June 23, 2020

WFH: DAY 74. 6.00 am: Awake, and had been since 5.30 am. I’m not sure whether this is a Summer or an isolation phenomenon. I was at my desk by 7.00 am, returning emails, submitting resit advice, and orientating myself to the day ahead. The morning is noticeably warmer and more humid than it has been. 9.30 am: The first of the day’s PhD research monitoring interviews. The aim is to confirm our respective reports. Inevitably, the conversation ranges wider.

Some principles and observations derived from today’s discussions:

  • ‘Writing-up’ (as it were) the thesis element of a PhD Fine Art is rather like being confronted with a room filled with thousands of pieces of Lego and being asked to construct the Empire State Building, without a plan to follow. You have no option other than to click one brick to another and to another, until you’ve created a small unit. Then you build other small units and, when they’re complete, join them together to create a larger unit. You undertake the same process again and, afterwards, fit the larger units together.
  • Practice and theory have the same relationship as a motor cycle and side car. The former drives and steers the latter — which is in a position of subservience. Theory ought always to be the passenger, rather than the cyclist. Theory accounts for the fact of the artwork.
  • Writing about the artwork is rather like taking a snapshot of something travelling at enormous speed: the resultant ‘image’ will be blurred, a deformation of the real, momentary, and provisional. Our creative imaginations sift through thousands of choices and make decisions far more swiftly than it’s possible to annotate. And so many of our ideas cannot be converted to verbal propositions. Rather, they’re abstractions: irreducible, without equivalence, and inscrutable.

It was good to touch base with them all. It’s impossible to determine the adverse effects that lockdown may have had upon the research students’ performance. Some have been denied studio space, and essential equipment and materials; others are confined within small quarters, where they’ve worked exclusively since March; and still others have felt bereft of that community of art students who’ve given them support in the past.

2.00 pm: My final interview of the day:

Afterwards, I put to bed the admin arising from to day’s engagements before setting up MA and PhD tutorial appointments for the next week.

7.30 pm: An evening in which to prepare feedback for dispatch, once marks have been ratified by the the Exam Board Meeting at the close of the weekend. Finally, I returned to reading.

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