4th Doctoral Student-led Conference 2016 | 30 June-1 July 2016

Arts&Hums and FMACS in association with BIRMAC (Birkbeck Interdisciplinary Research in Media and Culture)

4th Doctoral Student-led Conference 2016

DAY ONE | 30 JUNE 2016 | B20 MALET STREET, 11:00-16:00

11: 00-13: 00 | Rubbles of History | chaired by Janet McCabe

Leila Nassereldein | The Militant Aesthetics of Humphrey Jennings and Walter Benjamin, in constellation with UbuWeb and The Essay Film

Emerging out of the non-book is a project that attests to the transcendental possibilities of the method of montage in historiography; as collection, as archive, and continued in their posthumously published form, Das Passagenwerk and Pandaemonioum reveal a historically contemporaneous gesture- distinctive to Walter Benjamin and Humphrey Jennings, respectively- to disrupt the continuity of history. Arguing that the methodological peculiarities of the two (necessarily) unfinished projects of the 1930’s, evidence a progenial relationship to Kenneth Goldsmith’s online resource of pirated avant-garde material (UbuWeb), and the genre of the Essay Film, this research presents and analyses a revolutionary perpetuation of the incomplete. Engaging with the object-in/as-constellation, this investigation will draw on questions concerning non-linear and subjective narrative; theories of collecting and of the archive, focussing particularly on the critical and radical potential of curation, selection and presentation; montage and the whole/fragment dichotomy; authorship, piracy and citation; technology, reproducibility and digitisation; the spectatorial experience of disorientation, distraction and wandering, and most crucially, the interpretative potential of the Image in negation of authorial voice.

Cathrin Bengesser | Our Mothers, our Fathers – Transnational TV creating transnational debate–Generation War

Image result for Generation WarThe experience of the Second World War on European soil is a founding myth of the European Union. For remembrance of the Holocaust American film and TV fiction have been invaluable for putting the topic on the agendas and into the memories of nations and individuals around the world. But, can a fictional German family memory of perpetration and suffering become a facet in a transnationally shared retrospect experience of the War? On the basis of clips from the miniseries, Generation War (2013) and excerpts of the debate it sparked in the UK and Germany, the potential of transnational TV fiction for arriving at a European perspective on WW II will be discussed. This case study is part of a project on the contribution of transnational TV fiction to the European public sphere.

Paula Clemente Vega | Decolonising Representation and Cultural Diversity in British and Spanish Museums from 2008 to 2017: the Case of Tate, Reina Sofia and MACBA

This presentation will discuss the crucial positioning of artistic discourse on empire in the Tate Britain exhibition, Artist and Empire (November 2015 – April 2016), by looking at the ways in which its curatorial narratives engage with the theme of the show through its fault-lines and the issues it raises or fails to address.

Sarah Durcan | History Through a Lens Darkly

This presentation addresses the renewed concern with history in contemporary artists’ moving image practices. It particularly looks at how artists have used cinema and television media as historiographical methods with reference to Mark Leckey’s Dream English Kid 1964 – 1999 AD, 2015.

13: 00-14: 00 | Lunch

14: 00-16:00 | Curating Art | Curatorial Practice | chaired by Andrew Asibong

Gerrie van Noord | Black Sun, A Case Study

By way of the publication Black Sun, I will discuss the theoretical framework(s) I find relevant for my enquiry.

Matthew Morgan

Catalogues play an important role in the projection by museums of themselves to those who visit. Furthermore, the only relics that most exhibitions leave behind are their catalogues which have a far greater duration than an exhibition itself. Catalogues also function as ways to introduce readers to conceptual ideas about artists, movements or individual paintings and are part of a process by which art museums are often seen as “where art history is made.” This talk will use the catalogue of the now defunct Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art in Las Vegas to explore the kinds of engagements with works of art the gallery attempted to encourage and to what ends.

Clare Havell | Identity, Anonymity and the Stigmatised Subject

This enquiry was formed in thinking about ethics around anonymity when portraying criminalized and stigmatized people in documentary film, specifically sex workers. How successful are strategies in hiding the face, and hence identity, of people who allow themselves to be filmed? But considering the question in a broader sense; what do spectators really see when they watch these blown out, shadowy figures? And what is the affect on the subjects themselves? Can the monstrosity of the image be used with intent, to wreak brutal and beautiful havoc on ideologies and power relationships at play?

