• Chronicle of a practice-based thing: Network optics, epistemic crisis and the fabrication of voice

van Mourik Broekman, Pauline, 2023, Thesis, Chronicle of a practice-based thing: Network optics, epistemic crisis and the fabrication of voice PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

Chronicle mobilises the popular academic trope of the ‘PhD journey’, together with Dziga Vertov’s cinematic tenet of a ‘communist decoding of reality’, to interrogate contemporary practice-based research’s ontological claim to epistemic singularity and innovation. The project deploys the findings of an enquiry into avant-garde authorial techniques and revolutionary film practice — conducted initially during research into the Soviet director, and subsequently the avant-garde archive more broadly interpreted. An intermedia work of critical writing, video and poetry, it documents the moulding of a voice and methodology analogous with the experiential realities of mass digitisation and carceral capitalism (Thylstrup, Wang) as these are manifest in the neoliberal university and in everyday life. Knowledge claims and documentary specificity, this endeavour suggests, must contend with the hegemonic power of our most ubiquitous digital tools (Chun, Golumbia), whose relation to capital and temporality refracts in unexpected ways across the state, institution and home.

Experimentation with form and medium engages the analytical categories of the project’s foundational discourses — Marxism, feminism, visual studies — while occupying an indeterminacy that is simultaneously fragile and inexpert (‘all too human’), over-extended and grandiose (‘more than human’). This stratagem consciously echoes both Futurist and Soviet rhetoric, and our own era’s abolitionist and neofascist politics, the conflict of which underlies the text. Further exemplars in historiography, poetry and practice-based research (Hartman, Boyer, Palmer) are embraced to supplant the ‘anxiety of influence’ (Bloom) with a joy in un-originality, running against the grain. Swinging between scales, affects and assumed capacities, the uncertain status of the human scholar is illuminated, as she faces an era of automation, devalorisation and social struggle (Kotouza, Kundnani, Clover, et al.).

Chronicle situates itself at the intersection of domestic, emotional, creative and intellectual labour, paying homage to feminist, anticolonial, and black-radical writing-and-making practices whose exclusion from conceptions of self, voice, enlightenment and humanity in notionally liberal-democratic societies fomented their innovations and revolutionary drive. Drawing on a theoretical corpus in transition, Chronicle asks who and what produced it; who and what its author, her freedom and expressivity? The PhD simultaneously argues and embodies the reality that, like education, artistic research and creation occurs within the recurring crisis of capitalism and its environment, and its epistemological status is always constitutively relational.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Funders: AHRC (Techne) [1500632]
Uncontrolled Keywords: Dziga Vertov; film; practice-based research; neoliberalism; university
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2023 10:41
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2023 10:41
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5281
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