Neil Mulholland – “Best Practices of Artistic Research at LERU Universities”
Meeting of the LERU Social Sciences & Humanities Policy Group at the University of Zürich, Collegium Helveticum Semper-Sternwarte, Zürich 🇨🇭 16/10/17
Shift/Work : ISSOTL17, Calgary, Alberta, 🇨🇦
Directed by Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop (Dan Brown) and Edinburgh College of Art (Prof Neil Mulholland), Shift/Work is a collective that composes workshops that cause participants to reflect upon and recalibrate processes of artistic learning. Key to this is an open engagement with practice (work) as a means of both generating and transferring new knowledge (shift). Our workshops enact new practices and collectively compose open educational resources for artists, art professionals, curators and art educators to adapt and implement. ‘Shift/Work’ is an iterative process, a rolling workshop that can be continually re-performed like a musical score. Given that SoTL generally does not feature in contemporary artistic practice or pedagogy, Shift/Work is distinctive and significant in its engagements with, and innovative contributions, to SoTL.
We will briefly outline the genesis and aims of Shift/Work in relation to SoTL and ‘educationally-turned’ contemporary artistic research, before focusing on Speculations, a participatory workshop composed at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop then play-tested as part of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India (March 2017) and at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway (Sept 2017). In Speculations participants develop, learn and apply speculative methods, processes and practices that cannot be held, observed or enacted without taking risks or experiencing their consequences. Rather than simply reflect upon speculation and artistic research, the workshop actually generates new speculative-artistic methods through participatory action research.
Speculations offers a unique insight into Shift/Work’s ludic approach to workshops as reciprocal and enmeshed game-rules governing how actants interact. Playing the ‘game’ – Speculations – leads to the rules being revised and updated, offering fresh game-theoretic insights. Speculations is, thus, a paragogy, a ludic and ‘meta’ practice of peer-to-peer learning that is central to artistic learning. It is a heuristic to improve our understanding of how parameters calibrate and enable adventurous, creative play. In turn, it demonstrates that play does not just make learning fun, it is constitutive of learning. Speculations unravels and clarifies Shift/Work’s commitment to codifying playful paragogy in order to publish and distribute it as an open educational and artistic resource. This has invaluable implications for SoTL as an experimental paragogy that can transform the whole field of education.
@ACAD Alberta College of Art & Design – 1407 14 Ave NW, Calgary 🇨🇦 Tuesday v10th October, 1pm www.acad.ca
With Dan Brown, Neil Mulholland directs Shift/Work, a studio at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop (ESW) that composes scores designed to encourage players to reflect upon and recalibrate artistic learning. Key to this is an open engagement with practice (work) as a means of both generating and transferring new knowledge (shift). ‘Shift/Work’ is an iterative process, a rolling workshop that can be continually re-performed like a musical score.
Neil will outline the genesis and aims of Shift/Work in relation to the rise of paragogy and para-academia (the ‘undercommons’ of contemporary art and knowledge). He will then focus on Shift/Work’s development of Speculations, a participatory workshop collectively composed at ESW to be performed as part of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India (March 2017) and at Teateret, Kristiansand, Norway (August 2017). He will demonstrate how to perform Speculations and provide a copies of its score as an open educational resource for artists to adapt and practise.
PhD Title: Situating Artistic-Anthropological Research
AHRC Creative Economy Studentship
Atelier Skye ATLAS Arts & The University of Edinburgh Atelier Network, May 2017
The University of Edinburgh, in partnership with the University of Aberdeen, Deveron Projects (Huntly, Aberdeenshire), ATLAS Arts (Portree, Skye) and Collective (Edinburgh) is seeking to appoint a suitably qualified PhD applicant for a Creative Economy Studentship (CES) to conduct situated artistic-anthropological research that both contributes to, and helps us to better understand, the R&D, programming, commissioning and evaluation of art organisations. The studentship will commence in autumn 2017.
Value: Tuition fees at UK/EU rate (£4,195 in 2017/18). Maintenance award at RCUK rates (£14,553 for 2017/18) – for UK students only.
Deadline: 4pm 7th August 2017
Eligibility: 1st or Upper 2nd Class Undergraduate Degree, or international equivalent and a Master’s qualification in a relevant discipline (visual art, curatorial practice, anthropology). This studentship is only open to candidates from the UK/EU.
The anthropological turn has played a uniquely prominent role in the history of contemporary art in, and beyond, Scotland. It has fostered advanced artistic practices and situated knowledges that are internationally celebrated and widely replicated. This raises the following research question:
How might the anthropological turn in contemporary art improve situated, relational, material and interdisciplinary approaches to R&D, programming, commissioning and evaluation of the arts?
By situating an itinerant researcher at the heart of Scotland’s most innovative and influential arts organisations, this research project will develop artistic-anthropological methods in ways that will have wide impact upon the arts. This is a unique opportunity to pursue an original doctoral research project involving two global Universities, and three leading arts organisations – Collective (Edinburgh), Deveron Projects (Huntly) and ATLAS Arts (Portree) – to develop an ‘exploded-view’ of artistic-anthropological research (‘AntArt’).
