Mon 16 Apr 2018, 6.30–8pm
Cass Research Seminars:
What do PhD students do at The Cass? Three research presentations

Mary-Jane Opie - Mother and Child

Come and find out what our Cass PhD students are doing here at The Cass as they prepare for their annual student progress review. If you're interested in doing a PhD at The Cass, these talks will give you a taster of the kind of design research projects art and architecture students are pursuing.

Mary-Jane Opie has made and exhibited artwork within the gallery context, for a number of years before commenced her doctoral studies at London Metropolitan in 2015. Her work within an adolescent psychiatric unit and her professional career as a gundog trainer and handler has provided ample references to a series of artworks regarding companion pet dogs and their owners.

Pictorial references describing the themes of power, anthropocentricity, need, individuality and status, act as a starting point for an ethnographic research into the interspecies co-habitation with ‘Man’s Best Friend’ - the modern pet companion dog. I propose that; within images, where dogs are displayed codes referring to dogs as; ‘Trophy’, ‘Playmate’ and ‘surrogate child’ are programmed. These pictorial spectacles and visual memories and will be reviewed. Why the image makers use distinctive conventions to authenticate families by familiarising identities, social relationships, space and time, will be discussed. By deconstructing the species of ‘Dog’ and reconstructing the modern pet-companion dog to familial roles, are we describing our own sense of purpose?  Answers to these questions and others raised, will be sort by deciphering the visual codes, and new pictorial ways to describe these relationships will be tested and produced.

Bobby M Supatira trained as an architect and worked in Thailand and London before commenced his doctoral studies at London Metropolitan in 2016. His research focuses on the Thai immigrant currently living in London, with a view to understanding the spatial and social practices involved in the creation of their cosmopolitan identity within a migratory setting.

Bobby's talk is entitled: Towards Multicultural London: Urban Spaces of Thai Cosmopolitanism. Globalised urban contexts for everyday life, in cities such as London, have raised significant concerns about how the city is able to handle multiculturalism as well as preparing for the integration of ever-widening spectrum of inhabitants. In keeping with today proliferation of multiple identities, the study argues that the techniques of cosmopolitanism require further examination to the question of how intercultural interaction in cities should be addressed, as well as greater awareness of the strategies of allegiance, participation and belonging that allow environments like London to flourish.

Jane McAllister's research examines the design development, making and curation of things; buildings, animals, people and landscape, for the Oxford City Farm is an ongoing dialogical practice, which aims to set up a critical enquiry into identity. The peculiar physical characteristics of the project, position the research outside the usual commercial trappings associated with land value, which in turn, provoke a form of governance that is usually associated more with ‘common land’ than private enterprise. This, and questions regarding sustainability, mortality and life-cycles begin to raise a number of ethical issues which problematise the Cartesian, Human – Nature divide. I suggest that in order to conduct any discussion which might lead to a valuable insight into identity, the project must critique this divide through its practices and its things.

Theoretically the research explores number of interrelated ontological approaches, one concerning non-Cartesian societies (animism and totemism)  and the other concerned directly with our relationship with objects and things, drawing on ‘object oriented ontology’ and Heidegger's ‘present’ and ‘ready’ to-hand'. Practically, the research takes a position of the ‘archipologist’ which is neither anthropologist nor architect, rather a  mixture of of both, and from there, documents the project through three cyclical stages; ‘presents’ (objects given to the site), ‘commons’ (which form the critical debate or agon) and ‘enduring substances’ (things that are precipitated through practice to endure the test of time).