Researcher’s Notebook: Constructing Fairy Tales: Architecture for a Magical Realist World

Athens is a city where, according to Eugene Trivizas, ‘Myth precedes, reality follows, and imagination is not only infinite, it is also cheap’. Crisis has devastated the capital on multiple levels and two types of spaces that spread throughout its centre have the qualities and potential for a radical change: the Polykatoikia, which is the multi-storey apartment building and the Akalyptoi, which are the uncovered spaces in between the polykatoikias, which, in most cases, are left unused. Dr Trivizas, has been responsible for the teaching of criminology in the Department of Sociology at the University of Reading since 1978, as well as a visiting Professor of Social and Political Sciences at the Panteion University of Athens since 1992. Having created more than 150 worlds of the imagination, he is the father figure of the Greek children’s book. Tales such as ‘The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig’, ‘The Last Black Cat’, and the first Greek comic-strip and televised puppet show ‘Fruitopia’, (first published in 1983, illustrated by Nikos Maroulakis), each tackle ideas of social and political injustice. In his tales, through the use of allegory and tropes, imagination is always the antidote to a crisis.

I have started my design research by writing and illustrating a magical realist fairy tale, implying that our supposedly normal and normative world is itself a fantastical, magical realist dream. The tale is weaving subtle references to ancient and contemporary myths and the characters are at times becoming part of the spaces that surround them, alluding to an architecture that unfolds and is at the same time both figurative as well as immaterial. The tale is written in Greek and I am in the process of translating it to English.

Research Drawing 1

Continue reading

Issue 2 Launch Party: Saturday 25th February

11694150_998601513514262_310259061531399790_n

The Still Point Journal is celebrating the launch of Issue 2: The Researcher’s Notebook.

Join us for an evening of live readings and music at The Gallery Café, Bethnal Green, and pick up your free copy of the print edition.

Saturday 25th February

7:30-10:30pm

The Gallery Cafe, 21 Old Ford Road, London E2 9PJ

Join our Facebook event here for updates about the evening.

For Issue 2 of The Still Point Journal, we asked contributors to imagine that their submissions are part of a collective Researcher’s Notebook in both a literal, and a broader, metaphorical sense. The issue explores the idea of the journal as a space for spontaneous discovery or self-creation.

To whet your aesthetic appetite:

The Researchers Notebook includes contributions from Bihter Almac, Isobel Atacus, Liz Bahs, Leonid Bilmes, Tianmei Chen, Chiara Raffaella Ciampa, George Clayton, Oline Eaton, Daniyal Farhani, Armenoui Kasparian Saraidari, Annegret Marten, Penny Newell, Charlotte Northall, Romy Nuttall, Jon Paterson, Stuart Ruel, Matthew Shaw, Lavinia Singer, and Ruth Tullis, and is designed by Becky Healey.

We have a limited number of copies to gift to our launch party attendees, so come along to adopt your own.

The Still Point is a literary journal for Arts and Humanities researchers from institutions across London: featuring poetry, prose and visual artwork, it is a space for storytelling about the research process. Generously supported by the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP)/ Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Join Our Editorial Team – Apply by 31 Oct

launch 4

As the current team begin the second and third years of their PhDs, The Still Point Journal is looking for new research students to take over, develop the project, and make it their own. Roles on offer include journal editors, blog editors, and event organisers. Although some experience is a wonderful asset, The Still Point Journal is all about creative experimentation and learning curves, so if you have a passion for literary journals, indie publishing, creative writing, or design, this could be a great opportunity for you.

The Still Point Journal is a literary journal for Arts and Humanities researchers, established in 2014 and supported by the LAHP (London Arts & Humanities Partnership) and the AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council). The Still Point aims to be a forum for dialogue, collaboration and experimentation, and offers a space for creatively writing through ideas in original forms. The Journal features short fiction, poetry and visual art, although its particular focus is on non-fiction writing, related – however tangentially – to our research and the kind of rich thinking and exploration we do during the course of this research. These informal articles and journalistic pieces, free of footnotes or bibliographies, should feel more like a collection of conversations had with fellow researchers over coffee than academic papers.

At The Still Point we believe in the untold stories of the PhD, the creative energy that fizzes at the peripheries, the mind-wanderings and tangential inspirations, and we wanted to create a space to celebrate this. In its current iteration, The Still Point publishes an annual literary journal with submissions from arts and humanities researchers from institutions across London, and runs a regular online blog that accepts submissions from researchers across the world. We are passionate about the medium of print and about exploring new possibilities for the intersection between print and digital media.

