Framework for a Practice-Based PhD

I IMG_4629find this video  by Professor Richard Blythe, Dean of School of Architecture and Design at RMIT University extremely useful, both when I was applying for PhD candidature and a scholarship + now, as a practice-based candidate. I think what’s most useful is that it speaks to anyone intending to undertake a PhD in any discipline. If you’re currently writing an application or thinking of doing a practice-based PhD, watch it. Use it.

‘Framework for a Practice-Based PhD’: click here for video.

Colliding Passages

Glen Forbes Camp

Glen Forbes Camp

In the current neoliberal global market that is Education survival of the fittest has shifted from an implicit instinct to an explicit strategy. Coupled with an increasing obsession with systematic and outward results there is little time and little space to question our ‘real’ responses to the unknown, the unexpected, the unconventional, risk and yet, these notions are common currency in creative practice and research and we all use them in every abstract / proposal we write. So what does it mean to gather a disparate bunch of PhD candidates (from Fashion, Architecture, Interior Design, Gold and Silversmithing, Choreography & Performance, Landscape) and go to a Scout Camp in country Victoria and hang out from Friday – Sunday in a place made for 10 year olds? And do things together – things that arise from varied individual practices colliding with the collective – and to reflect on the affect that that has on space, bodies, writing, objects. That was the objective of the first Pflab 2015. In other words to depart from external time to internal time, social time, eating-all-together time, play-time.

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a Scout hall in the hands of a designer – Mick Douglas, Pflab 2015

Glen Forbes camp was discovered by Mick Douglas when his children were in Clifton Hill Primary School where some visionary at the School had the foresight to buy a Scout Camp so that inner city kids could spend time playing in the bush. He told us of the happy times he’d had in this place being part of collective children / parent communities fostered by camping out under the stars. We arrived to a bunkhouse  and 8 canvas tents laid out in a field, a hall with long wooden tables, long wooden benches and a long wooden floor, kitchen attached, the Ablutions Block with excellent hot showers, rolling hills, cows, horses, plenty of gum trees filled with romps of kookaburras laughing at dawn.

Glen Forbes Camp

Glen Forbes Camp

Aims of Pflab, 2015 or what I understood as its intentions:

To create a collaborative community for PhD researchers in what can often be a very long and lonely task;

To test how individual research can be mined collectively;

To actively steer away from the usual strategies of individuals working and thinking as islands

To share knowledge and strategies for building a sustainable creative / research practice;

To spend time cooking, eating, cleaning, camping, working, resting, questioning, listening;

To give time and space to the non-verbal;

To find unexpected connections and new pathways of doing / thinking;

To be human, together;

To collectively investigate how we might, as a group, ‘perform mobile identities’ at the upcoming PSi Fluid States Conference ‘Performing Mobilities’ in October 2015;

To make do with less resources.

by Kathy Waghorn, PFlab 2015

Badges by Kathy Waghorn (Architecture), PFlab 2015. We all picked some out at random. One of mine read ‘paddling’.

For me this weekend was a gateway, a threshold, a rite of passage.

I’m in it now.

I’ve dived in.

There’s no turning back.

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Testing Agent: an experiment by Roseanne Bartley (Jewellery), Pflab 2015. Photo of me by me.

I think it continues to stun many (liberal, open-minded, conscious) Australians just how integrated Maori culture is in New Zealand in comparison to Australia where Aboriginal culture is largely invisible. One of the PhD candidates lives and works in New Zealand suggested an opening introductory session on the Saturday loosely based on a Maori tradition where people who are gathering, before they begin with any agenda or meeting orientate themselves by saying which mountain they’re from, which river etc. This is how we began – with our relationship to place and tribe.

Of course that’s something when you’re displaced like me.

where is my mountain / who are my people?

?

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Water: by Saskia Schut (Landscape Architecture), Pflab 2015.

