This Dissertation Studio examines instances of the liminal as they occur in critical theory and culture, and is open to any topic and students from all disciplines. You will be assisted to develop a topic of your choice in a chosen field that relates to the liminal – it might be a transitional process, or avant-garde’s edge, or thresholds of experience or designed space. You might consider the hypnagogic’s role in ritual or creative practice, or consider the aesthetics of the indeterminate object or outcome, or practices that focus specifically on boundaries or outline or limits.
When thinking of liminality, you might think of Junichiro Tanazaki talking of deeply-felt shadows; Marjorie Perloff revelling in indeterminacy; Anne Carson questioning the audibility of women; Martin Heidegger wondering by what language we could know ourselves if we crossed beyond the line. Georges Bataille doesn’t believe in limits – we should accelerate to excess; James Turrell deals in transitions in half-light; William Burroughs slices and dices; for Slavoj Zizek we can really only see things whilst looking at them awry. Our world demands the clarity of harsh outlines, but this only serves to underline the importance of the in-between and the indistinct. Each week we will consider different permutations of the rich history of creative work around the liminal as it occurs across disciplines, and we might consider as part of your research an installation at C4RD in Highbury.
Suggested readings, resources and preparatory activities
- Berardi, Franco “Bifo”, Futurability: The Age of Impotence and the Horizon of Possibility (London: Verso, 2017)
- Brown, Wendy, Walled States, Waning Sovereignty (New York: Zone Books, 2010)
- Carson, Anne, ‘The Gender of Sound’, in Glass, Irony and God (New York: New Direction Books, 1995)
- Haraway, Donna, ’A Cyborg Manifesto’, in D Bell and M Kennedy (eds), The Cyberculture Reader (London: Routledge, 2000)
- Heidegger, Martin, ‘On the Question of Being (1955)’ in Pathmarks. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)
- Hollander, Dana, ‘Barthes and Derrida on the Limits of Representation’, in Wilhelm Wurzer, Panorama: Philosophies of the Visible (London: Continuum, 2002)
- Nancy, Jean-Luc, The Birth to Presence (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993)
- Perloff, Majorie, The Poetics of Indeterminacy (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1999)
- Tanizaki, Junichiro, In Praise of Shadows (Chicago: Leete’s Island Books, 1977)
- Weizman, Eyal, Forensic Architecture: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability (New York: Zone Books, 2017)
Studio 01: Imperfect Theories
Things can lead to theories. They can point to a way of seeing artefacts or objects that is more significant than the thing itself.
Studio 02: Narrative, Storytelling and Time
This studio focus on modes of storytelling and narrative conventions. We particularly focus on time in narrative, and the studio undertakes a brief aesthetics of time and thinks about how art and culture has imagined time.
Studio 03: Memento
The Memento research studio employs a critical, layered and multi-disciplinary approach to the problems around memory and society.
Studio 04: Knowing Audiences
In this studio we will be thinking about audiences, how they can be understood, theorised and researched.
Studio 05: Small Encounters
Emma Davenport and Gina Pierce
Textiles present exciting material and theoretical opportunities for us to think through our practice, to make sense of the world around us in the past, present and future.
Studio 06: Performative Acts: Art, Architecture and Writing
Nico de Oliveira
In the last decade or so we have moved from objects to subjects or audiences. In parallel, the word performative has been adapted from a theoretical term to a key rubric within the discourse of contemporary art, architecture and beyond.
Studio 07: Meaningful Work
"The aim of art is to destroy the curse of labour by making work the pleasurable satisfaction of our impulse towards energy, and giving to that energy the hope of producing something worth the exercise." William Morris
Studio 08: The Liminal
This Dissertation Studio examines instances of the liminal as they occur in critical theory and culture, and is open to any topic and students from all disciplines.
Studio 09: The Form of the Text
Studio 9 encourages you to approach the dissertation as a crafted textual project. Through workshops and seminars we will consider some of the elements and activities of which the dissertation is comprised, and look at innovative and exciting ways to work with the form of the text, and the act of building it.
Studio 10: Science Fiction Futurity
The utopia of technology never quite arrived. In the 1960s, you often hear, we were promised flying cars, space settlements, robot butlers and the end of work. But then, curiously, the horizon of futurity diminished.
Studio 11: Commonism
Commonism – with an o in the middle – explores how political activism, participatory design processes, interventionism, collective action and shared authorship are transforming the world of art, architecture and design.
Studio 12: Globalism
For good or ill, we live in a global world. Whilst this may appear to be obvious, globalism is only a relatively recent term as is the phenomenon itself. What do we mean by this? How did we arrive in this place?
Studio 13: Data Stories
Dissertations produced in this studio will be informed by critical research into how data is collected and then used as raw material with which to make or mediate architecture, design and art work.
Studio 14: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture, and Liberation through Music and Performance
This interdisciplinary studio reflects the widening of music and film studies in the last thirty years to include popular music, and popular culture linking art, music, film, advertising, social issues and minority struggles for liberation.
Studio 15: London Walking
Walking as a mode of art practice has its roots in the Dada and Situationist movements of the early twentieth century, with significant developments during the conceptual ‘turn’ of the 1960s.
Studio 16: Souvenir
This studio is concerned with those objects that are lent a particular enchantment because of their relationship with the past. It considers the role of memory and how it is embodied in cultural artefacts.