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Who Else Takes Part? Admitting the more-than-human into participatory art.

SUMMARY
This is the webpage for my doctoral research project, submitted to the University of Oxford in October 2015.
Below is an abstract of this project, and links to documentation of the artworks presented for examination – including a 40,000 word book, and a series of other participatory projects.

ARTWORKS

Documentation of the artworks produced for this doctoral project:



ABSTRACT

This practice-led research concerns how participatory and dialogic art practice can come to terms with conditions after the Anthropocene (Crutzen & Stoermer 2000), the epoch when humans were recognized as ‘an earth-changing force’ (Lorimer 2015). These forms of art practice draw heavily on a social-constructivism that emphasizes human cultural endeavour above all else. But if we are living in an epoch when humans can no longer presume to have mastery over nature (Plumwood 1993), then how can such a anthropocentric practice remain tenable? Indeed, it now seems impossible, inappropriate even, to make such a clear distinction between humans and others things. This is not to claim the end of the human. Rather, it is an invitation to think the more-than-human (Whatmore 2002; 2006), and to ask, who else takes part with us in the social forms enacted through participatory and dialogic art practice after the Anthropocene?

In doing so, this research turns towards aspects of new materialism (Dolphijn & van der Tuin 2015), and despite the associated risks – most obviously an accusation of “vulgarity” in insisting on the materiality of relations which subtend cultural and social ones – concludes that the benefits abound as the rest of the universe  suddenly becomes our kin (Haraway 2015), our collaborators in research (Barad 2007), participants in art, and interlocutors in dialogue.

This research is conducted through art (Frayling 1993), and is presented as a series of artworks and accompanying printed publications. Together, they attempt to admit the more-than-human into art practice – both as things and as a concept.


Simon Pope
D.Phil in Fine Art at Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford

St. John’s College, Michaelmas Term 2015