On Saturday night, in the old Scout hall, beside a crackling fire I wrote the following list; a kind of stock-take of our day.

watercrakers overflowing tipping point to lead and to follow in a pink dressing gown it’s Charlie’s 12th birthday the weight of stones released gold and silversmithing three cheese risotto colliding passages white clogs yoga with Mick by the horses fresh figs sliced the dance-off with eye contact presence / present / pre-sent apples from the neighbour’s tree rope poly-vocality snacks death-rituals starry starry night the lightest touch blue tarpaulin “it’s uneven” “on the contrary” “checked all the fences?” Runaway Bay the imagined disc-course White Rabbit white ale being done to being horizontal the performance of succeeding and failing the Ablutions Block drawing on the windows to throw pine cones in the fire spinning pot lids country cows blood trickling down an apartment block in Iowa bulldog clips scattering

Swapping clothes by Adele Varcoe (Fashion), Pflab 2015

Swapping clothes by Adele Varcoe (Fashion), Pflab 2015

As usual the weekend was full, overflowing with encountering. But there was enough space and non-verbal doing / building / making time to feel renewed by the experience rather than exhausted. Increasingly I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s fragmentation (of time and energy) that exhausts but being in one place, with no wi-fi, all together now that provides a certain kind of rest even though the days are filled. It was no holiday. And yet …

So what was useful? What remains?

One of the most important things I got out of it was a sense of community. I am not alone in this. There’s others, somewhere ahead on the path (I was the only one at the start of the PhD) but somehow we’re all in this together, including our supervisors – there is no us & them. It was also an opportunity to share my discipline. The School of Architecture and Design is very experimental, very open, very able to change, on all levels – otherwise they wouldn’t have offered me (and many others) a place in their School however, Choreography – being a dance practitioner / performer (in its original sense as opposed to the notion that everybody is (or can be) a performer and every act is (potentially) performative) – is something new in this context. The usual standpoint of spectatorship were immediately put to question. Also, the notion of doing one thing. Poly-vocality or multiple channels of entry seems to be favoured. But I am not ready to throw out the conventions of theatre just yet. Is the old relationship of watching / doing over? If not, how in the 21st C do we present a performance in which witnessing can be active without it becoming a participatory performance? Who am I relating to when I perform? How can the audience see and be a part of it? These are not new questions in the field. Nonetheless I’m grappling with them.

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Building together in silence, Pflab 2015

What about enchantment? What about spell-binding? What about transporting the audience in time and space to another world? Isn’t this why we all love film? What about escape? Not mindless escape that shuts down the body-mind but the journey to mytho-poetic space/time and when you return you come back with more than you left, or less even, but what I mean is that you are changed – irrevocably – and you are grateful and even, humbled. What about the presence or present of one thing – in a world of multiple channels? What about singularity? What about expertise?

What is an expert anyway? Is expert a dirty word?

Expert

noun
  1. a person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area.
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    Working together, Pflab 2015

    It was wonderful to be around people who were so at ease with objects from pinecones to light installations to stewed apricots to tarpaulin to felt to flannelette shirts to safety pins to mountain rope – the weekend was filled with sewing, building, making, drawing, and yes, dancing!

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    Chaotic: by Roseanne Bartley, set in the female toilets, you had to chaotically throw felt over your torso and take a selfie on her phone.

Balloting i.e. curating one’s own education

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Smell map Paris by Kate McLean

It is 9.30am and I am sitting in a full lecture theatre in Building 13, RMIT. It’s full of 1st, 2nd and 3rd year BA Landscape Architecture students or as they say The Lower Pool (I don’t think they mean gene pool). During my first supervision meeting both Mick and Charles (supervisors) suggested that I come along to Balloting. “It will give you a good idea of the terrain that is Landscape Architecture” they said; the what, why and how of this particular body of thinking / working. So here I am – the only one a) taking notes and b) with a notebook and pen. Old school.

