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Collaborative Doctoral Award with NEoN Digital Arts: Valuing festivals as incubators of digital creativity – capturing the process of commissioning and presenting digital art


College of Arts

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Prof S Cook , Ms Donna Holford Lovell , Dr Drew Hemment No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

NEoN Digital Arts Festival (Directed by Donna Holford-Lovell), Prof. Sarah Cook (Glasgow) and Dr. Drew Hemment (Edinburgh) are seeking outstanding practice-based research candidates for a collaborative doctoral award fully funded for three years by the SGSAH to start in October 2020. Prospective candidates should submit their applications by 3 July.

NEoN (North East of North) is Scotland’s first digital art festival, based in Dundee. It aims to advance the understanding and accessibility of digital and technology-driven art and design forms and to encourage high quality within the production of this medium. For over ten years, NEoN has organised exhibitions, workshops, talks, conferences, live performances and public discussions and established itself as a platform to showcase national and international digital artists.

Over the past 30 years, digital culture festivals including NEoN have provided a key site through which the digital turn has been critically questioned and creatively explored together with diverse audiences. These festivals have incubated novel approaches and methods for commissioning, presenting and preserving digital art. However, their often grassroots character has limited the documentation and study of these phenomena. This project seeks to address this gap through a novel combination of archival/curatorial practice methods, evaluating how commissioning digital art at such events stimulates digital creativity and might secure the legacy of digital art.

The project has three key aims with distinct methods, subject to a decided research focus from the candidate:

a) Archival and historical research, including stakeholder interviews will consider the current public records of the activities of festivals that have previously commissioned digital art experiences. Alongside NEoN, this will also include a focus on FutureEverything (which Drew Hemment founded in 1995 as the UK’s annual digital culture festival) and case studies from a range of other festivals and new media or digital arts organisations, focusing on which commissions are valued and which not in the existing historical records, from the different points of views of makers/artists, curators and viewers.

b) Using practice-based curatorial methods and working within NEoN Festival, the researcher will seek to uncover the changing conditions of commissioning digital art experiences, identifying current good practices and testing forms of validation, such as forms of documentation, collaborative authorship, or audience feedback, crucially throughout all steps of the commissioning process.

c) Drawing together the archival work and the evaluation of the practice research, the project will identify and share ways in which festivals could work with the wider cultural sector to ensure the legacy of the digital art experiences they commission, leading towards concrete proposals for exhibition, collection, and preservation of once fleeting digital art experiences. This could inform plans for a national digital art collection, for example.

The project will investigate the implications for the practices of artists, arts professionals and cultural organisations, and also ways in which festival curation and arts practice can address the consequences of technological change for society at large.

We invite applications from candidates with a strong practice-research and academic background in curatorial/museum and gallery studies, cultural and creative industries, information and media studies, design research, art history (new media and digital art and design) and cognate disciplines, with archival / curatorial skills, with a clear and engaging research proposal that can be developed through the available research supervision.

The candidate must have an excellent command of English, both spoken and written. Successful applicants are expected to have a good first degree (at least 2.1, or international equivalent) in a relevant field of arts and humanities, and have obtained, or are currently working towards a Master’s degree at Merit or Distinction level or international equivalent.

Applicants should apply by submitting the following information in a single PDF document, or by downloading an application form from our website, and sending it to [Email Address Removed] and [Email Address Removed]

*Contact details
*Residence eligibility
* Qualifications
* Name and contact details of two referees

And the following in no more than 300 words each:
* Relevant professional experience
* A statement explaining why you are applying and a note about your research proposal in response to this opportunity
* A statement about your preparedness for proposed doctoral project
* A statement about your training needs

Shortlisted applicants will have brief informal interviews with the supervisory team in mid JULY in order that the decision can be confirmed by 31 JULY.

Funding Notes

The successful candidate will be funded by AHRC via the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities. This covers fees and a stipend at UKRI level (£15,285 for 2020/21) for 3.5 years.

Please note that full awards are only available to those who meet UK residency requirements. Students from EU countries may be eligible for a fees-only award. This studentship has a residency requirement set by UK Research Innovation (UKRI) detailed below. Contact the College of Arts Graduate School at University of Glasgow ([Email Address Removed]) if you have any queries about your eligibility.


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