• At the Painting’s Edge: A Practice-Based Investigation into Liminality, Inside-outness and the Painting as a Quasi Person

      McGuirk, Tom; Robinson, Wayne (University of Chester, 2022-01-08)
      This research project is driven by a motivation to better understand the effect of painting’s internal and external space when interrupted by objects placed at its periphery. The research consists of two strands of exploration. Firstly, through the practice of painting and secondly, through theoretical research in support of that painting practice. By moving between painting and writing, it examines how phenomena such as the act of making, memory and object-agency can coalesce to form complex, new objects. The project places to the fore the importance of hand making and acknowledges how handmaking is central to the creative process of the painter, whilst engaging with how the presentation of the resultant work affects the generation and transmission of meaning. Another strand of this investigation calls upon how the evocation through practice and acts of remembering and forgetting can communicate autobiographical experience, to form dialogic relationships, via the making process. This is a circular process involving myself as maker, the painted picture plane, placed objects and the viewer. It also explores how painting embodies memorised data within its materiality and is additionally provoked by the effect of ‘trigger objects’. In addition, the thesis addresses how the painting object becomes imbued with the artist’s intention and how the mnemonic faculties of the human mind are prompted by sub-semiotic signs contained within the material of the picture plane, to generate the attributes of a ‘quasi-person’ (Graw, 2018). How this occurs and interacts with the picture plane, contributing to the painting’s status as a ‘subjectobject’ (Joselit, 2016) and the production of intended and unintended meaning (Alexander, 2010) is also considered. Through the practice of painting, the research explores how dialogue is formed between placed objects and the painted picture plane, and how objects of personal interest can in turn, steer subliminal conversation and how they thereby metaphorically ‘reach out’ and commune with the audience (Gell, 1998). Finally, the research interrogates the external edges of the picture plane, understood in terms of the parergon (Derrida, 1987) and the otherness of heterotopian spaces (Foucault, 1967). Such spaces share common characteristics of transition, uncertainty, between-ness and unknown-ness, all encountered at the periphery of the painting, the place where internal and external dynamics meet. This research encourages the viewer to adopt new viewing strategies, proposing this less certain space to be a desirable location in which to take the time to pause and consider.
    • A Hard Day’s Write: Beatles Fanfic and the Quantum of Creativity

      Duffett, Mark; University of Chester (Oxford University Press, 2021-03-12)
      My aim in this chapter is to consider how Real Person Fiction (RPF) relates to celebrity fandom. You have to know about the Beatles to write about them. But do you also have to love them, in any dedicated sense, to pursue such literary activity? How might we discern a more nuanced picture? We tend to assume that fanfic is either a logical extension of celebrity fandom or its own category of communal activity. How might we understand fanfic in ways that do not necessarily alienate it from other fan practices, while still recognizing its specificity?
    • Virility, Venality and Victory: Three Faces of Masculinity in Jurassic Park

      Barnett, Katie; University of Chester
      Like many of the blockbuster films of the 1990s, Jurassic Park (1993) is a story of survival, pitting humans against a force of nature: in this case, the imposing, genetically-engineered dinosaurs that cannot be contained by the science that created them. Beyond this, another survival story is woven into the narrative. This concerns the fate of the film’s men. When Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) reflects on the role of humans in nature – “God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs” – Dr Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) retorts presciently, “Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth.” “Clever girls” – Ellie, the velociraptor who outwits Robert Muldoon, computer whiz Lex – abound in the narrative, while around them the men struggle with their place in this new landscape. Masculinity is bound up, variously, with cowardice (Gennaro), venality (Nedry), misplaced hubris (Hammond) and incautious virility (Malcolm). Even Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill), though ultimately victorious, must be reformed, trading individualism for family and reneging on his earlier opposition to children. The contours of American masculinity were increasingly under scrutiny in the 1990s, and Jurassic Park reflects various related anxieties, constructing images of flawed men in need of punishment or redemption. This chapter will explore the film’s representation of masculinity through a number of its male characters, exploring how their survival is tempered by negotiation, compromise and critique.
    • The collaborative programme leader: Embedding meaningful collaboration into a programme culture