The successful candidate will develop:
The successful candidate will be supported by three Scottish arts organisations. You may conduct fieldwork in-residence with each of our partner organisations, rotating between them up to three times annually. This will enable you to establish an iterative and itinerant approaches to contemporary AntArt research.
This project enables artist-anthropologists, arts programmers and curators and to research and practice collectively. In both Anthropological and Artistic Research, the project constitutes a major contribution to practice-led knowledges: how we understand and document the flows of practice and the operational agency of contemporary art. By developing anthropo-artistic practices that incorporate processes of observation and evaluation, the project will expand our knowledge contemporary art practices in ways that can inform curating, programming and arts policy. A practice-led approach, in which processes are foregrounded, is therefore strongly encouraged. For example, you may observe each arts organisation in year one, develop a satellite/shadow programme in year two and implement your own practice-led outcomes in year three.
Collective, Deveron Projects and ATLAS share an investment in social practice, situated knowledges and the anthropological-turn. Equally, the supervisory team encourage the development of ‘inventive methods’: hybrid combinations of participant observation, ethnography, new materialist and artistic research methods. Together, we aim to develop new, qualitative methods for the evaluation of the arts that engage artists and audiences as partners and participants. Blending the disciplines of contemporary art and anthropology, the successful candidate will help to develop inventive methods to conduct situated artistic-anthropological research that will make a significant artistic contribution to programming, engaging custodians, makers, scholars and audiences in the processes of creative research.
interdisciplinary research training
You will be supported to devise and practise AntArt approaches to R&D programming and commissioning, that will, inherently, inform and improve methods for evaluating and supporting contemporary art. The successful candidate will lead the collective development of methods inspired by approaches currently shared by the artists, curators and programmers associated with our partners. You will, additionally, benefit from access to artistic and anthropological research training jointly offered by Edinburgh and Aberdeen Universities (such as STAR: Scottish Training in Anthropological Research), by the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts & Humanities and through the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science. The project is supported by the network Atelier: Making Research Material Across the Arts & Social Sciences:
Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree (1st or Upper 2nd Class Degree, or international equivalent) and a Master’s qualification in a relevant discipline such as art practice, contemporary curatorial practice or anthropology.
A record of engagement with, or interest in, hybrid AntArt methods would be welcomed.
Due to restrictions on the funding this studentship is only open to candidates from the UK/EU.
Funding Details Funded by the AHRC through the SGSAH for 3 years full time or 5 years part time study. Tuition fees at UK/EU rate (£4,195 in 2017/18). Maintenance award at RCUK rates (£14,553 for 2017/18) – for UK students only.
How to apply
Applications should be submitted through The University of Edinburgh’s Degree Finder system: https://www.eca.ed.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/art-phdmphil
Applications should be accompanied by a copy of a research proposal responding to the aims of the CES project outlined above, copies of original transcripts and degree certificates, a statement of application, a CV and two references. A covering letter stating that you wish to be considered for the AHRC Creative Economy Studentship – Situating Artistic-Anthropological Research should be sent to the ECA Postgraduate Office, by email
If you have any queries about the application process, please contact email@example.com Informal enquiries relating to the CES project can be made to Prof Neil Mulholland and Dr Richard Baxstrom
A multidisciplinary conference on medievalism in the post-Middle Ages. MAMO 3 will take place at the University of Manchester between 28 June and 1 July, 2017.
SATURDAY 1 JULY
MAIN LECTURE THEATRE, SAMUEL ALEXANDER BUILDING, THE UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER, Lime Grove, Manchester M13 9PP 🐝
10:00-11.30am Panel session 10
A. Neomedieval Fictioning before and after Contemporary Art
(Org. The Confraternity of Neoflagellants; mod. Neil Mulholland)
Plastique Fantastique, ‘Mumming in the Post-Truth Era’
The Confraternity of Neoflagellants, ‘Trial by Future Dead’
David Steans, ‘Saint Good Works’
This panel consists of commissioned art works that take the form of three little neomedieval theory-fictions (c.20mins each).
In its attempt to disrupt postmedieval anthropocentrism, art is currently gripped by intense speculation on all things nonmodern. This often takes the form of nonmodern world-building, the practice of constructing theory-fictions. Fictioning as a world-building technology combines with mythopoesis: how previous modes of existence might be utilised against the impasses of the present. By using the term ‘fiction’ as a verb we refer to the writing, imaging, performance or other material embodiment of alternate worlds.
Broadly speaking, while the pre-modern bestiary has long formed the sine qua non of small scale curating, the pre-modern university – a hybrid, transtemporal fictioning of social relationships, tools and things – is fictioned as the true modus operandi of today’s artists. The medieval Wandergesellen is fictioned as a permanent supranational state, one in which artisans, scholars, cultural pilgrims, artefacts and many other things drift endlessly betwixt compagon and biennale.
