Gray’s Research Conference – 5th October 2018 
Seminar Tutors / Speakers at the Aberdeen Business School – Room 223: 
Nuno Sacramento (Director, Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen) Spatialising Policy: Between a Fugitive Rock and a Technocratic Hard Place  
Rachel Grant (Independent Curator, Aberdeen) The Space of Aberdeen: Tactics for Disruption in “The Air we Breathe”  
Jim Hamlyn (Gray’s School of Art) Space Represented and Experienced 
Jacqueline Donachie (Loughborough University) Like Every In-Between: Creating Space in a Medical World  
Jen Clarke (Gray’s School of Art) Some Implications of Feminist New Materialisms for Theories of Spatiality  
Chris Fremantle (Gray’s School of Art) How Big is Here? Space in the work of the Harrisons 
Andrea Peach (Gray’s School of Art) Far Out Craft  
Josie Steed (Gray’s School of Art) Unravelling Shetland Knitting  
Charlie Hackett (Gray’s School of Art) Art, Homelessness & Social Engagement 
Dr. Sarah Tuck (Våland Academy, Gothenburg) Drone Vision: Warfare, Surveillance and Protest  
Jon Blackwood (Gray’s School of Art) Spaces of Protest: Class, Peripherality and Contemporary Art 

Content: 
Nuno Sacramento: Director of Peacocks Visual Arts for two years, prior to this he had been with the Scottish Sculpture Workshop since 2010. 
Space and Place referring not only to the physical but also to the mental, and to the space and place of policy. Will refer to two texts, the draft Cultural Strategy for Scotland, and a book called The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study by Stefano Harney and Fred Moten. (http://www.minorcompositions.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/undercommons-web.pdf
11 Points, although focusing on national strategy, most of the points will apply to local cultural strategies in Scotland: 
Nice one – well intentioned, and positive attitude towards public culture. Request for feedback, with possible inclusion of feedback raised. Challenge to get more involved when feedback is requested.  
Words matter – Definitions of Culture, Matthew Arnold, English poet, “Culture is to make the best that has been thought and known in the world current everywhere”. Brian Eno, “Culture is everything that you don’t have to do”. Scottish Parliament “Culture is everything that is not Nature”. 
Turn the tables - Don’t ask Artists and Curators to produce the work, too busy already. Rather for the artists to ask the Government, Creative Scotland, “what they are going to do about it?”. How do the art workers measure their performance? 
Playing games – Philip Schlesinger. Professor of Cultural Theory, at Glasgow University: “People play the game quite knowingly, adopt the terminology, fill in the forms, trying to make the system work for them. In most cases it simply doesn’t because there are not enough public resources available, and your position in relation to structures which really do dominate the scope for practice and the options available. How do you engineer diversity into this? It is the question of finding the space to articulate different politics”. 
Finding space – How can a strategy relate to an artist's daily practice? Best strategy just to leave artists alone. Best to allow artists to use all the empty buildings and set up autonomous creative zones? What would a strategy produced by artists look, sound and smell like? Currently artists work is only used in the form of photographs in the current strategy that are placeholders between the different paragraphs.  
Undercommons – Why don’t artists write Cultural Strategies, or even bother to read them. Isabella Duncan, an American Dancer “If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it” 
Do not issue a call to order – See what happens when refuse to become an instrument of government. (Harney and Moten).  
What is already going on? - Commons is a metaphor for the things we share that should not be privatised. Shared wealth, any strategy should be based around protecting the common from privatisation, instead of taking from it, we should aim to join what is already going on.  
Enjoy the wealth – To enjoy wealth, it is not through managing it, as management is the first step to accounting for it, attributing it, or distributing it. It is about being with each other, without thinking that this act requires mediation. However, requires elaboration and improvisation, but it does not require accounting or management, it requires study. 
Art practice is study – Art practice is a common, collective intellectual practice, which takes place everywhere and at all time. Study is a group activity.  
Genius / Senius – Brian Eno, as part of a John Peel Lecture in 2015 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zLnrq1Zt04) discussed that some of the best examples of creation of art in history take place in times in which the artists are well supported with money, spaces and creative freedom. These times there was a whole ecology of practice. Genius being the talent of the individual, ‘Senius’ being the talent of the whole community. 
Nuno’s conclusion – art strategy is a toybox, not a toolbox. Artists need the type of support that was available within previous ‘Seniuses’. Through working together, we can turn Aberdeen into an exciting ‘Senius’.  