There’s a short introduction about the wherefores of Balloting. A simple manifesto that reads:

  • Design in Everything
  • Modes of Practice
  • Rethinking Ideas of Representation
  • Curating your Design Education

So the way it works here at RMIT is that Lecturers present a semester long Studio. This happens both for Lower Pool (BA) and Upper Pool (MA). The students listen and don’t take notes! and then ballot for 4 studios that they’d like to participate in. It was encouraged by the BA Programme Manager that they don’t choose their studios dependent on liking a particular teacher / researcher or follow a strand that they already know, but rather stretch ideas / experiment with new methods / deepen enquiry. I studiously wrote this down, every one else jiggled their legs, scratched their beards, checked their phones.

What kind of studios are offered to Lower Pool? What kinds of thinking / doing do Landscape Architects engage in / with? Are there really strong links between Chroeography and LA (Landscape Architecture I mean, not Los Angeles)? Am I really in the right place, after all? I know I’m not doing a BA (sadly) but this is the foundation on which the rest of the glass tower is built, no? I wait in anticipation. I am the most excited, anxious person in the room.

From my notes ‘On Balloting’:

Studio: Light Works: human perception of light / space. Practices of looking and experiencing light. Determining a scale of intervention. Capacity of the work to speak for itself. Culture of feedback. Field trip to Canberra National Gallery to see James Turrell’s ‘Immersed in Light’. Studio involves walking in the city, particularly at night and observing light. Outcomes involve making own light work and working with light companies to source relevant light.

(BTW – I got in touch with the lecturer and am now going to be auditing this course! In fact, she’s really “fascinated” with choreography & performance and wants me to present to the students – what will I say? no idea)

Studio: Experiment: working in public space in a way that demonstrates design through experiments. Small changes that make a big impact. Grassroots focused. Dealing with the notion of pop-ups. Working with real client and real sites towards real outcomes.

Studio: The Valley II: on designing a bushwalk. How can you design through atmospheric and ground conditions and how does the body experience this? Students will spend 10 days on site – living in a National Park 1.5 hrs south of Sydney exploring methodologies that look at massive large scale projects and minute bodily scale projects. Methods include working with senses and critical cartography.

Studio: Meadow Lee: Notion of the a grassland in the Australian landscape. How do you manipulate the meadow? (A question I’ve never asked myself). What role does irrigation and the lawn mower play? How can the European model of a meadow be reframed in the Australia? The site will be (mowing) your own backyard. (The presumption being all students have one!)

Note: The man who gave this presentation had a very gruff, short, abrupt manner. He talked alot about the versatility and subjectivity of the lawn mower. He also wore a bright fluorescent pink pen behind his ear.

Studio: Working the Ground: this studio is based in the region of the Murray Darling basin and involves a road trip in a bus (driven by the lecturer). It is centred around developing techniques for eliciting stories from the community. How do we engender stories of landscape? Murray Darling has a rich colonial legacy – it’s full of stories about ‘back home’ i.e. England. It’s also full of contemporary stories. (This statement was accompanied by a slide of graffiti that said ‘Fuck You’ – students cheered). Studio technique asks students to work up juxtaposition. Using filmic references, ideas of collage and montage. Along the way, small pop-up exhibitions will be exposed in campsites, inviting fellow campers to engage with what they do.

I loved the concluding statement he made “camping puts us in immediate visceral communication with the ground”.

Studio: Composites: largely using Rhino (software) this studio tests and reflects on spatial concepts through drawing, programming, 3D virtual and phsyical modelling. She referred to the work of Smell Map, Paris (2013) by Kate McLean.

Note: Sensory Maps

Studio: Disturbance: is an ecological term meaning unstable landscape conditions. The site for this studio is Truganina Coastal Parkland 15km outside of Melbourne. The lecturer carrying her one year old baby which she termed “my very own disturbance prop” opened the studio by saying “if you don’t like walking, don’t sign up for this studio”. Later she used the term Geo-Mythology – “Geo-Mythology is outpacing digital technology” and restless Geomorphologies – “through walking, mapping experimenting with using your mobile phone for collection, you’ll develop your own classification logic”. The final outcome of this studio is to propose a disturbance or set of disturbances.

