Neil Mulholland ‘Shift/Work: Speculations’, in L. Campbell (ed.), Leap into Action, New York: Peter Lang. 12th December 2019. pages 21-26; 39-40; 59-60 ISBN 9781433166440
Shift/Work is a performative paragogics (Corneli 2011) that supports the active peer production of Open Education Resources (OER) for artists. Shift/Work arose from participatory action research (PAR) into art education’s hidden (anti-)curriculum as a means of intervening in the monadic culture of self-sufficiency performed by its atomising technologies of the self. An iterative practice continually re-performed like a musical score, Shift/Workers compose and play-test intersubjective workshops for one another prompted by a ‘gesture that interrupts’ (Biesta 2017, 36); a MacGuffin that playfully amplifies our different educational expectations in order to draw our collective attention to how learners are subjectivised as artists. Drawing on a paper presented at ISoTL17 in Calgary, this chapter delineates Speculations (Shift/Work 2017), a Shift/Workshop composed and performed in Scotland, India and Norway during 2017 and in Ottawa in 2019, the parameters of which were scaffolded by Dan Brown, Jake Watts and Neil Mulholland.
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.
Prof Neil Mulholland, School of Art, Edinburgh College of Art and Dean of PG Studies, College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, The University of Edinburgh
Dr Richard Baxstrom, Social Anthropology, UG Director of School of Social & Political Science, The University of Edinburgh
Dr Jo Vergunst, Department of Anthropology, School of Social Science, The University of Aberdeen.
In association with Claudia Zeiske (Director, Deveron Projects), Emma Nicolson (Director, ATLAS Arts) and Kate Gray (Director, Collective)
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:
interdisciplinary research training
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
Speculations is a two day Shift/Workshop. Speculations will be collectively composed and play-tested at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop on the 3rd and 4th of March 2017, a participatory action-research workshop ordained to fabricate speculative artistic research methods.
We will compose a workshop in which participants develop, learn and apply speculative artistic research methods. It is crucial that the genesis of this workshop is, in its own right, speculative. Our speculative process encourages artistic practices that cannot be held, observed or enacted without taking risks or experiencing their consequences. To this end, Shift/Work: Speculations will be collectively composed.
Speculative methods may include, but are not limited to: abduction, syncretism, forecasting, futurism, divination, becoming-rites, probing (making and employing actants), paradisciplinarity, ‘pataphysics, hyperstition, theory-fiction, mythopoesis, fabulation, fictioning, (mis)management, gaming / playing, versioning, licensing, servicizing, technés / technoetics, extended cognition (ExC), imaginative propositions, paper architecture, thought experiments, proposing, lateral thinking/feeling/knowing, weird-ing, speculative realism, mangle-practice….
Who are the Shift/Workers?
A compagon of ‘composers’ – comprising artists, curators, designers, musicians, producers, educationalists, social anthropologists, philosophers and futurists – will join us at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop in March 2017 to scribe and audition Speculations. Working in three groups, participants will compose three iterative workshops. The three groups will then rotate, each participating in the workshops composed by their peers. Our post-workshop re-calibration of the three workshops will translate them into one workshop. Shift/Work will direct this ‘calibrated’ workshop at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale at the end of March 2017.
At the time of writing, we may only speculate on the form Speculations will take. We speculate that the workshop will enable participants to compose, experience and evaluate an iterative, action-based, peer-to-peer learning experience that is both theoretical and practical. We expect they will learn how their speculations (and their attendant risks and uncertainties) are co-affective upon the experiences of their peers. Like previous Shift/Workshops, Speculations will enact relevant discourses, practices and models of artistic paragogy to enable and inspire participants to adopt speculative methods and implement their own workshops.
We hope that you can come to ESW to take part in the composition phase of this workshop.
MFA students (School of Art) programme their own orientation week as a ‘paragogy’ project. They visit art organisations and, crucially, build their own studio spaces. They quickly establish socio-economic networks that serve them well in their careers as artists, critics and curators, generating an adaptive, geopolitical resilience.
This Must be the Place was concerned with the vital educational role of ‘place-making’, with how contemporary art students develop resources for their practice through the processes of orientation and socialisation. The orientation project was innovative in bringing together art students with non-academic partners for the purpose of introducing all of us to postgraduate education. It allowed MFA students to transition into platforms that suited their practices and so develop a generative context for work from the first week of the programme.
By collectively constructing their studio spaces MFAs gained a invaluable practical lesson in how to establish a studio with limited resources and find a practical solution to the ‘fit’ of the studios. This relates to the perennial problem of ‘allocating’ studio space, something nominally done by staff rather than students. The allocation of spaces is normally conducted before staff have had a chance to ascertain our radically different requirements as artists. RELAY proposed that MFA2s should first collaborate with new students to design and build the common studio spaces in Week 1 as a key component of the orientation project. Collectively designing the the studio space also ensured that all students got exactly the space they required. Part of this aspect of the project involved the construction of the Green Room with common, shared tools and resources and a means of ensuring that the social bonds cemented in the first week remain common, shared tools and resources and a means of ensuring that the social bonds cemented in the first week remain intact.