Personal Reflection:  
I found the points raised by Nuno to be of interest, although I do wonder if I am at too early a stage in my personal practice to benefit fully from looking at this.  
I feel that the idea of working in a joint community for a common goal as artists, is something that can be used at different levels, and upon reflection is not a new practice for myself, as it should be the reality for studio based practice, within courses at Gray’s and the College.  
This goes back to the challenge posed by Jon in the previous seminar, on the need to contextualise yourself and your practice within the wider community and art world. Despite this, there is a reality that the work to complete a MA course may take precedence over establishing a change in the way that Cultural Strategy for Scotland is produced or managed.  
I feel however, that as I progress through the MA, and reach the stage of exiting education, I will be required to be more cognisant of the need to carve a space in the ongoing creative scene within the local community. Due to this, I need to be more aware of the strategy that governs access to these spaces and acts as a doorkeeper and holds the funds.  

Rachel Grant: Curatorial Practice in the MA course, in the previous year.  
Content: 
Challenging to find space within Aberdeen as an independent cultural worker. Local Cultural Policy and City Centre Masterplans, dry reading but important documents. As Aberdeen’s dominant image as an oil and gas city dwindles, opportunities in the cultural field are emerging, although it remains a city in flux.  
An urgent need to situate disruptive creative practice within the city and examining space within creative practice goes beyond physical access being given over to artists within the city, despite its importance. 
Going beyond this means attempting to critique the ongoing production within the city. 
Whose voice is not heard within this cultural development? 
Are there spaces to inhabit outside of this dominant narrative? 
What challenges do they bring? 
This paper will outline the wider context of existing critiques of creative policies through the work of urban geographer Heather McLean and her paper Digging into the Creative City: A Feminist Critique - (http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/131727/) (https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/ges/staff/heathermclean/#/publications,articles)
Using the paper, will examine the use of disruptive practice within Rachel's own project, The Air We Breathe, through its use of space within the city, paying attention to the tactics used in disrupting and changing the function of spaces it inhabited plus highlighting the potential and limitations within this practice.  
Conflicting views: Urban Geographers and Sociologists such as Richard Florida (http://www.creativeclass.com/richard_florida) who have made the idea that welcoming and diverse cities will attract the creative class (meaning university educated middle class professionals), mainstream. Opposing, those more critical of the policy making, stating this narrative forefronts spectacularised arts programming and facilities lead by public private arts partnerships. This results in not for profit and community projects reliant on public sector funding to often be left behind.  
Case study of Dupont Group and the Toronto Free Gallery. McLean uses the work of Amber Landgraff (http://psusocialpractice.org/building-together-if-i-could-do-just-one-near-perfect-thing-id-be-happy/) as an example.  
Using the findings of McLean’s research in Toronto, this is then applied to Aberdeen. An increased focus on the role of culture in the city of Aberdeen, due to the downturn of the oil and gas industry in 2014, and the failed city of culture bid. Consequently, there has been an increase in funding available, new opportunities for accessing work spaces for artists (the anatomy rooms, for example) and a visible increase in cultural production, with festivals within the city. However, there must be a critique of the powers behind these. Currently of the three visual arts festivals within the city, 2 of these are procured by the councils from organisations working outside of Aberdeen. 
This outsourcing can suggest a lack of confidence in the artists and culture within the city, and produces a frustration for local artists, in where the money is going. Disruptive questions need to be asked of the format of funding at present, the links to the business sector and its representation of artists. NuArt is based around boosting tourism within the city.   
Council envisage that NuArt will work in collaboration with local artists, so that there will be a natural progression as they leave local artists will take over. Who are these local artists, and what will the directive be due to the links with the business sector? 
Geir Haraldseth, Director of Rogaland Kunstsenter, Stavanger, (https://www.artinamericamagazine.com/news-features/magazines/atlas-stavanger-norwegian-tags/) outlines a critique of NuArt festival. Lack of unity across boundaries of ethnicity and gender, despite intentions, very male and white.  
What may be an alternative of finding space as an independent creative within the city? 
The Air We Breathe.   
Examples, The Thick and The Sticky – Yvette Bathgate (https://yvettebathgate.com/The-Thick-and-The-Sticky) Audio - (https://soundcloud.com/yvette-bathgate/the-thick-and-the-sticky) research of the effect on air pollution on our health.  
DIY Air Pollution Monitor workshop and talk. David Fryer and designers Ben Durack and Kevin Mulher along with 57north hacklab. Took place in the Central Library, a council owned and ran space, raised questions over the use, and required assurances that this was not a demonstration against the council by activists. Raising questions about the Commons (Nuno Sacramento and Emma Balkind - Guest at Gray’s). What is the role of Cultural Organisations in political narrative? Such as Gray’s, through student work, to the building becoming inhabited and being a host for disruptive conversations.  
Personal Reflection: 
Much like Nuno’s points raised, I felt that some of the discussion and ideas raised, are perhaps going to be more pertinent for myself further down the line. I am still in the education stage of my practice, where I purposely haven't been dwelling too much upon the ‘what next’ stage or questions. I accept that this may be a bit naïve, in that there are some very important issues being raised that will and do affect me. Namely if I am wishing to remain in Aberdeen in particular, but also in general for trying to transition from being an art student, to be an independent creative. There are some harsh realities at play in the creative landscape being mapped out in Rachel’s paper, in that the funding available through the Visual Artist and Craft Maker Awards (VACMA), and some of the other options, often have a criterion that needs to be fulfilled with applications. I haven't delved deeply into how I would form an application yet, as with discussions with the Creative Learning Team, it became apparent that it would be more suitable to apply next year when I would be exiting the art school.  
I feel that some of the questions being raised by Rachel were highlighted in the MA meeting with Libby Curtis as head of school for Gray’s, and how the art school was looking to place itself within the creative landscape of the city. Forefront to what I felt came out of these discussions was an approach by the art school to build further ties with the council and business leaders within the city, to become more involved within the decision making. Which could potentially cause a further disconnect for exiting students, who are having to set themselves up independently within the city after leaving, as the opportunities that may be gained from a closer alignment with the council and business sector may be more focused on set outcomes, presumably with a focus on increased tourism for the city.  
The area of interest for me, personally, within her paper, was the point raised towards the end with the question of what the role of perceived publicly owned, yet council ran locations, and the activities allowed within them. It was only mentioned within Rachel’s talk, however, there was further exploration made into the point, with Emma Balkind’s Guest and Gray’s, and the film night I attended at W OR M, with Simon Yuill. This notion of the Commons, and how they are managed, is a thread that repeatedly is being mentioned, and something that fits within my research and practice. The questions of land use and ownership, that are important to me within the rural landscape, with Wild Land Areas, is evident within these areas too. Although the Wild Land Area I am focusing on is made up of a collection of estate owned land, the benefits that are associated with areas of Common Good, could also be in line with the benefits that may be gained from interacting with the WLA’s. I feel that this is a strand of research I will need to unpick further, and I will look to review Emma’s talk as part of my reflective essay. 

