The School, which includes Music, Digital Media, Fine Art and Museum and Gallery Studies, promotes the development of a dynamic and cohesive research environment and supports a rich diversity of postgraduate and doctoral research activities, both in the areas of practice-based and theoretical and historical research. Subject specific lectures and an evolving interdisciplinary programme of seminars and round-table discussions inform and contextualise research. These also offer the opportunity to doctoral researchers to exchange ideas and engage in conversation across disciplines with staff, fellow students and visiting artists, scholars, curators and critics.
The Fine Art Postgraduate Research Student Training Programme includes seminars on practice, and writing in relation to studio-based research and practice, preparing papers for specialist journals and conference presentation. The nature, purpose and possible forms of a Fine Art PhD are a specific topic of debate and these seminars also provide a forum for peer-review on research issues and progress. Students are required to periodically present their research to staff and their peers. All staff contribute and appropriate external specialists and researchers are invited to present and to discuss projects. All staff are research-active professionals, artists, researchers and academics, and thus provide up-to-date practice-led teaching, supervision and professional experience and knowledge. Where appropriate, MFA students take part in these seminars.
Opportunities for cross-disciplinary debate and research also exists beyond the School. For example, CultureLab is a unique research infrastructure providing an environment for academics and practitioners working beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries. It promotes socially and economically valuable synergies with artists, creative industries, and cultural and scientific institutions, and the development of innovative research with digital tools.
In addition, Connecting Principle is an art-centred international multi-disciplinary research forum at Newcastle University instigating a dialogue between art and other disciplines. The aim of the forum is to increase opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration within and beyond academia. Connecting Principle is therefore the basis of an international network of artists, theorists and researchers. Our current activities feature a series of presentations, round table discussions and an annual two-day event that showcases the recent projects and collaborations of our members.
Tuesday 8th January 2013, Anna Santomauro, Bari and Bologna, Italy.
'Curating collaborative strategies in peripheral areas':
During the seminar I would like to share some thoughts about my activity as an independent curator and above all within Vessel, in order to activate a brainstorming about the main topics that the organization is tackling.
Vessel is a platform for the development of a critical discourse related to current cultural, social, economic and political issues. The focus of vessel for the next two years will be on: geopolitics and socially engaged practice. Our approach will be to think about the objectivity of geographical borders in order to reshape the collective imagery related to this specific geographical area. Starting from the geographical position of Bari, we will reconsider the common sense to look at the map of the South of Italy in the ledge of South-North in favor of a more horizontal way of thinking driving towards the Mediterranean area. This will reverse the notion of West-East towards the less established category of South-East. Socially engaged art is the critical tool we will use for the exploration of this specific context.
Tuesday 20th November 2012, Richard Grayson.
Richard Grayson will talk about six projects: five actual, one resolutely hypothetical. These are: A Secret Service: Art compulsion and concealment - curated for the Hayward Gallery Touring program in 2006, The Golden Space City of God - video installation 2009, Polytechnic - an exhibition about UK time based and video practice seeking new forms of experimental narrative, Raven Row London 2010, The Magpie Index: video installation 2010 The Objectivist Studio Installation 2011 and Temple Tel an unrealised project. The aim of the seminar is to unpick themes and concerns in these projects and to ask to what extent they might be considered to be research and to what extent they refuse this classification.
Richard Grayson's work, as artist and a curator, looks at ways language and narrative are used to make sense of the worlds around us, and how narratives in turn generate worlds of their own. The central focus of his practice is subjective personal readings and constructions of the world and ways that these might achieve social political and cultural expression.
Tuesday 13th November 2012, Connecting Principle Research Forum PRESENTATIONS and EVENT 2012
Dr Cornelia Gockel,
Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich.
'In search of the magic space between art, cinema and reality'.
