Archive for the ‘Research’ category

UAL awarded two Philip Leverhulme Prizes

We are very pleased to announce that Dr Sara Davidmann and Hannah Rickards, researchers at University of the Arts London, have been awarded Philip Leverhulme Prizes in Visual and Performing Arts. It is a major achievement for UAL to be awarded two of these highly prestigious prizes, awarded to outstanding researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future career is exceptionally promising.

Sara Davidmann is a Senior Research Fellow at London College of Communication (LCC) and a member of Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC). Sara completed a practice-based PhD in Photography at LCC in 2007 (AHRC Doctoral award-funded). This was followed by a three-year AHRC Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts. In 2009, she was awarded a further AHRC Research Grant and a Wellcome Trust Small Grant in 2011. In 2013 Sara founded the UAL Gender and Sexuality Research Forum. 

Sara chose to study and then work at UAL because of its reputation as a world-leading arts institution and LCC specifically for its excellence in Photography. “UAL has a very stimulating environment in which to work and I have been impressed by the…lively debates which arise, cutting across disciplines, and the intersections between the work of other researchers and my own have resulted in some very exciting collaborations”.

Sara’s current research constitutes an investigation of her family archive and a family secret that came to light in the 1950s – that her uncle Ken was transgender. This was at a time when very little was known about being transgender. A second research thread configures around photographic portraits and oral histories, carried out in collaboration with transgender people. Concerns of equality and diversity underpin my work.

Sara Davidmann   Sara Davidmann

Image: Ken. To be destroyed. Sara Davidmann 2014           Image: Ken. To be destroyed. Sara Davidmann 2015

Sara uses alternative photography processes that combine early film and contemporary digital methods. These include wet plate collodion and silver gelatin printing with hand colouring, chemigrams, making digital negatives and producing fictional photographs. Sara uses methods that enable experimentation and chance. “Working in this way means that I am constantly being surprised and challenged”.

Looking forward, Sara says,

The Philip Leverhulme Prize will enable me to complete a new body of work using private and public archives.

Hannah is a Lecturer at CSM, she is an artist examining the auditory, visual and spatial relationships of a specific event. Hannah studied in the 4D Pathway on the BA Fine Art at CSM (graduating in 2002) so she has had a long-standing relationship with CSM.

Hannah made her last work, Grey light. Left and right back, high up, two small windows (2014) in relation to several residencies on Fogo Island, Newfoundland between 2011 and 2015. Specific location is important to Hannah’s work, for an atmospheric occurrence or particular landscape; she has traveled to Alaska and northern British Columbia for her work.

There are different kinds of challenges that research work can present. Some of those challenges are very welcome and are the stuff that work is made from – the challenge itself of making things in the world. I make work because I want to think about something, or through something, and that is a process of challenge in many respects, but obviously for me a very positive one.

Other challenges such as trying to find time and resources to make work have been more problematic in the past – the great joy and privilege of this Phillip Leverhulme Prize is that it now affords me both of those for a period of time.

Stills from Grey light. Left and right back, high up, two small windows (2014), Hannah Rickards

Image: Still of Grey light Left and right back, high up, two small windows (2014)

Hannah is excited to be working at The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) during the early part of 2016 because its incredible facilities and staff and the conditions will allow her to test and work with some more speculative ideas. She will be spending an initial Production Residency there in January 2016, she will be working on a single-screen moving image work with a cable-suspended camera system. The system can be manoeuvred through three dimensions to all points within the volume of the studio. 

Hannah explains “within the confines of a very specific performance space [the work] will look at the shifting and dynamic relationship between figure and landscape, through two distinct yet intersecting choreographed paths: the movement of the camera and the movement of performers”.

Depending on the piece and the context Hannah often works with a team of people: participants, performers, production crew. Hannah makes work through a discursive process,“there is maybe an initial clarity of intention in what the ‘container’ of the work will be, or a set of parameters, but that structure is always in dialogue with what arises throughout the process of making the work. And, that is informed often by the groups of people I work with”. These discussions about the work happen with a number of people: friends, colleagues, her assistant/producer.

“It’s an important process for me, as I’m sure it is for many other artists and researchers”.

leverhulme logo-vector

Our wonderful PhD community: Meet Armenoui Kasparian Saraidari

Armenoui Kasparian Saraidari is a PhD student at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, she is a third year student and has recently carried out research in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Here she tells us about her PhD experience so far…

What is your PhD title? Has it changed much since you started/has your area of research developed into other areas, or do you find it easy to stay focused?

The materiality of photography and the memory of the Armenian Genocide.  This has been the title of my PhD since my first year. Entering my third year now, I can say my research has developed in different directions over time, especially in terms of practice. It is only through expanding your interest in new territories that you discover what is most relevant for you, and then in a way you return to your initial question with rich and rigorous answers…or more questions. This way my project moved forwards.

Why did you choose UAL?

In 2012, when I first thought of undertaking a PhD, I was still studying for my Master’s Degree in Photography at CSM. Therefore, UAL was my first choice not only for its academic reputation but also judging from my positive experience as a postgraduate taught student. I looked for potential supervisors at all UAL Colleges and I met with Pam Skelton from CSM. CSM offered me a supervisory team of Dr. Jo Morra and Pam Skelton, they supported my ideas and helped me to form the research questions to validate my research. I was lucky enough to find the best suitable supervision and a familiar working environment all in one place.

