Saturday, 19 November 2016

Reflections on a discussion with Dr Rowan Bailey regarding my proposal for digital media research methods.

After a good conversation with Dr Bailey, she recognised and mentioned that it would be worthwhile to revisit the work by Bruno Latour and I should not forget this philosopher's critical initial writings which set the scene for object-oriented ontology.

  • I need to do this to be distinctive with the various camps and ideas centred on speculative realism. 
  • For example it is also worthwhile looking at a counter argument by Barnard Stiegler, who discusses ideas of Heidegger and also to provide a counter argument for techniques such as chance and time.
  • Another good research area to revisit would be the work of Jacques Derrida and his book "Memories of the Blind". Further, work to study "The Metaphor of Drawing and Thinking".
  • (Also not forgetting Michel DeCerto)

My core focus must remain on revisiting "The Peregrine" but also to look at methodologies and modes of drawing on the banality of everyday.  - Rowan also suggested that I take a look at Ben Highmore, regarding psychopathology of the everyday.

I need to work on drawing out from the Peregrine. The ideas of migration, the everyday, banality, and metaphors. To help me to do this, I need to think up new methods and metaphors of fracture. It is worth looking at 'experimental drawing' again to try and find practical ideas for this...

Further suggested reading by Dr Bailey was "sing theory, by Bill Brown" I have subsequently been able to locate the paper by this philosopher online. It will help to position my proposal with a view towards looking through the works of Heidegger.

  • Let the drawing take ownership of itself!

It is also worth revisiting the work of our very own Dr Juliet McDonald, here at the University of Huddersfield, and her "experimental drawing". (I must try to get a copy of her doctoral thesis if possible).

Last but not least Dr Bailey repeated the very sensible mantra of making sure that I can tick off each of the points of the assessment criteria while producing my proposal document!

"Migration" - a lecture by Dr Rowan Bailey, Wednesday, 16 November 2016.

In thinking further and revisiting my notes regarding "Migration".

Within the context of "Migration," there are incredibly complex challenges of movement in time and space, with equally difficult challenges to infrastructure, population, food, culture, employment and welfare. Migration generates "Wicked Problems".

What seems to be changing currently, though, which is different from previous movements from history, is the expansion of global exchange. As a result, some 3.1% of the world's population are now considered as "migrants".

There are several "push and pull" factors.

  • Lack of jobs/poverty
  • civil strife, war and persecution
  • refugees and "populations of concern" that is, displaced people who are now stateless and it is estimated to be somewhere around 35.4 million people worldwide with approximately 10.4 million of these displaced and stateless persons in the category of being refugees.
  • Environmental issues, natural desire disasters.
  •  See
  • desertification, the results of global climate change, etc.
  • Illegal people trafficking. This represents the third largest global criminal activity after drugs and arms trades.

For further reading see the work by Doreen Massey "A Global Sense of Place" (1991). Within this book, she investigates

  • "what is a place"? 
  • -  'Local' versus 'global', (Micro versus Macro); 
  • history of place; 
  • movement of capital;, etc, etc.

Within this book, Massey also recognises a phenomenon known as "Space-Time Compression".

  • What this means is that places don't have unique singular identities, but multiple ones.
  • Places do not become frozen in time.
  • Places are in constant flux, with multiple interchanges and exchanges of a variety of cultures, generations and new identities.

For further research see the three-part BBC documentary "Exodus" (2016). A documentary raising awareness of real life struggles of migration.
As creative practitioners, the real-world stories have to be told! It is our job as a social recorder and commentator to articulate them, therefore.

For further research look at the work of Sophie Henderson, director of the migration museum project in London.

"Call me by my name: stories from Calais and beyond."

Using graphic practice to explore and articulate the situation of migration and physical movement of displaced people. A new "Migrations Exhibition" is also happening in a small area of Huddersfield Gallery as part of the Migration Museum project. Part of this Migrations exhibition has been curated by Jessica Hemmings (See her book entitled cultural threads: transnational textiles today)

A worthwhile visit to Huddersfield Gallery proved very insightful, and I made the following observations;

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Weekly briefing of research methods and proposal writing, Reflections upon a short group tutorial with Dr Rowan Bailey.

