Celebrating Stories: The Still Point Issue II Launch Event

dsc02438Coming across the second print issue of the Still Point Journal is a bit like sitting down with a book of fairy tales. The cover reminds one of the edge of a forest, its branches beckoning the traveler to partake in stories of wonder – some dark, some delightful, and some delightfully dark. For this wanderer, the experience derived from the conveyance of stories through spoken word is one that sharpens the senses. These feelings move beyond introspection into a space of deep empathy, as we collectively share in the emotional responses of others. It is for these reasons that I think, above all else, the motivation behind the Still Point launch event is about extending the artistic process. The journal does not simply showcase creativity, but encapsulates creative engagement. Continue reading

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Editors’ note: snap reflections

On April 21 2016, The Still Point Journal, that is, we, published a new blog post:

We invite creative responses to the experiences of working across analogue and digital, and between real and virtual worlds…

Two little words in our call for submissions for Digital Selves in Research – “across” and “between” – held more meaning than we realised at the time. So much of what our contributors have expressed, and so much of our own experience in organising this symposium, hides within those words. We seem to be recognising, in so many nuanced ways, that exploring the digital and the real isn’t about choosing one position or the other. We’re the hybrid generation, the researchers learning how to use the internet for scholarship. Is this what a period of transition feels like?

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Our invitation provoked myriad responses, but they all avoided this digital/IRL binary we could not help but set up. Our own vocabulary during this symposium has felt increasingly useless, out of time and place. We are still grappling with how to talk about the experience of being human, being researchers and practitioners in 2016 – but we hope this symposium has pushed our language further. Continue reading

#DigitalSelves Programme: 25-29 July

The Still Point Blog is hosting the online symposium Digital Selves in Research, July 25th-29th 2016, exploring the experience of researching across analogue and digital worlds.

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We are excited to publish a range of creative responses to our Call for Submissions over five days, in text, video, and image. The provisional programme is below (subject to change, as usual).

We deliberately mimic the format of traditional conferences IRL to manufacture the experience of participating in a collective event, blurring the boundary with physical meet ups. With this spirit, we encourage visitors and readers to comment and respond on the blog, or via Facebook, Twitter, or elsewhere.

Follow @stillpointLDN   //   #DigitalSelves   //   Join Facebook event

Programme

Monday 25th July 

9am     Keynote: Max Saunders (Director, Arts & Humanities Research Institute) & Ego-Media

1pm     Yarli Allison L [VIDEO]

5pm     Kim Sherwood, He’s Not Dead Yet, Keep Scrolling 

Tuesday 26th July 

9am     Ellen Davies, In Paris, 1913 

1pm     Susan Francis, Stranger is Typing [VIDEO]

5pm     Amy Lidster, Rethinking Digital Editions: A Movable Archive of Readings 

Wednesday 27th July 

9am     Footnotes on KCL Radio [Listen LIVE 9-10am, podcast available later]

1pm     Tianmei Chen, Inspiration from London

5pm     James Fisher, [Command-Shift-4] McLuhan 

Thursday 28th July 

9am     Daniel Willis, Fieldwork a la limeña 

1pm     Twitter Hour #DigitalSelves @stillpointLDN

Friday 29th July 

9am     Keynote: Dr. Matthew Hayler, Lecturer in Post-1980 Literature (Digital Humanities, Cognitive Humanities, Technology and Human Enhancement) [VIDEO]

1pm     Editors’ Reflections

3pm     Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon: meet up for researchers to edit Wikipedia pages together @ The Maughan Library, Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1LR 

6pm     Drinks Reception / After Party @ Ye Olde Cock Tavern, 22 Fleet St, London EC4Y 1AA

If you would like to attend our IRL events or have any questions, please email blog [at] stillpointjournal.com

An evening of poetry, prose and music

The research experience is often imagined to be impersonal and isolated: anxiety-ridden scholars reading alone at their desks. Last Sunday, the launch of the journal’s first print issue proved this to be far from the truth. Researchers, writers, and friends came together to share their own peculiar experiences and to enjoy the curious connections between our work. It was with this aim in mind that we created The Still Point Journal, and pushed for it to be published in print, as well as online.