In addition to our print issue and blog content, since 2014 The Still Point has organised a range of events exploring the intersection between the creative and the critical, including poetry readings, a creative exchange and art exhibition, a launch party with readings and live music, creative non-fiction workshops, and co-ordinated and curated an innovative online symposium. If you think all of this sounds exciting, then you should think about joining The Still Point.

To Apply

If you would like to join The Still Point editorial team send an email to editor@thestillpointjournal.com telling us why you would like to be involved with the journal, what role you are interested in, and mentioning any experience you think you can bring to the role, by the 31st October.


Roles

Journal Editors

To oversee the development, editing and design of Issue #3 of The Still Point Journal (to be published in a digital and print format), including attendance at monthly editorial meetings.

Main Responsibilities:

  • Develop and write a Call for Submissions (CFS).
  • Circulate and promote the CFS to all relevant institutions, students and student groups.
  • Manage and read through submissions, and select material for Issue #3 after discussion with other editors.
  • Work with the selected writers to edit their pieces, as required.
  • Liaise with a designer to create the layouts for Issue #3
  • Work with the events team to organise a launch party and help to distribute the Issue, including depositing it in libraries such as the BL, and the Southbank Saison Poetry Library.

Blog Editors

To manage the blog for The Still Point Journal for a period of one year, including attendance at monthly Editorial meetings.

Main Responsibilities:

  • Commission new blog posts and liaise with guest writers
  • Edit and upload posts
  • Maintain a schedule, aiming for 1 blog post per week where possible
  • Write posts yourself, including any news regarding the journal
  • Promote new posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
  • Use the blog to promote the Print Issue, both the Call for Submissions and the final product
  • Organise an online symposium in July 2017, making the most of the digital medium (optional)

Event Organisers

The Still Point Journal has never had a formal events team before, so this would be a new role that you could develop together.


To Apply

If you would like to join The Still Point editorial team send an email to stillpointjournal@gmail.com telling us why you would like to be involved with the journal, what role you are interested in, and mentioning any experience you think you can bring to the role, by the 31st October.

Sound Series #3: Sound and Architecture

I finally found it. A real architectural structure of sound. Muttering and uttering voices, music and speech along with an ever-present echo of static.

There is nothing quite like a moment of inspiration. It is childish glee: Christmas come early. That moment you realise there is someone else who has made that same connection. Rather than worry about the lack of original thought, it is affirmation and excitement that sparks my brain into action. It is moments like this when I remember why I study.

IMG_3509 Recently, I have been playing with the idea of ‘visualising the invisible’, considering the architecture in Chaucer’s The House of Fame dream vision to be structures built of sound. It was Cildo Meireles’s Babel (2001) which – when I visited before the June re-hanging – was positioned in the centre of its own room at the Tate Modern, and sparked so many ideas.

Meireles’s piece explores ideas about the unity of humanity despite language barriers, paralleling the story of the Tower of Babel. The work is an imposing structure made of hundreds of radios tuned to different stations in many different languages. I was most struck by my reaction to take a picture of this architectural structure of sound. Pressing the shutter-button, I realised that this was not an experience to be captured as a still image.

The hearer/viewer moves around the structure; the eye is looking for something that is not there. I took in the barely audible noise, the music I recognised and started to hum too, the languages I cannot speak and wondered at this at once static and constantly moving piece of architecture, like the House of Rumour in Chaucer’s dream vision. It was a moment of connection, with the music and speakers, with those in the room moving around me and the tower. It was a moment that will never happen again. And yet a memory of it lives on in the sonic space of the room.

The sound is heard and disappears and it is held in the sonic structure. While Meireles is concerned with exploring ideas of overcoming barriers and unity, I question how do we deal with the transitory nature of sound? Do the radios demonstrate a fixity? Or simply a way of transmission? The room was almost overwhelming with the various sounds and yet most of the people around me where silent when experiencing Babel (2001). I, however, was speaking rapidly to my very bemused friend. Sound can become tangible in these moments, for language, for communication, for the artwork; adding another layer human radios.

IMG_3510


Charlotte Rudman is a second year PhD student in the Department of English at King’s College London, researching sound and sound representations in medieval dream vision poetry, @charrud.

Fieldwork a la limeña

rock light
El Espejo de Piedra by Lika Mutal

On my knees, in an art gallery in a bohemian district of Lima, with my head inside a large rock, I thought: “How did I get here?”