Reflection on the session of Wednesday 16th of November 2016.

  • It was reminded that the proposal will need to be handed in by Unilearn approximately four weeks today, i.e. before 16 December, one month today. The presentation however will be a week earlier than the proposal hand in date!  I need to therefore make sure my prduction plan fits with these timetables.
  • Dr Bailey asked the group if we are building the narrative for what we need in order to submit it. As a further reminder again I will need approximately 12 texts to define other practitioners who have done similar work what they have done and why.
  • The five methodologies that we have individually been researching must be selected by now, articulated and referenced fully. The balance is required when selecting appropriate methodologies.
  • A statement of consideration of these methodologies is required within the proposal. How have I analysed them and come up with the decision to use a particular methodology or adapted one for my own use.
  • It is essential that we are not using a specific research method directly ourselves, we are not going to actually use them directly, but they will shape the application of our own research method.
  • A clear framework of themes, contents, contexts, aims and objectives that we are setting ourselves is necessary in the opening introduction and as the strawman for this proposal.
  • With regards to word counts it is expected that we will produce at least 3000 words minimally but 6000 words would be much better.
  • A visual analysis of other practitioners works is absolutely required. Why are these practitioners inspirational with regards to your own work?
  • Avoid the use of "I" through the document, but in the reflective section, it is perfectly acceptable and should be used.


11 or 12 point font at a spacing of 1 1/2 or double space is required, with Times new Roman, straight aligned left, clear text should be used.

  • Illustrations should be referenced fully.
  • An abstract is not required at this stage.

Whatever you do, make sure it is useful to you as a working document for the next year of study!

Be careful especially not to duplicate your work for the other module in digital media concepts. If we did, this would put us at risk of self plagiarism.

Within the digital media concepts module, we also need to write a Critical Reflective Summary, and to do so Dr Liam Devlin has created a template which is suitable for our reflective practice.

  • Use the checklist of the assessment criteria!
  • Structure the proposal for 6000 words. For example, provide say 1000 words for the literature review section with clear signposting of the assessment criteria.

Monday, 14 November 2016

"the Anthropocene, a New Ecological Age". Reflections on a Lecture by Dr Rowan Bailey, 9th November 2016

The following notes relate to a lecture given by Dr Rowan Bailey at the University of Huddersfield, on Wednesday9th November 2016.

The Anthropocene.

This new epoch or age in human history has now been properly recognised and fully 'announced' by The Royal Geological Society.
(For further references see the "Nature" journal regarding the human age and the new human epoch. There is an article entitled "Goodbye the Holocene" which is a look at how the science is generalised by the media, and the idea to question them in order to create new narratives).

How is the Anthropocene being communicated?

What is the underlying message / emotion /etc. regarding this?

Consider the differing disciplinary engagements that all commentate on these issues:
for example

  • geologists
  • feminists
  • capitalists
  • Marxists
  • et cetera et cetera

What impact of population growth causes the potential environmental issues?

How is the Anthropocene era described as a "wicked problem?"

For example climate change, poverty, urbanisation, water shortages, demographics, waste, waste management et cetera. These are all inextricably linked.

It is useful going to revisit the Arup website and also to relook at the "issues" cards.
Each of these issues cards help to identify on a microcosm type scale each of the current subjects being investigated by Arup research.

The phrase "wicked problems" was originally coined by Rittel and Webber, (1973) who started to explore "dilemmas in a general theory of planning". It was this research that coined the term wicked problems, particularly within urban planning and design. It was recognised that different stakeholders have different reasoning, often they are ill informed, they have subsequently ill-conceived ideas, confusion - born from indeterminacy!
The need is to move beneath this complexity.

