a form of teaching
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Art and Design Practice-Based Research Degree Supervision Some empirical findings
Arts and Humanities in Higher Education  June 2003   vol. 2  no. 2  173-185
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Beer, de M; Mason, R.
2009
Using a blended approach to facilitate postgraduate supervision.
Innovations in Education & Teaching International, Volume 46, Number 2, May 2009 , pp. 213-226(14)
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Brew, A; Peseta, T.
2004
Changing postgraduate supervision practice: a programme to encourage learning through reflection and feedback.
Innovations in Education & Teaching International, Volume 41, Number 1, February 2004 , pp. 1-33(33)
Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group
Buckley, B  and Conomos, J.
2009
Rethinking the Contemporary Art School The Artist the PhD  and the Academy
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Elkins, J.
2009
Artists with PhDs: On the New Doctoral Degree in Studio Art
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Gray, C  and Malins, J.
2011
SuperVision: Insights into Supervising Research Degrees in Art and Design
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21.04.2010

On an Ungrounded Earth

13 Jun

On an Ungrounded Earth, by Ben Woodard

20130613-214516.jpg

On an Ungrounded Earth, by Ben Woodard. Brooklyn, New York: Punctum Books. 118 pages. $12.00, paper.

In a 2011 interview conducted by Bookfriendzy, when asked about why he started his multi-disciplinary journal Collapse, Robin Mackay said (and I’m doing my best to transcribe here), “There were a number of problems that it was designed to address, one of which is the problem of where philosophy can exist outside of the academic environment—because of certain constraints of the academic environment—and the way in which the discipline of philosophy is conducted and constrained, and the conviction that philosophy happens everywhere, not just in philosophy departments.”

It might sound obvious—and a little silly—to think about it that way but the idea of philosophy being created and consumed outside of academia is a relatively recent innovation. Collapse is merely one of several increasingly visible venues publishing philosophical thought outside “philosophy departments,” many of which have hefty presences on the web. Certainly towering figures such as Nick Land, whose writings span a huge variety of subjects, and Quentin Meillassoux, whose landmark 2006 text, After Finitude, helped usher in a new era of “modern” philosophy, have had a major influence over a new generation of thinkers, writers and artists looking to construct arguments without, as Mackay put it, constraints.

As philosophy has moved away from outmoded schools and systems of thought, it’s now acceptable—if not outwardly fashionable—for writers to include examples of both “high” and “low” culture to illustrate and support their points. This leads us to Ben Woodard’s absolutely astounding On an Unground Earth, in which Woodard samples from a dizzying array of literature and media, all primarily centered around the disciplines of philosophy, science-fiction and horror. (Here’s a brief list of references: Deleuze and Guattari, Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant, Reza Negarestani, Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Thomas Ligotti, Dune, Tremors, Star Trek, Star Wars, The Matrix series, The Technodrome from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Gears of War, Doom 3 and Dead Space—among many, many others.)

The subtitle of On an Ungrounded Earth is “Toward a New Geophilosophy.” As the back cover copy states, “In far too much continental philosophy, the Earth is a cold, dead place enlivened only by human thought—either as a thing to be exploited, or as an object of nostalgia.” One of Woodard’s contemporaries, Eugene Thacker, has written that there are three ways of interpreting the world as we know it: 1) the world-for-us, or the world in which we live; 2) the world-in-itself, or the inaccessible world which we then turn into the world-for us; and 3) the world-without-us, or the spectral and speculative world. In these terms then, Woodard’s Ungrounded Earth seeks to explore the relationship between human consciousness and the world-without-us.