What stage are you at in your PhD and what are you working on at the moment?

I am about to begin the third year of my full-time PhD studies. I have just returned from the States where I was a Research Fellow at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

Main Reading Room at Loc Researching at Prints and Photographs Reading room1 LoC

This fellowship was part of the AHRC International Placement, it allowed me to continue my research for six months in the world’s biggest library that holds one of the most comprehensive photographic archives in relation to the Armenian Genocide.

There, as a Fellow I was given access to unique collections that document the plight of the Armenian population in the late Ottoman period and later in the years of exile. Due to the large amount of material observed, I came up with a database for organising the material collected and making it available for my practice. One of my goals is to make this database available to the public.

Currently, I am working in the studio with material from the unprocessed archives of the American Red Cross that I discovered at the Library of Congress. By reproducing, grouping, recomposing, manipulating, and layering the images I wish to rephrase meaning and introduce new narratives in the history of the Armenian Genocide and diaspora.

You are funded by an AHRC Scholarship, how has this helped whilst studying your PhD?

An AHRC Scholarship apart from the financial support also offers a number of exclusive opportunities to their Scholars for funding, research programmes, training, workshops, events and many more. I have benefited from quite a few, with the biggest opportunity being the Fellowship at the Library of Congress.

How has your PhD benefitted from this Fellowship at the Library of Congress?

My Fellowship at the J.W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress was a milestone in my PhD. First, it offered a positive timeline for developing my project and organising my reading, writing and practice. Secondly, the research itself that I conducted in the archives wouldn’t have been achieved without this fellowship. Finally, it was a great opportunity to associate with international scholars from other disciplines and build bonds with other institutions worldwide.

esearching Paper Print collection at LoC

Researching Paper Print collection at LoC

Stacks at LoC

Bringing that experience back to the art school of CSM, I believe will benefit not only myself but also the research community at UAL.

What would you like to do after your PhD, has your life changed because of your PhD?

Studying for a Practice-based PhD taught me how to keep a good balance between researching and creating artwork. Ideally, I would like to keep working under that formula; producing scholarly work and art practice as a Researcher either inside or outside of Academia.

Have you got any tips for prospective UAL PhD students?

Find suitable supervisors.  

Find a solid research question.

Then add hard work and all your talents and you’ve got all you need.

How often do you meet with your supervisors and do they offer you different views on your PhD?

Depending on the needs of my PhD at each stage, we meet regularly always as a team and discuss all aspects of my project. In between meetings, we exchange emails, drafts or material related to my practice to keep the team updated with my progress, difficulties and achievements. Coming from different disciplines each of my supervisors offer unique input to my project whilst following a common plan.  

Further reading:

Exhibition Studies talks: Victor Wang, Sakina Dhif and Rachel Pafe

Installation of the First Stars Exhibition, 1979. Courtesy of Huang Rui.

Installation of the First Stars Exhibition, 1979. Photo: Li Xiaobin, image courtesy of Huang Rui.

Victor Wang on the First Stars Exhibitions and Sakina Dhif/Rachel Pafe on ‘Past Disquiet’

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Time: 2pm to 4pm

Venue: CSM, Room KX A002

Victor Wang will share his research on a pivotal moment in Chinese exhibition histories: the 1979 and 1980 Stars Exhibitions (星星画会). Accompanied by documentation, the presentation will consider the importance of the public sphere and civil resistance with the beginnings of a contemporaneity in post-Cultural Revolution China.

Victor Wang (王宗孚) is a curator and exhibition-maker based between London and Shanghai. Most recently he was appointed the K11 curator of the travelling and collaborative exhibition between Palais de Tokyo and K11 Art Foundation, ‘Inside China – L’Intérieur du Géant’ at the chi k11 art museum, Shanghai. Victor is also a Curator in Residence at Contemporary Art Heritage Flanders (CAHF): a knowledge platform initiated by and built around the collections of four contemporary art museums in Flanders, Belgium: S.M.A.K. (Ghent), Mu.ZEE (Ostend), MUHKA & Middelheimmuseum (Antwerp).

Sakina Dhif and Rachel Pafe will present part of an ongoing project that examines the historically repetitive desires behind archival exhibition making. They will present the second version of a performative reading that will first be given at the PARSE Biennial in Gothenburg. Using an exhibition earlier this year at MACBA, ‘Past Disquiet’ (curated by Rasha Salti and Kristine Khouri), as an entry point, they will discuss messianic time, archival impulses, haunting, withdrawal and the place of fiction in exhibition studies.

Rachel Pafe and Sakina Dhif are researcher/writers/artists based between London, Washington DC, Brussels and the floating world. Graduates of the MRes Art: Exhibition Studies programme at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, they began to collaborate in 2014. Jointly they experiment in order to question the concepts of fiction, ghosts and repetition in fiction and academic writing. Sakina’s latest research looked at the Arab Image Foundation, in Beirut, Lebanon, to explore the relations existing between an art institution’s space, its collection and possible procedures. Rachel’s practice centers on iterative ideology, desire and associated politics, juxtaposing the mundane, absurd and ideal through the lens of messianism. She examines this within the exhibition format: through academic writing, fiction and a hybrid involving spoken word.

Places are limited, so please contact Dr Lucy Steeds if you are interested in attending.