Jim Hamlyn (Head of 4th Year CAP - Gray’s School of Art): Space Represented and Experienced 
Content: 
Thomas Reid (1710–1796) (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/reid/). Aberdeen born Philosopher Dominic McIver Lopes (http://lopes.mentalpaint.net/). Reid was a key figure in the Scottish Enlightenment. Critical of the Idealism of David Hume, Idealism in philosophy being a construction of the mind.  
Principal aims of this research, is to show that appearance concepts, as distinct from actualities are linguistic or conceptual outgrowths, from our wide spread use of illusionistic representational techniques. In other words, without these techniques of which perspective is an obvious and well-known example, it would make no sense to say that a distant barn looks small or the table we are approaching appears to get bigger or that a static white cinema screen looks like a multicoloured window to moving objects and people. 
At route of the research a vital distinction between two types of resemblance, shared properties vs illusionistic appearance. Illusionistic techniques, a girl's passport photo resembles her largely but not entirely by using these techniques, yet her twin sister will resemble her in virtue of shared features. Resemblance between the two sisters is observer independent, whereas the resemblance between girl and passport photograph is not. 
Reid stresses the viewing constraints are required for an illusion to work fully, i.e. must be at a certain distance and angle to view a representation of a sphere painted on a flat canvas as a sphere.  
In viewing this painting out with the constraints we wouldn’t describe the painting as fallacious, as there is no illusion, only the possibility of illusion in tight circumstances.   
Resemblance falls into two distinct categories: things can be genuinely alike or can else they can merely seem so in accordance with principals that can be used to generate what we would readily describe as illusions. 
Physicist, James Clarke Maxwell, discoveries of the laws of electrodynamics. Wrote a paper that stated primary colours of light, not pigment, are red, green and blue. Any colour, that has the same relation to the standard colours will be identical in balance, although its optical constitution as revealed by the prism, may be very different. So, for example blue can be made up of a single wavelength of blue light, or as an equal mixture of cyan and magenta. Two distinct forms of resemblance.  
Lopes has published a series of works based on subject of depiction and is known is a prominent advocate of transparency theory. He states, looking at photographs, people have a literal experience of seeing the objects that they are of. *This links back to my reading of Camera Lucida, in which Roland Barthes, refutes this, looking for a memory or literal embodiment within photographs of his mother, yet she is not there within his viewing.  
Immediate implications of research lie within the field of image theory, but wider implications might be identified if there really is a sharp distinction to be made between degrees of illusion on the one hand and degrees of genuine similarities on the other. This distinction does not merely apply to images but applies to all forms of perceptual resemblances. Hope to make clear that representation in socio-cultural practice, based upon representational potential of resemblances.  