Sarah Scarsbrook | Interviews: the Highs, Lows and Excel Spreadsheets of a Methodology

This presentation will focus on methodology and its development so far, assessing the highs and lows of interviewing: from creating a rationale, developing ideas around how many to carry out, recruitment of participants and developing interview questions, to carrying out the interviews and beginning to analyse using qualitative data coding. This presentation is less a discussion on the actual research (on the professionalisation of visual arts practice), than about methodology and its uses, in terms of collecting qualitative data.


DAY TWO | 1 JULY 2016 | CINEMA, 43 GORDON SQUARE, 10: 00-17: 00

10: 00-11: 30 | Artist Object | Artist as Object, chaired by Silke Arnold-de Simine

Bruce Eadie | The Play-within-the-Play: fiction within a factual frame

The Act of Killing, Documentary,The presentation will offer a short segment or a couple of short segments of Joshua Oppenheimer’s 2014 documentary, The Act of Killing that looks at the ageing killers who were involved in the 1965 Indonesian genocide. The documentary film follows the killers making a feature film that explains and tries to justify their actions of 50 years ago. The show’ segments will most likely be taken from this film-within-the-film, which I am treating in two, closely-linked ways (from a theoretical perspective), drawing on psychoanalytic and literary theory:

Rebecca Sykes | The Artist in Conversation: Talk, Transcript and Text

My ‘object’ will be the edited transcript I made from a recording of the live event: ‘Andrea Fraser in conversation with Cuauhtémoc Medina’, 22 April 2016, Auditori Meier, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (I gave the same treatment to ‘Andrea Fraser and Chris Dercon in Conversation’, 28 November 2013, Starr Auditorium, Tate Modern). I am interested in unpicking what it means to produce a close reading of a transcript – the ‘afterlife’ of a past live event – even treating the resulting text as an art object in and of itself. This is a method of analysis that mimics Andrea Fraser’s own method of editing and performing transcripts, as part of her critical art practice. Some of the questions that will guide my discussion are: What does this approach mean for an understanding of performance? Can I avoid turning the artist’s words against her? Where does the art work end and the work of criticism begin?

Ruth Solomons | Turning My Old Paintings into New Paintings: Showing New Work Midden

I will discuss how the challenges involved in cutting up and collaging canvas paintings—the fabric edges sometimes sharply sheared by the scalpel, sometimes frayed and weathered in the process of mounting on shaped sections of wood; and the relief texture of the heavy over-painting, where I try to resolve these fragments into a new painting—convey my current research into creative precarity and myths of the studio. I will also show slides of details and other images relating to this aspect of my practice.

11: 30-13: 00 | Communities, Community and Culture, chaired by Joel McKim

Aaron Vansintjan | Counting Money, Displacing Life: The Effect of Gentrification on Food Systems of the Urban Poor in Hanoi and Montréal

Little is known how gentrification affects low-income communities’ food access, and how the process operates differently in contexts with less formal property rights and high levels of informal labor. This research project will involve investigating how gentrification affects the food access of low-income urban residents in two neighborhoods in Hanoi and Montreal, and how people use food to challenge and navigate urban development projects. The intent is to insert life into the study gentrification, instead of just focusing on rent, money, and demographics.

Sylvia Haotong WANG | Orchestra Governance: Some Observations on Initial Research Achievements in the UK and China.

The presentation will draw on my experiences in researching orchestras in the UK, in term of accessibility and accuracy of data.  I have now started to research similar information in China and will discuss the comparisons, which are emerging between findings in the UK and China.

Jo Coleman | Local Voices, Global Rhythms

Schatzki’s flat ontology, informed by Latour’s notion that ‘the small holds the big,’ suggests that it is the localized particularities of a situation or phenomenon that provide significant information for a fuller understanding of the wider processes at play.  This approach is applied here to interrogate how media practices are entangled with those of sociality in the production of output for a local community radio station, and what these interrelations and connections tell us about media’s role in community generally.

13: 00-14: 00 | Lunch

14: 00-15: 30 | Participation and Methodology, chaired by Scott Rodgers

Olivia Hinkin | Changing Methods of Anime Distribution within Convergence Culture

Fan distribution of anime is something that has been well documented in the academic community, and this has often been cited as caused by inaccessibility to foreign goods. Importing texts are expensive and difficult to come by, however with the shift towards internet piracy this has become infinitely easier and illegal distribution is rampant online. Fansub groups work incredibly swiftly and diligently to provide high quality subtitled episodes of the latest shows to air in Japan, and previously there has been little success in combatting the illegal activities of such groups. However, the industry is starting to attempt to address these issues by distributing anime legally online, rather than focusing on DVD distribution. This presentation will discuss how far the fans are supporting these new online, legal avenues, or whether their loyalty and the fan distribution set-up is too well ingrained to combat.

