Just what is it that makes studio PhDs so different, so appealing?

Sutdio PhD Discussion BlogLaura Gonzalez will host a panel in an experimental format  at this years CAA conference in Chicago on the topic of studio PhD’s.

The call:

We would like to invite exemplars (studio PhD graduates, supervisors or published authors on the subject) to enter into a conversation to discuss the benefits, requirements and perceptions of the degree. This session will promote an active engagement with participants by following the ‘exemplars in conversation’ event with a ‘PhD test drive’, where there will be three different stations, which the audience can join. Each station will be led by an exemplar and topics for these are welcome. They could include: framing a project, experiencing a doctoral seminar (with a short text and an artwork), and working out a career path.  The task of the exemplars will be to open possibilities and draw on the dialogic nature of supervision. The format will be performative and will have the studio work from the doctorate as its centre, also drawing on other examples of PhD candidates to compare and discuss.

Laura has selected a number of recent and near-recent PhD graduates to talk about their process and provide the audience at CAA with a “test-drive” experience.

February 14, 2014, CAA Conference Chicago Hilton, room TBA

Confirmed participants:

Michael Bowdidge: Practice and theory – potentials, pitfalls and some suggestions in relation to movingforward sideways.
What are the possibilties (and potential pitfalls) of the relationship between practice and theory in the practice-based PhD in the visual arts?Starting out from the above question, this conversation seeks to explore the historical and contemporary factors (both culturally and philosophically) which underpin the relationship of theory and practice in practice-based doctoral research, with a view to evaluating their continuing validity both as (somewhat generalised) terms of referenceand as nominal components in research frameworks of this kind.Using Katy Macleod’s three part typology of practice-based research (2000, after Frayling, 1994) and examples of ‘real life’ projects, I show that methodological frameworks for this form of enquiry often contain constituent (and potentially unexamined) iterative assumptions about the nature of the relationship between theoryand practice.

Geoff Cox: PhD As Source Code
All language is inherently paradoxical, and new forms of PhD research might usefully point to this in the interplay between speech, code and action. This partly relates to contemporary art’s increasingly discursive forms but also cultural conditions where human action is ever more prescribed through scores, scripts, and programs. In the case of my phd _Antithesis: The Dialectics of Software Art_ (2006), paradox was embodied in the form the text took;; as both a conventional piece of academic writing and a program script. Both the thesis and the program were able to be ‘interpreted’ and acted upon (for both humans and machines);; its argument presented through reading text and running code. These ideas were subsequently further developed and modified in the publication _Speaking Code_ (MIT Press 2012) in which the relations between speech and writing were extended to explore the common analogy between coding and speaking -­ not least the way that freedom of speech is invoked in the case of the free software movement. But evidently speech is not free but always paradoxical, and it is the recognition of this that makes it political. All ideas, even those expressed through the authority of the PhD as new knowledge can thus be understood as paradoxical, incomplete, and able to be reworked like source code.

Risa Horowitz: Some Other Kind of Creative Practitioner: navigating the function and purpose of the practice-based visual arts.
My proposal for the current CAA panel envisions the ‘interview’ format as a lively and contrarian debate about the particular way that I avoided framing my art practice and art works within the hegemonic model of scholastic research. Instead, I propose to focus ourdiscussion on my perception that the new studio PhD is not for artists, but some other kind of practitioner. I would like to discuss ways that artists might refract (Bourdieu) external determinants, tactically (de Certeau) embed self-definitions within the infrastructure of the university, inhabit forms of disguise (Gilligan) in framing art practice as research, and deconstructively invert (Derrida) scholastic and artistic values, all towards upholding deeply embedded qualities of being an artist that seem contradicted by the disciplining of art practice within today’s universities

Marina Kassianidou: From Making to Writing to Reading and Back: a quick cycle through a Studio PhD.
The proposed topic focuses on the PhD processand, in particular, on the possible interrelations between making work in the studio, writing about that work, and studying existing literature.The session will be based both on my experience of the studio PhD and onthe experiences of PhD graduatesas theseare discussed intheir written theses, for example, Mo Throp (University of the Arts London, 2006) and Bryndís Snaebjörnsdóttir (University of Gothenburg, 2009).The format of the session is partly based on Stephen Scrivener’s suggested modelfor a creative-production PhD project.1According to Scrivener, studio PhDs can proceed in cycles of “workepisodes” followed by reflection and additional literature research.Similarly, the proposed session will be divided into “steps”so as to emphasize the possible interrelations between thevarious aspects of the PhD, that is between the practices of making, writing and reading.At the end of every “step,” the audience will be asked to consider possible ways forward.Thiswill be an interactive session and the audience will be asked to contribute with thoughts and suggestions throughout. The session is meant to provide ataste of what the actual experience of doing a studio PhD degree might be likeand what the moments in between completed artworks might involve.


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