May 2020 Lecture to KMD staff and students on work in progress

I came away from this recent (Zoom) presentation I gave to staff and students at KMD, thinking that I had in fact already created all the work that was necessary in order to demonstrate my research’s insights. DH (my supervisor) for his part, regarded my presentation and specifically, its explicit (public) weaving-together of the different strands of my research, as itself a significant act and by implication, also a necessary one in terms of concluding my research.


He has suggested that the lecture I gave, could stand as the model for a summative, live, public presentation, which would allow me to interweave existing material and selected works of my making, representing the different but complementary strands in my research, in order to frame a series of propositions, define my work’s position and articulate its thesis. The implication being that such a lecture could itself stand as my “final artistic result”, for the purposes of the PhD.


I’ve been reflecting on this discussion and, acknowledging the need to demonstrate my research’s overall trajectory, I can see the desirability, indeed the advisability of a public act of drawing the different strands of the research together. I’d been hoping that simply presenting these strands and explaining their relationships to my examiners in my written reflection would be enough to elucidate how their different contributions to my research project complemented one another. Creating a public work which explicitly sets out to explore these relationships is a step I hadn’t contemplated until Duncan pointed out that this was what the Monday Lecture was effectively doing, and in so doing, to his mind, it became a piece of work in its own right.


I can make a compelling case that such a work serves an important, summative purpose, however, beyond the utility of such a final presentation for my project, this approach to creating a final artistic outcome - where my creative effort is focused on what has been described as ‘casting a spoken, performative spell’ and which also allows the audience into the often very different “spaces” with which I’m working - also feels consistent with my emergent practice of writing in response to my activities at such sites as the museum and with my nascent autofictional writing and performance. In contrast with my initial proposal for a series of summative installations at the museum, this proposed final work is something I feel more personally invested in.


In practical terms, the precedents in my research, for such an activity are – beyond the recent Monday Lecture itself – my presentation at the Natural History Museum, in October 2019 and also my presentation at the same museum in January 2019.