I was being shown around an exhibition by an artist whom I wanted to interview. I had the impression at the time, and still do, that this preliminary meeting was a sort of test. I was being judged on how open I was to the artist’s ideas, how I would talk about their work and what the benefits to them would be.

Placing my head in the rock was an extension of this test; it was about my willingness to embrace certain elements of spirituality and of the artist’s vision (which I had quite possibly shown some scepticism towards). However, it was also a demonstration to me that the methods for introducing myself, gaining a person’s trust and setting up an interview in the UK, simply did not apply in Lima. Continue reading

Four Selves

These are all creations inspired by the hectic digital life doing my masters Cultural and Creative Industries in London. The name of each painting says it all. Every time I was doing an activity/ attending an event, if I have a strong image in my head, I feel that I have to bring it to life on canvas. So these four were inspired when I was feeling that the digital had constructed me in such a subtly important way. When I was DJing alone, posting online, studying alone, I felt too that I was somehow connected but also disconnected. I was so intrigued to search and explore for the inner self.

Lonely self
lonely self
social media self
social media self
searching self (DJ alone)
dj self
free soul self
free soul self

Tianmei Chen is an explorer, constantly looking for the passion of her life. She was born in a small village in Hubei, Central China. She has worked in fashion and advertising as a producer and blogger in Shanghai since 2008. She also co-founded a flower brand named Flowerbox and created Queen’s Art spot, a painting studio for beginners in 2013 because her self-taught experience of oil painting inspired many more Chinese young women who wanted to join her. She believes that art is for everyone and everyone can paint. Her experience encouraging young Chinese women’s development made her stand out in the Chevening Scholarship selection among over 36000 applicants in over 170 countries funded by FCO, UK, which sponsored her to study Cultural and Creative Industries at KCL. Now, she is in love with this amazing city, London.

Instagram @maychenyolo  //  Chinese Blog on Wechat: MAYCHENYOLO

 

Stranger is Typing (the Search for Nenny)

//

 

If I was to try to unravel the journey of this work or rather the journey of thought around this work, I suppose it begins with a rash of scam emails I received, professing love in an outpouring of questionable prose. This fed into a series of work questioning our sense of truth and relationship with truth.

The digital world has unlocked the gates to a playground where identity is no longer a fixed entity and each of us can inhabit a persona far beyond the constraints of the world we trudge through, in our familiar, somewhat worn, habit day-by-day. Suddenly our societal structures and frameworks are tossed aside, superfluous in a virtual landscape where the idea that ‘the truth is black and white’ couldn’t, ironically, be further from the truth.

As most of us have come to appreciate, the truth can be fluid, untethered, full of nuanced shades, organic in matter, amorphous, unfixed and changeable. Moulding itself to the hand that holds it. Teething issues arise of course, in this transitional period, when those native to a pre-digital age perhaps carry real life frameworks with them into an online world. This landscape of human communication, so overwhelming facilitated (and seemingly boundless, albeit within it’s own subtle behavioural constraints: from 140 characters to ready-made emojis) by social media, is littered with the casualties of this foray.

I find it fascinating that, at times when men and women have been victims of online romantic scams, and are then presented with the truth about the scammer by the authorities, they have chosen to reject the undeniable evidence offered to them about their fictional lover and instead choose to continue to believe wholeheartedly in this virtual relationship. This opens up an interesting conversation as to how truth of any sort is a decision, invested in and embraced by the believer through subconscious choice or otherwise.

Some time ago an email from a Mrs Nenny William arrived in my inbox . From the far flung shores of the Ivory Coast, she reached out to me in her strangely compiled turn of phrase, the  widow of a former Archdeacon, bullied by her money grabbing relatives, the mother of two soon-to-be orphans, asking me to become the controller of her wealth.

I took a simple experiment. I chose to believe Nenny. I took her offer to ‘become the controller’ but rather than her wealth I claimed control over this truth. I embraced it and I went online to find her. My journey to own this truth brought me in contact with others who, in turn, took on this truth in one form or another for themselves.  And a strange exchange of power took place. Identity and truth, at times, lost their footing. Once or twice I experienced a strange and fragile state which is difficult to convey in words,  a tremulous, fluctuating hold if you like on my surety of what was real or otherwise. Before long, I began to converse, less and less in my own dialect and increasingly so in the alien language of such social encounters.

