The space of make: A topological account of the studio

Robb, Charles (2014) The space of make: A topological account of the studio. In GEOcritical, Art Assoc of Australia and New Zealand (AAANZ) Annual Conference 2014, 5-8 December 2014, University of Tasmania, Launceston, TAS. (Unpublished)


Approaches to art-practice-as-research tend to draw a distinction between the processes of creative practice and scholarly reflection. According to this template, the two sites of activity – studio/desk, work/writing, body/mind – form the ‘correlative’ entity known as research. Creative research is said to be produced by the navigation of world and thought: spaces that exist in a continual state of tension with one another. Either we have the studio tethered to brute reality while the desk floats free as a site for the fluid cross-pollination of texts and concepts. Or alternatively, the studio is characterized by the amorphous, intuitive play of forms and ideas, while the desk represents its cartography, mapping and fixing its various fluidities. In either case, the research status of art practice is figured as a fundamentally riven space.

However, the nascent philosophy of Speculative Realism proposes a different ontology – one in which the space of human activity comprises its own reality, independent of human perception. The challenge it poses to traditional metaphysics is to rethink the world as if it were a real space. When applied to practice-led research, this reconceptualization challenges the creative researcher to consider creative research as a contiguous space – a topology where thinking and making are not dichotomous points but inflections in an amorphous and dynamic field. Instead of being subject to the vertical tension between earth and air, a topology of practice emphasizes its encapsulated, undulating reality – an agentive ‘object’ formed according to properties of connectedness, movement and differentiation.

Taking the central ideas of Quentin Meillassoux and Graham Harman as a point of departure, this paper will provide a speculative account of the interplay of spatialities that characterise the author’s studio practice. In so doing, the paper will model the innovative methodological potential produced by the analysis of topological dimensions of the studio and the way they can be said to move beyond the ‘geo-critical’ divide.

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ID Code: 82863
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Topology, Practice-led research, Contemporary sculpture, Object-Oriented Ontology, Subjectivity
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > VISUAL ARTS AND CRAFTS (190500) > Fine Arts (incl. Sculpture and Painting) (190502)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Schools > School of Media, Entertainment & Creative Arts
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Charles Robb
Deposited On: 31 Mar 2015 00:49
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2015 23:57

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