PhD: long, rambling story or joke, typically one that is amusing only because it is absurdly inconsequential or pointless

Category: PhDs

Studio Diary M.A. : That’s all folks and a chapter on Moogee

Surprise of the week was news that Moogee had his own chapter in a new Loughborough/UAL/Teachers Columbia publication 🙂

TTDfront moogee


This is the final entry in the studio diary section as I will be assessed on my M.A. this Wednesday afternoon. To prepare for this I have created the pdf below and uploaded to Scribd detailing the progress made throughout the M.A. and the final outcomes at this point.

Where I go from here is a good question and not one I can answer easily.

There are three separate yet overlapping areas I have become deeply interested in.

1. Drawing research ; phenomenology of drawing and in particular an interest in sense of place and notions of ‘signature’ in terms of preparatory drawings especially in Gorky,  Miro up to Motherwell and Twombly all developing out of the surrealism and dada influence on mid-century American painting.

2. Early film/photography and magazine culture of the 18th Century/early 19th century and its relation to current developments in web. I have a paper to present in Paris on Charles Dickens magazine illustration end of March and I will be concentrating on that alone from now until then.

3. The continuation of this research into artistic research theory/philosophy of aesthetics and its dissemination through fine art pedagogy.

All three are possible PhD subject matter and how my institution views my future will probably have a major bearing on where I go.

My heart though probably in number one… head in number three and my teaching future at present tied up somewhere in number  two whether I like it or not…….

Interesting times ahead 🙂

Meanwhile I’d like to thank Deborah Harty for her very good supervision and for stopping me going off-track all the time or as they like to say in academia develop ‘focus’. Focused I am right now but come Thursday who knows:-)
please note the backgrounds have distorted in this display.


Future Planning: Which PhD if at all?

Amended diagram 6th January


Interesting supervision session with DH in which I tried to present the M.A. package and look forward to what might come next.

M.A. ‘package’ =

Frayling Cartoon ( DRN Proceedings and THE) and paper ( Published AHHE 2014) (20 drawings)

DRN Hockney Rakes revisited (DRN NY 2013) (16 drawings)

James Elkins 2nd Edition of ‘Artists with PhDs’ illustrations 2014. (20 drawings?)

The above image is my crude attempt to update a previous ‘future map’. The horse-trading going on over various PhD offers at NTU means the water a bit muddied at present especially as I waiting to confirm I actually have a job in 2014-15!

What is certain is that a period of reflection before diving into a full PhD in order.

The above image highlights two possible options. (The third option is leave teaching and pure practice which financially not an option – left hand side of image).

Option One: Phenomenology of drawing and memory of place?

Fine Art practice-led PhD linking to phenomenology of drawing and its link to painting through my interest in both aspects of place and symbolic drawing in the likes of Arshile Gorky and Miro and up to Guston and beyond.

Relates to this abandoned blog on painting practice…BLANK CANVAS

Option Two: The Victorian Sequential Moment ?

If redeployed into Graphic Design next year this would link to both possible animation and film courses within Visual Communications from a ‘Visual Culture’ standpoint. Locates me away from practice in a art history position though.

Relates directly to the revised Art History BLOG here

Studio Diary : Mapping ‘New Knowledge’ sequence after Hockney

I have now finished drawing the 16 ‘plates’ imitating Hockney’s Rake’s Progress but using it as a template for mapping concerns over the place of ‘new knowledge’ in art research.

It already becoming a fascinating jigsaw puzzle of a task. Firstly there is the original Hogarth moral tale, then there is Hockney’s New York adventure ( which has overtones of Whitman and Dreiser apparently – his reading at the time). Then there is the Duchamp tale of the urinal (again New York based) and the Kubrick overtones of the ‘Muttley’ spaceman as art object character and finally the whole point of the exercise ‘ investigating’ new knowledge whatever that is…

Here I finally sinking into the real question….via Polanyi’s ‘Tacit Knowledge’ and Eisner’s ‘Art and Knowledge’. Phew…the latest drawing in sequence divides the philosophical roots and branches (literally) as best I can ( open to debate of course). I have tried to show the ‘new knowledge’ foliage in the tree as the most recent and most referenced at the ‘Practice makes Perfect’ conference. So this just a rough mapping of current fashions and directions at best.

Drawing it out like this (literally) is really helping me focus on what actually seems to be going on. The Slager attempt to bridge the cartesian/ embodied knowledge divide and the way Frayling’s categories and their impact is actually quite separate to the philosophical underpinning which far wider ranging. The previous paper analysed Frayling’s  influence on art and design research in general rather than just fine art. The philosophical debate around embodied/tacit and where new knowledge may be located ( or not) is very much a fine art concern and seems to me at heart of the instability of the art school with regard to research within the ‘academie’.


Container or contained? Unpacking the ‘art object’


I have about 24 hours to pull together a reasonable attempt at a PhD bursary application. No pressure there then.

For the purposes of this application I am rehearsing what may be the research ‘question’ that I would interrogate and keep coming back to the same, to me key question, of where ‘knowledge’ may be said to reside.


James Elkins in a draft of a new chapter in his second edition of ‘Artists and Phds’. Provisionally titled ‘ Fourteen ways to mistrust the PhD in studio art’ touches on this in a subsection devoted to the question of ‘knowledge’ and most pertinently for me categorises it as the following two options:

C. How is this knowledge extracted from, read into, or interpreted in, visual art?


If “artistic knowledge” is partly outside of language, then it presents a problem for assessment and what are called in the UK “learning outcomes.” The fundamental choice here has to do with how the “artistic knowledge” is imagined to be related to the art object. There are fundamentally two choices here:


(i) “Artistic knowledge” inheres in the visual object or practice, so that the object or practice is itself a form of knowledge, or


(ii) “artistic knowledge” is interpreted to exist in the object or practice, so that discourse reveals the art’s contribution to knowledge.

In a separate facebook posting he also said the following:

Is art research? Is it knowledge?
Bruce M. Mackh asked me these two questions:
1. Is “Arts Practice” research?
2. Can the products of “Arts Practice” be original contributions to knowledge?

At the moment I am revising all those posts from earlier this year, for the new edition of the book “Artists with PhDs.” So these questions were timely. He made it necessary for me to try to answer in a very succinct way. Here are my answers — any thoughts?

1. Is “Arts Practice” research?
It hasn’t been until the 20th century. It’s important to bear in mind the relatively recent development of the notion that art is research: it comes from post-war academic pedagogy, and especially the structure of UK universities, which require new fields to present themselves as being aimed at “new knowledge” by way of “research.” This isn’t to say some art practice is not research: it’s to say the great majority isn’t.

2. Can the products of “Arts Practice” be original contributions to knowledge?
If you can give me one example of art research that is comprehensible as knowledge, I’ll say yes. Until then, I’ll say that art can often be understood as if it were producing knowledge: but that “knowledge” is insight, expression, understanding, feeling, affect, constellations of objects, unexpected juxtapositions, new sensory configurations. Note that your question asks if artworks can be knowledge. The other option is that the lead to knowledge, or can be interpreted as constituting knowledge. That leads in entirely different directions.