Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Update on 2014

In between all the rushing around and trying to carve out space to think and write and do stuff this blog has been rather neglected. Anyway, here is a quick update on various projects I'm attempting to keep in motion at the same time.

1. Remaking Society has ended but there is still some more 'output' that has yet to come to the surface from the project. Here's a short film that Hugh Kelly and I cut together which reflects on his 30 years of working in 'communities on the edge' in North Tyneside. We're going to write a longer reflective piece that comes out of this, hopefully to be published in one of the publications on 'Media at the Margins' that is coming out of the MECCSA conference earlier this year. In the meantime you can read the working paper that we produced for an AHRC Connected Communities symposium on social justice and co-produced research in November 2013 over at academia.edu.

The Odd Numbers project with Lee Ivett (Baxendale) and Nicola Atkinson (NADFLY) in Milton continues - we took the participatory pavilion to Room 13 in Caol, Fort William for a joint seminar/workshop with the UWS MEd Artist Teacher programme in February and we are planning a further pavilion to be developed for events later this year. There will be a book - and a ceremonial burial of the figures - later this year.  There are also some other chapters in other publications, co-authored with Kerrie Schaefer, Tom Wakeford and Neill Patton, that should see the light at the end of the year.

2. Following on from the Cultural Hijack extravaganza last year, I'm contributing to a project which UWS doctoral researcher Ben Parry is leading - The Experimental City - which seeks to build on the idea of the 'user generated city' (a term originated by URBZ in Dharavi, Mumbai) and how this is generated through live experiments in urban design, cultural interventions, and symbolic forms of occupation. There will be a book, a series of events and possibly even a film...

3. With Angie Bual of Trigger and the excellent theatre makers Davey Anderson and Gary McNair, together with Ben Colburn, Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, we've just launched Flip Side - a project which seeks to explore the philosophical ideas sitting underneath the independence referendum debate. More on the project here:

4. I'm just back from a few days at Columbia College in Chicago and an excellent songwriting residency hosted by Gary Yerkins, who runs the programme in Contemporary, Urban and Popular Music there. There will be an album made of some of the wonderful music that has come out of the songwriting workshops which were initiated by my colleague Davie Scott who runs the MA in Songwriting and Performance at UWS. It's great to see some of the UK-US conversations that I began more than a decade ago lead to direct transatlantic collaborations between students. Surely more to follow.

5. I'm involved in a small way in another Connected Communities "legacy" project led by Kate Pahl and Steve Pool at the University of Sheffield, examining the roles that artists have played across the programme - in some ways this builds on the work that I did as part of the TAPP (Teacher Artist Partnership Programme) project - but translates these questions a little more broadly into a wider debate about artists' pedagogies, practice-led research and the role of artistic-academic dialogues - and the kinds of spaces in which these might happen -  in generating productive frictions that might open up enquiry.

6. I went to the AHRC research development workshop on exclusion, disconnection and division in March 2014 and came out with an interesting consortium of people developing a large project with the provisional title: Challenging Elites: Land, Rights, Resistance.  More on that when we know whether our proposal for a development grant has been successful...

7. Another ongoing research theme is about pedagogies for a networked and connected age - something akin to the work that is going on, in a more thorougly developed fashion, in the big MacArthur project on digital learning. Here's a presentation I did the other week for a group of staff from UWS and other Scottish universities. One of these days I will write all this up properly into some sort of publication/provocation: