RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2015

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169 Attentive Geographies: materials, processes, creations (1)
Affiliation Social and Cultural Geography Research Group
History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Frances Rylands (University of Exeter, UK)
Rose Ferraby (University of Exeter, UK)
Nicola Thomas (University of Exeter, UK)
Chair(s) Rose Ferraby (University of Exeter, UK)
Timetable Thursday 03 September 2015, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Room Forum - Seminar Room 8
Session abstract Sponsored by: Social and Cultural Research Group, Historical and Philosophical Geographies Research Group and Geographies of Creativity and Knowledge Research Group (University of Exeter)

The ‘creative turn’ in Geography has strengthened and deepened the long-standing relationship between geography and creative practice. Creative geographies are no longer studied simply as a product: instead, creative practices are actively shaping our processes of learning, doing and knowing. This session attends to the ways in which geographers are developing new ways of working and extending their capacities through a variety of creative methods, skills and approaches.

‘Attentive geographies’ explores the tensions, challenges and opportunities associated with framing creative practice as research process. What happens when you commit to deepening and developing skill? What emerges when methodology becomes the subject of research? What is gained by integrating practical and embodied ‘doing’ into research practice? How does collaboration emerge through creative methodologies? What does it mean to be a geographer as practitioner?
Linked Sessions Attentive Geographies: Tools of the Trade, a guided walk
Attentive Geographies: materials, processes, creations (2)
Attentive Geographies Reception and Exhibition
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2015@rgs.org
Knowing and Feeling: Practicing visual and material cultures in the corner shop
Mia Hunt (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
This paper reflects on ways of doing visual culture that capture the feeling and micro-geographies of places and respect their complexity. In particular, it draws from a visual ethnography of corner shops and kiosks in Central London. My project engages creative practice not as a way of illustrating, but as a way of tuning into the everyday practice and materials in mundane shops. Along with more conventional ethnographic work, this way of working – through the view and body – helped cultivate an intimate appreciation of the shops. But if image-making is a process, how might we make sense of the representations we produce? Should the resulting images be disseminated? Can we (re)frame their reception? As a way to confront the tension between creative research practice and its representation, I present a series of images crafted with a pinhole camera. The results of this analogue device are unpredictable; they warp, blur, and soften these shops, while also describing their feeling and atmosphere. Moreover, the object-ness of this camera helps rematerialize photography and refocus attention on the body’s work in the production of images. I contemplate how creative practice like this might incorporate uncertainty into research and challenge notions that places are knowable.
Tourism versus Everyday Life: everyday tourism as the art practice of everyday life
Bevis Fenner (University of Southampton, UK)
The aim of this paper is to explore the tensions of using art practice as a primary research method for human geography. The focus of my research is the relationship between the practices of art, tourism and everyday life. The overall aim of the project is to explore how living in a tourism space might facilitate day-to-day creative practices, which help to de-familiarise our experience of everyday life, thus aiding our capacities to develop beyond ‘habitual ways of being’ (Edensor, 2001). Behind this is a political philosophy of practice through which to explore structures of work and leisure and the implications of the conflation of these once distinct sets of practices. I will argue that the blurring of work and leisure produces pseudo-individualised creativities that mask power and property relations to the extent that it becomes hard to negotiate ontological meaning of place. Through a set of practices, which I have termed everyday tourism, I aim to bring art to the centre of everyday life and attempt to 'make visible' the ambiguities and paradoxes of leisure and tourism. This paper documents a series of practice-based research projects that aim to triangulate the practices of art, everyday life and tourism.
On being a researcher-enthusiast of creative processes in modified car culture
Will Andrews (Aberystwyth University, UK)
As a researcher-enthusiast studying modified car culture and also creating a modified project car, I am undertaking creative geographies. The act of getting involved and working on cars is seen as particularly important to many automotive enthusiasts. However my relative absence of mechanical skill and the importance placed on this by some participants has led me to reflect on the challenges of not being able to fully engage with the practices which shape some elements of automotive enthusiasts’ cultural knowledge. However for many the project car is something which is planned and creatively produced by the owner even though the doing of mechanical labour and other processes are carried out by someone else. As such creative practise as a part of the research process produces tensions and challenges but also opportunities for gaining deeper understanding of the sensual geographies of doing car modifying. Through autoethnographic accounts and interview data I will contrast the experiences of those involved with building their project cars and those who are less involved and my own experiences of the latter. I will explore how elements of the research process have been attentive encounters which led to small scale changes in my understanding both of certain cultural knowledges and the wider culture itself.
Keeping conversations going: making and sharing "Political Lego"
Ian Cook (University of Exeter, UK)
Scholar activists argue that it is no longer enough to train researchers to become ‘discerning, detached and critical so that we can penetrate the veil of common understandings and expose the root causes and bottom lines that govern phenomenal worlds’ (Gibson-Graham 2008, 618). Additional training is needed in a ‘range of … practices that apply and express critique through physical artifacts and material-technical practice’ (Ratto et al 2014, 86). Experiments in ‘critical making’ have generated powerful critiques of, with, and alternative to the injustices of 'free market' capitalism. Many of these have been researched and catalogued on the trade justice activism website followthething.com. This paper will focus on a series of 64 photos of re-creations in Lego of scenes from films, art works, and events documented on the site's pages. It will discuss if and how the making and sharing online of this work ‘invites the viewer to join the artist as a fellow traveller, to look with it as it unfolds in the world’ (Ingold 2010, 97), by drawing renewed attention to controversial issues and re-energising conversations about them through playful making and critical humour.
Discussant
Caitlin DeSilvey (University of Exeter, UK)
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