This symposium presented research activity by members of the KABK teaching community with a particular emphasis on practice-led research that uses art and design either as its subject matter or means for investigation. It featured some of the projects developed through the KABK Research Groups alongside contributions from invited keynote speakers.

Practical Information

Date

Friday 6 December 2019

Time

10:00-18:30

Location

Royal Academy of Art The Hague

Organised by

The symposium identified approaches, methods and tools for the growing research community at KABK and beyond to apply more broadly.

Please see the Symposium Brochure for full talk descriptions and essay excerpts.

Programme

by Dr Alice Twemlow

10:15 Renee Turner: 'Weaving, Knots, and Other Entanglements'

10:45 Lauren Alexander: 'Nurturing Counter-Archives'

11:00 - Dr Andrea Stultiens: 'Dear Dr. Julien, A Letter About the Potential of Collective Making in Activating Archives'

11:15 Q&A

11:30 Coffee Break

12:15 Dr Mijke van der Drift: 'Moved by Many Logics: Transformative Philosophy'

12:45 Lyndsey Housden: 'Out of Context: The Medical Body and the Lived Body, in Search of a New Medium'

13:00 Van 't Hullenaar & Vis: 'The other Academy'

13:15 Q&A

Lunch break

14:30 Joy Mariama Smith: 'Anti-productivity and Unrestricted Sociality'

15:00 Carly Rose Bedford and Gabriel .A. Maher: 'Non Perfomativity and the ... ‘This is KABK’'

15:15 Q&A

15:30 Coffee break

16:15 Audrey Samson and Francisco Gallardo (FRAUD): 'Terra Analytica: The Field has Eyes, the Forest has Ears'

16:45 Ruben Pater: 'Trading Futures'

17:00 Marthe Prins & Benedikt Weishaupt (Confusion of Tongues): 'False Colours'

17:15 Q&A

by Dr Peter Hall

by Dr Alice Twemlow

Drinks reception took place at the entrance and exhibition in Gallery 1.

Speakers and Projects

Renée Turner is an artist and scholar based in Rotterdam whose practise engages with digital narratives, archives and forms of interdisciplinary and collaborative enquiry. Whether working on her own or with others, her research is guided by feminist perspectives, the embodied and the openly speculative. Writing is central to her practice. Next to her work as an artist, she is a Senior Research Lecturer at the Willem de Kooning Academy and the Piet Zwart Institute, where she continually seeks critical and committed approaches to pedagogy. She is also a supervisor in the PhDArts programme at Academy for Creative and Performing Arts, Leiden University/KABK. Turner has previously been an artist resident at the Rijksakademie, a researcher in the Theory Department at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, a member of the collaborative multi-visual research group, De Geuzen, course director of the Master Media Design and Communication Course and director of the Piet Zwart Institute.

'Weaving, Knots, and Other Entanglements'
Histories are woven, knotted and impossible to disentangle. This is especially true when working through the recent past with linked threads to the present. By what merit is something deemed cultural heritage, archivable or not? With any judgment, the present casts its dice towards an imagined future, waging a bet on stakes unknown. In this talk, Renée Turner discussed her project, The Warp and Weft of Memory, an online narrative archive exploring the closet of Dutch artist Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht. Gisèle passed away in 2013 at the age of one hundred, but the traces of her figure can still be sensed through the shape of her clothes. The range of garments illustrates her fascination with travel, textiles and her life as an artist. Moving through Gisèle’s clothing and photographic archive, Turner reflected on the epistemology of the closet, the pitfalls of taxonomical fervour and the complexity of entangled histories.

Lauren Alexander, designer, researcher and artist, teaches in the BA Graphic Design and MA Non Linear Narrative programmes at KABK. Until 2019, she tutored in socially engaged design practice at the MA Experience Design (University of the Underground) programme at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. In 2009, Alexander began working with Syrian designer and artist Ghalia Elsrakbi, and they formed Foundland Collective. The duo’s work draws together disciplines of art, new media, graphic design and writing to critically reflect upon what it means to produce politically engaged storytelling from their position as non-Western artists, working between Europe and the Middle East. Foundland Collective has exhibited and pre­sented work internationally, has been nominated for the Prix de Rome prize (2015) and Dutch Design Awards (2016) and has been awarded a Smithsonian Artist Research pro­gramme fellowship (2015-2016).

