Research Associates

Peter Buwert,

(2011-14) Encouraging Critical Socio-Political Engagement Through Manipulations of Visual Culture
IDEAS Institute Funded

Peter BuwertVisual communication design is big business, and growing, as our society becomes ever more visually literate and demanding. However, within the fields of professional image creation, comparatively little thought is given to the designer’s responsibility for the societal impact of their manipulations of visual culture. The unspoken and often unquestioned assumption is that visual form is merely a vessel for content. Any socio-political impact on the viewer derives from the received content of the message; therefore responsibility lies with the client not with us: “Don’t shoot the messenger!”

My research seeks to challenge this assumed separation of form and content. One cannot exist without the other. Form is not neutral. To this end I am interested in the theory, history and practice of using various techniques of visual manipulation to ‘defamiliarise’ the conventional experiences of visual culture, seeking ways to bring the content communicated by the experience of visual form onto a footing of equal validity with that of content communicated by reading text.

I am investigating the use of techniques of reflexivity designed to draw the viewer’s attention to the constructed, manipulated nature of the visual form. The aim of this is to encourage the active engagement of the viewer in critically considering the complete experience of the content set before them. This goal is pursued by placing obstacles and inconsistencies in the way of the viewer’s effortless consumption of ‘data’, forcing them, to some extent, to engage in critical thought as to what the content is, and what their response to the subject will be.

Kathleen Coessens

kathleen 26 june 2011Kathleen Coessens is a philosopher and musician, whose research is situated at the crossings of science and art, human creativity and cultural representations, looked at from an embodied, epistemological and philosophical point of view. Interested in the dialogue between different disciplines and arts, she explores how practice, discourse and theory (can) interact. She graduated in piano and chamber music at the Conservatory of Brussels and the Ecole Alfred Cortot at Paris; at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel , she studied philosophy, sociology and psychology. She is currently professor and post-doctoral researcher at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science), the Orpheus Research Centre in Music, Ghent and the Conservatory (Artesis Hogeschool), Antwerpen. She teaches semiotics, sociology of artistic practice, and arts and performance culture. Recent publications are the monographs The Artistic Turn (2009), with Darla Crispin and Anne Douglas, On Calendar Variations (2011), with Anne Douglas and The human being as a cartographer (forthcoming).

Coessens and Douglas co-produced Sounding Drawing 2012-13, one of two projects that explored community in relation to time and encounter as part of the AHRC funded Time of the Clock, Time of Encounter Connected Communities research 2012-13 (PI Johan Siebers).

Reiko Goto

Reiko GotoReiko Goto Collins is an internationally known artist in the field of ecology/environmental art. Her doctoral research explores empathy, metaphor and the imagination as key elements in engaging the public in the natural environment with a view to shifting values. She thereby connects Humans with trees as living organisms that share the same environment. Working with Tim Collins, ecology artist and researcher, she also co-directed the ‘Nine Mile Run’ and the ‘3 Rivers 2nd Nature’ projects in the USA from 1994-2005. She is a ‘distinguished research fellow’ at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Reiko’s work has been shown at Capp Street Project in San Francisco, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Creative Time, New York and the Ludwig Museum, Aachen Germany.

In 2012, Goto completed her PhD research entitled Ecology and Environmental Art in Public Place Talking Tree: Won’t you take a minute and listen to the plight of nature? supervised by Anne Douglas, On the Edge research.

Fiona Hope

Fiona has spent the last 20 years promoting creativity in the community. She studied Education and Dance at Goldsmiths, London (1975) and gained a Masters degree in Education and Psychology from the Institute of Education, London (1985). She has been a primary school teacher specialising in music and drama improvisation. She has been a deputy head-teacher in London, a special needs teacher in Aberdeenshire and a part-time lecturer in Music and Drama in Education at the University of Aberdeen.

Fiona was a founder member of Woodend Arts Association in 1994 and Convenor 1996-99. She co-founded Woodend Music Society in 1998, the Lang Byre Gallery and Sideline Multi Arts in 2000 and Woodend Allotments in 2006. She leads Singing for Joy and is practicing oil painting, wood engraving, sound healing and growing vegetables. She believes that the arts is an essential part of the life of a thriving community and that everyone can be creative.

Mark Hope

Mark Hope has been involved in music and the arts since childhood studies in cello and singing. Since 1999, he has been Chairman of Woodend Arts Association, a community arts charity in Banchory, Aberdeenshire which he helped found in 1994. He is a co-founder and director of Sound, a Scottish Charity which runs an annual festival of new music in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. His life has involved a career in the oil and gas industry and a parallel strand of artistic interest and occasional practice in London and Scotland. He has had a lifelong interest in the arts, systems thinking, education and healing; he helped found The Speedwell Trust, a small charity supporting music therapy, in 1985. Hope represents Woodend Barn as the partner organisation within Connecting Communities through the Arts with Helen Smith, an AHRC funded  Collaborative Doctoral Award (2011-14). Woodend Barn also hosted Sounding Drawing as part of the Time of the Clock, Time of Encounter AHRC funded research (2012-13).