See further the Austin Centre for Design website;
at this site it shows 10 characteristics of a "wicked problem" and defines each of the 10 criteria approximately as follows:
1). Wicked problems have no definitive formulation. People's lived experience is different from one another all over the globe.
2). It's very hard (near impossible) to measure things in isolation with regards to wicked problems.
3). Their solutions can only be good or bad, not true or false. In other words these are always subjective outcomes that may please some people but not others.
4). There is no template to follow. (But there is history as a guide).
5). Wicked problems always require more than just one explanation, especially with the explanation being dependent on a perception of X and Y but just as importantly the designer themselves.
6). Every wicked problem is a symptom of another.
7). No mitigation strategy for any of these, as it is always a human customer.
8). A solution is frequently a "one-shot" or nothing type activity, and is not universal.
9). A wicked problem is always unique! It is specific to the site or area and everything that surrounds it within that particular context.
10). The designer attempting to resolve a wicked problem must be fully responsible for their own actions and the outcomes of any proposed and implemented solution.
Wicked problems usually require a "soft" mindset approach to begin to understand the actual issues at hand.

The potential views to take are…
See the                     "hard systems approach V.s The soft systems approach".
Hard systems are ontologically determined, whereas a soft systems approach is epistemologically driven.

How do we consider the Anthropocene in the context of mindset within art and design?

(Tip; Look at the abstract of a paper whenever reviewing it first!).
 For example see the paper "Ethics, Ecology and the Future; Art and Design Face the Anthropocene" written by Kayla Anderson.

See also the work of Joanna Zylinska's paper entitled "Minimal Ethics for the Anthropocene".

Both the above documents are available for download through the Open Humanities Press.

A further book which is particularly useful for my studies is one written by Jonathan Carew entitled "Ontological Catastrophes".

[** Remember always to follow up a writer's own references whenever reading papers of this type!].


  • When writing our proposals, for us to be "critical makers" we also have to be "critical thinkers". We have to articulate the complexities involved clearly. We, therefore, have to move away from the idea that we are the centre of everything. We, therefore, have to think critically, conceptually and speculatively. In other words, we have to think of ideas that are radical/contrary/new!
  • Criticality conceptualisation and speculation should work against the cultural norms.
  • The idea that fear often stops us from doing this has been written about considerably, and I am drawn to remember a book I read some time ago entitled to feel the fear but do it anyway" by Susan Jeffers.
  • "Complexity" is all about the human condition! See the website, this provides a useful segue to an entirely different point of view regarding the climate change that is going to affect all of us. The old-fashioned "narcissist" notion of trying and conquering everything is a traditional way of dealing with "problems" and has to change simply because we cannot master everything. Therefore what we need to do is make an adaptation of situations to find adapted solutions.
  • A useful book would be "Critical Design" by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, further information can be found at

(This is a bit like Thomas Moore's seminal discussions regarding utopias and dystopias)
The above website is a useful example of how artists are articulating new ideas. For example, the book I quoted a little earlier "Feel The Fear But Do It Anyway" by Susan Jeffers, used to fit into a category of books and articles known as "self-help". This suggested that there was something wrong and that there were problems with the reader. In itself this has now been adapted and "self-help" has now become known as "personal improvement". A much more positive view of trying to help yourself but without any connotation of negativity.

** Further research is necessary for "post humanists, and post-humanism."

How can we reimagine and create the speculative design? Speculation becomes a radical act. To think about future possibilities and changing our mindset of a "solution based" approach into new change we need to adapt an environment rather than try to conquer it.

See "The Infinity Burial Project" by Jae Rhim Lee, a TED global broadcast from July 2011. Within this TED talk, the author did detailed research in the science and reproduction of mushrooms and other fungi and came up with the notion of how they can be re-engineered to re-compose the human waste product of cadavers. While this sounds a fascinating and frightening consideration, it is also extremely practical.

Further research

But the themes of the Anthropocene that can benefit from further research would be thinktivism. Speculative realism. Object-oriented ontology. Et cetera et cetera.

We then discussed further details regarding sound ethical practices of a research practitioner. The necessity for openness, honesty, guidance, criticality et cetera. Don't plagiarise others research or findings or indeed reuse any sort of pirated research.

Our proposal is an explanation of our participation "of" and "in" our research.
Think of how other people will be involved? How will people be utilised and in what way?

Take a look at the "Research Ethics" procedure and governments of the University of Huddersfield, and together with the ethics forms and checklist go through the whole process.