'Nurturing Counter-Archives'

How can design methods such as translation, interpretation and enactment produce counter archives to amplify marginalised perspectives left out of the historical and media narrative? Alexander reflected on artistic work produced with Ghalia Elsrakbi under the name Foundland Collective in connection with this question. Their work uses existing, found historical and institutional archive material whilst actively generates subjective and participatory archives focussing on migration, conflict and displacement. Examples of such archive-based projects include The New World (2017), a re-narration of material from the Alixa Naff Archive, Smithsonian Museum, Washington DC; Real-time History (2018), a reinterpretation of a selection of disputed video evidence from the Syrian Archive website; and Groundplan Drawings (2019), a self-initiated collection of drawings made by Syrian refugees exploring narration by the memory of abandoned homes.

Dr Andrea Stultiens teaches in the KABK MA Photography & Society programme. Initially trained as a photographer and researcher, she obtained her doctoral degree in 2018 at PhDArts, Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, KABK/Leiden University, with a dissertation titled 'Ebifananyi, A study of photographs in Uganda in and through an artistic practice'. Stultiens’ artistic practice deals with photographs in relation to how histories are presented. Her work, which always develops in collaborations with others, often focuses on the African continent. In recent years, she has extended her artistic practice into the curatorial realm, which has resulted in the initiation of exhibitions and presentations both in Europe and on the African continent. Besides tutoring at the KABK, Stultiens works at Minerva Art Academy in Groningen, where she teaches and investigates the use of photography in cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural artistic practices.


'(Dear Dr Julien, a Letter About) Collective Making in Activating Archives'
This presentation explored collective making as a natural research method to artistic research. It is particularly useful when dealing with problematic historical materials, such as the legacy of Dutch anthropologist and explorer Paul Julien (1901-2001). A five-day workshop with students in KABK’s Master programs Artistic Research and Photography & Society last September serves as a case study, whilst the presentation took the form of an illustrated letter addressing Dr Paul Julien himself. The use of the epistolary form itself is here yet another layer in the constitution of the archive as a palimpsest that keeps on developing as long as it is activated.

Dr Mijke van der Drift lectures at the KABK, School for New Dance Development, Amsterdam and the Royal College of Art, London. As a researcher, van der Drift is associated with BAK, Utrecht and the University of Cambridge. Van der Drift’s research explores how those outside of the dominant norm find ways of relation and evaluation and how anti-colonial futures are a means to engage the present. This research finds form as philosophy and film. 'The Logic of Loss in Bonding', for example, uses film and philosophy to formulate a counterpoint to managerial theories of accumulation. Additionally, they have been working internationally on Radical Transfeminism with Nat Raha and Chryssy Hunter at Pembe Hayat Kuirfest, Ankara, 2018; Schwules Museum, Berlin, 2016; and the London Conference on Critical Thought, London, 2015.

'Moved by Many Logics: Transformative Philosophy

Critical philosophy focuses on the limits of reason and boundary transgressions. This structure resists dominating norms but retains the ideal of an untouched subject. In this talk, van der Drift explored resistance to norms alongside a multi-logical understanding of forms. The feminist philosopher and activist María Lugones proposes that engagement across different norms requires non-antagonistic play and even 'losing one’s logic'. Taking a cue from Lugones, van der Drift unpacked how movement and performance can support changing orders of reason. A focus on logic supports conceptualising resistance and complicity together. Subsequently, resistance and accountability become relations to various logical forms, which need to be worked through rather than being used to protect untouchability.

Lyndsey Housden is an artist and teacher in the Interactive/Media/Design department at KABK, and alumni of ArtScience 2009. Her art installations respond to the human desire to move and act, inviting haptic interactions and social encounters that explore the invisible lines between people, their environment and technology. Her current research takes a new direction that combines personal experience of neurology and allopathic medicine alongside insights gained through movement practices and yoga. It explores the domain of soft robotics to create an artwork that is situated between the discrete method of science (dissection, sampling, etc.) and the continuous method of the performing arts. Housden’s research invites us to recognise our ability to zoom in to the micro-movements inside the body.

'Out of Context: The Medical Body and the Lived Body, in Search of a New Medium'
Housden’s research is grounded in the relationship between the medical body image and the lived body image. From the perspective of living with a chronic disease, the project is a response to the authoritative position of medical imaging that, in allopathic medicine, seeks to create a definitive marker of the disease state. Housden discussed the emergent research methods that were developed in collaboration with dancer Arad Inbar from ICK Amsterdam. The method uses dialogue analysis to generate keywords that act as notations for inner-body movement material. The aim is to interpret the keywords through material research into soft robotics to develop an artwork that embodies the transformational processes of the human body.