Whilst there have been moderate take up on sites such as Crunchyroll and Netflix, my research on anime fan forums demonstrates that the preference for illegal streaming websites is still a huge factor. Most users are citing the lack of comprehensive media content as their reason for choosing these sites. I am interested to see if my survey responses yield similar results, and hopefully gain some more insight into users who torrent their media rather than streaming.

Hannah Barton | Weird Fiction and Folklore: The Crowd-Sourced Horror Stories known as ‘Creepypasta’

Creepypasta are internet horror stories that are shared within and between online communities. They contain textual and visual elements, and feature narratives that are established in part by an author/s, with additional content generated or performed by participatory groups.

This presentation will display and discuss a selection of creepypasta, and outline how their collaborative mode of production is afforded to them via the medium of the internet, as evidenced by the distinct processes of distribution, participation, and proliferation they undergo, l will conclude by suggesting that creepypasta – as vernacular, ‘crowd-sourced’ stories – can be viewed as contemporary folklore.

Sara Ismail | Social Media and the Egyptian Uprising

The Egyptian uprisings have been an important event when discussing usage and features of social media in social movements. However, focus mainly was on whether it was an assisting tool or not for Egyptians during the uprisings. Not much analysis was made on the role of social media on Egyptians in different areas including rural areas not just urban centers. Moreover, the reasons and implications of the form of political interaction Egyptians had during the uprisings in these areas with its differences are not much highlighted. My research is on highlighting the role of social media, yet considering the different circumstances of Egyptians in different areas of Egypt to analyze the change that happened in democratic measures for Egyptians, which will give the research a more detailed analysis on Egyptians with different circumstances, not just urban population.

15: 30-16:00 | afternoon tea 

16: 00-17: 00 | Curating Practice, chaired by Janet McCabe

Selina Robertson | Cordelia Swann & Jo Comino and the ICA Salon of 1983 

Cordelia Swann is reportedly to have invented the term ‘New Romantics’; a post punk sub cultural film / video movement lasting from 1979-86, which rejected the dominance of structural materialist film practice from the 1970s for a fresh cinema of excess, bodies, sexuality and theatrics. Swann and Jo Comino belonged to a number of London-based female filmmakers and curators whose cultural production was a vital component to this underground movement. In the early 1980s, as well as being a programmers at the London Filmmakers Co-op, they actively promoted Super-8 and also curated a number of ‘Salons’ at the ICA, which became a focus for new work by Holly Warburton, John Marbury, Cerith Wynn Evans, themselves and others. My talk will focus on their 1983 Salon and how cultural memory collects around objects and encounters.

This presentation includes a film programme:

Luxor | Jo Comino | UK |1982/3 | 9mins

Passion Tryptych | Cordelia Swann | UK | 1982 | 4mins


This will be followed by a presentation from Birkbeck Visiting scholar, Dr. Luo Xiaoming (Shanghai University) | The ‘Housing Rationale of Chinese Urban Youth: A Case Study of Shanghai.

Since 2000, the urban youth in Chinese cities have seen an increase in problems surrounding the issue of housing. This is not to say that these young people did not have housing difficulties in the past, but the current situation differs due to the subtle influences housing has on various aspects of their lives. Having to deal with issues surrounding their housing have led them to re-think their idea of what are suitable living standards, modified their everyday behavior on a large-scale, constrained their enthusiasm and imagination for their future, reshaped their ideas of what is an ideal career path and impacted upon the development of personal and romantic relationships.

I would term this new way of rationalizing their living situation, as the ‘Housing Rationale’. This rationale, I would argue, consists of considering not only a comprehensive economic calculation but also what their values, desires and aesthetics of their future ‘dream’ lives and how to achieve this dream in relation to what types of public services need to be provided by local government in the next decades. Based on data from questionnaire surveys and responses from interviews, I will try to describe and analyze this new living rational. How do the urban youth develop and gain an understanding of the word ‘property’ and what role does ‘property’ play in their lives? How they understand the meaning of ‘improvement’ as defined by the government and the market? What is driving their desires for bigger houses? How do they locate their own social status by their understanding of the relationship between home ownership and social class?

This presentation will highlight how the ‘Housing Rationale’ is a contradictory term based on a constructed supposed ‘rationale’ problem solving to housing issues. By pointing out the structure of this contradiction, it would be possible to understand the relationship between young persons and the increasing role neoliberalism thought is playing in their everyday lives so as to be able to provide new thoughts for further consideration about their decision making process.


This will be followed by drinks in the foyer of the Cinema, 43 Gordon Square.