Personal Reflection: 
I found this to be more difficult to digest than the two previous papers and presentations, largely in part to the methods of referencing, and presenting of opposing forms of theory, in an oral form. If this was something that I had read as the paper, I feel that I could unpack the content easier, due to the ability to return to previous paragraphs, and view each theory in relation to the previous points, rather than having it presented as a narrative flow. Even having the audio files, the point I feel stands as the method of understanding the content is made more difficult through the lack of ability to flick back easily.  
Despite this, I feel that the content, although not necessarily giving me workable points, has a lot of relevance to the ideas that I was unpicking within my dissertation from last year, and hold a great interest for me. I feel that the concepts are very relevant for my wider practice through delving into how images are disseminated and understood, despite not necessarily fitting into a specific project.  
I had been looking at some linked ideas with the reading of Camera Lucida, by Roland Barthes, and Towards a Philosophy on Photography, by Vilem Flusser, and to some extents On Photography by Susan Sontag. I feel that the point of view raised by Jim, however, are approaching some of these concepts from an alternative direction, which may contradict or strengthen some of the ideas I had previously investigated.  
I will try to get a written copy of this paper if I am able, and I feel then I will be able to delve deeper into it, and hopefully reach a better understanding of the idea of how we use perceptual resemblance within the viewing of images. I am hoping that the point briefly mentioned, although he didn’t have the time to discuss it further, of symbolisation, is further explored within the paper in question. 

Jacqueline Donachie (Loughborough University) Like Every In-Between: Creating Space in a Medical World 
Content 
Access to world of science, for an artist residency. World is there to be educated by art and for art. This point reflects on he accepted outcomes of research, from different lands within academic research. Art will accept published papers, good reviews, healthy audience figures and some well filled out participant surveys, as recognition that something has been successful. Science has none of this, you need a cure, treatment or therapy, must be regulated and go through so many hurdles to be in this position of being successful, even in the world of university research. It is through this point that we need to reflect on how we are assessing collaborative outcomes and be clear about the impact of artistic collaboration, and that it is art led collaboration in this place she speaks of that should be carved out.  
If it is led through art, then art can own it, and be freed from the restrictions when it comes to medical research into an artistic outcome. There is no comparison with how these two approaches are assessed. 
Is the distance between experience and research so great, that personal experience can't have an impact of scientific research? 
Film ‘Hazel’ – using the faces on screen that were included in the scientific research and those who weren't. Both family members who have the condition and those who don’t, also, to show the progressive nature of disease. *The work can be transported, one of the benefits of film, able to take to conference, show people on the bus etc, is this something I could look at for my photography? Film work can be introduced or used differently depending on the context. As an art piece, to show families and for scientists. *Could this also be something that I look to replicate within my own practice? 
How the use of art and film can be used to make scientific research more accessible.  

Personal Reflection 
I found the Guest at Gray’s that Jacqueline did to be more in depth than this paper at the research conference, due to the time involved. Although the practical elements of the talk didn’t fit within my practice, I did find that her look at the role of art within degenerative diseases quite interesting due to my own family's personal connections and understanding of the difficulties of such conditions. I feel that there is a recurring thread within this remit, with the likes of Grampian Hospital Arts Trust, Nicola Naismith AHRC funded research programme talk on 6th February, Celia Pym’s Guest at Gray’s talk on 15th February and then more personal links like the Arts and Craft events at Sue Ryder and the Workshop. 
The other links I took from the paper, was a more practical approach, in the idea of how art (and in my case photography) could be used to make scientific studies more accessible. This could be the case for the Public Perception Survey of Wildness in Scotland, and the resulting Wild Land Areas. I am looking at finding a way to take the information presented in these papers and using photography to communicate this information in a more accessible form. Jacqueline was using video form this purpose, but I am not sure if I will stray from still imagery or not. I had been thinking in using video solely as a documentary tool for my own process, as opposed to an exhibition method. 