Joy Mariama Smith is a performance, installation and movement artist and educator. In their dance, performances and installations, they create spaces in which the distinction between spectator and participant becomes blurred and visitors are encouraged to reflect on the ways in which they deal with space. Their work has been performed internationally, including at 'Freedom of Movement', Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 2018; 'If I Can’t Dance Edition VI', Amsterdam, 2016; 'SoLow Festival', Philadelphia, 2015; and 'Ponderosa', Stolzenhagen, 2013. Smith’s practice-based research explores embodied consent, implicit consent and explicit consent to look at how consent culture exists (or does not) in various institutions. How can we create institutions where emotional intelligence, de-centralized knowledge production, radical care and empathy serve as frameworks for working through consent? Smith teaches at the Academy of Theatre and Dance, Amsterdam University of the Arts, the School for New Dance Development (SNDO) Amsterdam and Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam. When Smith chooses to teach, they actively try to uphold inclusive spaces.

'Anti-productivity and Unrestricted Sociality'
Focusing on decentralised knowledge production and collaboration as researcher practice, Smith reflected on their own methods of research, starting by locating their own positionality in the context of institutions. Leaning on texts by Moten & Harney and Okun as catalysers for framing research, Smith discussed action-oriented research that exists outside the dominant research culture(s). By engaging with anti-colonial and anti-capitalistic research praxis via intuition, ancestral knowledge, emotional intelligence, self-care and rest, Smith considered working in and generating from the margins.

FRAUD (Audrey Samson + Francisco Gallardo) is a UK-based métis duo of artist/researchers working within the domain of critical technical practice, and currently resident at the Somerset House Studios. FRAUD develops modes of art-led enquiry that examine the inscriptive operations of extractive, analytic and financial systems, with a view to revealing how technology shapes society and structures of power. Samson (b. Canada) is joint-head of the Digital Arts Computing BSc and a lecturer in Critical Studies in the Art Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. The duo has been awarded the State of Lower Saxony – HBK Braunschweig Fellowship (2019-20), the King’s College Cultural Institute Grant (2018), and has been commissioned by the Cockayne Foundation (2018). Gallardo (b. Spain) recently completed a PhD at the School of Geography at Queen Mary, University of London, was awarded the Wellcome Trust People Awards (2016) and is the author of Talking Dirty: Tongue First! Recipes from the Mouth of the Thames (London: Arts Catalyst, 2016). FRAUDs recent work includes Carbon Derivatives, which has been presented at the Salon Suisse (the 57th Venice Biennale), the Whitechapel Gallery (2018) and Somerset House (2018); Shrimping Under Working Conditions that was shown at Kunsthall Trondheim (2017) and the Empire Remains Shop in London (2016); and Goodnight Sweetheart / the Right to Happiness which was exhibited at the Asia Culture Center in Gwangju (2019), and has been featured in Behind the Smart World, Radio Canada, and Asia Art Pacific.


'Terra Analytica: The Field has Eyes, the Forest has Ears'

FRAUD (Audrey Samson and Francisco Gallardo) examined the inscriptive operations of contemporary forms of rationality such as risk analysis, (environmental) impact assessment, value engineering and yield prediction.

In this examination, FRAUD referred to the burgeoning “necro-economy” of violent rationalist disposition (Weizman 2011, 8-9), defined as the negentropic supply chain translating 'wildly diverse forms of work and nature' into commensurate capital on the part of both state and corporate bodies (Tsing 2017, 43). They focused, in particular, on Elizabeth Dodd’s proposition in which history is a series of environmental assessments, or a record of damages (2018, no page). Through this investigation, FRAUD asked how to understand the forms of rationality that are mobilised in processes of domination and salvage accumulation. FRAUD materially situated and differentiate several modes of analytics through art-led enquiry, installations and performances, outlining the notion of salvaging as a methodology to apprehend the affective modes of power embedded in analytics across the domains of border management and environmental finance.