      Jamieson, Evelyn; University of Chester (Routledge, 2022-03-31)
      The section serves to highlight the importance of collaboration and move the PL role away from one of the potential overwhelm and isolation to one of connection and meaningful interdependence.
    • The Plotlands: Improvised Housing in Coastal Britain

      Daly, Tim; University of Chester
      The Plotlands Archive is an online photographic database recording unconventional houses and chalets and their vernacular construction methods. Originally built during the interwar period and those which have since been adapted and modified. Situated on coastal strips and in river valleys, few estates from that period still remain. The archive is a celebration of resourcefulness, creativity and character, recording the many unique materials used and vernacular design largely unseen within urban housing developments. The archive has been developed by Tim over a thirty-year period, recording many buildings no longer standing and some which have been since renovated beyond recognition. The database provides searchable access to houses by construction materials used, type of building and even colour. Locations include Humberston Fitties, The Brooklands Estate at Jaywick Sands, The Bel Air Estate at Seawick, Leysdown on Sea, Almere Ferry on the River Dee and Eccles-on-Sea, Norfolk.
    • The Plotlands Archive: Visualising a personal image archive with open-source Piwigo.

      Daly, Tim; University of Chester
      Accessing visual resources online is a mediated experience shaped by search engine and image sharing algorithms, or via the individual agendas of closed, curated collections. Using my own Plotlands Archive as a case study, this paper outlines an alternative strategy for creating a user-generated, searchable online image archive. Without the clandestine algorithms of popular image hosting and sharing environments, the free and open-source Piwigo is an accessible and code-free way to create a visual archive. The Plotlands Archive website presents a searchable database of photographs of unconventional houses and chalets and their vernacular construction methods originally built during the interwar period and those which have since been adapted and modified. The archive is a celebration of resourcefulness, recording unique materials and designs largely unseen within urban housing developments. The database provides searchable keyword access to houses by location, material and construction type - each returning a unique, screen-based typology.
    • Invisible Presences: The Elusive Twin and the Empty Screen in Personal Shopper

      Barnett, Katie; University of Chester
      The death of a twin is considered to be particularly traumatic and devastating for the surviving sibling. It has been theorised, variously, as a unique form of sorrow (Brandt, 2001), a “halving” (Withrow and Schwiebert, 2005; Morgan, 2006), and a loss akin to the death of the self (McIlroy, 2011). On screen, twin deaths are not uncommon; indeed, de Nooy (2002) suggests that the death of a twin is a recurrent narrative trope in literature and, subsequently, in cinema and television. However, relatively few films are preoccupied with the aftermath of the twin’s death, that is, the grieving process undergone by the surviving twin. This article will examine the representation of twin bereavement in Olivier Assayas’ 2016 film Personal Shopper, a film that focuses on the potential haunting of Maureen (Kristen Stewart) by her dead twin, Lewis. In the current technological age, death is increasingly ubiquitous on screen. The relationship between death and the screen, however, is complicated in Personal Shopper. In one respect, much of Maureen’s life is lived through screens, whether through the laptop she uses to communicate with her boyfriend or the phone permanently in her grasp. Indeed, it is through mysterious text messages on her phone that Maureen suspects Lewis is trying to communicate with her. Mirrors, too, act as reflective screens in the film, as Maureen illicitly tries on her client Kyra’s designer garments, including a coveted mirrored dress. The symbolism of the mirror is potent, given that Maureen has lost her mirror image – her twin – and remains on a futile search to find him again. Yet these screens are empty, certainly of the thing that Maureen desires – a sign from Lewis – and likewise the cinema screen remains empty of Lewis’ presence, save for tantalising, split-second tricks of the light that must satisfy both Maureen and the viewer (yet do not). In a time when screens are increasingly expected to reveal all the answers, they remain frustratingly oblique. A dual haunting takes place in Personal Shopper. Lewis may (or may not) be haunting his sister, but Maureen is not simply the hauntee. She too haunts, whether tiptoeing around Lewis’s old home in a bid to find his spirit, slipping in and out of Kyra’s apartment to deposit and retrieve clothing, or gliding, undetected, in and out of Kyra’s dresses. There is something curiously spectral about Assayas’ film, in which Maureen herself frequently eludes recognition, an anonymous figure traversing urban landscapes, leaving little trace. In her grief, she too is in danger of disappearing. The twin bond is frequently characterised as “fascinating” (Humann, 2017), “enigmatic” (McIlroy, 2011) and “mythic” (de Nooy, 2005), yet the depth and intensity of this bond is ultimately unknowable to the non-twin. Personal Shopper goes some way to capturing this elusiveness. Despite the mirrors that promise reflection, and the screens that promise knowledge, Maureen’s questions remain unanswered to the end. Though the screen possesses the capacity to represent, project and repeat death, in this case Lewis remains – almost – out of sight.
    • This Is Me Now: Queer Time and Animated Childhood