At the last Biennale in Venice people were attracted by Christian Marclay’s film installation “Clock". The American artist collected thousands of clips from the entire history of cinema, from silent film to the present, each featuring an exact time on a clock, on a watch, or in dialogue. He put them together to a 24-hour film and projected the montage in real time. The use of found footage is a well-known strategy in video art, but to connect them with the reality of the spectator was fairly new. The result was overwhelming. People were spending a long time in front of the film installation to see what happens next. With his work "Clock" Christian Marclay opened a gap between art, cinema and reality. He gives people the impression that they are part of the history. Trapping spectators in this magic space is the dream of writers, artists and filmmakers. It is connected with the promise of an extraordinary experience. In the lecture for the Connecting Principles Event 2012 "Set and Settings", the art critic Cornelia Gockel explores this magic space in the works by Cindy Sherman, Hiroshi Sugimoto, David Claerbout, Julian Rosefeldt, Pierre Huyghe and Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller.
Tuesday 30th October 2012, Rachel Wells
'Taking Responsibility: Artistic Authorship in an age of Social Media'.
In his provocative recent work, the prominent art historian Boris Groys has claimed that attitudes towards aesthetic responsibility have shifted in our age of 'self-design'. Connecting the pervasive nature of self-design that is produced by social media technology to the rise of participatory art practice, Groys claims that 'it is now better to be a dead author than to be a bad author'. This seminar will discuss the ideas raised by Groys's essay in relation to examples from recent international art practice.
Please come to the seminar having read Groys's e-flux article which is available here: http://www.e-flux.com/journal/self-design-and-aesthetic-responsibility/
Rachel Wells is Lecturer in the History of Art at Newcastle University. Before joining the department at Newcastle in 2011, she was Tutor in Fine Art (History and Theory) at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford University, and Henry Moore Foundation Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She received her PhD from the Courtauld Institute in 2008. Her book on Scale in Contemporary Sculpture is forthcoming with Ashgate Publishing.
Tuesday 16th October 2012, Connecting Principle Research Forum PRESENTATIONS:
Angelika Böck's 'Dialogical Portraits' are directed at forms of expressions, practices, rituals, or signs in various contexts aiming to set side by side different contemporary modes of perception and representation of the individual. This setting has resulted in a series of '(self)portrayals', for which Angelika Böck has applied a 'dialogical' strategy by placing herself as the subject to be negotiated, studied and represented through interpretations by her fellow human beings. The 'Dialogical Portraits', which challenge and expand the parameters of the conceptions and conventions of portrayal, are intended as a dual relation between both objectivities and subjectivities within the order of representation and represent both a crossover and reversal of the traditional roles of the artist on the one hand and model on the other.
On the basis of these examples the methodologies, production process, possibilities and/or limitation of artworks applying ethnographic and dialogical methods will be discussed.
The participants are welcome to present projects on 'portrayal' (their own or others) in the form of prints or as pp-presentation. Please get in touch with Wolfgang if you are interested.
Angelika Böck (1967 in Munich) graduated in Interior Architecture and Fine Arts. Her recent work focuses on dialogic structures, artistic research on human perception and portrayal. Her work is exhibited in museums and galleries internationally and published in artistic as well as scientific contexts. http://www.angelika-boeck.de/homepage.html?L=1
organized by Prof Wolfgang Weileder
Rachel Wells: ‘Writing your dissertation’, 18/10/2011
In this seminar, Rachel Wells will discuss some of the practicalities of writing your dissertation. The session is aimed at both PhD and MFA students. Drawing upon her own experience of doctoral research, Rachel will discuss aspects of writing including structuring your dissertation as a whole, composing the introduction and conclusion, completing an abstract, and compiling the bibliography and list of illustrations. We will also discuss planning and organising your time effectively.
Harry Pearson: ‘Let’s Get That Donut’, 01/11/2011
The opening scenes of the Charlie Kaufman scripted movie Adaptation strike a chord with all professional writers. The actor playing writer Kaufman sits in front of a blank computer screen in his LA apartment, his hands poised over the keyboards. “Time to get a donut” he thinks, then, “No. Donut is a reward. Must do something to earn reward. Must write to earn donut.” His fingers begin to punch the keys. The words “EXTERIOR. DAY,” appear on the computer screen. “Cool,” says the voiceover, “Now, let’s get that donut”. This seminar will include a journey through the author’s career including many wild and illuminating tales from two decades spent hanging around with highly respected journalists waiting for the waiter in the stadium press centre to finally unlock the fridge containing the free Carlsberg. Including: the infamous tale of Peter “Batty” Batt and the Pyrenean plane crash, how the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger interfered with some very important photos of Sir Bobby Robson and why US political journalists threw a colleague from a moving train. Along the way you shall hear myriad tips on how to sharpen, polish and brighten your writing (not least of which will be never to use words such as myriad, or string a trio of verbs together just to fill up some space). All from a man who writes on average 300,000 words a year, most of them in more or less the correct order, and eats an awful lot of donuts.