Further information about the CSM Research Group, ‘Exhibitions: Histories, Practices’.

Our wonderful PhD community: Meet Gary McLeod

Gary McLeod is a part-time UAL PhD student who is currently on a research exchange in Japan, his work will be exhibited in “Atlas” a large group exhibition at Tokyo University of the Arts in October 2015.

Gary McLeod Rephotograpy4

Image credit: “Then, Then Again, Now” by Gary McLeod × Others, collaborative rephotographs of locations in Japan documented during the Challenger expedition (1872-1876). Original Challenger photographs © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London.

You’re in Japan at the moment, what are you up to there? How did this opportunity happen? Is this part of your PhD or contributing to it?

I’m in Japan as a research exchange student at Tokyo University of the Arts (known colloquially as “Geidai”). I have strong connections to Japan, and when it became apparent that I needed to return to Japan to carry out a collaborative rephotography project for my study, I was looking for ways to go back. Professor Toshio Watanabe at Chelsea College of Arts put me in touch with professors at Geidai as part of means to re-establish an exchange agreement, which I am hugely thankful for.

When I arrived in the spring of this year for a two-semester visit, the professors felt it was a good idea for me to join the MFA program in Inter Media Arts because I would have more direct engagement with other students.

Not only have I been able to take the university’s Japanese classes for international students, but I have also taken part in official student exhibitions. At the same time, I have been conducting a collaborative rephotography project for my research and writing up my thesis. I am indebted to Professor Watanabe for his help, and for UAL and LCC to allow the exchange to take place.

Gary McLeod Rephotograpy1 Gary McLeod Rephotograpy3

Image credit: “Then, Then Again, Now” by Gary McLeod × Others, collaborative rephotographs of locations in Japan documented during the Challenger expedition (1872-1876). Original Challenger photographs © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London.

Do you work alongside your PhD?

I was teaching at universities in India and Turkey during the bulk of my PhD study. Currently, I am focusing on the research student exchange at Tokyo University of the Arts and taking a break from teaching.

How do you juggle life/PhD study?

It’s tough. I am part-time and I took a year out for financial reasons. To be honest (though I didn’t think it at the time), teaching during PhD study was a way to take the pressure off. Students provided a good forum for testing thoughts, ideas and notions. It put learning into perspective.

Without such a learning environment, it’s harder to find a place where you can put the PhD on the shelf and leave it there for a while; you’re more immersed in it. In that sense, I have a lot of respect for anyone studying full-time.

When did you begin your PhD and has your title/area study changed?

When I began my PhD  in 2009, for a long time, the general title of my PhD was “SNS Challenger: rephotographing a Victorian voyage collectively”, as this was indicative of the methodological core of my research. As I come closer to submitting my thesis, the title has changed to its current (and more academic) title –

“‘All at sea’: A practice-led inquiry into the use of rephotography as a visual methodology as examined through the process of accumulatively and collaboratively rephotographing the voyage of HMS Challenger (1872-1876).”

Although there is still time for it to change again. At the beginning my research was associated with the Information Environments research unit at UAL, but was repositioned with the Photography and Archive Research Center (PARC). While my research employs photography (more specifically “rephotography”), it is concerned with an interdisciplinary engagement with photomedia. If my area of study has changed, it is because I have become more critically aware of it throughout the PhD process.

What stage are you up to in your PhD?

I am preparing for a mock Viva in two weeks time. The aim of that is to get me thinking about possible concerns and questions that I might face in the Viva in April next year.

Why did you chose UAL?

UAL was a natural progression from my MA Fine Art Digital at Camberwell College of Arts. I wasn’t particularly concerned with choosing the place, but more with trusting those that I was going to work with. LCC presented me with a supervisory team that I wholeheartedly trust.

Who are your supervisors and how do they work with you?

My Director of Studies is Professor Patrick Sutherland, and my supervisors are (now) both external: Professor Teal Triggs at the Royal College of Art and Professor Anthony Kent at Nottingham Trent University. I have been fortunate to have the same team of supervisors throughout the PhD process even though Professor Triggs and Professor Kent moved on from UAL.

Do you meet separately/together, do they all have different viewpoints and is this useful?

Meetings are predominately through group video Skype because I am often outside of the UK, but we arrange face-to-face meetings in advance for when I am in the country. They all have different viewpoints, which always brings something new to discussions; but they are generally in agreement on the direction and progress of the research. What is useful (and most reassuring) is that they also learn from each other when we meet. Within interdisciplinary research, I think the insight of supervisors from different fields is crucial, especially ones with experience and knowledge in interdisciplinary study.

Do you identify as a UAL student or as an LCC student?

I identify more as a UAL student. I think that is because I have conducted much of my research away from the UK. Internationally, I think UAL has more recognition than LCC alone.

Gary McLeod Rephotograpy2 Gary McLeod Rephotograpy

Image credit: “Then, Then Again, Now” by Gary McLeod × Others, collaborative rephotographs of locations in Japan documented during the Challenger expedition (1872-1876). Original Challenger photographs © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London.

Related links:

Our wonderful PhD community: Meet Dr Magz Hall

Meet Dr Magz Hall, recent UAL PhD graduate, who tells us about her time as a PhD student and what she’s been up to since…


What was your final PhD title?

Radio After Radio: Redefining Radio Art in the light of new media technology

There were a few Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice (CRiSAP) students graduating this year, weren’t there? Did you all start in the same year?