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launch 5The event took place at the beautifully lit Gallery Café in Bethnal Green and featured live readings from our contributors and music from The Interiors. Over good wine and great music, people were put in dialogue with one another in an informal, relaxed setting. Hearing the stories and poetry read aloud introduced a new tone and rhythm to the words, helping to continue conversations and start new ones, as well as put faces to pages. It was a showcase of everything we had hoped to achieve.

launch 3The evening was also a celebration for us personally: a culmination of twelve month’s worth of planning. We have thought about, written about, and talked about The Still Point Journal in various ways. There were initial emails asking if anyone was interested in setting up a new literary journal that would offer space to explore our research creatively. There were conversations in coffee shops, corridors, and wine bars, where we argued the pros and cons for keeping the word ‘The’ in the title. There were submission deadlines, all-day proofing sessions, and design meetings. There were ‘Still Point’ events: afternoon poetry readings and evening art exhibitions.

Now, finally, it’s officially launched as a print journal. It is, in fact, so official that it has it’s own ISSN number and a copy will be kept in the British Library.

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A brief round of thanks: to The Gallery Café for letting us take over; to The Interiors for providing the soundtrack to the evening; to sound engineer Natan for stepping in last minute; to the designers and contributors; and to all who came to celebrate with us.

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Photos by Christopher Webb, view them all on our Facebook page.

Write up by Briony Wickes, a second year PhD student in English Literature at King’s College London. Follow Briony @brionyjoy

Untitled: A Collaboration Between James Fisher and Mircea Teleaga

The following was written in collaboration by James Fisher and Mircea Teleagă after a couple of meetings and many emails. James is a PhD student in the Department of History at King’s College London. Mircea is an MA student in Painting at the Slade School of Fine Art. You can find Mircea’s work here: http://mirceateleaga.com/en 

I am playing a game of response. I have always been playing it but I was not always aware. Each response is always concrete and particular. Each one is a deliberate provocation. So I respond again.

Oil on Canvas by Mircea Teleagă.
Oil on Canvas by Mircea Teleagă.

It’s a game of chess with myself where I try to catch myself out. I try to think ahead of myself; I try to think against myself. But perhaps if I don’t think at all I might surprise myself and make something. The trick is to completely trust myself. I leave the room and leave myself to act in my place. I trust that when I come back I will be pleased with what I see. I trust that I will have new eyes to see it.

Or I train my limbs to know their way in the dark. I only need to be brave enough to turn the lights off, or wait for the night. I do something first, then discover what I have done when the light returns. It is then that I realise how similar the darkness and the details are. In this game the blind man is king.

The details are essential. They say this thing is not the same as that thing. They induce complexity and sensitise us to difference. They build the steep slope of Sisyphus upon a smooth well-lit highway. They mock all my own categories. They humiliate my attempts to theorise. They say it is an insult to claim the mind needs categories to understand. They are anarchic. They infest and destroy categories like bacteria eating away at a large mammal. They remind us that when the mind grasps anything through a category, it kills it. Like nailing butterflies to wood. Labels are anathema. Panta rhei (everything flows).

Oil on Canvas by Mircea Teleagă.
Oil on Canvas by Mircea Teleagă.

So I aim to be an organ of digestion, where these details multiply and mutate. I become a filter that is always being filtered, perpetually undergoing change according to what does or does not come in. Everything I have ever done, seen, heard, felt, or tasted. Every experience, direct or vicarious. All of it enters and is transformed. Even if it is completely rejected, the act of rejection alters me. These are all my footnotes.

I do not make things. I simply leave deposits, a by-product of my own cultivation. These deposits mirror me. They build upon themselves like weather, developing from within and every part shifting with every other. They spiral like a wild rock formation, growing without erasure; becoming a monument to itself.

Oil on Canvas by Mircea Teleagă.
Oil on Canvas by Mircea Teleagă.

I do not ask why. This simply happens because it is embedded within me. I see the deposits as an extension of my self. I am not interested in the reason they exist, any more than the reason my self exists. I am only interested in the effect they have. Purpose over reason.

I am not playing this game alone. My game is part of a larger set of games. I filter the deposits of others and they filter mine. We are all sculpting the same bit of clay.