Sheila McGregor, Ruth Wilbur: ‘Axis Arts’ (www.axisweb.org), 22/11/2011
Joel Fisher: ‘Beginning work’, 06/12/2011
Most artists — visual artists, musicians and writers — have personalized rituals that are an invisible part of their practice. For the most part these actions precede the work session, though occasionally they follow. The seminar on December 6 will introduce this topic, as a basis for discussion. The introduction will be a short talk introducing a few examples from artists both past and present. Each of these stories will raise interesting questions at the same time they are introducing this subject. Please don’t be late for these examples. Prepare for this seminar by writing down your own rituals (if you are aware of them.) What habits do you have when you begin your day’s work? Are there specific things that you to prepare? Are there some things that come from outside? During art school, regular tutorials can achieve ritual status. For many people their beginning rituals can be is as simple as reading the morning paper while having a cup of coffee. For others it is changing clothes, something that is both practical and symbolic. Musicians might practice scales, singers might do warming up exercises, New Zealand athletes might perform the Hake, and some theatre groups do something similar. There are artists who light a candle, others, whether it needs it or not, will wash the floor. Some artists exercise or meditate. Many of these initial rituals serve as periods of transitions— but transitions into what? Often these actions are unnoticed. To what extent are they considered essential? Consciously or unconsciously these actions condition and contribute to the creation of effective works.
Prof Wolfgang Weileder: ‘Connecting Principle Research Forum’, 07/02/2012
Connecting Principle is an art centred international multi-disciplinary research forum at Newcastle University instigating a dialogue between art and other disciplines. The aim of the forum is to increase opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration within academia and independently. Connecting Principle sees itself as an international network of artists, theorists and researchers. Our current activities feature a series of presentations, round table discussions and an annual two-day event that showcases the recent projects and collaborations of our members. The seminar will give a brief introduction to the Connecting Principle Research Forum and its plans for future events and activities. We will discuss opportunities for postgraduate Fine Art students to get actively involved.
Prof Tina Haase and Yvonne Leinfelder (TU Munich): ‘The neuralgic point’, 21/02/2012
This presentation focuses on art in the context of particular spaces or locations. By means of simple and often minimal interventions, such art aims to bring into focus the particular quality or "neuralgic" point of a space or location. In this way, a space or location can be endowed with a completely different mood, thus inviting a second consideration of its nature and function, which in turn often reveals the viewer's own expectations.
Jonathan Watkins, Director of IKON Gallery, Birmingham: ‘Art History’, 08/03/2012
For too long in the west those working with contemporary art have tended to repudiate art history. This is a legacy of modernism, an ideology that insisted on every new art movement surpassing the one before, and thus young, emerging artists tend to be fetishised. Like vampires, exhibition curators crave fresh virgin blood, and what has gone before is deemed uninteresting, unadventurous. Students here are rarely taught about any art that is dated before 1900, by which time the seeds of modernism had been well and truly sown. Art practice without art history is doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past? Well, maybe, maybe not, but certainly a constant emphasis on the avant garde means that a lot of good art work gets overlooked due to eyes being fixed on what lies ahead. For myself, I am concerned to be part of a global art conversation in which it is important to make statements that are pertinent, relevant and not detached from current (art) affairs, but this doesn’t mean that art history has nothing to offer.
Postmodernism wasn’t so bad. The word itself (“postmodernism”) became tired and uncool, and certainly aesthetic crimes were committed with a superficial understanding of the theory, but the postmodern attempt to reset the whole artistic machine was laudable. The cut-and-paste styles, the camp appropriations were awful, but the idea that we could be eclectic, instead of purist - that we could have both David Bowie and Beethoven on our playlists - was like a breath of fresh air. ‘Why not?’ was the right question, and it still is because, still, the aspiration to the condition of fashion in art persists.
