academia Art/Writing Interests InTheory Material Cultures Methods MFA Study Original Work Research Writing

MFA Contemporary Art Theory


Having just written 12,000 of them, I have few words to say at the moment.

Perhaps once you’ve read it, I’ll have thought of one.

academia Art/Writing

Personal Glossary

Term Definition
Abwesend Absent, away from a place
Actor Network Theory Abandons hierarchical ontology to propose a level plane of entities, or actors
Agency The capacity to act in the world
An Oak Tree A transubstantiated glass of water
Art as Life Continuous practice, pure activity, not leading to particular results
Art Object Things that result from art works
Art Work/Art Project/Project Network The wider network of artist, objects, documentation, happenings, publications, curator, organisation, audience, etc.
Art Writing Writing within the art project
academia Deveron Arts InTheory Research Writing

Picture Postcard

pard2 pard1

A blog post in which I question representation and relate tourism to a work of art.

I went to Paris in 2010. I was in 2nd year at art school and hadn’t yet discovered Ceal Floyer or scrutinised An Oak Tree. I was more interested in purchasing a beret and wearing it to saunter around the Pompidou, with a sophisticated belonging of course. And then I came back to Dundee and the 31st of the month arrived as it often did, and with it, the time to discard a pair of scratchy contact lenses for fresh ones.

Think of what they had seen, though. An entire trip, a life moment. Alas, no. It could not be done.

I spent the next year or so in the studio exploring this phenomenon of stowing nostalgia in objects. But I think I may have overplayed the role of irrational sentiment.

academia Deveron Arts Interests Internship InTheory MFA Study

The Useful Turn (initial ramble)

About ten months ago I was sitting at GI Festival’s Hub desk. I think it was an early Sunday morning and we were quiet. This was a voluntary gig so I figured I could peek at the copy of Frieze on the desk to fill half an hour. Sam Thorne’s ‘What’s the Use?’ has been pacing my minds-mind since that day. And perhaps now, more than ever.

Art. Use. (?)
Use Art. (!..?)


academia InTheory


The Lightswitch Object

A work of art requires affirmation from an audience. Without reception, and the means for reception, there is a very ‘tree falling in the woods’ situation. In considering the artwork as a network of effect, the light switch is a vital element. Formalist theorists prefer to think of the artwork as an independent unit expressing specific autonomy with no reliance on the beholder. The 1970s saw the dawn of conceptual art and with it, the proclamation that a communicated idea was of more value than a self-sufficient art object. An artwork is a fluid and changeable entity made up of many components in an active network. The artwork, and indeed the object, is an event in which there are many counterparts. The value of an ordinary object, a light switch within the gallery, will be considered to argue this.  

“Phone Voice: I wanna play a game.
Casey Becker: [crying] No.
Phone Voice: Then he dies right now!
Casey Becker: [screaming and crying] NO!! No!
Phone Voice: Which is it? [serious tone] Which is it?
Casey Becker: [crying] Well… what kind of a game?
Phone Voice: Turn off the light. You’ll see what kind of game. Just do it! [Casey walks to the light switch.]
Steve Orth: [muffled] No, Casey! No! No! [Casey switch off the lights.] NO! CASEY!!!”

It is common in the horror movie genre for the light switch to be a pinnacle object. To turn on the lights ensures safety in illumination, whereas the darkness of lights off signifies uncertainty and danger.[1] Scream, 1996, is a self-referential horror movie utilising, and making aware of, many conventional tactics of the genre. The characters in Scream are themselves fans of horror movies. When Casey Becker turns off the lights at the request of the phone villain, dubbed Ghostface, Steve Orth knows she will perish.

academia InTheory jane bennett Material Cultures Methods MFA Study Original Work Research Writing

Object as Event

Semesters’ Thoughts. (click link)


academia InTheory Uncategorized



academia InTheory


Tuesday Talks is going well this semester. Myself and fellow MFA student James Currie have taken the concept under our wing.

The structure of having two students speak amongst their peers in a comfortable environment generates much discussion at the end of the session.

It is beneficial for artists to talk about their work, but also to listen about it and around it.

academia InTheory

Tuesday Talks


First Talk: Tuesday 21st October. 1-2pm. Room JO3, ECA

Tuesday Talks is a weekly event that allows students to present work to their peers in an informal environment and receive research and skill tips. Every week two artists will present their talk, followed by a short Q&A session. All students are welcome to attend.
If students are interested in presenting a talk, please contact

academia ahland FAIR

Report on Ahland

The Ahland Report(click to read) is done and in the process of being dusted.

Most of last semester was taken up by establishing the small micronation of Ahland. Having received encouragement from the Scottish Government, made contact with other micronations and in talks about continuing the project further, I can confidently say it was a worthwhile and successful project.