Oil on Canvas by Mircea Teleagă.
Oil on Canvas by Mircea Teleagă.

I do not ask how it started. I just respond again.

This text was written as part of The Still Point’s ‘Creative Exchange’ which paired artists, from the Slade, with PhD researchers, from UCL and King’s College London, for an exhibition of visual art work and live readings at FAT RELIC. More details can be found on the blog and photographs from the evening are on our Facebook page

Notes from Literary Events I attended in First Term

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24.09.2014

Adrian Henri at the Liverpool Biennial

(On the train back to London).

If I had the energy to write, I’d write about Adrian Henri and the Mersey Sound.

I’d write about the sounds of Liverpool and how these sounds and the chiming of Liverpuddlian, can be lyrical, sensual and richly musical.

I’d write about how you can stand in the research centre discovering Adrian Henri for the first time and overhear two Scousers talking about their own adventures with the Liverpool Scene, and about a singular meeting with the round, black-bearded and be-spectacled Henri himself.

Yes, if I had the energy, that’s what I’d write about.

04.10.2014

Alice Oswald- Tithonus

A poetic jig.
A foot tapping.
A fly.
But shouldn’t they have driven us out to some field at dawn?

I will reflect a little more later, I promise.

15.10.2014

Ali Smith: Living Translation

It began with Ali Smith’s ‘Provocation:’ a rolling, breathy work of sound and voice and soft (irresistible) accent.

Smith speaks like a poem. She holds her breath until she reaches the end of her thought-rhythm, before introducing the next etymological haiku. What genius it takes to craft a polemic into a sound poem: a rapid fire, perfectly formed stream of provocation.

Smith says that “translators are more writer than the original writer” for this is “a double layered writing, a twin responsibility, an osmosis of the self.”

Smith says that we should be learning languages when we are so young that “language structures sink into us like butter into toast.”

Smith says “the translator sees what the writer did not write – it takes that level of close reading.”

Smith says “look and all languages display relation.”

That’s all for now, I will write more later.

29.10.2014

Caroline Bergvall- Drift

The tking of the voice, almost the sound of a typewriter or a haptic phone dialling, signals a visual layering of type – a streaming of new letters sounded into illumination.

Understanding is a process of fluctuation.

Letters shrink into illegibility but become small islands of type, shifting land-masses of notation suggesting a map; or are they the lights of the distant city which Bergvall speaks of, the hallucination on the horizon which promises respite yet is not as solid as a land-mass, but is a gathering of sound in words: as material (or immaterial) as the voice which resounds in space until it fades away.

I will write more, later.

10.11.2014

The Joy of Influence: Paul Mason and Anne Enright on Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow

This is all I wanted to note down from the event last night.

During questions at the end (this is more of a comment than a question), a Scottish man in the audience says: “I sped read the book again on the train down from Holyhead to London with some page notes I made in the 1970s. I finally think I know what the book’s about.”

Francesca Brooks is in the first year of her PhD at King’s College London, her research looks at multilingualism, translation, and aspects of orality in Old English manuscripts and the printed poetry of David Jones. Follow her @Frangipancesca

What We Talk About When We Talk About Death

Sarah Boulton Correspondence with JM

Correspondence between Sarah Boulton and James Morland

This text was written as part of The Still Point’s ‘Creative Exchange’ which paired artists, from the Slade, with PhD researchers, from UCL and King’s College London, for an exhibition of visual art work and live readings at FAT RELIC. More details can be found onthe blog and photographs from the evening are on our Facebook page

I am the supposed translator of conversations spanning centuries,
Witnessing poets combatting poets:

A first century exclamation responded to from an eighteenth-century graveyard:

[…] death to us, and deaths anxiety,
Is less than nothing, is a less could be.
For then our Atoms, which in order lay,
Are scatter’d from their heap, and puff’d away,
And never can return into their place,
When once the pause of Life has left an empty space. [Lucretius]

………………

If death were nothing, and nought after death,
If when men died, at once they ceas’d to be,
Returning to the barren womb of nothing,
Whence first they sprung!  Then might the debauchee
Untrembling mouth the Heavens; then might the drunkard
Reel over his full bowl, and when ‘tis drain’d
Fill up another to the brim, and laugh
At the poor bugbear Death [Blair]

I decode this ‘death-talk’:
This is a language game congregating around nothing,
Writing on the timeless and unresolvable.

