Post-doc Project Overview

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This is a page for gathering various lines of thought and action related to my post-doc research. Here's link to a version of my application for the fellowship. The below overviews points of relevance as I go into authoring a strategic plan for the next 18 months.

  • This project grows out of...
    • my practice as an artist-researcher, specifically my specialisms in collaborative cultural production and co-producing cultures of collaboration
    • my six years of experience working with Critical Practice and other groups that self-recognise as explicitly collaborative - Future Reflections, Creative Transition, the Practice Exchange, Contemporary Marxism Collective and Precarious Workers Brigade.
    • working with CP and the ways in which it has shaped my research on dialogic art. This approach draws on the cluster's commitment to explicitly engaging the conditions of its own possibility through research methods that foreground CP's cultural production as specific, situated and reflexive.
    • the reciprocity between my research and CP's - they've tended to mutually constitute each other.
    • the recognition that strengthening, diversifying and promoting CCW’s research culture is already central to my professional activity and profile. This fellowship enables me to continue this, at least partially paid.
    • CP's current research into (e)value(ation). Something that may have differentiated my post-doc application is my sense that grant-writing should be constitutive of the fellowship, with the value of this being dispersed across CCW and Critical Practice. Securing and opitimising resources [financial, human, institutional, etc.] isn't extraneous to my collaboration with CP... I aim to locate this quest front and centre in the cluster’s cultural production going forward. I think that better determining and articulating CP's value is core to its long-term viability. On the one hand, this extends the cluster's interest in mechanisms of valorisation in cultural practice more generally (so...its current research into ‘value’). On the other, this funding emphasis provides a way of exploring and (potentially) understanding the values in Critical Practice that are often difficult to articulate and measure, i.e. ‘soft virtues’ such as trust, sharing and mutual care. It's (as commitment to) social values like these that distinguish the cluster’s ethos in my view, setting it apart from similar initiatives.
    • My sense that only through reflexive and conscientious valorisation will CP be able to position its value as a viable alternative to the more quantifiable types that dominate research metrics.
  • At the same time, this process of value conversion--turning tacit values into actualised resources--is demanding. It requires sensitivity to the task at hand so as to avoid new-found knowledge being instrumentalised beyond the cluster’s control...(Securing and opitimising resources [financial, human, institutional, etc.] is central the fellowship.)
  • My sense the cluster’s sustainability and resilience stem from an ethos principally composed of five social values: These are reciprocal trust, mutual validation, commitment to care and hospitality, shared curiosity and a pragmatic attitude. These go some distance in explaining how it is that Critical Practice attracts culturally diverse practitioners with distinct areas of interest, expertise and qualifications ranging from BA to professor.

Yet there are still many questions to be answered about the ways in which the cluster manages to work together both inside and outside of the UAL, and through a mixed economy of labour and contribution.

  • A core ambition of my proposed post-doc research is to adopt practices and procedures more aligned and accountable to the cluster’s espoused values of commoning, transparency, sustainability, reflexivity and reciprocal concern. At stake in this ambition is my heartfelt desire to be part of a vibrant research culture that supports, benefits and celebrates the efforts of all those involved.
  • So...Recognising that my long-term contribution to Critical Practice and the UAL’s research culture presents a rare opportunity to conduct a highly specialised form of embedded research, I aim to elaborate the fragile webs of social, artistic, material and human resources composing Critical Practice. My proposed post-doc project takes up the challenge of conducting an investigation that is self-consciously sensitive. The ability to pursue this stems in part from my extensive and situated research into the psycho-social dimensions of collaborative ways of working, including their affective climates.
  • My rough research question can be expressed as follows: What has enabled Critical Practice’s sustainability over the last eight years and how does this social reproduction mesh with the economy and ecology of the UAL as itself embedded in the field of cultural production?

Project Overviews and Development

January 27, 2014: This post-doc project evolved from my PhD exploration of dialogic art and my research as part of Critical Practice. Overlapping in time/space, these explorations composed each other through a common quest. Both explored the authorship of cultural production as always already collaborative and contingent, subject to both specific and systemic conditions and shot through with a polyphony of voices past, present and future. I am especially interested in the interdependence of cultural production, with this spread across (1) cultural outcomes (events, publications, etc.); (2) cultures of collaboration (Critical Practice Research Cluster as embedded within the worlds of art and education and composed/composing the practices of those involved); and (3) the collaborators' subjectivities, with these understood as both relatively autonomous and relatively shared.
Feeding into Critical Practice's interest in evaluation (2012-2015), my current research examines the Cluster's co-authorship through the dual lenses of economy and ecology. If, in this context, 'economy' refers to the production and circulation of goods and services within and around Critical Practice, 'ecology' refers to the interpersonal interactions among those involved as they work together to socially reproduce the Cluster as a living organism. The advantage of both systems is that they do not presuppose a primacy (epistemic, methodological, ontological) of any one aspect. Priority is instead given to tracing the interactions of myriad aspects and energies as they enable the Cluster's cultural production to flow--or not.
I'm enthusiastic about exploring evaluation with Critical Practice, especially with reference cultural outcomes and cultures of production. Because exploring subjectivity as a form of cultural production is my specific concern, I aim to concentrate on this in my more independent research practice. Critical Practice aims to generate a large-scale market-like event in the spring of 2015 and a publication shortly there after. Developing in parallel, I aim to realise an exhibition and publication of my work. No doubt there will be significant overlap between both research enterprises.

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Critical Practice: Economy and Ecology