CfP RGS 2016: The nexus of art and geography as practice as research

Convenors: Cara Courage, University of Brighton and Anita McKeown, SMARTlab, University College Dublin.

RGS 2016 Annual International Conference, London, Tuesday 30 August to Friday 2 September.

Spatial practices are not unique to geography, historically artists have engaged with materialities as social practice (Courage, 2015; Kester, 2011; Lacy, 1998) physical environments (landscape painting, perspective) and exploring and shaping concepts of time and space (virtual worlds, telematics/telepresence). Both fields share experiences of spatial and social turns in theory (Soja, 2008; Bishop, 2006; Bourriaud, Massey, 2005), and practice (Mel Chin; In Certain Places; M12; France Whitehead) with theoretical, methodological and epistemological impacts.  

As the Century of the System (Gawande, 2014) progresses it is no longer possible for any single discipline to address potential future concerns and systemic approaches will be required to address current nexus challenges; water, food, energy, climate, economic growth and human security challenges. As part of a growing inter- and transdisciplinary concern to research and practice, the dissolving of both academic and sector field-specific boundaries is emerging. Methodological promiscuity is common practice within arts practice, matured through a half century of non-object, process-orientated practices, cross-pollinating and fertilising ideas across ‘disciplinary frontiers to address global challenges for humanity and the earth’s myriad of systems’ (McKeown, 2015).  

The artistic and spatial turn across arts and geographical disciplines and the conversation is not an exclusive, but mutual conversation. Artistic practices utilise geographical methods; Cartography, GIS, Spatial Inquiry, Participant Observation and share research interests with geography e.g. information modelling, a cultural and emotional engagement with place. Equally, geographers are utilising arts based methods (Hawkins, 2012; Rose, 2011); visual and performative methods and methodologies e.g. Photography, Compositional Analysis, the Situationist’s dérive, to expand their understanding of the world and make connections to synthesise knowledge between disciplines.

This panel, taking inspiration from the nexus theme of the RGS-IBG 2016 annual conference, aims to bring together ‘artist-geographers’ and ‘geographer-artists’ to present on the perspective of practice-based/practice as research, engaged in nexus discourse towards social-ecological resilience.

We are seeking a range of submissions from artists, geographers, researchers, curators commissioners, scientists or others working in this area, and papers might address, but are not limited to:

·         Systems thinking for knowledge production within the Arts / Geographic practices

·         Practices encouraging collaborative research and interdisciplinary problem-finding

·         Practice as research and the development of new methodologies through fieldwork.

·         Discovering new questions through collaborative research

·         Exploring symbiotic relationships towards different ways of knowing and producing knowledge within Arts and Geography collaborations

·         Agile adaptive behaviour - The fluid state between specialist and non-specialist; itinerant academics and artists

Please submit an abstract for consideration, of no more than 250 words, with a short biog, by Friday, 29th January 2016, to cara@caracourage.net and anita@smartlab-ie.com. Successful applicants will be informed by 5th February, to confirm attendance by 12th February.