      Barnett, Katie; University of Chester (2017-09-11)
      Animation has a complex relationship with time, often subverting linear narrative tradition and freezing characters in space and time. Animated sitcoms deal in seriality and repetition, with an episodic structure that prioritizes narrative closure. At each episode begins, the equilibrium is reset and order is restored. This apparent triumph of equilibrium, however, should not detract from the subversive potential of animated sitcoms and, specifically, the queer potential rooted in the rejection of linearity and temporal progression. This article discusses the character of Gene in the Fox sitcom Bob's Burgers, exploring how his queer identity is foregrounded by the subversion of temporality.
    • To See and be Seen: What can a woman do with a camera (phone)?

      Piper-Wright, Tracy; University of Chester
      This paper investigates how women can be empowered as photographers and visual storytellers and gain greater representation in visual culture. By analysing two historically divergent feminist photography projects, this paper argues that women’s diverse authorial perspectives are enabled by combining theory and practice in the formation of a critical counter-visuality and a process of self-realisation. The paper explores how women enact their visual resistance through the interrelated processes of seeing and being seen and draws on Jo Spence’s critical visual practice to explore photography that subverts expectations and creates opportunities for alternative modes of representation. Applying Spence’s key deconstructive tools of making visible and narrating the image, the paper maps out ways in which education and collective agency create the conditions for women’s participation and influence within photography.
    • The Studio

      Dockwray, Ruth; University of Chester (Bloomsbury, 2022-02-10)
      This chapter is part of an interdisciplinary volume, drawing from sociology, geography, ethnomusicology, media, cultural, and communication studies, which covers a wide-range of topics germane to the production and consumption of place in popular music. This chapter focuses on the recording studio, primarily within a popular music context, in the following areas: as a physical place where its function relies on social interactions to encourage creativity; as a place where virtual auditory spaces are created; and as a place where music practice can ultimately ascribe unique identities.
    • Drawing Blood, Drawing Poison, Drawing Fire

      Grennan, Simon; University of Chester
      The 20 new online animations and 8 workshops were inspired by an 1878 book in Gladstone’s Library: "Gladstone from Judy'’s point of view, from the last ten years". The book collects cartoons satirising liberal political opinion from the pages of conservative magazine Judy. The programme made use of these cartoons as starting points. The artworks and 8 workshops used public debate about hot topics in the 1870s to provide insights into the tone and topics of public debate today: workshop participants learned to draw cartoons considering issues of race, gender, sexuality, class and colonialism, seen through the lens of Victorian cartoons. The online exhibition and workshop programme was delivered with a new partnership of 9 institutions, on phone, tablet, laptop and desktop. Creative Arts Space Chester (CASC) and Gladstone’s Library hosted the online animations. Practical online workshops were provided for users of 8 local libraries in areas of marginal deprivation (20%–40% of average), where cultural funding is low (Broughton, Buckley, Mold, Deeside, Connah’s Quay, Holywell and Flint Libraries and Gladstone’s). The programme improved access to cultural activities for teenagers and older people; established an online community; developed the artist’s practice and provided practical training in drawing and thinking about personal and historic experiences. The project supported the emerging online programme at all of the libraries. The exhibition remains online.
    • Key Terms in Comics Studies_Cover Illustration

      Grennan, Simon; University of Chester
      Cover image for the book 'Key Terms in Comics Studies'.
    • Book Review: Rebirth of the English Comic Strip: A Kaleidoscope 1847 – 1870.

