Glass, Dust, Air

N.B. This theme further suggests methodologies around seeing/drawing (glass), history, archive and writing (dust), and voice and audio (air).

Practice-based PhD Seminar
: Wednesday, 7th October, 5pm-7pm
Venue: Senate House, 1 Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU (Room 264)
Invited Guest (30 mins)
Dr. Emma Cheatle

In this presentation I will outline a new method of writing about the history of architecture, art or place. It is a method where the research oscillates between, firstly, the archive and available historiography, and, secondly, through the experience of the building or artwork itself. The latter part of the method relies on getting close to a building, regarding it as a character, or set of resonant objects, imagining it; it demands getting close to its past, in order to establish historical and social events that may have happened there. My approach, called ‘part-architecture’, is inspired by ideas from Freud on the unconscious, Lacan on the part-object and Benjamin on history. It utilises the feminist philosophy and art theory of Irigaray, Krauss and Kivland. The resultant writings are creative critical ‘histories’ that incorporate theory, creative writing, drawing and audio works, to understand the history of architecture as a social and creative inhabitation of space.

Here, I will specifically describe my doctoral research which gave new historical accounts of the Maison de Verre (Pierre Chareau, 1928–32) and the Large Glass (Marcel Duchamp, 1915–23). Using the themes glass, dust and air, which emerged from early research, I will firstly show how these were used to unearth new content – ideas, poetics and relationships – between the two works. I will secondly outline the way the themes further structured methodologies around seeing/drawing (glass), history, archive and writing (dust), and voice and audio (air).

I will conclude with a brief overview of a new research project ‘“The dark and airless room”: architecture and the rise of gynaecology, 1750–1880’ which uses similar approaches to look at John Dobson’s 1826 Lying-in hospital in Newcastle-upon-Tyne to establish links between architectural space and the development of the practices of gynaecology.

Student Presentations (15 mins. each)
  • Alison Gibb (Royal Holloway, Poetic Practice) will present ‘from Part 2. Language As Material As, Concept:  Marcel Duchamp, Artist, Poet and the Green Box, Even. ( a work in progress)’
  • Sally Dean (Royal Holloway, Drama) will present on ‘Somatic Movement & Costume’
All followed by discussion.

Dr. Emma Cheatle is Post-doctoral Fellow at Newcastle University Humanities Research Institute (NUHRI), where she is undertaking a new research project, ‘“The dark and airless room”: architecture and the rise of gynaecology, 1750–1880’. She is also NUHRI’s ambassador for humanities research across the University and further afield. In general, her research explores works of architecture and art as material and spatial sites of cultural and social history. In order to ‘reconstruct’ the past lives of buildings in the present, she practices a theoretical-creative writing which critically employs different forms of text, drawing, and audio. Her PhD thesis, ‘Part-architecture: the Maison de Verre through the Large Glass’ (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL), received the 2014 RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis, and is a forthcoming publication entitled Part-architecture: the Maison de Verre, Duchamp, Domesticity and Desire in 1930s Paris (Farnham: Ashgate, 2016).

Alison Gibb is a poet/artist and PhD researcher in poetics at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research project focuses on creative processes, production methods and critical theories shared by visual artists and poets. In addition, her  research practice aims to produce page-based, art-installation and live performance outcomes. Alison has produced, a series of drawings, diagrams, poetry texts, posters, wall-painting, and videos that explores and demonstrates her research as methodologies for creating a poetic practice.

Sally Dean is a London-based American performer, choreographer, playwright and teacher. Over the past decade Sally has performed her work in venues across London, Prague (Czech Republic), France (Paris), Essen (Germany), Java (Indonesia), Sri Lanka, as well as in the United States in New York, San Francisco and Seattle. Her work has been produced in venues ranging from established theatres, such as The Place, Robin Howard Dance Theatre (London), to site-specific settings such as church crypts, traditional Javanese markets, a post-war junk museum, and gallery spaces.Sally holds a MA by project in Art, Design and Visual Culture from London Metropolitan University, based on cross-disciplinary, practice-based research into subjective and objective perspectives on the performance making process.


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