Five in fact, we all started in different years. When I started there were just 2 CRiSAP research students, so it’s been very interesting watching the research centre grow and develop.

How’s the journey been for you? What tips would you pass on to current and prospective students?

It’s been long and fruitful, I really enjoyed doing my PhD. I was working while I did it and enjoyed having it as a constant creative outlet. Sometimes it was tough though, juggling work and family time.

My tip would be:

stayed focused, make plans and stick to them, be super organised and if you can take your time, let things develop.

Why did you chose UAL? Has it been lonely or have you found it easy to build a network of peers and colleagues?

I choose UAL because CRiSAP was just starting and it was part of such a vibrant sound department attracting many fellow sound practitioners, it made perfect sense and fitted. The sound art and radio art research network has really grown in the last few years and it’s been great to be a part of it.

Whilst studying at UAL, where did you do most of your work?

I worked mostly from my own studio space in London and then Canterbury which suited me, I was very self-sufficient as I already had the sound equipment I needed to produce new work.

Have you got a favourite library or archive?

I love the British Library and the unexpected things you find there, it was amazing to find futurists David Burliuck (1926) Manifesto, Radio StyleUniversal Camp of Radio Modernists there and get hold of an original copy of Spiritual Radio by Du Vernet. mMy research was based on material from across the globe and the internet has really revolutionised the research process in that respect it is quite an amazing hub of radio art archives, some of which needed documenting before they disappeared.  

My favourite gallery is Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA), I always learn so much from every exhibition I’ve seen there, it was great to see footage there of the Polish Experimental Studio which I had been reading about.

Since starting your PhD has your field of study changed? If so, has this changed your PhD question?

My field of study, radio art, didn’t change but my question did as it developed and I gained more clarity in what I wanted to do, as I moved away from solely contemporary technological focused work to embrace a more post digital approach, fusing new and old media.

What are you up to now?  

I’ve been doing a residency at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) making a new work Tree Radio this summer. It was a very productive project and it proved to be quite a challenge installing such an electronic sound work outside.  

Magz Hall YSP Untitled-1   

This was a fantastic opportunity which came out of a UAL call for graduates to make Arts for the Environment set up by UAL Chair, Professor Lucy Orta. It’s been so useful in terms of getting a full understanding of what is required for outside durational work of this type and getting to grips with solar technology. YSP were extremely supportive of my tree radio project and it currently on exhibition there.

  Untitled-4 Untitled-2

Further reading:

Books and the Human debate, Dr Sheena Calvert #ahrc10

Meet Dr Sheena Calvert, Contextual Studies Coordinator at Camberwell College of Arts and Associate Lecturer at Central Saint Martins. She is one of the organisers of the Book and Human Debate as part of The Way We Live Now The AHRC 10th Anniversary Debates 2015-2016 taking place at CSM in mid-December 2015. Here she talks about her expectations of the Debate and why the team have invited the selected speakers…

You hand printed the invites, for the Debate, in your studio, why was this personalised printing process so important?

Because the act of letterpress printing connects the subject matter of the debate (the book), to one of its key historical technologies: the invention of printing in the West.

Joannes Gutenberg’s 1453 invention transformed the speed and (later), the aesthetics of the book and facilitated a vast expansion of book production, breaking its link with monastic culture (and thereby the church), promoting literacy, and providing the foundations of the modern publishing industry. The dissemination of secular knowledge which the invention of printing acted as a catalyst for, quite literally transformed the world, and transformed ‘us’.

To produce the invitations, using the same methods of printing with metal letters, which Gutenberg invented, brings this history into the present. It also requires patience, craft skills, and judgment, which foregrounds and presages a discussion of the haptic qualities of the physical book (one of the key debating points which we hope to raise).

What speakers did you invite and why?

Johanna Drucker was invited because she bridges theory and practice, and because she is an eminent scholar in her field. As a philosopher, writer, letterpress printer/ artist and critic, she has written extensively on both this (and related subjects).

For instance, she has recently written about how the new ‘protocols’ of the book, which are facilitated by the move from physical to digital books, are shaping our understanding of that medium. She asks:

How will we “call” a book into being”

And this raises questions about how we understand what a book ‘is’, and furthermore, what it means to us. In short, it goes beyond a question of simply whether Kindles will replace physical books, to a more meaningful query about the ontological status of books, what they call into ‘being’.

The reason I am particularly excited that Johanna has agreed to participate in the debate is, she is both a thinker and a maker on this subject, and she embraces the aesthetic, humanist, and intellectual questions we hope to raise.

Tom Uglow, from Google, has been invited because he is working on similar questions from the perspective of how shifting forms of knowledge dissemination via new technologies and the act of immersive reading, shape what he calls ‘bookness’.

Both speakers touch on, not only the technological aspects of the book, but how and why books are significant human ‘agents’, and what they mean to humanity. We are in the process of inviting other speakers, and these will be confirmed in due course.

What questions do you hope will be asked at the debate?

I hope that people will ask questions which are less ‘binary’, such as whether the physical book will be replaced by its digital counterpart. Not only have these questions been aired extensively, but they tend to pose things in terms of either/or.

I would be more interested in seeing how a debate around what books means to us in terms of the (perhaps) less obvious aspects of human culture (in its broadest sense), and intellectual life (past/present), can be developed.

It’s true that the format of a ‘debate does tend to suggest that strong positions will be established and argued, and we welcome that ‘dynamic’. However, I believe that there are nuances and subtleties to the question of the relationship between ‘books and the human’ which could be developed. One of the question I might have (to be slightly provocative), is whether books have led to an implicit and disturbing ‘materialization’ of what counts as ‘truth’, especially within the academic context.

To write is to materialize an idea, but to print and disseminate it involves a whole other set of power relations, including who has access to the means of production.

J. Leibling said

“Freedom of the press belongs to this who own one”.

This then leads to questions about the potentially subversive democratizing forces of the ‘digital’. Personally, I find these ideas more challenging than whether we will all be reading kindles…

it’s the broader intellectual/philosophical and cultural implications of the changes in how we make/consume books that intrigue me.

What direction would you like the debate to go in?

In terms of form, I would like it to be a ‘proper’ debate, which is to say, for people to take up strong positions and argue them, while recognising the caveat about binary thinking (as above). It’s important that it doesn’t just become a polite discussion about the subject, or a series of presentations which don’t link up. We need it to generate real thinking on this subject.  

I would also like it not to be entirely euro-centric, which is a danger. We are not the only part of the world which has engaged with books, and there are tremendously important implications of ‘the book’ within the non-western world.

For example, the recent discovery that the world’s oldest Koran may predate Mohammed’s teachings, raises very complex questions about Islamic theology. We cannot avoid the significance of the material book in such debates, and these concerns are not just Western ones. The debate was conceived as a trans-disciplinary, cross-cultural platform for asking such questions and rethinking the role of the book in human life.

The CSM students are curating the exhibition windows for display during the debate, what can we expect and who is involved?

Members of the Graphic Communication Design (GCD) programme team are involved in the curation of the show, along with some current MA Communication Design students whose own work aligns with the concerns of the debate.

The form of the show is still under discussion, but it will most likely include examples from the CSM Lethaby archives, contemporary book design which challenges the form of the book, and examples of technological innovation in books.

We are excited to see how it develops.

A few of Sheena’s favourite books:


Image: The Gutenberg Bible, Johannes Gutenberg, Mainz, 1454-55

Joyce Sheena Calvert

Image: James Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake, with annotations by the editors of the Houyhnhnm Press edition (2010). Editors: Danis Rose/John O’Hanlon

Tora Sheena Calvert

Image: The Torah (Jewish Written Law): The five books of the Hebrew Bible

Further reading:

Researchers at the University of the Arts London win funding to develop new digital technologies

A team at the University of the Arts London, led by Dr Athanasios Velios, is at the front line of a high-tech battle of brains.

They are developing new tools, software and systems to help academic researchers use and manage research data thanks to support and funding from Jisc, a charity that aims to develop digital solutions to improve education and research.

Athanasios is working alongside Sebastian Faubel and Moritz Ebril from Semiodesk, a software development company in Germany, on a project called Artivity which aims to capture, when and how artists are influenced while they are producing their creative work.

Much of the research undertaken by artists is done on a computer and in many cases the finished output of artistic process is produced using software tools. However, the process of developing an artwork is not often appreciated once the artwork is complete. Athanasios came up with the idea when he

“…was thinking of ways to minimise the time it takes for academics to submit outputs to institutional repositories. This led to the idea of automatically collecting contextual research data which then led to focusing it to art practice research”.

The product

Artivity provides tools which capture this process and help researchers and artists get a clearer picture of how and why the artwork was created. Artists have shown interest in this idea because it offers an automatic way of self-documenting their work in a way which does not interfere with their creative process.


Image: Screen capture of Artivity software running on Linux Desktop

Artivity will allow the creation of digital archives of practice which art historians and art critics can use in their research. Finally, Artivity will allow younger artists to become proficient in digital techniques which have already been documented by other artists through the project tools.

Get involved

For the second phase Athanasios would like to ask for 10 volunteers to test the software. The software does not interrupt your workflow. Testing requires using certain creative applications to deliver your creative work with our software running in the background. Each of the 10 volunteers will receive a £50 Amazon voucher. A full description of how your data will be used will be made available before testing starts.

If you would like to contribute, please email Athanasios Some experience with Inkscape and/or Krita would be an advantage but not necessary.


The project is funded by the ‘Research Data Spring’ initiative, which invited researchers, librarians, publishers and developers to post and discuss their ideas on a website where they could be voted on. Ideas were then selected for development by a panel of expert judges.

Daniela Duca, senior co-design manager at Jisc, explained the thinking behind the competition:

“In academic research you’re often using and reusing a variety of data, sometimes you may need a better way to quickly deposit it when you publish your article; or as an artist, you might want the research data to collect automatically while you are working and without interfering in your creative process. You may want an easier way to archive your data; or even a better way of packaging the metadata around it.

“The proposals funded by ‘Research Data Spring’ aim to make the processes around the management, use and reuse of data easier to handle for researchers. I’m thrilled to see so many promising projects coming through and hope to be able to stir more ideas and collaborative solutions in this area.”

Further reading


Our wonderful PhD community: Successes of 2014-15

We are pleased to announce that 2014-15 has been an extremely successful year for the research degree (Mphil/PhD) students at University of the Arts London. 25 graduated, 23 passed their confirmation and 31 students registered. Congratulations to you all!

Registration usually happens in the 1st year of PhD study, students have to complete an Application for Registration Form, which consists of:

  • an outline of your proposed project (not more than 1000 words in length) plus an indicative bibliography and a work plan

This includes: Title, Subject area, aims and objectives, Historical context, Contemporary context, Theoretical context, Methodology, List of the main reference works.

Students completing their Registration in 2014-15 were:

Emmeline Child, Denise Clarke, Alice Evans, James Lander, Fang-yu Cheng, Robert Gadie, Jennifer Murray, Mohammad Namazi, Stephanie Spindler, Maria Theodoraki at CCW.

Gillian Addison, Sara Buoso, Adriana Cobo Corey, Michael Charles Connerty, Nathalie Khan, Giorgio Salani at CSM.

Veronika Hlinicanova, Christopher James May, Mario Abou Hamad, Rebecca Binns, Jonathan Gilmurray, Carl Ernest Grinter, Asa Johannesson, Julia Colleen Johnson, John Kannenberg, Louise Marshall, Sarah McAdam, Julia Schaeper at LCC.

Rhian Solomon, Reiner Rockel at LCF.

The Confirmation meeting usually takes place in year 3 or 4, it is a clear outline of the role and purpose of the practice within the overall research project, it:

  • identifies how the creative/practical work will be presented (event/exhibition) for final examination;
  • identifies which research methods have informed the work and presents the contexts (both historical and/or theoretical);
  • offers reflection on the development of the practice.

Students also present their ongoing work at the RNUAL Block 2 presentation.

Students that passed their Confirmation in 2014-15 were:

  • Manoela dos Anjos Afonso, Sofia Gotti, Thomas Helyar-Cardwell, Sam Hopkins, Anne Lydiat, Andrew Megaw, Hiroki Yamamoto at CCW.
  • Fagner Bibiano Alves, Marina Hadjilouca, Ahmed Mauroof Jameel, John Miers, Colin Richard Perry, Alaistair Steele at CSM.
  • Artur Matamoro Vidal, Kwok Kei (Sandra) Peach at LCC.
  • hirui (Kiwy) Huang, Jennifer Millspaugh, Lara Torres, Elizabeth (Lezley) George, Siri Lindholm, Johannes Reponen, Benjamin David Whyman, Paul Yuille at LCF.


The 25 graduating students this year all completed either a:

  • Practice based thesis of 30, 000 words or a
  • Text based thesis of 60, 000 words 

Along with a Viva Voce and a presentation of any practice-based work.

Students that graduated in 2014-15 were (in date order):

Graduation by Peter Smith

Image credit: UAL Graduation 2015, Royal Festival Hall, photography by Peter Smith

Dr Wasma Al Saud: Single Saudi Women in the Diaspora: A Photographic Study from LCC, completed 2 October 2014

Umar Hassan Jan Mphil: Evolution of Khadi – Handwoven Fabric in Pakistan from 1947 to 2011 from LCF, completed 30 October 2014

Dr Bridget Tan: Gestures and Acclamations: Some Assembly Required Contextualising Curating and Exhibition Practices in Southeast Asia for Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong at the Venice Biennale from CCW, completed 18 November 2014

Dr Mark Jackson, Nothing Short of Complete Liberation: the Burroughsian Ideal of Space as Curatorial Strategy in Audial Art from LCC, completed 21 November 2014

Dr Sam Vale, Collecting Rooms: Objects, Identities and Domestic Spaces from LCC, completed 27 November 2014

Dr Jen Ballie, e-Co-Textile Design: How can textile design and making, combined with social media tools, achieve a more sustainable fast fashion future? from CCW completed 22 December 2014

Dr Angie Brew, Learning to draw: an active perceptual approach to observational drawing synchronising the eye and hand in time and space from CCW, completed 5 February 2015

Dr Sara Andersdotter, Choking on the Madeleine: Encounters and Alternative Approaches to Memory in Contemporary Art Practice from CCW, completed 27 March 2015

Dr Catherine Clancy, Poiesis and Obstruction in Art Practice from Wimbledon College of Arts/Surrey, completed 02 April 2015

Dr Sarah Rhodes, The True Nature of Collaboration: what role does practice play in collaboration between designers and African craft producers? from CSM, completed 14 April 2015

Dr Marcela Montoya, Resituating the Cultural Meanings of Lucha Libre Mexicana: A Practice-Based Exploration of Diasporic Mexicanness from CCW completed 23/04/2015

Dr Mike Ricketts, Encounters & Spatial Controversies from CCW, completed 23 April 2015

Dr Pat Naldi, The view: a historicised and contemporary socio-political mediation from CSMcompleted 15 May 2015

Dr Hena Ali, Graphic Communication Design Practice for Sustainable Social Advocacy in Pakistan: Co-developing Contextually Responsive Communication Design (CCD) methodologies in Culturally Diverse Contexts from CSM, completed 22 May 2015

Sarah Tremlett Mphil, Re:Turning – From Graphic Verse to Digital Poetics from CCW, completed 29 May 2015

Dr Mark Wright, Contact Zones and Elsewhere Fields: The Poetics and Politics of Environmental Sound Arts from LCC, completed 29 May 2015

Dr Iris Garrelfs, From inputs to outputs: an Investigation of Process in Sound Art Practice from LCC, completed 3 June 2015