In attempts to make something, I separate my clauses with the trusty colon:
Conning myself into thinking I have some sort of order:

DEATH-TALK: PHILOSOPHICAL DISCUSSIONS

THE DARKNESS OF THE GRAVE: NIGHT AND THE SENSES IN THE GRAVEYARD

SHUDDERING ON THE BRINK: THE EXTREMES OF NOTHING

But thinking of this nothing, it is me, not the poet, who shudders on the brink:

Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene. [Young]

The poets mock my academic practice,
Instead of leading to a solution, they taunt me, as together:

We sigh; and while
We sigh, we sink; and are what we deplored;
Lamenting, or Lamented all our Lot! [Young]

all the magnanimity of Thought
Resolves; and re-resolves; then dies the same [Young]

This is my death song:
To write of death is the thief of life,
Hours spent writing nothing about ‘nothing’.

My writing is about the poetry and emulates its futile ambitions;
The poets’ straining to see around the corner to their own death mimics my academic composition,
Our words are like the first century atoms that caused this whole project to arise:
An endless cycle of regeneration, a stream of chance encounters where some hit and many miss.

In writing on a nocturne darkness where men ‘see not all clear’ [Vaughan],
I instead quote the camera obscura, as a ‘darkened room’,
Referring to the stanza, as a ‘capacious dwelling, a receptacle’.
Returning to semantics to interpret a physical something from their poetic nothingness.

In thinking of death, then, we must relate it to something. It becomes images and myth:

The knell, the shroud, the mattock, and the grave;
The deep damp vault, the darkness, and the worm;
These are the bugbears of a winter’s eve,
The terrors of the living, not the dead.
Imagination’s fool, and error’s wretch,
Man makes a death, which nature never made;
Then on the point of his own fancy falls;
And feels a thousand deaths, in fearing one. [Young]

So in talking about death, I must document this cycle of centuries:
death has become something from a sublime sense of nothing through the fool and error of an imagination. It should instead be seen as nothing by the dissolution of something:

Therefore death is nothing to us, it matters not one jot, since the nature of the mind is understood to be mortal.  [Lucretius]

When I talk about death I resolve, and re-resolve about the vast concerns of something and nothing.

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‘Spiderboy’ videowork by Sarah Boulton installed at FAT RELIC, photo by Giulia Legora

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James reading his piece at the Creative Exchange, photo by Giulia Legora

James Morland is a first year PhD student in the English department at KCL, researching the changing interactions with Lucretius and Epicurean philosophy in eighteenth-century poetry. After spending a year in art school, James has spent the past few years studying English literature, though constantly tries to find ways to tie together the academic and visually creative sides of his thinking. Follow him @jameswmorland

Sarah Boulton is a student at the Slade. She is currently working with [including]: diamond doves, relationships, verbs, internal parts, live editing, light videos, friends and words (talking). http://saraboulton.tumblr.com/

Change and Embodiment

This text was written as part of The Still Point’s ‘Creative Exchange’ which paired artists, from the Slade, with PhD researchers, from UCL and King’s College London, for an exhibition of visual art work and live readings at FAT RELIC. More details can be found on the blog and photographs from the evening are on our Facebook page

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‘Different Kinds of Sameness’, by Dala Nasser

The defiance in Dala’s work, of conventional conceptions of painting, is clear. The inherently altering nature of her work is perhaps not so. Working with liquid latex, resin and pigments, her materials interact both with each other and with the external environment, namely oxygen, to change form and appearance over time. Her work therefore offers the viewer temporally distinct experiences. The experience her work elicits has an added dimension as it is not only the viewer’s subjective temporality that contributes to her aesthetic experience, here the painting itself has a lifespan, a contingent yet fluid development.

My work involves the attempt to add an emotional dimension to theoretical reasoning, a defiance against the false dichotomy between reason and emotion, against most concepts of ‘pure reason’. Science is often thought as a paradigm case of theoretical reasoning. Scientific inquiry is as temporally dependent as Dala’s art works. Changing conceptual paradigms alter how we observe the objects of our inquiry. Time allows the evolution of a completely distinct artwork within the same spatial boundaries. In science, temporal distinction underpins different experiences of the same natural world.