      Grennan, Simon; University of Chester
      Review of "Rebirth of the English Comic Strip: A Kaleidoscope 1847 – 1870." by David Kunzle.
    • An Analytical Methodology for the Investigation of the Relationship of Music and Lyrics in Popular Music

      Sproston, Darren; Dee, Alex (University of Chester, 2021-03)
      This thesis details the conception and design of a new methodology for examining pop songs holistically; considering both music and lyrics and examining the synergies between the two. Central to this methodology is the application of a data extraction framework, which has been designed to mine information about musical and lyrical phenomena. This framework operates as a common source for producing data about two very different media, avoiding individual interpretation where this is possible. The methodology has been designed to address specific questions about the relationship between music and lyrics, but the main purpose of the thesis is to evaluate the usefulness of the endeavour. In order to examine the efficacy of this approach, the framework was used to populate a dataset made up of a sample of 300 songs, which was subsequently explored and analysed through a series of case studies which investigate combinations of metrics concerned with music and lyrics for the whole sample, as well as analysis of specific subsets defined by a range of parameters. These case studies have demonstrated the various ways this approach might be used, as well as working as proof of concept. The conclusion of the thesis reviews the various case studies in the context of presenting potential uses of the framework as a tool and the broader methodology by other scholars. There is also a consideration of how the overall data might be affected by the inclusion of genres and styles that are not included in the initial sample set.
    • A Practice-Based Approach to Defining Maximalism

      Liggett, Susan; Osanlou, Ardeshir; Jones, Paul; Pioaru, Ioana (University of ChesterWrexham Glyndwr University, 2021-02)
      This practice-based Ph.D. is an exploration of the concept of maximalism in the field of visual arts. Previous studies of maximalism in disciplines such as literature and architecture signalled a lack of rigor surrounding the use of the term maximalism with regard to various cultural productions. In addition, the relative scarcity of works addressing maximalism in visual art drove the development of this research, which aims to clarify the definition of maximalism through the practice of art. Through critical interrogation, the body of work developed within this project revealed insights into the nature of artistic maximalism. During the development of the project, a methodological research gap was identified as the absence of a set of procedures enabling the understanding and use of the concept of maximalism. To address this methodological gap, a theoretical framework describing maximalism in terms of formal parameters was constructed. Maximalism was investigated through the exploration of a variety of new and traditional media: holography, virtual reality (VR) artmaking, 3D printing, printmaking and drawing. The study revealed the intrinsically maximalist nature of holography in conjunction with VR artmaking. VR holography, a new art form resulting from this research, expands physical space by using a flat surface to render potentially infinite 3D content. It also connects the realms of the virtual and the real. Other forms of artistic maximalism revealed by this study include: the expansion of the space of art through para-artistic devices, intensity maximalism explored through miniature drawing, chromatic maximalism, durational maximalism and narrative maximalism. Maximalism as an artistic practice reflects an engagement of the artist in a continual process of becoming, as a method to access and explore new tools for artistic expression. The main contribution of the research is a twofold definition of maximalism. On the one hand, maximalism is defined as a mode of artistic expression intrinsic to the artwork, a definition which lends itself to a type of art analysis partially grounded in formalism. On the other hand, maximalism is proposed as a characteristic of the process of artmaking, referring to a strategy which the artist employs as a means of decentralising the artistic self. Investigating these forms of maximalism showed the potential usefulness, to art theory and criticism, of a theory of maximalism based on aesthetic formalism. The clarification of the concept of maximalism constitutes a contribution to the vocabulary and discourse of art.
    • Conflicting professional identities for artists in transprofessional contexts