Ruben Pater is a tutor in the BA Graphic Design and the MA Non Linear Narrative at the KABK. Under the name Untold Stories, Pater creates visual narratives that aim to support solidarity, justice, and equality. Pater finds himself being a designer at a time when design is the last thing the world needs. Until more ethical approaches present themselves, he designs, writes, and teaches. He is based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

www.untold-stories.net

'Trading Futures'
When politicians tell us that alternatives to capitalism do not exist, the act of imagining different and preferred futures can have radical potential. This was the thought behind speculative design, which has established itself within design in the last two decades. However, the imaginative power of alternative futures has not escaped the attention of the large tech companies, and many have gladly adopted its methods as new territories for capitalist growth. Future scenarios made by designers are now developed, consumed and traded as part of speculative financial expansion. Speculative design can serve as an escape hatch for designers jumping towards criticism while ignoring the realities of the climate crisis and mass extinction. How did speculative design go from being critical toward consumerism to being fully part of it? How can we redirect the radical potential of speculative design toward developing ethical alternative futures instead of serving financial growth?

Marthe Prins teaches the KABK elective PlayLab in the BA Graphic Design (with Roosje Klap and Job Wouters). She is a tutor in Art Philosophy in the Preparatory Year at the KABK and in Visual Research in the Practicum Artium talent program (Graphic Design) of the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, KABK/Leiden University. With Benedikt Weishaupt, she founded Confusion of Tongues in 2018. Confusion of Tongues studies the language and image production of Western Neoliberal protagonists, seeking to shift the course of its validation in a place where images constitute reality. Their collaborative practice mediates research through performance, exhibition and pedagogy.

'False Colours'
In the lecture hall, a blue felt tip scratches indexes into a whiteboard. This produces content for social feeds where anthroposophic sense-making innovates nostalgic pop. Somewhere on the borders of Europe, fierce men pose in lush landscapes captured by high-tech surveillance on a selfie stick. How do these odd occurrences inform interests of language between (non)human performer and user?

Frontex is the governing agency responsible for the management of border control in the Schengen Area. In their ongoing research, the artist-duo Confusion of Tongues analyses the photographs submitted by Frontex staff for the agency’s photo competition, annually exhibited during the European Border and Coast Guard Day. By exploring the competition entries’ relation to the broad range of operational images produced by the agency as a whole, the duo questions the role of aesthetics in Schengen Area border surveillance. For this presentation, the artists focused on one competition entry: a photograph allegedly rendered from a thermographic dataset that seems to have lost its operative nature through its reappearance in the representational context of The European Day for Border Guards Exhibition in 2014.

Dr Peter Hall is Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for BA (Hons) Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. His research focuses on mapping and visualization as critical and participatory practices. He is currently co-writing a critical guide to data visualization (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020) and is researching alternative approaches to visualizing risk and security with the creative securities group at Royal Holloway University of London.

Dr Hall was previously Programme Director of BA Design and Design Futures at Griffith University Queensland College of Art in Australia (2012-15), Senior Lecturer in Design at the University of Texas at Austin, USA (2007-12) and Lecturer in Graphic Design at Yale School of Art, USA (2000-2007). His recent essays appear in The Routledge Companion to Criticality in Art, Architecture, and Design (Routledge 2018), Encountering Things: Design and Theories of Things (Bloomsbury Academic 2017) and Design in the Borderlands (Routledge 2014). His books include Else/Where: Mapping - New Cartographies of Networks and Territories (edited with Janet Abrams, University of Minnesota 2006) and Sagmeister: Made you Look (Booth-Clibborn Editions 2001). He is co-founder of DesignInquiry, a non-profit educational organization devoted to research.

Accompanying the symposium will be 'Research Exhibition Fault Lines: Some Research Methods in Art and Design'

Photo of a data centre by Roel Backaert and Niels Schrader

Fault Lines: Some Research Methods in Art and Design

Accompanying the Fault Lines Symposium was the research exhibition Fault Lines: Some Research Methods in Art and Design with projects developed by the KABK Research Group 2018, which address, through a combination of theoretical, historical and practice-based research, some of the pressing issues of our time, namely: ecological crisis, digital pollution, surveillance infrastructure, coloniality and affect space.

About the Lectorate Design

The Lectorate Design, headed by Dr. Alice Twemlow, aims to nurture a robust design-focused research culture within the KABK and via the channels that connect KABK and Leiden University. Launched in September 2017, the lectorate is centred on a research project titled Design and the Deep Future, which explores the relationship between design and geological time.