Mark graduated with a B.Sc (Eng) from the Royal School of Mines, London (1975). He also has an M.Sc in Petroleum Engineering from Imperial College (1976) and an M.Sc in Management from the London Business School (1991). Mark is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of IoM3, the Geological Society and the RSA. From 2001 – 2003 he was one of three external members of the Scottish Executive’s Cabinet Sub-Committee on Sustainable Development.

Suzanne Lacy

(1991-2001) Imperfect Art: Working in Public A Case Study of the Oakland Projects

Suzanne LacySuzanne Lacy is an internationally known artist, feminist and activist, exploring experiences of race, ethnicity, aging, economic disparity and violence. Her research with On the Edge is focussed on a ten year programme in Oakland, California, the Oakland projects (1990-2000) in which Lacy worked with teams of artists and youth in media education, challenging the image of youth through a carefully constructed series of performances, workshops, and installations on youth and public policy, documented by videos, local and national news broadcasts, and an NBC program. Lacy is an important critical writer in performance art practice. She edited the seminal Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art, 1995, Bay Press and authored Leaving Art, Duke University Press, 2010. Lacy is the Chair of Fine Arts at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.

In 2013, Lacy completed her PhD research entitled Imperfect Art: Working in Public A Case Study of the Oakland Projects (1991-2001) supervised by Anne Douglas, On the Edge research and Grant Kester, University of San Diego.

The Crystal Quilt at Tate Modern

François Matarasso

MatarassoFrançois Matarasso writes on the social dimensions of art and culture. With a 35 year career in community arts (including research, policy and consultancy) he has deep experience of socially-engaged arts practice. He has worked in over 30 countries, from Colombia to Japan and his writing has been widely published and translated. A past board member of NESTA and Arts Council England, he is a trustee of the Baring Foundation and holds Honorary Professorships at Robert Gordon University (Scotland) and Griffith university (Australia). He began Regular Marvels in 2010 as a way to explore new ways of thinking and writing about art in the everyday. To date, three projects have been completed: on amateur theatre, on artists in old age, and on migrant artists.

Amanda Ravetz

MIRIAD, Manchester Metropolitan University

Amanda Ravetz’s research spans the fields of art and design, film and anthropology, taking the form of academic writing, filmmaking and live collaborations with artists. She is known for her writing on the connections between visual anthropology and art, her research about observational cinema (with Anna Grimshaw) and her practice-based work with fine artists, craftspeople and designers. She has just completed a co-edited book with Bloomsbury Academic (formerly Berg) about the collaborative potential of craft. Ravetz with Douglas and Coessens co-edited Improvisational attitudes:  reflections from art and life on certitude, failure and doubt  (Vol. 8 No. 2) for the international journal Critical Studies in Improvisation. Ravetz is an associate researcher with the Knowing from Inside ERC funded, led by Tim Ingold, University of Aberdeen. and has  co-edited a special issue of Critical Studies in Improvisation/Etudes Critique Improvisation (June 2013). She has presented her work nationally and internationally at venues such as Tate Modern and Harvard University, and recently spent two months at the National Film and Sound Archive on their Artists and Scholars Program. From 2004-2007 she held an Arts and Humanities Research Council 3 year Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts.

Chu Chu Yuan

(2010-13) The Aesthetics of Negotiation within a Relational Art Practice
IDEAS Institute Funded


Chu Yuan is a Malaysian visual artist and cultural worker involved in arts organising, network building, teaching, writing, advocacy and research. She is currently pursuing her PhD with Gray’s School of Art at the Robert Gordon University, Scotland, researching on the practice of negotiation in collaborative art as an active process of knowing. In her collaborative practice, she explores the role of presence, performance, visualisation and conversations (intra and interpersonal) in enabling the understanding of self+others+context; and the conception of ground, inter-relations, orientations and bodily movement in time/space in facilitating agency. In her individual practice, she is interested in how culture transcribes itself onto our body, how we are performing these transcripts in our everyday lives, and uses soft sculptures, installation, performance, painting, photography and text to explore the inter-relationships between mind, body in/and environment.

In 2013 Chu Yuan completed her PhD research Negotiation-As-Active-Knowing: An Approach evolved from Relational Art Practice supervised by Anne Douglas of On the Edge Research and Jim Hamlyn, Grays School of Art.