Arranged in five sections—and despite its relatively brief page count—the text of On an Ungrounded Earth covers quite a bit of…well, ground. Abyssal and external “ungroundings,” giant worms, the panic of burial, the “dimensions” of hell, volcanic orifices—these are only a few of the topics explored. Because this is philosophy, and so much of the text builds off of ideas and concepts introduced in earlier passages, it’s difficult to pull any excerpts without disrupting Woodard’s meticulous terminology and contextualized language. Suffice it to say, that language is approachable and articulate. I wouldn’t exactly go so far as to call it accessible, but it’s certainly very readable. Overall, an excellent balance is struck between introducing new ideas, analyzing those ideas and explaining how everything relates back to the core idea of the book.

Part of that core is a deeply rooted fascination with the idea of philosophy itself, of “philosophically experiencing” the earth as we have come to understand it. On an Ungrounded Earth is one of an increasing number of texts that might be best described as speculative realism. Characterized by strong undercurrents of “anti-correlationism,” or, an outright rejection to Kant’s idea that we are limited to the correlation between thinking and being, speculative-realist texts are enjoying a good amount of attention in times of ecological imbalance and chaotic world trends. In 2013, a lot of us have spent the majority of our lives with the Internet. We have a constant supply of too much information—the anxiety of a shrinking world. We’ve long-ago accepted the idea of the universe expanding, seen a hundred movies depicting the destruction of our planet and helplessly witnessed the major religions of the world clash with one another again and again. Perhaps this is it. Perhaps whatever meaning there is to be found isn’t contained in the world-for-us. Perhaps, Woodard urges, the meaning we seek is right under our very feet—and has been for quite some time.

***

David Peak’s most recent book, Glowing in the Dark, was released by Aqueous Books in October, 2012. He is co-founder of Blue Square Press, an imprint of Mud Luscious Press, and lives in New York City.

///

Speculations IV

5 Jun

20130605-194320.jpg
Speculations IV, June 2013, ISBN: 978-0615797861

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If philosophy begins in wonder, then where does it end? What is its end? Aristotle said that while it begins in wondrous questioning, it ends with “the better state” of attaining answers, like an itch we get rid of with a good scratch or a childhood disease that, once gotten over, never returns. How depressing! Why can’t a good question continue being questionable or, in a more literal translation of the German, “question-worthy?” As Heidegger puts it, “philosophical questions are in principle never settled as if some day one could set them aside.” Couldn’t we learn from questions without trying to settle them, resolve ourselves to not resolving them? Couldn’t wisdom be found in reconciling ourselves to its perpetual love, and never its possession? Wittgenstein once wrote that “a philosophical problem has the form: ‘I don’t know my way about,’” which was the symptom of the deep confusion that constituted philosophy for him. But Heidegger loved wandering aimlessly in the woods, following Holzwege or paths that lead nowhere, stumbling onto dead-ends which could also be clearings.

–Lee Braver, “On Not Settling the Issue of Realism”

Download Speculations IV as a PDF.

Purchase print edition HERE.

–TABLE OF CONTENTS–

Editorial Introduction

PART I: REFLECTIONS

On Not Settling the Issue of Realism
Lee Braver

Politics and Speculative Realism
Levi R. Bryant

The Current State of Speculative Realism
Graham Harman

Weird Reading
Eileen A. Joy

A Very Dangerous Supplement: Speculative Realism, Academic Blogging, and the Future of Philosophy
Adam Kotsko

Speculative Realism: Interim Report with Just a Few Caveats
Christopher Norris

The Future of an Illusion
Jon Roffe

Realism and Representation: On the Ontological Turn
Daniel Sacilotto

PART II: PROPOSALS

“The World is an Egg”: Realism, Mathematics, and the Thresholds of Difference
Jeffrey A. Bell

Ontological Commitments
Manuel DeLanda

The Meaning of “Existence” and the Contingency of Sense
Markus Gabriel

Post-Deconstructive Realism: It’s About Time
Peter Gratton

Points of Forced Freedom: Eleven (More) Theses on Materialism
Adrian Johnston

Realism and the Infinite
Paul M. Livingston

How to Behave Like a Non-Philosopher, or, Speculative Versus Revisionary Metaphysics
John Mullarkey