  Graduation by Peter Smith 3

Image credit: Dr Iris Garrelfs and other CRiSAP PhD graduates at UAL Graduation 2015, Royal Festival Hall, photography by Peter Smith

Dr Paul Lowe, Testimonies of Light: Bearing Witness, Photography and Genocide from LCC, completed 3 June 2015

Dr Olivier Desvoignes, Blackboards Were Turned into Tables…. Questioning ‘horizontality’ in collaborative pedagogical art projects from CCW, completed 8 June 2015

Natasha Mrdalj Mphil, In Search of Home: A Serbian Identity, the Art of Exile and the Representation of Otherness from CCW, completed 10 June 2015

Graduation by Peter Smith 2

Image credit: Dr Magz Hall and other CRiSAP graduates at UAL Graduation 2015, Royal Festival Hall, photography by Peter Smith

Dr Magz Hall, Radio after Radio: Redefining radio art in the light of new media technology through expanded practice from LCC, completed 12 June 2015

Dr Pui Yin Tong, An Account of Development of Performance Art in China from 1979-2010 from CSM, completed 17 June 2015

Dr Tansy Spinks, Associating Places: Strategies for Live, Site Specific, Sound Art Performance from LCC, completed 22 June 2015

Dr Kiran Deshpande, N-colour separation methods for accurate reproduction of spot colours from LCC, completed 24 June 2015

Dr Alberto Campagnolo, Transforming structured descriptions to visual representations. An automated visualization of historical bookbinding structures from CCW, completed 3 July 2015

Dr Maria Arango Velasquez, Acts of Endurance: A Creative Transformation in Times of Struggle in Contemporary Colombian Memory from CCW, completed 4 September 2015

Further reading:

Our wonderful PhD community: Meet Dr Iris Garrelfs

Iris Garrelfs by Peter Smith
Meet Dr Iris Garrelfs, Iris was awarded her PhD this year in Sound Art from LCC. In this article she shares her experience as a research student at UAL, how she built communities and learnt to discuss the theories behind her practice. She has recently been nominated for the British Composer Awards.

What was your awarded PhD title? Did it change much along the way?

Oh yes it did! The title I started out with was:
Cross breeding art: the impact of cross-platform arts practice on soundart at the beginning of the 21st century.

The title that I ended up using reads:
From inputs to outputs: an investigation of process in sound art practice.

In between I came up with quite a few variants on the theme, each highlighting slightly different aspects of my research. To be honest, I didn’t decide which one to go with until a couple of weeks before submitting. What swayed me in the end was keeping the title simple.

What are you up to now?

Since being awarded my PhD in June, I have begun a postdoc at UAL. I have been enormously lucky to be asked to continue my research into process as part of the cross-university JISC funded project Collaboration for Research Enhancement by Active Metadata (CREAM).

Basically, I am investigating the extent to which metadata are – or could be – used actively within practice-based research using Procedural Blending (the model of sound art practice I developed during my PhD research). Effectively, Procedural Blending borrows and extends concepts from Conceptual Blending, a theory of cognition developed by Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner (2002).

In September I will be giving a paper about this at the conference OFF THE LIP: Transdisciplinary Approaches to Cognitive Innovation convened by CogNovo and the Cognition Institute, University of Plymouth. I’m a trifle nervous….

From a performance at the Barbican Centre (Hack The Barbican), by Peter Smith

Image credit: From a performance at the Barbican Centre (Hack The Barbican), by Peter Smith.

I am also continuing to edit Reflections on Process in Sound, a journal I instigated to explore sound-related activities from the practitioner’s point of view. I have been hugely surprised
by how many people have flocked to it. On average, the website has more than 100 genuine visitors a day! The next issue will be out in the autumn containing articles with topics ranging from

  • working with sound in the United Arab Emirates,
  • listening to urban Australia,
  • creating a gallery installation in Switzerland.

I am also, of course, continuing my own practice. At the beginning of September I gave a performance talk called Room 61 at the National Gallery, as part of the Soundscapes Late. Essentially I created a composition in response to the images in the respective galleries and read from a number of CRiSAP related books.

Several of my previous works have just been nominated for the British Composer Awards (Sonic Arts category), I am keeping my fingers crossed…

Once things settle down a little, I hope I will be able to finish editing my book of interviews with leading and emerging sound art practitioners. There are some amazing ideas in there and I’m thinking about calling it Listening lives: art, music, sound.

How is your life different now to before starting your PhD?

I’ve had to mull that question over a bit, because it so feels like another lifetime altogether. On the one hand, I am still working as an artist. On the other, my practice has both deepened and broadened, and I feel a lot more confident about what I do. I have met so many fantastic people along the way, and I now feel part of a very thriving and inquisitive community.

I have always found it difficult to express myself in the written word (I found out I am dyslexic during my PhD), but now it feels a great deal easier. I have become more critical about the way I think and clearer about the assumptions underlying my thinking. Very interesting!

From a keynote performance lecture at Field Studies, by Joseph Kohlmaier

Image credit: From a keynote performance lecture at Field Studies, by Joseph Kohlmaier

The most important change is conducting research, which is not something that I was involved with before – other than researching for creative projects, that is. I love that aspect of my life; designing practice and projects to find out something. Such a fascinating process!

What were you doing before and what made you want to do a PhD?

