Tag Archives: Neil Cummings

Bright Light Issue 2: Thinking the Substrate

Friday 27 March sees the launch of issue 2 of CCW Graduate School’s journal Bright Light. The Bright Light series focuses on the latest debates in the arts and design and provides a way of seeing how practitioners are taking fresh perspectives on key questions facing designers, fine artists, lens-based media practitioners, curators, archivists and critical theorists. The Bright Light series is edited by Dr David Dibosa, CCW Senior Research Fellow and Course Leader of the MA in Curating and Collections at Chelsea, and each issue is guest edited by a member of CCW staff. In each publication themes such as the environment and technology, as well as socially-engaged practices and identity are looked at through the lens of current arts and design practice.

The first issue, Implicit Geographies, launched in summer 2014 and focused on a range of collections; private or public, professional or amateur and looked at the relations between places that objects suggest.

The second issue, Thinking the Substrate, edited by Dr Daniel Sturgis, is dedicated to the idea of the substrate. The publication stemmed from a series of three symposia hosted by CCW Graduate School and held in the Green Room at Chelsea College of Arts. Over the spring term in 2014, Professor Stephen Farthing, Professor Chris Wainwright and Dr Daniel Sturgis invited artists, academics and students from across the University, together with outside guests, to think about what a substrate could be and if the substrate might be an interesting way to speak cross-disciplinarily about practice.

Thinking the Substrate presents some of the discoveries from these symposia. Sturgis, together with Dibosa, asked participants from each of the sessions to either develop their papers or re-present them in a written form; not everyone who contributed to the sessions or discussions were included, which in some sense is a pity, but space was limited and there was also a desire to show divergent approaches. The one thing that everyone who attended the symposia discovered, as the reader does, is what a slippery fish the idea of substrate is. How can it mean very different things to different people – but remarkably within that breadth the substrate somehow still retains a base that links its various interpretations? It is this base that is so intriguing.

Thinking the Substrate features articles by Simon Morley (Dankook University), Neil Cummings (CCW), Adrian Glew (Tate Britain), Richard Layzell (WCA), Daniel Sturgis (CCW), Pia Gottschaller (Courtauld Institute of Art) and Jo Melvin (CCW).

The launch will take place from 5 – 7pm on Friday 27th March at Camberwell Space gallery, Camberwell College of Arts.

Cultures of Resilience

Cultures of Resilience (CoR) are the interwoven narratives, ideas, meaningful products and performances that, together, create the cultural fabric of an emerging society: a resilient society capable of facing and navigating the turbulence of our time, learning from experience how to thrive best. Resilience, when referred to in socio-technical systems, means a system’s capacity to cope with stress and failures without collapsing and, more importantly, the ability to learn from the experience. Therefore, it should be considered a fundamental characteristic for any potential future society.

The Cultures of Resilience Project is a two years UAL-wide initiative, the goal of which is to build a ‘multiple vision’ on the cultural side of resilience by putting together a set of narratives, values and ideas that are coherent in that they are all based on resilient systems, but in many other aspects they are very diverse. A multiplicity of images that, like the stones of a mosaic, may generate a larger one: a mobile, dynamic, colourful vision of a resilient, sustainable civilization. During UAL’s Research Fortnight (16-27 March), Cultures of Resilience will be holding a four day programme of events from 24-27 March.

CCW is contributing to Cultures of Resilience with Tracing Networks of Evaluation, led by research staff members Neil Cummings, David Cross and Marsha Bradfield. Discussing the work, Cross said, ‘We have enabled the values of competitive markets to dominate contemporary cultural production, we inhabit a mono-culture of evaluation, and this is not resilient. Taking our model from resilient ecosystems – where bio-diversity is essential for their reproduction- we intend to explore different, varied, even conflictual evaluative communities. For the week-long festival, we intend to exhibit a fragment of our ongoing research. Taking the University as an exemplar, we are mapping/tracing of some of its evaluative communities. These include student/staff numbers and composition, our financial entanglements, our stated aspirations, and our energy procurement. These tracings are enabling us to visualise evaluative networks, and assess their resilience. We would also like to run some live mapping/tracing workshops, to research in-real-time, and share the results of that research.’ Tracing Networks of Evaluation will be on Tuesday 24 March from 10am-1pm.

Cultures of Resilience is being led by Professor Ezio Manzini, UAL Chair of Design for Social Innovation.