Studio: Overlapping Currents: this studio looks at the swimability of the Yarra (main river running through Melbourne) and peoples’ relationship to it. The outcome will be a comic inspired by this.

Studio: Kerb: opportunity for 3 undergraduate students to be editors of Kerb for one year – a high profile student led Landscape Architecture journal which (without wanting to sound like an ad) is sold in all good book shops.

Well, that was the morning. The afternoon was taken up with Design Research Seminars and Upper Pool Balloting Presentations. I (like the other students) stopped taking notes mainly because I came to understand that it’s all online! Of course. If you’re still reading this and still interested then look at the posters that accompany each presentation – http://www.ladrs.rmit.edu.au/current-upper-pool-studios/

The whole experience was very insightful and fascinating. I feel much more grounded knowing the kind of context I am to be working in / from. And, this was just LA – next semester I’ll go the Architecture and Design Balloting Presentations.

But no doubt, you’ll hear from me before then.

Maps are my new best friends!

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Smell Map, Amsterdam by Kate McLean

One month already

Next Monday marks a one month anniversary of arrival in Melbourne. It’s hard to believe that a month has come to pass – a waxing and a waning – a whole moon cycle. I feel that I have landed – although from time to time I pinch myself and shout (silently) ‘I am in Melbourne!’ I remember doing that in London for the first three years – mainly when I saw a red bus rumble past I’d remember ‘oh, that’s right, I’m in London’. It’s easy to forget which city I’ve woken up in and after a while, they’re not all that different – it’s not like being in a village in rural Sri Lanka for example, where you’re reminded all the time how different worlds within the world can be. But here the people I see could well be Londoners and my life is not so different and I’m more-or-less doing the same things I used to do there – going into a University – living in a house with electricity and running water – seeing friends – swimming in pools – road trips – dancing – la la la.
Of course from another perspective, there are some huge paradigm-shifting differences between here and there. Some of them are: waiting fifteen minutes for a train!! (This is why everyone drives here). Having a front garden and a back garden to call our own. That spontaneous meetings with friends is not entirely out of the question. That I’m doing a PhD or as I see it, being an artist full time for three years. That I live with my parents. That when it’s 18 degrees people complain of the cold. That the evening news always features a koala / crocodile / shark story.
Setting up a movement practice, finding my tribe(s), protecting space, reading, writing, inventing tasks / scores / projects, eating well, walking / running / yoga are the main foci of my life.
I did a practice with Dianne Reid this morning. Dianne is in her 3rd year of PhD at Deakin University and her research centres around Motion Capture – she works mainly in screendance. I met Dianne last year when I was in Melbourne and she has done alot of work with Andrew Morrish – so we have that good foundation for practice in common. I went into the studio in Deakin this morning to share dancing time and space with her. The studios at Deakin really remind me of Roehampton – they’re clean and bright, with views to the trees. One thing about being in School of A&D is I realise how much of a home a dance studio is. How much of a resource. How much I take its presence in my life, in this world for granted . It is of course quite an elite space. The information guy who I was asking directions was quite taken aback when I asked him where the main dance studio in Building B was. I had to shout the word ‘dance’ ‘dance’ over and over until he understood the word – but he seemed shocked to realise that such a thing as dance even existed at that University. I felt like a Light Bender (that’s an official job title you know).
Last night I went to a reading group called Centre for Logos. It is run by Mammad Aidani – a philosopher. He even looks like a philosopher and talks like a philosopher. He gets so excited by concepts – it was almost comic. We are reading together ‘The Phenomonology of Perception’ by Merleau-Ponty and it is wonderful to be with other dancers / artists and grappling or as Mammad puts it ‘dwelling’ in philosophy.
It’s not like I’m beginning from scratch. In fact I have a huge safety net here, much wider, much stronger, much broader than I ever imagined. Also, I’ve travelled alot and I have so many skills and tools of navigation. I know where I belong and I go there directly. It took me two years to discover the contact improvisation community in London, here it took me two weeks. And of course, the imminent PhD is a frame or as the Taoists might call it ‘A Way’ that helps enormously to make me feel that I’m doing something worthwhile from the outset. On that end, it officially begins next week with a module called Creative Practice Research Methods led by Pia Ednie-Brown.
Of course I’m rolling into my first class from a road trip to Airey’s Inlet. An old friend of mine who lives 1/4 of the year in Jaipur, India, 1/4 of the year in Ubud, Bali and 1/2 of the year in Castlemaine, Australia is coming in for the Castlemaine Writers Festival. We’re going on a Thelma and Louise styled road trip to hear her friend and extraordinary author of ‘Tracks’ Robyn Davidson speak at a Literary Salon. I agreed to it when she told me ‘oh no it’s not so far from Melbourne, you’ll easily make your 12.45pm class on Thursday.’ Unsurprisingly it is a 2 hour drive! But it’s too late now and, when in Australia …