“The Horror of Darkness”: Toward an Unhuman Phenomenology
Dylan Trigg

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2013 HANNAH ARENDT PRIZE

18 May

2013 HANNAH ARENDT PRIZE

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Photograph of Hannah Arendt, NYC, 1944. Courtesy of the Estate of Fred Stein (fredstein.com)

THE HANNAH ARENDT PRIZE IN CRITICAL THEORY AND CREATIVE RESEARCH: CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Original Writing on Critical Theory and Creative Research

Award presented by the MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research Program
Entry submission: essay of 1,500 words or less

Application deadline: Friday, May 31, 2013

Theme: On Art and Disobedience; Or, What Is an Intervention?

Cash award: 5,000 USD

Winner announced by Saturday, August 31, 2013

Please note that essays over the limit will be disqualified.

The Hannah Arendt Prize in Critical Theory and Creative Research is an annual competition for those interested in the juncture of art and creative research and in the principles at the heart of the arts and humanities, including sense-based intelligence; the reality of singular, nonrepeatable phenomena; ethical vision; and consilience between inner and outer, nature and reason, thought and experience, subject and object, self and world.

Application for the prize is open to the general public. Download the PDF application and email the completed application and the essay (in a .doc or .pdf format) to ctcrprize@pnca.edu.

Explication of theme:

“To disobey in order to take action is the byword of all creative spirits. The history of human progress amounts to a series of Promethean acts. But autonomy is also attained in the daily workings of individual lives by means of many small Promethean disobediences, at once clever, well thought out, and patiently pursued, so subtle at times as to avoid punishment entirely. All that remains in such a case is an equivocal, diluted form of guilt. I would say that there is good reason to study the dynamics of disobedience, the spark behind all knowledge.”

Gaston Bachelard, Fragments of a Poetics of Fire

Intervention is an omnipresent if not ubiquitous word in contemporary discourse, but what forms does it take in the age of genetic engineering and real-time media? Is the concept a decoy or distraction in the face of futility? A cover or compensation for hopeless battles and set-ups? Is it simply working to slow down the Inevitable, a notion that in and of itself works as a major obstacle to critical thought and action? Or is it something more serious, more durable, and more dangerous? What is the relation of critique and intervention, theory and practice? And what role does art play in what Bachelard called “creative disobedience,” acts of Prometheanism “so subtle at times as to avoid punishment entirely”? Might art now comprise one of the last forms of political stealth, working in increasingly sophisticated time-based ways? What kinds of thought and action are powerful and compelling interventions today, whether one-off spectacles, sabots, monkey wrenches, sleepers, gummy bears, or Trojan Horses?

Along with Anne-Marie Oliver and Barry Sanders, Founding Co-Chairs, MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research, Pacific Northwest College of Art, the judges for 2013 include

Claire Bishop, Professor of Contemporary Art, Theory and Exhibition History, Graduate Center, The City University of New York

Judith Butler, Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature, The University of California, Berkeley, and Hannah Arendt Professor of Philosophy, Europäische Universität für Interdisziplinäre Studien/EGS

Barbara Duden, Professor Emerita, Leibniz Universität Hannover

Julia Kristeva, Professor Emerita and Head of the École doctorale Langues, Littératures, Images, Université Paris Diderot, Paris 7, and recipient of the Hannah Arendt Award for Political Thought

Heike Kühn, Film Critic
Martha Rosler, Artist and contributor to the Hannah Arendt Denkraum (on the occasion of Hannah Arendt’s 100th birthday)

For information about last year’s competition, please see

http://www.artandeducation.net/announcement/the-hannah-arendt-prize-call-for-entries

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THE TURING NORMALIZING MACHINE

15 May

THE TURING NORMALIZING MACHINE

by Yonatan Ben-Simhon and Mushon Zer-Aviv

An experiment in machine learning & algorithmic prejudice

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From: http://mushon.com/tnm/

In the 1930s British Mathematician Alan Turing studied normal numbers. During World War 2 he cracked the Nazi Enigma code, and then laid the foundations for computing and artificial intelligence. In the 1950s he was convicted of homosexuality and was chemically castrated. And in June 7th 1954, depressed by the anti-homosexuality medical treatment, and alienated by the society who deemed him abnormal, Alan Turing ate a cyanide laced apple.

