Between Bios and Art: Aesthetic and Ethical Significance of Art Working with Living Materials

Agnieszka Anna Wolodzka | Leiden University | Promotor: Prof. dr. R. Zwijnenberg
In my research I investigate the aesthetico-ethical implications of art as practice and vehicle of meaning production. I am focusing in particular on how art comes with ethical concerns and responsibilities within its creative practice. This aesthetico-ethical dimension of art expresses a quest for redefinition of what the materiality of the body and life is, which in turn influences new modes of meaning production. I concentrate on art’s dealing with moist media and living tissue materials as new forms of expression of the body, its nature and its limits, and how this constructs the notion of matter as active and capable of producing meaning.

Affect and Urbanity: Single Migrant Woman in Shanghai

Penn Ip | My research studies how spaces control and enable lower class single migrant women’s intimate lives in contemporary Shanghai. The project focuses on single migrant women at the age of 20-35, in Shanghai who work in 3 distinctive sectors: factories, bars/night clubs, and domestic services. By employing affect theory to bridge city spaces to migrant studies and singlehood, the research objective is to unfold how single migrant women encounter the spaces in contemporary Shanghai, thereby not only shaping, modifying, and manipulating their intimate lives (particularly at the affective level), but also allowing for moments of agency and sites of empowerment.

Political animal voices

Eva Meijer | The view that nonhuman animals cannot be political actors because they cannot speak is common in both philosophical tradition and political practice. This view seems to be false in two respects. It refers to a flawed conception of political agency and, second, it ignores the fact that animals clearly do communicate, with each other and with humans. Seeing animals as mute does not simply reflect a misunderstanding of their capacities: it is interconnected with the way humans have defined language and politics and has led to rendering animals silent as a political group.

The aim of this project is to develop a theory of ‘political animal voice’. I will do this by developing and integrating accounts of a) political animal agency, b) animal languages and human-animal communication, and c) (new) political institutions. In developing these accounts, the project integrates insights from political philosophy (including poststructuralist and posthumanist analyses of power and language), philosophy of language, phenomenology, and different fields of animal studies, such as animal ethics, ethology and animal geography. Although my main goal is to provide a philosophical theory of political animal voice, the project also aims to conceptualize political animal voice on a practical-political level, both in addressing the entanglement of politics and language in relation to animals, and in developing a method of thinking with animals.

Pretty Smart Wearables: Theories of the Body, Fashion and Technology

Pretty Smart Wearables: Theories of the Body, Fashion and Technology

Lianne Toussaint |  Several Dutch designers and companies experiment with the possibility to integrate electronics, solar panels, smart materials, LEDs, or interactive interfaces into fabrics and clothing. The central aim of the research project ‘Pretty Smart Wearables: Theories of the Body, Fashion and Technology’ is to academically and thoroughly reflect on the socio-cultural implications of this integration of fashion and technology. The PhD research is part of the broader NWO-project ‘Crafting Wearables’ that explores the design, application and production of ‘fashionable (or ‘wearable’) technologies’. The project’s key hypothesis is that these technological innovations will have a deep impact on the social and cultural value, aesthetics and function of clothes and fashion.

Taking the theoretical concept of cultural performance as a starting point, the research focuses on three interrelated effects of wearable technology. First, it looks at how the interaction between body, garment, and technology influences the embodied experience of the wearer. Second, the project will explore how fashion and technology reciprocally transform each other’s aesthetics. Finally, the project aims at a better understanding of how fashionable technology enables the wearer to communicate emotions, values and identity in new and alternative ways.

The research project Crafting Wearables is led by prof. dr. Anneke Smelik (Radboud University) and has six subprojects. The project is funded by the NWO ‘Creative Industry’ grant and entails a cooperation between the Radboud University, the Technical University Eindhoven, ArtEZ Fashion Academy Arnhem and several other private and public partners (Philips Research, Textile Museum Tilburg, MODINT, Freedom of Creation, Solar Fiber, Inntex, Xsens).

Supervisor | Prof. dr. Anneke Smelik (Radboud University Nijmegen)

Pauline van Dongen-2

Image: Pauline van Dongen, ‘Wearable Solar project’, solar coat.

A History of the Construction of the Idea of Dutch Design, 1945-2010

A History of the Construction of the Idea of Dutch Design, 1945-2010

Joana Ozorio de Almeida Meroz | VU University

This research examines the history of the construction of the idea of Dutch Design, 1945-2010. It advances from the premise that Dutch Design is the product of a discursive construction rather than the natural result of a ‘typically Dutch’ identity or culture. Accordingly, this research traces the development of ideas about Dutch Design as well as the actors involved in the production and institutionalisation of those ideas. Ultimately, the aim is to develop an empirical understanding of the actual relationships between Dutch Design and its socio-cultural contexts without relying on stereotypes of national culture and of design. The broader relevance of this study is that it contributes to the development of a theoretical-methodological framework within which the relationship between design and society can be studied scientifically. This is key to the development of the new academic field of Design studies in the Netherlands and abroad. This research is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek, NWO) programme Mosaic.