      Lehikoinen, Kai; Pässilä, Anne; Owens, Allan; University of the Arts; LUT University; University of Chester (Routledge, 2021-07-02)
      This chapter investigates how the artists navigate multiple and at times conflicting identities within the challenges of working in unfamiliar transprofessional contexts. It also investigates the expanding professionalism of artists in the transprofessional realm of artistic interventions in organisations. Ariane Berthoin Antal argues that artists’ professional identities and also responsibilities are geared towards some fundamental values in the arts, and that it is vital for artists to maintain such values as they collaborate with other professions. To exemplify expanded work in transprofessional contexts, our attention now turns to the experiences of four artists—a theatre director, a performance artist, a dancer, and a dramaturg—who took part in the pilot programme at Uniarts. It is imperative in higher arts education to discuss critically the relationship between professionalism in more traditional artistic practice and the expanding professionalism of hybrid artists in new transprofessional domains.
    • Key Terms in Comics Studies: 22 Entries

      Grennan, Simon; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022-01-04)
      22 entries in the book 'Key Terms in Comics Studies'.
    • Introduction: Key Terms in Comics Studies

      Grennan, Simon; La Cour, Erin; Spanjers, Rik; Free University Amsterdam; University of Chester; Utrecht University (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022-01-04)
      Introduction to the book 'Key Terms in Comics Studies'. Includes key terms and critical concepts that are used in specific ways in current Anglophone comics studies. Each entry is substantiated with examples of uses and references to uses, as well as other explanations and commentaries on the term or concept. The book contains over 300 terms by almost 100 contributors.
    • From Rugby League to Marriage Intrigue

      Sproston, Darren; University of Chester
      This paper traces the creative evolution of Roberto Gerhard's Epithalamion from its genesis as a film score in 1962 through to its final version, c. 1968 which makes it one of the last orchestral compositions on which Gerhard would have worked. It sits alongside two works left incomplete in 1968 Metamorphoses (the reworking of the Second Symphony) and the Fifth Symphony. It explores its origins through the film score of This Sporting Life and how this music is incorporated into the concert work and investigates the revisions made by Gerhard and end with exploring the final published version of the work.
    • Thinking About Drawing: Introduction to Themes and Concepts

      Grennan, Simon; University of Chester (Bloomsbury, 2022-04-07)
      'Thinking About Drawing: Introduction to Themes and Concepts' provides a short, accessible, illustrated guide to key ideas that are used to describe, understand and explain drawing, for students of art, design, media, architecture and engineering, at undergraduate level and above. This accessible and readable book explains the significance of relationships between the body and the mark, visual imitation, drawing systems, drawing and writing and visual story telling, providing a simple guide to key ideas. The book unpacks the key ideas that have shaped the rich, complex and foundational activity of drawing. It presents an unexpected, engaging and authoritative range of illustrated examples of drawings made by culturally and historically diverse people for different purposes, with different media, in widely different times and situations. 'Thinking About Drawing: Introduction to Themes and Concepts' is plainly written, avoiding jargon and specialist language. It is user-friendly. Ideas are arranged as chapters that can be read sequentially, building a complete guide to ideas about drawing. Alternatively, chapters can be read individually, providing self-contained introductions to one of these key ideas in drawing. 'Thinking About Drawing: Introduction to Themes and Concepts' provides a short, accessible, illustrated guide to key ideas that are used to describe, understand and explain drawing, for students of art, design, media, architecture and engineering, at undergraduate level and above. This accessible and readable book explains the significance of relationships between the body and the mark, visual imitation, drawing systems, drawing and writing and visual story telling, providing a simple guide to key ideas. The book unpacks the key ideas that have shaped the rich, complex and foundational activity of drawing. It presents an unexpected, engaging and authoritative range of illustrated examples of drawings made by culturally and historically diverse people for different purposes, with different media, in widely different times and situations. 'Thinking About Drawing: Introduction to Themes and Concepts' is plainly written, avoiding jargon and specialist language. It is user-friendly. Ideas are arranged as chapters that can be read sequentially, building a complete guide to ideas about drawing. Alternatively, chapters can be read individually, providing self-contained introductions to one of these key ideas in drawing.