Jen Clarke (Gray’s School of Art) Some Implications of Feminist New Materialisms for Theories of Spatiality 
Content  
Crossover between anthropology and art. Post disaster situation in Japan, and the effect of nuclear radiation on women’s bodies, and the other on dance and drawing and experimenting with materials in different ways, for both sorts of projects that doing, reading a lot around theory of New Materialism. 
People research based on: 
Philosopher of Scient and Quantum Physicist Karen Barad (https://egs.edu/faculty/karen-barad
Donna Haraway (A Cyborg Manifesto Link), a feminist scholar. 
Materialism vs Idealism.  
New Materialism emerged in the latter half of the 1990’s, most often associated with the work of Manuel DeLanda and Rosi Braidotti. These ideas want to describe how the mind is material, the mind as an idea of the body, and how matter is also necessarily something of the mind, the mind has the body of this object.  
New Materialism tried to bring together ideas of both textural and semiotics issues, of politics and history and as biological or material matters. Trying to dispose of dualist thinking, by association with matter.  
Tim Ingold, (Lines PDF), in a chapter entitled ‘Against Space’, argues that space and place are more like a knot. Lives a led not inside places, but through them, around, to and from them, from and to places elsewhere. From The Perception of the Environment. Wayfaring is an embodied experience of this concept. Place binding is through paths not places, an interconnected flow of those interacting with the space.  
In the work of Barad, ‘the spacial’ participates in the production of the new at least in so far as it may produce more possibilities for movement.  Agency is a matter of intra-acting, an enactment, not something that someone or something has, it can't be designated as an attribute to a subject or object as they don’t pre-exist. Agency is a matter of making iterative changes to the practices through the dynamics of inter-agency. If we understand agency in this manner, then it is not only appropriate but important that agency is distributed over non-human as well as human forms.  
Donna Haraway - “Bodies as objects of knowledge are material semiotic generative nodes, their boundaries materialise in social interaction, boundaries are drawn as mapping practices, objects don’t pre-exist as such. Objects are boundary projects, but boundaries shift from within, boundaries are really tricky. What boundaries provisionally contain remains generative, productive meanings and bodies, so sighting (to see) in place or space is a really risky practice because finally we don’t really have any clear or distinct ideas”. 
Personal Reflection 
The ideas of Jen’s paper are something that fits somewhat into my current project and practice ideas, particularly towards the latter parts, where she was delving into boundaries. The idea of boundaries as a mapping practice, that is flawed is something that I have found quite pertinent, and a key idea that I will need to explore further.  
I will look to find more on the subject and see if I can find out where the Donna Haraway quote comes from to seek the wider context.  
As well as this, Ingold’s points on space as a mapped practice through the lines of interaction is another key point, which fits into the ideas of wildness and wild spaces, and how we interact with them may be the key in defining the need for them. 
Yet again it would be worth reading deeper into his work, to see if I can take further ideas to apply to my practice. The application however of these lines, is somewhat tricky within a photographic medium. It may require a break away from solely working within the single image, or alternatively looking to more abstract ways of depicting these ideas within my work.  

Chris Fremantle (Gray’s School of Art) How Big is Here? Space in the work of the Harrisons 
Content 
“When one looks at nature through the glass walls of Farnsworth House, it takes on a deeper significance than when one stands outside, more of nature is thus expressed, it becomes part of a greater whole” – Mies Van Der Rohe. 
Being inside a building gives a better experience of nature than being within it. 
Harrison’s Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground, Gaining Wisdom (2006-2009), a project about which they gave a lecture at Gray’s. Multiple projectors showing the rise of sea levels on the map of Britain and shows the effect the sea level has on the Island, re-writing of the boundaries. 
Clive Adams highlights distinction between three words, nature, landscape and the environment. ‘Landscape’ is a 16th century word, originating from Dutch ‘landskip’ painting, rather than being from the land itself. 
“The environment objectifies environment: it turns it into an entity that we can think of and deal with as if it were outside and independent of ourselves...” 
“...nature as a metaphysical concept through which humanity imagines difference...” and “...nature as a ‘realist’ concept which refers to the structures, processes and powers that operate in the world.” 
*As Nuno stated nature is anything that isn’t us. 
This leads us to a fourth word ‘ecology’ - “the branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings”. 
*ecology decentring the human, as Jen was discussing. 
Harrisons’ focus on how the work works, differently viewed in different contexts, art in a gallery, policy in a town hall. 
Work working even if its principles are adopted but its form discarded. 
Underpinning process with two fundamental questions: 
How big is here? 
How long is now? 

