Category: exhibitions

Lost Nottingham – Lost PhD


The painter Cyrill Mann painting the Trent and the now demolished Nottingham City Power Station c. 1939

 

Even the best laid plans can have a fatal flaw. After a hard year applying I am no nearer a funded or even self-funded PhD with the Thames based ideas.

Apart from the advice that very few PhD funding candidates over 50 now receive funding and if applying try having a sex-change I also came up against another fundamental problem.

I well aware of the pitfalls and problems of so-called ‘practice-led’ Phd study. In fact I wrote a paper on it available

HERE: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1474022213514548

I also illustrated the great and the good’ take on ‘Artists with Phds’ edited by James Elkins for which I had to read every chapter.

http://www.shaunbelcher.com/artwork/?p=544 

So I more than familiar with the argument that a practice-led fine art Phd is essentially impossible and I would 90% agree.

Most of the submitted fine art practice-led Phds thus far completed have been textual commentary on practice and nowhere do I see art objects which in themselves contain new knowledge as defined by the academy.

It is a fascinating philosophical problem but there it is and it doesnt help gain funding.

Does an art object of itself…a painting..a sculpture or a conceptual installation contain new knowledge which ‘transferrable’ NO..not unless it contains text…which funnily enough graphic novels and comix do :-)….

This brings me neatly to my problem with Phds. I have spent a fruitless year banging my head against the walls of funded academia. As well as the age and gender problems which make it virtually impossible for a man of my age to succeed in the AHRC rat race for pennies I was pitching what essentially a ‘practice-led’ project at solid academic text-only departments.

This reached its apotheosis in two recent meetings at Nottingham University. One in Geography the other in the English Department. In both cases senior academics were very supportive of all I trying to do and if I wished to self-fund (no longer an option as they say life got in the way) then I could do a historical Cultural Geography Phd no problem.

What I could not get support for and this also happened at Lincoln too ( trad Art History only which ironic in an institution hell bent on destroying trad arts for money making ‘performance’ ends) is get support for a practice-led (poetry/drawing/graphic-novel) whatever the practice it that element that caused a shaky heady…. Traditional academia….i.e. the academy wants a rigorous 80000 words or it a no no.

So new year back to square one. the only way I can see a practice-led PhD with the above caveats succeeding is by part of the PhD being comic/graphic novel and therefore containing the transferrable knowledge. I played with this in a ‘Visual Paper’ (NO TEXT) I delivered at a drawing conference in New York again to a few shaky heads and non-publication in proceedings because ‘no text’ 🙂 That paper available HERE:  http://www.shaunbelcher.com/research/?p=1135 along with animated short.

At this point James Elkins kindly stated that he thought that I had done a PhD level of work in my M.A. for approaching the topic in the way I had but that ain’t the same as a real PhD. So I have got nowhere……

Meanwhile I developing this ‘Backwaters’ research into a smaller non-PhD project or at least placing on the back-burner until things look more hopeful.

Further details of Comics Research on Word and Image Blog HERE: http://www.shaunbelcher.com/arthistory/

And painting blog HERE: http://www.shaunbelcher.com/canvas/

 

Suit of Lights? The Berkshire Hank Williams…

marshfield mummers

So Shaun what are you actually doing now……

well..that’s an interesting question.

I currently have two PhD proposals submitted to Nottingham University and Loughborough. They both the same and the gist of the proposal is this.

I want to link two separate areas of art research together. Storicodes is an app developed at Nottingham University MRL ( Mixed Reality lab) which is an artier version of the rather banal QR code. It has been successfully deployed through large scale illustration ( NWS November 2015).

At the same time I became aware of the developments in digital embroidery especially through the work at NTU in textile and product design. I was assured by Dr. Sarah Kettley that there is no theoretical problem in creating lighting embroidery which could then be scanned by the storicode app.

Which Baldrick is where my cunning plan unfolds…

As a dead country star ( yes there a lot around) and folk performer/reviewer I aware that audiences falling and venues closing so would like to help counter that trend. An app that connected both consumers and artists and enabled connections would be great. So here we have a variation on the ‘added content’ idea. By wearing an embroidered suit whilst performing it may be possible for an audience member to focus the scanning app on a part of the design which lit up in sequence as songs played. This would trigger an illustration appearing (songbook cover/graphic novel page) as I performed. The audience member would only access this information at the performance. Thus re-establishing a live venue experience with added value. I keen on the idea of near-field content which limited and not ubiquitous. I have a plan for a museum tree that beams out archives..but that literally another story…

Finally and still in early stages of development I have friends who work with severe autism and it may be possible to develop child-friendly suits that enable communication. Music and rhythm can be the keys to unlocking those previously ‘blocked’ neural spaces. If I can get funding then that a route I keen to go down.

PhD funding is extremely competitive at present and I still hopeful. If I fail ( update July 2016..I did fail but only because I not keen on being a corporate intern which sad ). Then I may look at alternative ways of creating these projects such as Near Now at Broadway or ACE funding or even Crowdsourcing. Who knows.

But that is where I be at right now.

Here some artist’s suits for information….and of course Elvis Costello wrote a song called ‘Suit of Lights’

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