Art itself is a kind of fashion, as history teaches us that there hasn’t always been art. Kitagawa Utamaro, recently shown at Ikon, had no idea of “art”, as we now understand it, when he made his beautiful woodblock prints. Art came later, with Europeans, c.1850. Utamaro’s pictures were not made by him to be put in frames on museum walls but instead to be collected for a very small amount of money (the equivalent of three bowls of rice) and then passed around, hand to hand, amongst a group of friends. As art they sell for thousands and thousands. I have come to the conclusion after many years of working in the art world that, paradoxically, those artists who don’t care so much for art are the most interesting ones. The ones who aren’t so precious, not so married to an artistic identity, are usually the best, and this encourages me to think that art, as a kind of pseudo-religion, will not always be with us.
Dr. Cath Keay: ‘Writing a practice-led PhD in Fine Art’ (part 1), 13/03/2012
Dr Cath Keay is a sculptor who uses various strategies and external forces out with the 'hand of the artist' to determine the final forms of her work. She completed a practice-led PhD in Fine Art at Newcastle in 2011 which addressed the research questions 'What means and materials can be used to relinquish authorial control in sculptural production', and 'Is it possible to devise a written equivalent both to elucidate this aim and reflect subjective creative processes in sculptural practice?’ The submission included 5 separately bound texts, the form and function of which echoes sculptural production and presentation. In this seminar we will discuss how to balance the written and practical components and explore ways of writing a thesis that reflects and informs your art. We will discuss what the written element of a practice led PhD could and should consist of. The scope of contextual/literature reviews, methodologies, abstracts and conclusions will be explored and you will be asked to identify your ideal reader. Personal experience of any pitfalls and compromises will be fully and frankly explained.
Dr Richard Hollinshead; ‘Writing a practice-led PhD in Fine Art’ (part 2), 17/04/2012
Prof Volker Straub: ‘Genetics and Art Science Collaborations’, 01/05/2012
In the seminar I will briefly talk about my work as a clinical geneticist and will introduce some of the research projects we are doing to better understand disease mechanisms and to develop treatments for patients with genetic conditions. I will then focus on the challenges how to communicate new developments in genetics and how important improved communication about genetics is and will be for society. Doctors treating patients with incurable genetic conditions have long been aware that their approach to explaining something as intangible as a genetic diagnosis is very different from the way a patient may conceptualise their own illness. The general public has a different perspective again, and speaking to scientists and researchers reveals yet another way of “understanding” genetics. It is challenging to talk about genes and DNA because DNA is complicated and in essence invisible, as John Ogborn points out in Explaining Science in the Classroom; ‘An explanation of the mechanism of heredity involves novel actions of novel entities...The story involves unfamiliar objects which do unfamiliar things in an inaccessible world’. Watson and Crick first used the term ‘information system’ to describe DNA and subsequently it has been variously referred to as a blueprint, a map, a code and, as Eric Lander said on completion of the mapping of the human genome. I don’t know if people realise that we have just found the world’s greatest history book. We are going to be kept up every night reading tales from the genome.
The idea that DNA is ‘the book of life' is commonplace. And whilst it is argued by some that the book metaphor is outdated it is still widely used and indeed is used to describe the genetic changes that causes disease, where the gene change can be described as that of a very small typo somewhere in a very big book inside an enormous library with only a few clues as to where to start looking for it. The interesting questions I would like to discuss in the seminar: can and does art facilitate communication between science and the public?
Dr Lilian Mary Nabulime: ‘Writing a practice-led PhD in Fine Art’ (part 3), 15/05/2012
Dr Lilian Mary Nabulime holds a Fine Art PhD (Newcastle University 2007), thesis: The role of sculptural forms as a communication tool in relation to the lives and experiences of women with HIV/AIDS in Uganda. Lilian’s work uses everyday objects from Ugandan women's lives (for example, soap, sieves, cloth, mirror) to embody a specific social agenda that attempts to raise awareness and promote discussion about sexual practices in the context of increasing HIV/AIDS prevalence. Her work attempts to move the meaning of art beyond the visual and into the social. Her practice led Fine Art PhD explored the use of sculpture, developed through research into the lives and experiences of Ugandan women living with HIV/AIDS, as a tool for raising awareness about the illness. In her presentation Lilian will talk about the project, and how it developed, changed and concluded.