In the following decades many of Turing’s ideas have materialized through the digital revolution, while many of them are still being researched. Inspired by Turing’s life and research we seek to finally crack the greatest enigma of all:

“Who is normal?”

The Turing Normalizing Machine is an experimental research in machine-learning that identifies and analyzes the concept of social normalcy. Each participant is presented with a video line up of 4 previously recorded participants and is asked to point out the most normal-looking of the 4. The person selected is examined by the machine and is added to its algorithmically constructed image of normalcy. The kind participant’s video is then added as a new entry on the database.

As the database grows the Turing Normalizing Machine develops a more intricate model of normal-appearance, and moves us closer to our research goal: to once-and-for-all decode the mystery of what society deems “normal” and to automate the process for the advancement of science, commerce, security and society at large.

The abnormal,
while logically second,
is existentially first.

Georges Canguilhem, The Normal and the Pathological, 1966.

Conducted and presented as a scientific experiment TNM challenges the participants to consider the outrageous proposition of algorithmic prejudice. The responses range from fear and outrage to laughter and ridicule, and finally to the alarming realization that we are set on a path towards wide systemic prejudice ironically initiated by its victim, Turing.

by Yonatan Ben-Simhon and Mushon Zer-Aviv. [contact]

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Image

Common Intellectual

1 May

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http://www.copypress.co.uk/index/

Copy Press is an independent publishing company based in London, dedicated to extending ideas of writing, pictures and readability. Currently publishing 100-page paperbacks under the series name Common Intellectual, each title provides a proposition for living, thinking and enjoyment. Copy Press publishes authors whose work endeavours to bring writers and readers into a space where common voices can come together and gather mass.

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DESIGN HISTORY SOCIETY ESSAY PRIZE 2013

29 Apr

DESIGN HISTORY SOCIETY ESSAY PRIZE 2013

CALL FOR ENTRIES

Submissions are invited for the Design History Society Essay Prize, established in 1997 in order to maintain high standards in design history in higher education. Two prizes are awarded annually; one to an undergraduate student and the other to a postgraduate (MA or PhD).

Competition requirements:

1. The entrant must have been a current or graduating student (full or part-time) within the academic year 2012/2013.
2. The essay should be written in English.
3. The length of the essay should be between 6,000 words and 10,000 words, including footnotes (for postgraduate students this may take the form of a free-standing essay or a thesis chapter re-worked into a free-standing essay). A word count must be provided with the essay and on the submission form.
4. The essay (including illustrations) should be submitted electronically as a PDF.
5. The essay should not have been previously published.
6. The essay must be accompanied by an academic nomination. Copies of these guidelines can be forwarded to tutors on request.

The Prize includes:
· A bursary of £300 given by the Design History Society
· One year’s membership of the Design History Society (includes subscription to The Journal of Design History)
· Free place at the Design History Society conference Towards Global Histories of Design: Postcolonial Perspectives 5 – 8 September 2013, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India, plus free place at the conference gala dinner.
· ONLY if attending Towards Global Histories of Design conference, £200 towards travel costs to Ahmedabad, India.
· £100 worth of Oxford University Press publications
· 5 Paperbacks in the Oxford History of Art series

Application forms are available from the

DHS Essay Prize Officer:

Dr Annebella Pollen

a.pollen@brighton.ac.uk

The closing date is 14th June 2013
Essays received after the deadline will not be considered.