Personal Reflection 
I found Chris’ talk to yet again be quite closely linked with some of the concepts I have been exploring within my own practice. I feel there are a few key points within his paper that I will look to explore further. 
Firstly, the quote from Mies van der Rohe, is quite pertinent if applied to the wild land areas, is the idea of what constitutes ‘wildness’ or wild areas more easily understood or communicated not from making photographs from within the space, but rather from the outside looking in? 
Secondly, the reflection upon the definitions of landscape, nature and environment was of great interest to me, as the origins of some of the landscape photography critique is based upon these definitions. The writings of Clarke in ‘The Photograph’, link the role of the photographer and the role of the landscape painter, albeit based upon an 18th century English approach. This then creates a view of the landscape photographer as a tourist, taking ‘postcard’ like images from the areas, with a very human centric view of what the benefit of landscape and nature is. A packageable product focused on creating a nostalgic and idealised view of the locations. 
The fundamental questions I feel are of primary importance, being faced with an ecological crisis. I am unsure if I will directly reflect upon them with my current project, however, they can be applied to the project, in particular, in the terms of how long these areas will stay wild. 

Andrea Peach (Gray’s School of Art) Far Out Craft 
Content 
Crafting community based in Durness, Scotland, established in 1963. Far North Project, which encouraged adventurous crafts people take up residence. For them the opportunity represented not only a physical space as well as a conceptual one. 
Interested in what attracted these opportunists and idealists from across the globe, as well in interrogating the role of government in support such communities, and the challenges as well as the realities of economic sustainability in such remote spaces. 
1960’s popular as a reintroduction and revival of the craft community, as a focused return to making, as well as considerable support and funding from government for craft people. Craft Advisory Committee of England and Wales set up in 1971. 
Craft agencies in Scotland were not interested in reinventing craft as fine art, but rather solely as an economic concern. 
BBC Documentary The Road to Balnakeil (1974), by Derek Cooper.  
Tourism was integral to the economic survival of the community, and vital to the Highlands Council approach for using craft to replace the heavy industry associated with the Highlands. Highland board introduced Craft Made scheme, to apply a logo to add authenticity to set apart from poorly made other work, distributed too widely, so instead did little to assure quality, and only offered tenuous connection to place.  
Pressures to commercialise came from the Highland Board along with generous grants, with business advice given to makers, and pushes to package work for the tourist industry.  

Personal Reflection 
Although I found the content of the paper interesting, I didn’t feel there is much within it that was particularly pertinent to my own practice. Much like the likes of Rachel’s paper, I feel that some of the points being raised, are perhaps for a stage that is a year or two in the future for myself. I do feel that it is somewhat of a warning shot, for some of the potential options I have for continuing my practice after the course is over. There is a sobering feeling of the realities that go along with trying to make a living and art at the same time. That particularly with the remoteness of the country location I grew up, whilst not as extreme as Durness, does share some similarities, namely its reliance on tourism. 

Josie Steed (Gray’s School of Art) Unravelling Shetland Knitting 
Content 
Island Knitting, a long history of connecting people with their environment. Idea of unravelling is a key concept for paper on space.  
Result of knitted artefacts, of both Fair Ilse knitwear and Shetland Lace, embody more hidden biographies and knowledge of the maker. This knowledge clearly evidenced in indigenous craft. 
Origins of to knit from English and German, ‘to knot’, links well with the Ingoldian anthropological concepts, relevant to unravelling relationship of hand knitting and the place.  
The transformation of yarn into artefacts is not the whole story, where there are deeper levels of complexity which are embedded within the handknitted language informed by haptic, temporal and cultural indexes. There are greater levels of embodied tacit and experiential knowledge together with complex associations across culture and customs that call for the development of a far more precise and appropriate language in contextualising knitting against preconceptions of craft. 
Knitting very much seen as living skill, and part of the island's heritage. 
Tim Ingold, the process of making, is an inherently mindful activity in which the forms of things are ever emergent, and the correspondence of sensory awareness is ever flowing in a process of life. 