Week 0

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Architecture and Design building, RMIT

My first PhD meeting went well yesterday – or so I think/feel. I had some time to kill in the city beforehand so I sat down in a cool Melbourne cafe and over a soya flat white wrote down my intentions for the meeting. They were:

– to be myself
– to listen
– to be present
– to admit vulnerability
– to ask stupid questions
– to not try too hard
– to tell the truth

The School of A&D covered in discs, is all concrete and steel, not a pot plant in sight. There are spaces called roof pavilions and warehouses. The offices are all open-plan, so in fact my desk – I get a desk with a PC for three years – is at the other end of the office where Mick, my supervisor sits. There is no natural air in the building, in fact no windows – the temperature is computer controlled – and apparently, all sorts of problems with this system. There are all sorts of semi-public break out spaces, where tutorial groups happen and posters on the wall instead of saying ‘Footprint Dance Festival’ read ‘Drawing with Robots’. The building itself is awe-inspiring if completely, in-human. Even the spaces that have timber floors are laid over concrete, but there is a deck outside with the most magnificent views across Melbourne and perhaps I can have a daily movement practice there or in the sound studio (with linoleum floor) or in the Botanical Gardens down the road. I suppose coming into School of A&D invites us (i.e. me and them) to test these limits.

The first meeting consisted of something between personal and professional, formal and informal. We covered topics from jet-lag, to the novels I’m reading in my sleepless nights – all by Murakami – to my needs analysis – a formal document Mick and I have to fill out at the start of my candidature – to auditing an MA module with Charles. So, I didn’t understand everything Charles – 2nd supervisor and Landscape Architect – said but what I did understand that I’ll be sitting in on is an inter-disciplinary module consisting of MA A&D students and Industrial Designers (yikes!). It will held at a gallery space in the Yarra Valley (about 2 hours out of Melbourne) that Charles is using as his office for the first semester – he’s creating an installation out there – and we (students) will be joining him in this ‘studio’. Not sure yet if that means going out there for the whole day or actually spending 3 days at a time at points across the semester – living and working there – naturally, the food and wine is excellent (his words, not mine)!
Mick is on research leave for the next semester but I will have one weekend with him – somewhere in Victoria – with other candidates – where we’ll all gather and hang out and give presentations that are not about outcomes but just sharing where we are. It seems that both my supervisors like to have overnight working groups – not that I’m complaining – when I told them my tent is in a cargo ship bobbing along the Pacific – they let me know that Technical Services at RMIT, apart from having state of the art cameras, sound equipment, computers, boom boxes, surveying equipment also have (state of the art?) camping gear to lend out. Welcome to Australia!
Before Week 1 of term there is of course, Week 0. In week 0 all the studio leaders present to the entire student body their ‘studio’ for the semester and students choose which one they want to join according to the presentation, which also includes posters that give you short synopsis of what you can expect from undertaking this mission. I’m invited to these presentations – it will give me a good sense – so they say – of the kinds of activity happening School wide.
In other news, I begin my only course-work called ‘Creative Practice Research Methods’ led by Pia Ednie-Brown in the roof pavilion (which by the way has an industrial kitchen somewhere along the way for catering during PRS – more on that later) in a few weeks and there some compulsory online courses e.g. ‘Ethics’ that I have to do before my confirmation of candidature – which is the first milestone I’m working towards – possibly in May but if I need longer then it can be later in the year – and if I happen to be in overseas, I could, should I wish, present in their other campuses of Ghent, Barcelona or Ho Chi Minh City.
I experienced my first meeting in a semi-haze. I’ve been pretty hard struck by jet lag and perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve gotten ill with a chest cold. I felt there was a good balance in the meeting between all our voices, and a series of very easy questions and

