This studio is for students who are interested in exploring any aspect of the climate emergency whether it directly relates to your degree discipline or not. You could investigate any of the following in the studio:
- sustainable building and architecture practice in the UK or other parts of the world
- the supply chains of fast fashion
- the latest innovations in textile or interior design
- a cultural critique of the anthropocene
- indigenous and Global South perspectives on nature and the climate emergency
- cultural and critical theory about the climate emergency
- sociological, psychological and public health perspectives on collective and individual change
- the political landscape of ecological campaign groups
- the relationship between the climate emergency and structures of colonisation, imperialism and economic extraction
Last year, students wrote on biophilic design, waste in the wool industry, plastic recycling, the influence of the East India Company in today’s trade export routes, visual design in weaving instruction, and on advertising and consumerism. Students also wrote about health psychology in promoting social change, eighteenth century popular responses to industrialisation and the place of nature in educational syllabuses. You can see how wide the studio possibilities are.
We begin with a seven-week series of discussions and workshops to kickstart your creative, critical and writing process, and to help you work concretely towards the first assignment at the end of term one.
We’ll meet regularly over the course of the year for a series of theoretical discussions and readings designed to help you frame your inquiry at a conceptual level. In these standalone discussions, we will explore the trade-off between commercial and industrial efficiency and creative flourishing in the structures of production, property, commerce and law that are all around us. We’ll ask where these efficiencies sit in our bodies, behaviours and feelings as both long-standing cultural legacies and concrete harms. There is nothing inevitable about the way we organise our societies. Changing the harmful structures of economic efficiency, which are making the planet uninhabitable, is up to us.
You may want to look at these ebooks very briefly to get an idea of the conceptual and ethical commitments of the studio.
- How the World Really Works: a scientist's guide to our past, present, and future by Vaclav Smil
- The Human Planet: how we created the Anthropocene by Simon L. Lewis; Mark Maslin
- Psychological Roots of the Climate Crisis: neoliberal exceptionalism and the culture of uncare by Sally Weintrobe
- Pleasure Activism: the politics of feeling good by adrienne maree brown
- Our History is the Future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the long tradition of indigenous resistance by Nick Estes
- These Wilds Beyond Our Fences: letters to my daughter on humanity's search for home by Bayo Akomolafe
- Pollution is Colonialism by Max Liboiron
- Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber
- The Shock of the Anthropocene: the Earth, history and us by Christophe Bonneuil; Jean-Baptiste Fressoz; David Fernbach
- The Social Edge: the power of sympathy groups for our health, wealth and sustainable future by Anthony Costello
Studio image: Code of Hammourabi, stele, Musée du Louvre. Banner: Hans Op de Beeck, Staging Silence (3), video still (detail), 2019
Dissertation Studios 2022–23
Studio 01: The Pensive Image
Do images in the information age displace texts and become the main vehicle for expressing thought? How do images communicate? What are they are saying? Can images write histories?
Studio 02: Sport and Aesthetics
Dissertation Studio 02 will examine the concept of aesthetics as applied within that most everyday activity: sport.
Studio 03: The Bone Pile. Archive and Myth as Methodology
Starting with the archive as a ‘commons of imagination,’ Studio 03 is testing the bonds between the personal and the collective, the interconnection of heterogeneous histories, archival temporalities and deep places of myth and storytelling.
Studio 04: Public Protest – Spaces of negotiation
How do we shape the city? How do we claim, occupy and inform spaces as people who live, work and play? All places have a history of negotiation over territory and its use – which helps to bring them into their current form. Understanding this legacy through acts of dissent and protest can better uniform us about the places that we inhabit.
Studio 05: “If I stay silent nothing will change:” Identity, Politics, Social Change and Creative Culture(s)
This cross-disciplinary studio considers how power, culture, politics, identity, representation, activism, social media and mass culture theory intersect with a range of arts practices, including photography, architecture, design and fine art, film studies, fashion and music, sound, pop art and theatre.
Studio 06: Thinking with Ruins
Thinking With Ruins begins with the idea that to think about ruination allows us to approach subjects that are of interest materially, aesthetically and politically and it allows us to work across scales – from dust to debris to object to landscape.
Studio 07: Feminist Approaches
In this studio you will be invited to take a feminist approach to your dissertation and its topic, whatever that topic might be.
Studio 08: Fashioning the African Diaspora
Elli Michaela Young
Exploring the fashioning of the African diaspora and with a particular focus on the Caribbean Island of Jamaica, this studio aims to think through how fashion and dress is used to grapple with ideas of self.
Studio 09: Sartorial Culture
This studio examines the intersections and relationships between objects and their visual and discursive representations through the lens of the history of fashion and dress. It locates fashion, or fashionable dress, in the conversations about it, the images portraying it, and the artefacts left in its wake.
Studio 10: “Everywhere we remain unfree and chained to technology”
Studio 10 questions the role of technology in our lives and investigates the environmental ethics concerning how we relate to, and operate within the world and each other.
Studio 11: The Hammer without a Master
Studio 11 explores the idea that we think, remember and decide ‘in the world,’ rather than in our heads, that we are connected in unexpected ways and that this connection may be a key to unravelling some of the paradoxes of modern life and culture.
Studio 12: The Voice of Things
This studio will offer a challenge to the idea that objects are unruly things and need to be brought to heel by labelling, categorising, taxonomising. Instead, it offers an invitation to give voice to the mute and invisible, by listening to objects and treating them as allies.
Studio 13: Suck it up
This studio takes a sideways looks at the intersection of youth culture and late capitalism considering the impacts and influences of desire, the cartoon, consumerism and cuteness in shaping our lived contemporary experience.
Studio 14: Futures Past and Present
Cultural history, from high art to kitsch, is littered with visions of the future; some inspiring, some ridiculous, almost all of them wrong.
Studio 15: A River with Standing
What happens when a river is conceived as a living entity instead of the prevailing perspective of human sovereignty over nature? What political impact may this unprecedented legal status have on the ecological crisis? What do Indigenous cosmologies contribute to current posthuman philosophical debates?
Studio 16: “I can’t see the wood for the trees:” Ecology as Methodology
This studio aims to provoke discussion about the ’reality’ and the ‘myth’ of ecology: the ease with which one can theorise about it, and at the same time the persistent challenges of enacting it as an everyday lived condition of human (and more-than-human) existence.
Studio 17: The Practice of Space – Writing Atmospheres in Art and Architecture
Nico de Oliveira
Dissertation Studio 06 looks at space as practice, since each location is a mutable entity framed as a moment in time, populated by individuals and shaped by their actions as artists, musicians, curators, designers, architects, writers and spectators.
Studio 18: The Poetics of Making
This studio will consider the value of making in itself, independent of the product or outcome, exploring the idea of craft as meaningful work.
Studio 19: The Erotics of Infrastructure
Studio 19 questions how our body and subjectivity is formed through our encounters with infrastructure. We will explore what constitutes contemporary infrastructure, such as the digital sphere, financial products and how these may impact the formation of our subjectivity and social organisation.
Studio 20: A History of Efficiency
There is nothing inevitable about the way we organise our societies. Changing the harmful structures of economic efficiency, which are making the planet uninhabitable, is up to us. This studio is for students who are interested in exploring any aspect of the climate emergency.