Personal Reflection 
Much like Andrea’s paper I feel that the interest and links to some of the threads of enquiry in my own work is more abstract, in comparison to some of the other presentations within the research conference. I feel that this may have been as the paper was more skillset specific, as opposed to some of the others which were more conceptual based, and less grounded in an expertise.  
The recurrence of Tim Ingold within this thread, does reinforce my need to read a bit more about him. I have managed to download a few pdf’s and will look to read through them, hopefully being able to dip into some of the relevant points, without becoming bogged down in the detail.  
One key area of interest that I took from Josie’s paper was the idea that the location or place is evident within the work itself, this is perhaps more abstract a concept within a knitted object, but I feel that it could be applied in landscape photography, not as a depiction upon the surface as the image, but rather deeper, that my experiences of the area are readable within the work. I will have to explore this further, as it is a point that was raised on my wet plate collodion workshop and may be better suited to a process like that. The images resulting from that have visible traces of the maker within each image and how show a story of how they produced the plate, in a way that is more tangible than that of darkroom prints. 

Charlie Hackett (Gray’s School of Art) Art, Homelessness & Social Engagement 
Content 
Project on post homeless men working with a charity working with Aberdeen. 
Suzanne Lacy, in Mapping the Terrain, quotes Richard Bolton “If Art is ever to play a role in the construction of shared social experience it must re-examine its pedagogical assumptions, reframe strategy and aesthetics in terms of teaching”.  
It is also important to recognise the impact of working with a marginalised community on artists, Lacy quotes Alan Kaprow; “it is not only the transformation of the public consciousness that we are interested in, but it is our own transformation as artists that is just as important”. 
If Socially Engaged Practice is to work, learning to engage, to talk with and having to talk to other people is vital, listening to and speaking their language. 
The photographs that the post homeless men took were an ontology of their lives, capturing a point in space and time, their existence and the persona in photographs. 
Camera became a way to connect, working in the same way as ‘table talk’. 

Personal Reflection 
I found this paper very difficult to unpack, partly as the recording is marred by background noise in places which makes it difficult to concentrate on the content. I feel in part though, some of the content within the paper, I feel I am quite aware of, in particular the impact and benefits of the analogue process in taking images and the benefits of socially engaged practice with a photographic basis.  
I feel as well that this is quite a step away from some of the other types of concepts that were prevalent for the Research Conference, and in some ways, it was less about space. I felt this has quite a distance from the concepts I am currently looking at, and had at the time, and now listening to it again, little to offer for my current practice.  
Perhaps with a better-quality recording, or more likely if I could obtain the physical paper, I could take more from it, as I found perhaps due to the time constraints, Charlie’s delivery seems quite rushed, adding to the difficulty in following his narrative.   

Dr. Sarah Tuck (Våland Academy, Gothenburg) Drone Vision: Warfare, Surveillance and Protest 
Content 
How the view from above, affecting the dynamics of protest from the ground? 
Julian Stallabrass - Photographic Theorist. 
Question of proximity and distance, in both use of photography, and in drone technology use in warfare. 
Fortresses around Cyprus, showing an archaeology or history of surveillance – Similar to work of Donovan Wylie - Spies Like Us 
Sonification of Drones, very important, could make much quieter, but kept as terrorising, as heralds sound of death. US fly drones in Pakistan at height that can be seen, to cause terror. Creating a fear of the sky.  
The sound is a profound trigger for PTSD.  

Personal Reflection 
I found the points raised in the paper to be fascinating, but much like Charlie’s paper, I don’t feel that there is much correlation between the work presented, and my current practice.  
Some of the points raised, however, were quite startling and shocking, and does raise questions about Britain’s role in some of the events within the exhibitions. It would be something that I could be interested in the future, for exploring deeper, but I feel it is quite a divergence from my landscape work, and not necessarily something that will be a priority in my current practice, as I feel there are more ecological concerns that I would want to focus on, if I was looking to pursue a more activist based practice. 