CoR timetable

CoR Facebook page

CoR Exchange event on Facebook

Twitter: @CoResilience#CoR_Exchange

Top image by: Marsha Bradfield

General Theory Forum

The General Theory Forum is a series of lectures produced for the Chelsea College of Arts postgraduate community (though they are now open and welcoming to the public), chaired by Dr. Stephen Wilson, Postgraduate Theory Coordinator. The General Theory Forum comprises 10 lectures, and this year we are delighted that they will be held at London’s ICA. This year’s series is titled Where Theory Belongs and begins on 21 January with Stine Hebert. Hebert will be in conversation with ICA curator Matt Williams and CCW Professor Neil Cummings on topics related to her book titled Self-Organised, edited by Stine Hebert and Anne Szefer Karlsen (Open Editions, 2013).

Where Theory Belongs is a title that refers to an increasingly resistant culture of auto-regulated art-speak, art theory that is in a constant need for a reflective governance. This series offers a platform that brings together: art theorists, anthropologists, sociologists, humanists, queer theorists, artists and political economists. All of the lectures are followed by a panel discussion. In looking closely at the broader relationships between art, culture and politics, Where Theory Belongs presents the thoughts of Federico Campagna and his recently published book, The Last Night – Atheism, Anti-work, Adventure on 28 January.

Campagna writes, ‘Yet a glass still has sides, though transparent. It has its own limits, which include and exclude: any action, thought or feeling that exceeds its boundaries is irrevocably banned from its territory. Or, at least, this is how normal words function. But adventure is in our hands like a piece of paper. We can cut it, fold it, make an origami out of it. We can even invert the rules that normally apply to other words, and turn its boundaries inside out, or, more precisely, outside in.’

To echo this, Where Theory Belongs proposes the possibility for a single word, or a single action, to become an adventure through its deterritorialising potentials. The limitless, yet boundaried, nature of words and theories allows for reflections and counter-reflections to create infinite possible subjectivities and hence, political manifestations of projected futures.

Mapping/Tracing: Sustainability, Resilience and Divestment

Following the previous research exchange with CCC in Geneva, on Tuesday 20th January from 11am-4pm, there will be a collaborative mapping/tracing workshop with Dr Marsha Bradfield, CCW Reader David Cross and Professor Neil Cummings. The group will be researching and visualising UAL’s financial entanglements, for example, with the Royal Bank of Scotland —the fossil fuel bank, the University’s insurers and energy providers, etc. CCW’s project partners in Geneva, home to an extraordinary network of financial institutions and international civil society organizations, will be simultaneously doing the same mapping process in relation to Haute École d’art et de design de Genève (HEAD Geneva). All UAL postgraduate students are most welcome to participate. For more information about this workshop email Neil Cummings.

The aim of this partnership is to compare and contrast our approaches to the emerging field of practice-based research degrees. Rather than approach this in a generic way, we decided to develop a specific focus on the research interests we have in common, shared research interests are a critical engagement with the contested ideal of ‘sustainability’ and the problematic notion of ‘resilience’.

Following the mapping workshop, on the 27th of January, the two groups will be sharing their relational visualisations via a Skype session. This will feed into CCW’s visit to Geneva from 9—13 March 2015. For any UAL postgraduate students who would like to get involved with the partnership, please email David Cross.

Image: Tributary Diagrams, by Neil Cummings

Collaborative Partnership Seminar Genève

On 13 and 14 January, staff from CCW visited the CCC Research-Based Master Programme and Pre-Doctoral Seminar at the Haute école d’art et de design Genève (CCC/HEAD), to discuss the development of a collaborative partnership around shared areas of research interest. CCC is co-ordinated by Professor Catherine Queloz and delivers a pre-doctoral seminar aimed at developing rigorous and culturally engaged practice-led research in art and design.

Professor Chris Wainwright, Pro Vice-Chancellor of UAL and Head of CCW, Dr Malcolm Quinn, Associate Dean of Research and Head of Graduate School CCW, and Professor Neil Cummings of CCW, delivered presentations on the PhD culture and curriculum at CCW/UAL, as well as presentations on their own research and one-to-one discussions on student research projects. Following the visit, CCW/UAL and CCC/HEAD are planning a joint seminar/workshop programme, commencing in autumn 2014, on the themes of the politics of memory and environment and sustainability, which cohere with the CCW research themes and the research aims of CCC. A common aim of both institutions is to use research in art as a powerful agent of artistic and cultural transformation, intervention, and translation.