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Alienating the ‘I’ from academic writing is a big risk…

24 Apr

Academic writing: why no ‘me’ in PhD?
Alienating the ‘I’ from academic writing is a big risk, says Aslihan Agaogl – what you’re doing is removing yourself.

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Avoiding the first person in my PhD dissertation felt like I was building a wall between myself and the reader, says Aslihan Agaoglu. Illustration: Francesco Bongiorni

The PhD is a lonely pursuit. Ask anyone who has ever done one and they will tell you that there is a lot of “me time” during your years of research. It requires a lot of reading and writing, critical thinking, coming up with ideas, then throwing those ideas into the trash and coming up with new, and hopefully, better ones. There’s no way around it, the process requires isolation.

This was one of the first things our programme director told us during our induction seminar: to be able to do a PhD, you need to not only to be okay with being alone, you have to love it. Love, that is, with a capital L.

You would imagine that with all this me time, all these academics living inside their brilliantly chaotic heads, having conversations with themselves (not in a crazy kind of way … or maybe just a little bit), academia would be more open to the expression of ideas and thoughts in the first person. But since common sense is the least common of all senses, this is not the case.

When I submitted my very first piece of writing towards my dissertation, I met with my supervisor to discuss the work I had done and he gave me some good feedback on making a plan, constructing a chapter using Endnote, and incorporating more sources instead of relying on just five books. He also told me that using ‘I’ or ‘we’ is a big no-no.

Changing the way I write was not an easy task. I had to shut down and reboot my mind, going back to its factory default.

I did my MA in creative writing, where for a year we were told over and over again, that using the passive voice was not acceptable. Good writers did not do that; good writing stayed clear of it. And after a year of strictly using the active voice and telling a story in the first person, removing all the ‘we’ and ‘I’ from my PhD dissertation felt as though I was building a wall between myself and the reader.

The reason for not using the first person, according to my supervisor, was that this wasn’t fiction but academia – and “there are no ‘I’s in academic writing”.

What’s my issue with this (aside from the irony)? Well, it’s easy to explain: by removing the first person point of view and the active voice from your writing, what you’re actually doing is removing yourself.

This is a big problem since more than half of the academic writing that already exists is on subjects that are difficult to understand for most non-academics. And when you remove the distinctive self (or voice) from your writing, it can become unbearable to read. When you alienate the ‘I’ from your dissertation, you are taking a big risk: turning your writing into a mere juxtaposition of facts and figures.

There is already widespread debate about academia being reserved or exclusive, with academics writing only for other academics – and for good reason. Academia is supposed to be the place where knowledge is created; a place where people come to make an original contribution to the existing literature. But if we academics can’t share this with anyone but ourselves, if our original contribution to the body of knowledge just sits on a shelf at the university library gathering dust, what good can possibly come from it?

If people can’t read and understand what we’re writing, what purpose does this knowledge serve? And why does academia fear the ‘I’ so much when academics themselves are famous for loving to talk about themselves and their work?

It is a fact that pronouns are considered informal and the use of them may result in a language that is not appropriate for academic writing. But passive sentences – like that one I just wrote – risk stripping all the spice from your text. And you need spice: without it, reading feels like eating plain vegetables in a Mexican restaurant.

Some practices are so longstanding, like knocking on wood against evil, they have solidified in our subconscious – impossible to change, or even question. This irony is not lost on me. Academia is supposed to be a place to question everything, yet every day I’m surrounded by silent rules that are not up for questioning.

One more thing about us crazy academics: we like to daydream. And today, just for the sake of it, I dream of a world where I can use the dreaded ‘I’. I imagine a world where I can own up to what I have created, the knowledge that I have contributed, not just on the cover of my dissertation, but throughout my writing by using the active voice – my voice – and the first person point of view.