Before starting the PhD, I was a busy artist and an Associate lecturer on the BA Sound Art and Design at LCC. Although focused on sound, my practice is in fact quite broad and I’ve always been puzzled by how it all hangs together. My PhD research came out of that question – and I guess it is mirrored by my original thesis title.

I felt that, in the constant bustle of making work I lacked the time and space to deepen ideas, and that became very frustrating, alongside the fact that I found it hard to communicate central concerns underlying my work. Hence the drive to look into process and into means that support artists in contributing to discourse.

How long did it take to finish your PhD, did you have any stumbling blocks along the way?

It took me 4.8 years from start to actually having the PhD awarded. I was very lucky to have had AHRC funding, which covered the first 3 years and really allowed me to immerse myself into the research! I then took a 4th unfunded writing-up year and the remaining months were taken up with waiting for my viva and implementing my minor amendments. This took a bit of time as I needed to apply for extra funding to have my thesis properly proofread (I am dyslexic).

I had a bit of a meltdown situation at the beginning of my second year. I found out that I am dyslexic, which expresses itself in a variety of ways but most importantly I have difficulty in ordering and structuring written materials. What seemed perfectly logical to me, does not to most other people.

So finding a way to construct my thesis was a challenge. I had only done the third year of my BA (I was admitted straight into the third year because of my experience as an artist) and as I left with a first I didn’t do an MA. A very steep learning curve indeed! Thankfully I have now found strategies to help me! Coming across Scrivener, a really easy to use modular writing software, was a particular relief!

Then my mum and my best friend both died in the space of 3 months and I had big problems with housing too. I felt rather overwhelmed by it all and wanted to go part-time to give me a bit of breathing space. But because of my AHRC funding I was not able to switch at that point. In retrospect, I am glad it worked out that way – I really had to knuckle down and that did its job in propelling my research forward! Also, it’s fab to be finished and able to embark on my next phase now!

Graduation of CRiSAP by Peter Smith

What advice would you give to prospective students?

One piece of very good advice I was given quite early on, which I didn’t listen to, was, not to produce too much primary research data. So, keeping this simple is a good strategy. It’s not always possible, especially not for the curious minded. There is so much to learn and find out about!

Also, doing a PhD is an excellent passport into a great variety of communities and in my experience it is very important to become as involved as possible. These communities have sustained me during my PhD and still do now! And, if there is no ready-made community, create one! It’s a great way to learn, and, by supporting others they will be very ready to help you too.

I also found it extremely helpful to present research in progress. It clarifies ideas by having to answer awkward questions and talking to other researchers sometimes opens up new avenues to pursue.

Did you feel part of the UAL community?

I very much felt part of the LCC community. The Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice (CRiSAP) students organised regular meetings to discuss our research and exchange ever-so-vital gossip. I really appreciated both! We also became involved with each other’s projects and created joint ones, for example, Tansy Spinks and I did a residency at Wimbledon Space last year, as part of the ACTS RE-ACTS festival. This was such a great experience and contributed to ideas which I tried out during a residency at Tate Britain earlier this year.

From A residency and installation called Listening Room at Tate Britain , by Peter Smith (IMG-9648)

Image credit: From A residency and installation called Listening Room at Tate Britain , by Peter Smith (IMG-9648)

I also co-organised the first symposium Sound::Gender::Feminism::Activism at LCC. Sadly I didn’t have the time to become involved with the second incarnation last autumn, but I did give a paper.
Further reading:

Creating practitioners of the future

NESTA – A Manifesto for the Creative Economy, April 2013

“What makes new information and communications technologies so economically powerful?

The answer is that their impacts are felt everywhere. Their persuasiveness is why economists consider them one of a small number of ‘general purpose technologies’ – like steam power and electricity – that change entire economic growth trajectories in industries that use them”.

With this in mind, Interact (interactive studios and innovation networks for future design careers) mobilises staff and students within the field of design practice, including communication design and interaction design. The project consortium comprising partners from the EU: London College of Communication at UAL (UAL) and the Danish School of Media and Journalism (DMJX), and two Australian partners: The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)  and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT)  aims to develop better graduate outcomes for future practitioners.

Interact news

This is a picture from the first staff mobility to Australia, which saw the EU partners visiting Australian partners. LCC staff, Ben Stopher and Joel Karamath are first 2 from left.

The three-year project started in October 2014 and is funded with the support from the European Union in the context of Bilateral Cooperation with Industrialised Countries. UAL and DMJX staff visited RMIT and QUT in Australia in February 2015. Joel Karamath, LCC – Talks About the First Exchange at QUT.

The project focuses on 4 main areas:

  1. Staff Exchange: building academic networks within the subject and facilitating an international perspective within the teaching of interaction design at undergraduate level;
  2. Student Exchange: allowing students to experience interaction design education in an international context and broaden both their aspirations and understanding of the subject;
  3. IXD Futures: scoping out what areas, such as designing for the ‘internet of things’ and exploring the possibilities of connected infrastructure will mean for our students;
  4. Globalised Careers: work-integrated learning and placements, which will provide highly valuable globalised exposure to professional practice.

Three LCC students are currently in Australia for a term. Next month, LCC and DMJX will welcome staff and students from RMIT and QUT.

“This is a really great opportunity for students and staff to learn about the way Interaction Design is taught in Europe and Australia”.
Ben Stopher, Academic Lead, UAL

Further reading