And so it’s time to collect Summer endeavours. I need a break from pink, green, grey and grey.

academia FAIR

FAIR 2014



Presenting FAIR 2014:
A group show of projects by postgraduate students at Edinburgh College of Art, Leeds City College and St Lucas Visual Arts Ghent.

academia Cultural Turns Interests

‘We see not the art, but the space first.’(1)

Perhaps if we can see that ‘we see not the art, but the space first’, we might not see the space first.



academia FAIR

FAIR Progress

As Heritage Officer for the Nation of Ahland, todays task was writing up a brief history of the country’s formation for our new website.


Ahland Website


Ahland opens its boundaries to tourists on the 30th of April and we’re really upping our game to publicise now.

Friday will see the coronation of our King at the Ahlandian Embassy in Scotland, and its sure to be a truly festive night.

academia Cultural Turns InTheory

The Arts of Air

Steven Connor addressed The Arts of Air at a talk in 2007 at Art Basel. As an introduction, he references Ruskin and the view that everything delightful comes from life, earth and air. Rust means life, and polished perfection means death.

Absolute Air

In conceptual art, art refuses to be reduced to the fixed object, or mistaken for that one object. Art has always struggled with the enchantment of objects, when often process is preferred. Duchamp’s Air de Paris, 1919, presents air as the art object. This gesture establishes immateriality as material. Air is not a readymade, but rather a ready to hand emblem of unmaking.

Homage to Duchamp’s Air de Paris

 No object embodies arts desire to have done with objects more than air.’ – Connor

…If air is nothing, and art aspires to identify with that… then art is nothing… and can therefore be anything. Right?

Art does consist of nothing in particular. Everything else is miserably final and particular. Similarly, air embodies a multitude of traces, but no single state of being. Impression without presence. Only outerness.

The desire of the unattainable.

Neil Mulholland talks about the creation of ‘living gestures rather than museological landfill’, in his Notes on Ambient Art.


The fixed is limiting. I’ve been looking at works by Robert Barry who wants to make minimal impact on his surroundings. It is important to remember that the invisible is not the inexistent.

Object Air

‘Let us recall what we are sure we know about objects…’

Objects are dead/fixed/permanent

Objects have no relation to each other

Objects are not free to change nature

Objects are for our use

Objects stay the same, for that use

Objects are needed by subjects

Objects are what we know

… ‘All this is mistaken.’

Air is, in essence, an object. It is errored to think otherwise. Objects are finite but not final. They are not immune to relations. Air is needed for objects and objects guide activity and allow us to move beyond ourselves.

Rubber Duck, 2009

Conner turns to the subject of inflatable art. I found this an unexpected direction. I didn’t expect the article to detail such literal interpretations of Air Art. However the comical and impermanent nature of the inflatable obviously relevant. From Deller’s Sacrilege to Floretijn Hoffman’s giant Rubber Duck, the delicate form of the inflatable is intriguing as an example of the transitory object.

Air is not an ideal image for art, but an object for it to work on. Air, then, is not immateriality.


I’ve said ‘Air’ too much. I need to go do something…

academia Workshops

Into the Atelier

A workshop led by fellow Masters student Jake Watts and visiting artist Dave Young.

Discussion and involvement aimed to address art practice and artistic identity in relation to economic systems we have to work within.

After much discussion and brainstorming of the often inaccessible current system, we came up with the concept of ArtCoin. This would allow exchange and trade of skills between artists.

Obviously this is all theoretical. But it’s fun to muse.

academia Cultural Turns

Nightmares, Traps and Contemporary Art

Dreams are a weird one.





-Louise Milne

Having never really thought much about the nightmare and a possible connection to a work of art, this was new territory for me.

Milne likens the nightmare to a trap. There is evidence of what came before, the creator. And there is suggestion of a possible victim. The trap is this middle point that acknowledges both the aware and the unaware. In a dream every entity is intact you. And the hunter and prey interact.

Artworks too ensnare attention and provoke ‘self shattering’ experiences. Milne comments on the anxiety caused by placing paradoxical representations against each other. This is why a nightmare can be frightening, the familiar comfortable objects interwoven with fear and ‘monsters’. Art, and curation too, incorporate juxtapositional paradoxes into their viewing.


Damián Ortega’s work has drawn my attention recently. His use of objects but in grand representations amuses me. In Controller of the Universe he manipulates a collection of tools into a spectral and threatening display. The title alludes to this manipulation. This speaks of mans dominance over the object, the assignation of purpose and use
academia Uncategorized

A history lesson from the future… of the future.

Cultural Turns seminars are proving interesting and very refreshing. The most recent assignment on Future Studies was much fun. The task was to present a future history in the past tense. Roleplay ensued.

Take A Look.