Human sciences, as opposed to experimental sciences, are meant to be characterized by reflexivity, here meaning that the object of study is also the subject conducting the study itself. I am sceptical of how helpful the notion of reflexivity can be in distinguishing human from empirical sciences. Once the nature of our inquiry is accepted as inherently embodied, socially and biologically, room for the powerful role of emotions in abstract thinking, begins to be made.

The products of Dala’s process are pieces that possess intricate physicality. We long to explore her work tactually. This desire is triggered by our emotional responses to the work as emotions are the seat of motivation and preparation for action. The embodied nature of the subject is therefore crucial to the aesthetic experience elicited by the artwork. I take a similar experience to be involved in instances where scientists undergo aesthetic experiences regarding scientific theories or theorems. This experience is inherently emotional, embodied and physical. Detached appreciation is therefore a possibly gendered anachronism or false dogma.

We need to take seriously the question of what role such aesthetic experiences can play in scientific inquiry. This aesthetic, emotional experience motivates the generation of both action and beliefs. Allowing beliefs based on emotions to prove relevant in abstract thinking, as opposed to being vestigial epiphenomena. There is a rationality to emotions that cannot be detached from our nature as embodied, biological beings. Emotions are a way of perceiving, that is crucial to both art and science.

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Photo by Giulia Legora http://giulialegora.com/@Giulyfeels

Laura Silva is in the first year of her PhD at UCL, her research explores the philosophy of emotion. Dala Nasser is currently undergoing her undergraduate studies at UCL’s Slade School of Fine Arts.

The texts from our Creative Exchange will continue to be published on the blog over the coming months. 

Call for Submissions: Aesthesis

 

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Aesthesis invites LAHP-funded doctoral candidates to submit artworks that creatively reinterpret their PhD thesis in a non-textual form.

 Submissions can take any form that can be displayed in a gallery space – be it painting, sculpture, digital image, photograph, film, recorded theatre or dance performance, sound recording, installation, &c. Entries should be accompanied by a short description (200-300 words) on the author’s research, and how the artwork reinterprets or relates to it. The artwork could be related to the content or methodology of the PhD, or related ideas and practices more broadly construed.

 Submitted projects will be showcased in an exhibition at the end of the summer term 2015. A panel of judges will award prizes (for example Tate membership and National Art Pass) to the winning entry and runners up.

 The project aims to explore the ways that the complexity of doctoral theses can be captured in forms that are not straightforwardly textual. We hope to encourage LAHP students to think about their projects in radically different ways, consider their ideas in a fresh light, and explore how to capture the minds of a non-specialist public, as well as create beautiful artworks.

 If you’re interested in taking part or have any questions, please get in touch:

aesthesis.lahp@gmail.com.

Deadline for submissions is 15 May 2015.

The Still Point at Fat Relic: Creative Exchange between artists and researchers

Fat Relic EVent

The Still Point presents an evening of creative exchange between artists and researchers at Fat Relic. Join us on Monday the 27th April for an exhibition of visual work and live readings over drinks.

Over the course of a month artists from the Slade School of Art and Central Saint Martins, and PhD Researchers from UCL, King’s College London and the Bartlett, have been working collaboratively in a series of partnerships. The aim of the creative exchange has been to encourage PhD students to engage with their research in creative and experimental ways, whilst also giving the artists a chance to develop their practice reciprocally by investigating new ideas and alternative ways of seeing.

The event on the 27th April will showcase the results of these collaborations. The event hopes to tease out the similarities between the kinds of rich thinking and exploration we do as researchers and as visual artists, and to interrogate the very notions of ‘art writing’ and of ‘academic style,’ by blurring the boundaries and bending the rules.

Work and readings from Mircea Teleaga and James Fisher, Maud Craigie and Polly Mitchell, Maxima Smith and Penny Newell, Sarah Boulton and James Morland, Dala Nasser and Laura Silva.

For more details see our Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/921737127878443/permalink/921749897877166/

Or view the listing on Art Rabbit: https://www.artrabbit.com/events/the-still-point-journal-creative-exchange