Jon Blackwood (Gray’s School of Art) Spaces of Protest: Class, Peripherality and Contemporary Art 
Content 
Focus on class peripherality and contemporary art, and the way that they impact on spaces of protest, using two examples.  
Centre and Periphery, an old socio-economic model of trying to understand how cultural institutions work and how they don’t really work outside of geographical centres. 
No longer relevant in a digital age? Instead concept of semi-periphery is less so. Aberdeen may fall into category of semi-periphery.  
Role of social class in contemporary culture. Cultural space, area that artists would be aiming to make a living in, is dominated by the “culturally voracious 8%” (Stephen Prichard) - the middle class. They run and operate the worlds of culture, the institutions of culture in their own interest. With the running of economic culture, that the working class has been all but eradicated. Rising tuition fees have removed the likelihood of working class going to art school's south of the border, now being used as a finishing school for the ‘global elite’. 
Conrad Atkinson, from Cleator Moor, opposite of ‘Non Places’, instead a place where people make things, but are unable to consume things. Involved heavily in the The 1968 Hornsey College of Art Occupation
Invited to work on a documentary of the industrial strike at the Brannan’s Thermometer factory. Strike about control of working space, and the conditions of the space.  
Not given any money for his work as the Arts Council did not recognise Video work as art. One of the first examples of activist art.  Artists who were actively involved in political or community movements, tended to be invisible as artists, whilst those who criticised the status quo were usually dismissed as politically ineffective. It is within this dilemma that Atkinson and others, made the choice to break the artists voluntary isolation, and give up neither art nor politics. 
He sought to challenge, breakdown, vibrate, crossover, spaces which had previously be divided, spaces of aesthetics and spaces of political interaction. 
Exhibition showed, possible for art not only to be an add on to political action, but to open new potential and consequences for industrial action.  
Also brought to middle class audience, contact with the strikers.  
Atkinson one of the first artists to witness the movement of the heavy industry from the developed world into the developing world, and to subsequently see the need for intellectuals from the developed world to interact with the working class of the developing world. 
Second Case Study – Macedonia - Štip 
Film on working conditions of textile workers in Štip, almost Dickensian working conditions. Spaces of labour regulation, use of Non-EU factories by EU manufacturers to avoid EU Working Conditions Regulations and Pay Regulations. 
Activist Art Space – Space for socialisation. Attacked 5 times within a year of opening. If used just as an art space to show paintings, probably would have been left alone. Ideas and education perceived as a threat. 
What is the role of the artist within society? 
Participatory observation/action in both case studies, built on trust in the communities involved, projects working with and alongside working-class people, not seeking to speak on their behalf to a limited middle-class audience. Or indeed, to instrumentalise the conditions that they face, in order to further a middle-class idea. 
It is about creating a space to discuss class issues within art and winning new audience for art within the working class themselves, as showing a direct relevance to the problems that they face.  
A point that is as important as it was in Atkinson’s time in Cleator Moor, who are we producing work for and why are we producing it? What are the consequences? It is no longer enough to make work, and support others to make work, just for the action of producing it. Have to take a step back and ask why we are doing it, and where we are going with it? 
Need to understand the difference between words and actions and be aware of the division between the two.  

Personal Reflection  
I feel that there were quite a few sobering points within Jon’s paper, and something that I will need to reflect upon further. I feel that I have very much been making work with myself at the centre, and often with the goal of to prove to myself or others that I could produce a certain type, standard or technique within the image, rather than a having a reason based in theory or context. I feel that there is a challenge within his works to respond to, in the sense of adding a more activist method or context behind my projects, certainly at a MA level, it is no longer the case that I can produce work for an aesthetical gain.  
This can be a trap that I repeatedly fall into even with projects that I feel have a worthwhile cause behind them, that the decisions that I am making, in terms of image selection or image making, are often based around self-promotion rather than being suited to the goals of the project. There is a popularity within photographers to be promoting work on social media and image sharing sites, that focus on increasing the reach of your images, and are pushing for likes, comments and subscriptions.   
For my current project and moving forward I will be looking to move away from this way of working, focusing instead on the project theme and remit as being the driver image selection and display, and subsequently trying to push a more socially engaged way of working. I feel that part of the issue with the lack of social engagement within past projects has often been due to an ease or lack of ease of completing the project, if I am reliant on others, or have the need to interview and interact with unknown people. This is something I will need to break a fear of, and build in to my practice, to start to answer some of the questions that Jon has laid down.    
Back to Top