ABOUT Gearing Up for Transitions Conference, 2016:
The 3rd Annual University of Edinburgh ‘Gearing Up’ event took place on Thursday 5th March 2015 at the John McIntyre Conference Centre, Pollock Halls. To reflect the current QAA (Quality Assurance Agency) Scotland Enhancement Theme of Student Transitions, the event had a broader focus than in previous years and in recognition of this was called ‘Gearing up for Transitions’. It was jointly organised by the Student Induction Team and Academic Services.
The 150 attendees included current students, University of Edinburgh and EUSA staff as well as external colleagues from Higher Education Institutions in Scotland and two staff from Lund University, Sweden.
The day included:
a student panel talking about their experience of transitions;
Keynote address ‘What Works? Facilitating an effective transition into and through higher education” by Professor Liz Thomas, Liz Thomas Associates;
student Art Exhibition ‘It’s a Jungle’ by the University of Edinburgh’s student-run Graphic Design agency “Jungle Studio” dealing with the fear and anticipation before leaving home, school or university;
posters and bring and brag stalls;
18 break-out sessions featuring a wide variety of current practice looking at all aspects of transitions during the student journey.
This workshop will help you to comprehend how your decisions impact upon your peers (and vice versa). Working in a small group, you will collectively engage in a series of simple creative tasks. These tasks have been designed by a group of artists specifically to heighten your awareness of play and reciprocity in the learning process. You will not be assisted by an ‘instructor’. To complete each task, you will have to be imaginative and resourceful, working closely together and learn from each other. The workshop will engage performative forms of ritual interaction and ecstatic mutuality normally found in gaming, for the purposes of learning how we learn.This workshop is predicated on a ludic theory of ‘decisions’ as reciprocal and enmeshed game-rules governing how actants interact. Playing the game leads to the rules being revised and updated, offering fresh game-theoretic insights. This autotelism relates to our perception of Shift/Work as an iterative process, a set of workshops that can be continually re-performed like a musical score.
This Shift/Workshop is restricted to 12 participants to ensure that each group is small enough to form a playful bond (preventing ‘committee’ decision-making) but large enough to require negotiation and consensus building.
The 4th International Visual Methods Conference, organized by the University of Brighton will take place from 16th September to the 18th September 2015 at the University of Brighton in Brighton, United Kingdom. The conference will cover areas like International Visual Methods conference will be an outstanding conference which will primarily focus on interpretation of visual methods. As we see, a wide array of visual methods used in participatory visual research including ‘Photo voice’, photo-elicitation’, ‘graphic-elicitation’, ‘mind mapping’, ‘concept mapping’ and all forms of ‘Arts-based research methods’. International Visual Methods conference will be organized to focus on all these aspects. The participants will be highly benefitted by the track sessions of this conference. They will be able to know about all the aspects of the concerned industry. It will be attended by the participants with great enthusiasm.
9:00-10:30 Thursday 17th September 2015 Session 4: Critical Perspectives on Visual Methodologies – M2 Brighton University, Eastbourne, England BN20
Shift/Work Unlearning: Participatory Workshops for Contemporary Art Practice
Arts based visual research methods
Participatory visual methods
PAR (Participatory action-research)
OER (Open Educational Resources)
Shift/Work examines and reconfigures comprehensive workshop-based approaches to artistic production that are theoretically informed, practical and participatory. Shift/Work aims to establish a collective ontology for practice, creating process-led paragogy, critically reflecting upon the learning processes involved, and disseminating research on a share-and-share-alike basis. Key to this is an open engagement with practice (work) as a means of both generating and transferring new knowledge (shift). This experiential knowledge facilitates new practices and open educational resources for artists and art educators to adapt and implement.
In 2014, Shift/Work commissioned an artist (Leeds United www.leeds-united.org.uk) and designer (Crille Lampa www.crillelampa.se) to facilitate a three-day workshop at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop. Shift/Work Unlearning (28-30th May 2014) acted upon current discourses and practices that engage with the values of unlearning, deschooling, improvisation and amateurism.
Working in two groups, the participants, a mixture of artists, educators, curators and arts administrators, spent a day designing an unlearning process for their peers to experience on the final day. The workshop was subsequently evaluated by all involved and re-calibrated to run at the Malmö Art Academy, Sweden (12-14th September 2014).
We will analyse the two iterations of Shift/Work Unlearning as examples of how to design, evaluate and develop an iterative action-based approach to artistic learning that is at once theoretical and practical. We will draw upon relevant literature, discourses, practices and models of unlearning that enable and inspire artistic researchers to implement their own workshops.