In these brief examples, cultural production is periodically fictioned after contemporary art. The timeframe of artistic practice has shifted from the finite ‘just-now’, bound by human finitude, to a ‘long-now’ that outlives and eludes us, in which the people of the middle ages are our exact contemporaries. Fictioning today, thus, is both before and after contemporary art.
Trial by Future Dead
The Confraternity of Neoflagellants
Following their book-length neomedieval theory fiction thN Lng folk 2go (a preview of which was presented at MAMO 2013) the Confraternity have continued their project of non-modern ‘world building’ through a series of speculative hagiographies, avatar bestiaries, mall-rat pilgrim confessions, technocratic relic translations, liturgical corporate strategizing and scholastic summae of conflict management.
In attunement with neo-animist configurations of the non-human turn, this fictioning will precis two parts of the trial of a rooster-redeemed $50 Amazon Gift Voucher. The cock-a-rooster will undergo Trial by Compurgation and Trial by Ordeal:
“Great Moderator: Nevertheless, The Great Moderator asks this of its Defence Council: If we were to forcefully decouple said Voucher organ from said Polyresinal Rooster organ, do you propose that the Cock is culpable but the Coupon not? How is The Swarm to discern and apportion the faulty or culpable portions of this thing without recourse to the butcher’s arts of cutting out the back bits to imprison in a humble pie?”
Similar to a medieval body-part relic, the Polyresinal Rooster organ-redeemedvoucher is part corporeal, part transaction and part commodity. As a person-object, subject to continuous translation, the Amazon $50 Redeemed Gift Rooster, inhabits and embodies a cosmology in which aesthetics is not limited to the sensual relations between human self and world, but, instead, describes a synaesthetic hyper-economy through which all ‘selves’ inscribed or enfleshed, animal, vegetable or mineral, represent, translate and co-construct common-oddities that probe the otherwise separate realities they inhabit. Will the Amazon $50 Redeemed Gift Rooster be proven innocent or guilty? Let the swarm decree….
The presentation will be performed in the Confraternity’s own ludic sub lingua franca comprising post-literate netspeak, emojinal gylphs, product spin, inter-species pidgin, object noise-chatter, and middle American mall talk. Dialogue includes Electronic Voice Phenomena recordings of the medieval dead.
Green Screen Mumming in the Modern Age
Members of the group producing the performance fiction Plastique Fantastique will present a new collaboration with the artist group Orphan Drift. This collaboration involves and a common interest in mumming and animism. Plastique Fantastique have used mumming – the tradition of presenting masked plays – as mode for delivering communiqués from the extreme past and future in a number of performance works, most recently in the flag-ship Apple shop in London. The talk will present the group’s films and discuss their interest in animism and human and non-human agents explored in relation to mass-media. They will also talk about the concept of myth-science and performance in relation to what has been referred to as the post-truth or past-fact era.
Saint Good Works
Saint Good Works is a short fable that manifests in the form of a talking pebble: “When SGW reached the age of one hundred, he conclude d that his life was coming to an end, and that he was no longer able to usefully serve God on this earth. After attending to what little worldly affairs he had, he walked into the mountains, with neither provisions nor intent of return. After a day of walking he sought rest within a cave. Grown thin and weary, he sat down in the cave and contemplated his death. In the cave he held a stone, shiny and grey underneath its coat of moss. He contemplated the stone….” The pebble will narrate its magnificent story.
Presenters’ Biographies and Contact Details:
1. The Confraternity of Neoflagellants (Hogg and Mulholland) are lay peoples dedicated to the ludic, ascetic, aesthetic and athletic treatment and application of neomedievalism in the hypereconomus of contemporary non-modern cultures. They are an equal opportunities confraternity bound by chirograph.
2. Plastique Fantastique (Burrows and O’Sullivan) is a mythopoetic fiction – an investigation of aesthetics, the sacred, popular culture and politics – produced through comics, performances, text, installations and shrines and assemblages.
3. Saint Good Works is a talking pebble made by David Steans an artist and curator based in Leeds. Steans co-founded the Medieval Helpdesk at the 2015 Leeds International Medieval Congress www.medievalhelpdesk.co.uk. He teaches fine art at Leeds College of Art and is a practice-based PhD student at The University of Leeds.
I wrote a short report on Praktika II : which formed part of the 21 Years of Deveron Arts Celebrations in Huntly, December 2017
21 Years of Deveron Arts
“By taking stock we reflected on our position as a key player for socially engaged art in Scotland. Working with Anthony Schrag and David Harding, we held Praktika II. Praktika was a 3 day intensive workshop in 2008 which brought 12 artists together with David Harding, Rosie Gibson and Deveron Projects to consider, and raise the profile of, socially engaged art practice.
Praktika was also the first time we worked with Anthony, since he has done two projects with us, A Perfect Father Day and Lure of the Lost. Unlike the original Praktika this was just a two hour session, however rather than purely artists this workshop brought together a selection of artists, academics, community members and policy makers. In order to gain an insight from all parties involved in socially engaged projects. The workshop considered the “wicked problem”, as Anthony puts, it of socially engaged practice and how Deveron Projects can move forward.”