answers that went both ways. Mick is great at guiding me through the bureaucracy of candidature and Charles seems genuinely excited to have a choreographer in their midst. He tells me that there’s alot in common between Landscape Architecture and choreographic processes. I’m very happy to take his word for it. They talked to me about teaching on their undergrad courses – they encouraged me to consider co-running a studio in 2016 – there is a formal application process for this but they both thought teaching as a way to think and do through candidature was a good idea. And, I talked about some residencies, performances and projects that I’ve applied for in UK and Aus. which they seemed excited about and willing to support.

I feel like I’ve entered another continent. Of course in terms of being back on Southern shores but more what I mean is in regards to having fallen, not unlike Alice, into the wonderland of A&D. Language(s) and resources I’ve taken for granted are no longer there – I literally feel that the ground beneath my feet has shifted – there is something else there although I can’t yet put it into words. Apart from studios in vineyards, there’s a palpable sense of something new. In terms of arriving, each day gets a little easier – but right now – I think more than arriving I’m dealing with ending. Not that I particularly miss my life in the UK but I certainly value it and think about it recognise that I built something very beautiful there and the people I met and the networks / communities I belong to were a kind of net that gave me hope and nourishment in a too-hard city. Here the canvas is more or less blank. In a way, I’m starting again – and right now, it’s mostly tiring. But despite the fog, I see chinks of sunlight – it is 33 degrees out there after all – and the opportunity to make something new is alive, and fragile and thin but humming with life.

The Neglected Art of Hitch-hiking: Risk, Trust and Sustainability

Photograph by Walker Evans, 1936

I waited for nearly 10 minutes outside the male/female toilets for T. He didn’t show. I went into the coffee shop and waited there for another 5 mins. No show. I went outside and tramped across 4 inches of snow to the car. The car was no longer there. T. emerged from the gas station waving. “I’ve been waiting for you” I said grumpily. “Well, I’ve got news” he replied ignoring my mood. “We’re taking two hitchhikers on their way to Berlin”. A young man and woman strolled up to the car and helped us move our suitcases from the back seat to the boot. They clambered in and we set off along highway 9. We got talking. J’s english was excellent. A. was much more shy which was strange given that she was a theatre student in Zurich, specialising in improvisation. J. was studying law in Berlin – “I believe in justice” he said and we all laughed. They were brother and sister. Their other brother was currently in Melbourne, Australia working in a Bavarian biergarten, surviving 30 degree heat on Christmas Day. The thermometer in the car tells us that here in Deutschland, it’s -10 degrees outside.

The hitchhikers asked me about my work in London and I told them that I am soon to begin a PhD in Melbourne, in March. I told them about Performance Philosophy – which neither of them had heard of. And, we started talking about the nature of self, mobility and our relationship to borders. As we spoke of borders, we crossed the border from West Germany to the former East. I looked out the car window, it was the same road, wet with salt. It was the same grassy hills covered in snow. It was the same blue sky, clear and cold as glass. And yet I know that for years nothing was the same between this now invisible line of division.