Aslihan Agaoglu is completing her PhD in the department of Middle Eastern studies at King’s College London – follow her on Twitter @Asli_Agaoglu

This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. To get more articles like this direct to your inbox, become a member of the Higher Education Network.
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Avoiding the first person in my PhD dissertation felt like I was building a wall between myself and the reader, says Aslihan Agaoglu. Illustration: Francesco Bongiorni
The PhD is a lonely pursuit. Ask anyone who has ever done one and they will tell you that there is a lot of “me time” during your years of research. It requires a lot of reading and writing, critical thinking, coming up with ideas, then throwing those ideas into the trash and coming up with new, and hopefully, better ones. There’s no way around it, the process requires isolation.

This was one of the first things our programme director told us during our induction seminar: to be able to do a PhD, you need to not only to be okay with being alone, you have to love it. Love, that is, with a capital L.

You would imagine that with all this me time, all these academics living inside their brilliantly chaotic heads, having conversations with themselves (not in a crazy kind of way … or maybe just a little bit), academia would be more open to the expression of ideas and thoughts in the first person. But since common sense is the least common of all senses, this is not the case.

When I submitted my very first piece of writing towards my dissertation, I met with my supervisor to discuss the work I had done and he gave me some good feedback on making a plan, constructing a chapter using Endnote, and incorporating more sources instead of relying on just five books. He also told me that using ‘I’ or ‘we’ is a big no-no.

Changing the way I write was not an easy task. I had to shut down and reboot my mind, going back to its factory default.

I did my MA in creative writing, where for a year we were told over and over again, that using the passive voice was not acceptable. Good writers did not do that; good writing stayed clear of it. And after a year of strictly using the active voice and telling a story in the first person, removing all the ‘we’ and ‘I’ from my PhD dissertation felt as though I was building a wall between myself and the reader.

The reason for not using the first person, according to my supervisor, was that this wasn’t fiction but academia – and “there are no ‘I’s in academic writing”.

What’s my issue with this (aside from the irony)? Well, it’s easy to explain: by removing the first person point of view and the active voice from your writing, what you’re actually doing is removing yourself.

This is a big problem since more than half of the academic writing that already exists is on subjects that are difficult to understand for most non-academics. And when you remove the distinctive self (or voice) from your writing, it can become unbearable to read. When you alienate the ‘I’ from your dissertation, you are taking a big risk: turning your writing into a mere juxtaposition of facts and figures.

There is already widespread debate about academia being reserved or exclusive, with academics writing only for other academics – and for good reason. Academia is supposed to be the place where knowledge is created; a place where people come to make an original contribution to the existing literature. But if we academics can’t share this with anyone but ourselves, if our original contribution to the body of knowledge just sits on a shelf at the university library gathering dust, what good can possibly come from it?

If people can’t read and understand what we’re writing, what purpose does this knowledge serve? And why does academia fear the ‘I’ so much when academics themselves are famous for loving to talk about themselves and their work?

It is a fact that pronouns are considered informal and the use of them may result in a language that is not appropriate for academic writing. But passive sentences – like that one I just wrote – risk stripping all the spice from your text. And you need spice: without it, reading feels like eating plain vegetables in a Mexican restaurant.

Some practices are so longstanding, like knocking on wood against evil, they have solidified in our subconscious – impossible to change, or even question. This irony is not lost on me. Academia is supposed to be a place to question everything, yet every day I’m surrounded by silent rules that are not up for questioning.

One more thing about us crazy academics: we like to daydream. And today, just for the sake of it, I dream of a world where I can use the dreaded ‘I’. I imagine a world where I can own up to what I have created, the knowledge that I have contributed, not just on the cover of my dissertation, but throughout my writing by using the active voice – my voice – and the first person point of view.

Aslihan Agaoglu is completing her PhD in the department of Middle Eastern studies at King’s College London – follow her on Twitter @Asli_Agaoglu

This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. To get more articles like this direct to your inbox, become a member of the Higher Education Network.

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“Read, read, read. Read everything – “

2 Apr

William Faulkner

“Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”

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John Balderssari

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