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CVC/RCA PGR Training Workshop

CVC/RCA PGR Training Workshop

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  • Date 01 Jun 2023
  • Time 17:00-18:30
  • Category Seminar

An opportunity for doctoral students to present their research, share ideas and engage in discussion with other PGRs and colleagues

Click here to watch the recording of this event

This workshop is an opportunity for PGRs from the RHUL Centre for Visual Cultures and the Royal College of Art to present their research, try out some ideas for a conference paper, and benefit from immediate feedback and discussion with other doctoral researchers and colleagues.

This is the second workshop of a two-part series where the RHUL Centre for Visual Cultures and the Royal College of Art have collaborated to create workshops for their respective PGRs to present and receive feedback on their work in a friendly and constructive environment. There will be four PGRs presenting their research in 10-12 minute slots, followed by a Q+A. The Q+A will give all participants and attendees a valuable opportunity to develop professional skills in engaged critical debate and dialogue.

The presenters in this training workshop are:

Polly Hember (English and Media Arts, Centre for Visual Cultures, Royal Holloway, University of London)

Polly is an AHRC-funded PhD student and Visiting Tutor at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her thesis focuses on modernism, visual culture, and affective networks, exploring the work of the POOL group. Her work has been published in the edited collection Hotel Modernisms (Routledge, 2023) and in Modernist Cultures.

Polly writes: My presentation places the journal Close Up's, attitudes to sound cinema in dialogue with a neglected book by the writer, film critic and POOL group confidant, Robert Herring. On its surface, Herring’s Adam at Evelyn at Kew; or, Revolt in the Gardens (1930) appears to be highly suspicious of sound. Eve is recast as a film-star who offers Adam the ‘new knowledge’ of her studio’s temperamental microphones, which she describes as ‘perfect devils to manage’, crafting an Eden of silent cinema where sound technology is synonymous with the devil. However, Herring’s playful use of parody shows Eve’s ‘new knowledge’ to be their salvation. Exploring the politics of sound, I offer a reading of Herring’s text to map further aspects of modernism’s complex reaction to the ‘Terror of the Studios’.

Amina Abbas-Nazari (School of Communication, Royal College of Art)

Amina is a designer, researcher, and vocal performer. She is a PhD student in the School of Communication at the Royal College of Art and previously studied MA Design Interactions at RCA. Alongside Amina’s personal research and practice she teaches design at Goldsmiths, University of London, and previously worked as a Research Fellow on the EPSRC funded My Naturewatch project. Amina has presented her work at the London Design Festival, Milan Furniture Fair, Venice Architecture Biennial, Critical Media Lab, Switzerland, Litost Gallery, Prague, Harvard University, America, Queen Mary University, Barbican Centre and V&A museum. As a trained singer she has performed internationally with a number of choirs for over 20 years, as well as regularly for artists' projects.

In this presentation Amina will give an overview of her PhD research. Her PhD investigates the sound and sounding of voices in conversational artificially intelligent (AI) systems, such as human voice interaction with an Amazon Echo device, voiced by Alexa. Currently human and synthesised voices in conversational AI systems are understood through practices of profiling - a mode of working and understanding that further perpetuates harm to already marginalised people. Using a methodology highlighting the sonic materiality of human and synthesised voices she critiques practices of profiling while demonstrating alternative possibilities. The research is orientated from her position as a practising speculative designer and vocal performer, while tracking the motivations of a lineage of female experimental vocalists. The practice-led research stipulates that the voice taken as a material and sonic phenomenon within conversational AI systems can facilitate new forms of meaning making. By working with the voice as a design material, but treating it as though an experimental singer would, possibilities emerge to experiment with vocal potential, building dynamic relations with other matter and exploring concepts of being and identity.

Caroline Harris (English, Centre for Visual Cultures, Royal Holloway, University of London)

Caroline is a writer, editor, publisher and poetic practice PhD student at Royal Holloway, University of London. Pamphlets include SCRUB Management Handbook No.1 Mere (Singing Apple Press), Type Flight and Cut-out Bambi (Small Birds Press), A Summoning Spell for Lost Deer (Osmosis Press, forthcoming). Handmade artist’s bookworks are held in the National Poetry Library, Bodleian Library (UK) and Bavarian State Library (Germany); the ‘Clootie Collars’ ribbon poems are on Poem Atlas and ‘Clootie Ribbons’ installation was exhibited at the Art Park Gallery, Rhodes. She is co-organiser of AWW-STRUCK: Creative and Critical Approaches to Cuteness and founder of Small Birds Press.

Caroline writes: Deer Collars is a project from my Poetic Practice PhD research, which is titled ‘Aww-Struck Poetics: Deer and Poems as Cute Objects’. The project involves a series of ‘collars’ cut out from scanned and printed pages taken from an edition of Felix Salten’s Bambi: A Life in the Woods and folded and sewn into four designs. I have then created a sequence of poems made from the remnants of language left on the paper formed into the physical Deer Collars. The designs are inspired by deer tracking collars, ‘cute’ S&M collars on Etsy, a lace and pearl collar seen on a taxidermy deer, the Wilton Diptych and the Devonshire Hunting Tapestries. The piece forms part of my research concerned with the subversive potential of textile cuteness and of ‘breaking’ and ‘a-mending’. My interdisciplinary thesis asks how a posthuman (or de-human) poetics of cuteness might critique, subvert and refigure attitudes towards deer, both as living beings and as literary subjects. It works towards a definition of nonhuman cuteness that recognises the specificity of the cute relationship with nonhuman persons such as deer. Through experimental poetic practice and theoretical discussion, it explores what might constitute not only cute poetic content and materials, but cute procedures, forms and production.

Hotessa Laurence (School of Communication, Royal College of Art)

Tessa is an animator with more than 20 year’s experience of directing, producing and animating a variety of commercial and independent projects that have been screened at national and international festivals and on television all over the world. She currently divides her professional time between her practice and an academic career. She is a senior lecturer at the University of Westminster (BA Animation) and as taught on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at Kingston University, UWE Bristol, CSM, the RCA and LISSA, Paris, as well as running workshops and lecturing in the UK and abroad. She is currently working towards a practice-led PhD at the RCA that translates creative and technical animation processes to the making of wordless picturebooks for children.

Tessa writes: Drawing upon sources selected for their common preoccupation with time, this practice-led research appropriates and translates some of the creative and technical processes used in the production of short animated films and applies them to the making of wordless picturebooks for children. The presentation focuses on the conditions for the creative practice and the phenomenology of making while bringing to the foreground some of the key considerations of animation as a time-based medium. The inquiry poses philosophical and cinematographically framed questions that focus on the affordances that the processes of animation allows for; drawing, erasing, keyframing, inbetweening, metamorphosis, cycles and animated loops as well as notions of the Interval and the dynamic forces between any depicted elements, panels or frames. The thesis makes use of animation processes to evaluate the fluctuation of space and time expression and its place in the production of narrative meaning to foster ways of constructing fiction for children that looks beyond linear retrospection, towards something open and unpredictable.


We hope you will join us for this exciting session of research synergies and interdisciplinary dialogue. If you have any questions about the event or accessibility, please email us at:

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