“Don’t mention the wall” I later joked with T. who laughed briefly and whispered “East German jokes are very un-pc.”

“So” asked J. “what have you learnt about your self through these years of performing philosophy?” I thought about that for a long time. In the end, I couldn’t answer it. So I told him instead about Marcus Coates’ attempts at vision-quests, in order to answer questions that Google cannot.

After that a brief silence fell between us before J. said “I am too plain to be an artist. I am not a visionary”.

We arrived at a gas station in Hirsbirch where we parted ways. J’s handshake was strong and steady. “Good new year” he said and I could tell he meant it. It was a relief in a way to say good-bye although I had so enjoyed this brief encounter. Back in the car on our own, I said to T. “I’m tired from entertaining the guests”. I realised that it’s my default social position.

Two hours later T. and I arrived in Weimar, to the Anna-Amalia Hotel. We lay in our double bed which was actually two single beds pushed together in room 324 and I read more of ‘A Life of One’s Own’ by Marion Milner while T. napped.

On page 51 I came across this:

‘Often I envy artists, musicians, dancer …. I think though I’m not quite sure, that it’s because they do one thing well, they show a mastery of technique – no, it’s not that only – I think it’s the play aspect. I don’t know – precision, colour, symbolism, the language of imagination, the freedom of the spirit, the criteria of what they do is impulse, not utility. Freedom from utility, from reality? fantasy, lure of folk tales, yet there’s precision of imagination that these people are aiming at even though failing often. It’s not in the films, at least hardly ever, it’s in music … a description, a simplification and precision, a clarifying concentration – the flight of gulls at Rye.’

And then, on p65 she wrote:

‘One day I showed these outpourings to a friend. We had been children together, often living in the same house, and had had exactly the same religious teaching. She said ‘But where on earth do you get such ideas! I never think like that!’ But I said ‘Nor do I. If you had asked me what I think about I couldn’t have told you a word of all that. It was only when I let my thoughts run on absolutely free in writing that I discovered such thoughts. Perhaps you have another mind too which has ideas that you’ve never guessed at.’

The meeting with the hitchhikers and later, reading these passages made me think how fortunate I am and have been to have had time, space and life’s good fortune to have discovered ‘another mind’ one that has ideas I never guessed at and, how a PhD is going to provide an even stronger framework for more time, space (and luck) to let ‘thoughts run absolutely free in writing’ – but only if I protect that time and space with a strong border? – that there are borders that limit freedom and there are borders that create freedom.

Btw, “The Neglected Art of Hitch-hiking: Risk, Trust and Sustainability” is the title of a book – one of the few academic discussions – by Graeme Chesters and David Smith.

And last but not least, after an intense discussion on the nature of self and its relationship to borders, J. said “and that is why I hitchhike.”

Meg Stuart: notes from the field

It’s like up. It’s like reaching. It’s like reaching for the stars. It’s like galloping on a horse. It’s like bareback. It’s like touching but not quite. It’s like pulling. It’s like pulling back. It’s like falling into a river. It’s like underwater archeology. It’s like tumbling into bed with strangers. It’s like darkness. It’s like darkness that comes too early. It’s like frozen. It’s like freedom that came too late. It’s like a trance. It’s like a trace.It’s like striking a match. It’s like firing a handgun. It’s like catalytic. It’s like a burning. It’s like a socio-economic situation. It’s like territorial. It’s like under the skin. It’s like hot. It’s like foetal. It’s like an external symptom. It’s like laughing. It’s like laughing at pain. It’s like whirring. It’s like endless. It’s like spinning straw in gold. It’s like the Tokyo skyline. It’s like 3am in Amsterdam. It’s like cough.sneeze.speak.kiss. It’s like a detour. It’s like steel. It’s like the middle child. It’s like coordinates. It’s like Batman. It’s like celestial. It’s like microwave popcorn. It’s like latitude, longitude and depth. It’s like I Ching. It’s like Babylonian. It’s like soft, but not for long. It’s like snake.