I learnt much. Our digital selves are new beings, new skins, with possibilities we have never had to grapple with before. Identity and truth are quite loosely tethered in a virtual world, but their multifaceted online form is perhaps merely an outward manifestation of what always has been. In a moment, as I discovered, our selves can be cut free, so effortlessly, from their moorings and allowed to float freely down stream.


Susan Francis is a Belfast born artist now based in the South West of England. Her work moves between object, installation and film, with an increasing focus on film as a means to tease out momentary narratives, uncomfortable histories and fragile exchanges. Past work has included solo shows both within the UK and abroad, residencies in a number of countries, including The Bemis Centre for Contemporary Art in the United States, and work held in public and private collections internationally. http://www.susanfrancis.com

No Jumper in Nowhere

//

 

May I present you a conversation of two women in the Sahara.

K: I really saw that red body in the dark, it just disappeared in front of me! Right here! Then it was pitch dark again! It was so quiet, nothing was here!

J: But who was that? No one dresses in red here. I was here 5 minutes after you came. There was nothing red as you say. How do you know you saw it?

K: I knew because I experienced it, with my eyes! I am telling you that there was a gigantic red body, a female of some sort. How can you not see it, if you were here 5 minutes ago?? Do I seem like I’m not making sense to you?

J: What I am saying is that if I am here, at where you saw it, at almost at the same time, if it is so big, I would have seen it, but I did not. Just logically speaking. I think you have it wrong. It simply doesn’t exist… and you appear exhausted to me. Are you sure you weren’t spacing out this time?

K: You are again just judging me based on your ‘logic’, but this time I truly felt it’s presence. Not because my body is tired. My mind is very clear that the red person was here bouncing in front of me. I can feel my body reacting to it!

J: Well, are you paying attention? I told you the reasons, and I can’t relate to you at all. Now that we don’t get to see it, it doesn’t exist. So instead of insisting, I suggest that you go and rest.

As we have already noticed: to K there was, to J there was not.

K was the sole witness of “the red body” in the desert, when the body of the former athletic high-jumper Giota P was presented digitally in the open field momentarily. Does it matter if the red body only existed in K’s experience? Not until K started to share her memories with others, she realised that the red body is isolated in her subjective territory. Her experience did not extend to J at all. The moment K started sharing, J registered a judgement in her mind to make sense of K’s non-sense. J simply connected the dots that 1) she did not see anything at the same time and place, 2) therefore she rejected the existence of the red body (and K’s experience) as a subjective conclusion, 3) so K is in doubt and messed with her feelings (again). If the red body was ’there’, it might have taken on a life of its own in K’s mind. Now, may I raise a question with curiosity, what if the red body was never witnessed?


Video and text © Yarli Allison L, a Hong Kong-Canadian born, London-based artist whose work explores psychological and emotional conditions with a primary focus on distant states of displacement, disconnection, and detachment. Her multidisciplinary practice traverses sculpture, performance, video, installation, painting, and sound. In the working process, she relies heavily on physical strength and long durations of repetitive manipulation of materials as an attempt to re-live between states of dissociation and reality. These physical and psychological tensions are often represented in Yarli’s performances, where audiences are invited to interact with the artist and object(s). http://yarliallison.com

#ResearchersNotebook

Fran notebook pic

The deadline for our current Call For Submissions approaches at the end of January…

For Issue #2 of The Still Point Journal, we ask contributors to imagine that their submissions are part of a collective Researcher’s Notebook in both a literal, and a broader, metaphorical sense. We want to explore the idea of the journal as a space for spontaneous discovery or self-creation/autopoeisis; whether this be through pages from an actual notebook filled with doodles, mind-maps and beautiful scrawls, or pieces which explore the researcher’s thought-process and the genesis of an idea over time.

… so to get everyone in the mood we asked Twitter folks to post pictures of their notebooks and beautiful scrawls with the hashtag #researchersnotebook to @stillpointLDN.

Here’s a flavour of the cute and the curious, kicked off by our chief editor… send in your own over the next couple of weeks and add to the collection.

Getting Started: the PhD thing

Getting Started illustration 12.32.49

So. It’s the 21st of December, which means I’ve been ‘doing this PhD thing’, as my housemates put it, for almost three months now.

I’ve just about pinned down my question into a neat sentence: ‘how do Anglo-Saxon things perform social, cultural, or political work today?’. I’ve scribbled that question on post it notes, each time with slightly different wording, and stuck them around my room, used them to save pages in my library books, and dreamt about them. I have the question, but what next? Continue reading