CSM Research Highlights

In This Neck of the Woods

Crack and Rustle, a performance piece by Kevin Logan
Photo by Rachel Kremer

In This Neck of the Woods was a one-day research event held at CSM in June 2015. Organised by the CSM project sensingsite, it presented research that enquired into the materialities of site, space and place.

For In This Neck of the Woods, MA, PhD and post-Doctoral researchers from UAL and beyond, responded to the environs of Central Saint Martins and King’s Cross, as sites for the production and reception of experimental critical practice and research. The paper presentations, installations and performances initiated lively and productive discussion around the implications of an art college being central to such a large-scale regeneration project, how this determines the nature and use of the space, and the key role research has to play in future engagements within both our own and the wider community.

Presenters: Sam Burford, Adriana Cobo Corey, Kate Corder, Nick Ferguson, Maria Fernanda Calderón, John Hartley, Kevin Logan, Carali McCall, Anna Minton, Pat Naldi, Maria Papadomanolaki, Ingrid Pumayalla, and Jeremy Till.

sensingsite provides a platform at Central Saint Martins for researchers and artists to present work exploring issues of place, space and site across diverse media and approaches.

View photographs of the event.

Read a review of the event.

Lens on Life

Exhibition view of Lens on Life, Central Saint Martins, January 2015
Exhibition view of Lens on Life, Central Saint Martins, 2015
Photo by Marco Kesseler

Lens On Life is a touring exhibition, organised by CSM’s Artakt team, which is strongly rooted within the field of art and science. It opened at CSM in January 2015.

Lens on Life is aimed at disseminating the scientific knowledge acquired during the five years of MitoSys, a project realised with the support of the European Commission under its seventh framework programme. Internationally leading biologists, mathematicians, biochemists and biophysicists working at 13 research institutes have collaborated with artists to reveal how genes and proteins orchestrate mitosis in human cells.

The exhibition has been curated by Marina Wallace and Ludovica Gilio, and been on display in Italy (July 2014), UK (January 2015) and Germany (March 2015).

Artists: Lucy + Jorge Orta, Rob Kesseler, Ackroyd & Harvey, Shobana Jeyasingh

Scientists: Tony Hyman, Melina Schuh, Jan-Michael Peters, Kim Nasmyth 

Lens on Life exhibition website

Anxious Places

Shona Illingworth: '216 Westbound' (2013)
Shona Illingworth: '216 Westbound' (2013)
Shona Illingworth, 216 Westbound © Illingworth

A symposium on angst, environments and affective contamination, hosted by CSM in June 2014.

During this symposium, organised by CSM in collaboration with the London Festival of Anxiety, the key speakers discussed how contemporary culture is dominated by anxiety. By examining the ways in which anxiety ‘contaminates’ urban, social, and natural environments, the invited artists and scholars explored contemporary angst from a range of cross-disciplinary perspectives and artistic mediums.

Speakers: Jill Bennett, Frank Furedi, Avery Gordon, Andrew Hoskins, Shona Illingworth, Uriel Orlow, Jeremy Till, David Toop and John Tulloch. Organised by Dr Caterina Albano.

Anxious Places programme 6.14 (PDF 184KB)

Blog post reflecting on the event by Dr Caterina Albano

Designing for Exhibitions

Designing for exhibitions colloquium at CSM 25 April 2014. Photo by Yan Wang
Designing for exhibitions colloquium at CSM 25 April 2014
Photo by Yan Wang

A PhD Colloquium exploring the roles of design in exhibitions and exhibition making.

On Friday 25 April 2014, the colloquium “Designing for Exhibitions”, organised by our PhD student Jona Piehl, brought together doctoral and post-doctoral researchers from design, curation and museum studies to explore the roles of design in exhibitions and exhibition making. It was organised in association with the international summit Chaos at the Museum.

The colloquium speakers – from the UK, Europe, Canada and Australia – comprised designers, curators, museologists and cultural theorists, those that practice design and others who commission or analyse design practice. The background of the 55 delegates was similarly diverse, shaping both the lively discussions around the papers and the chats in between and, as we hope, provided the starting point of much longer, continued conversations.

Read more about the colloquium.

Big Data - Designing with the Materials of Life

Big Data exhibition view outside CSM. Photograph by Carole Collet, 2014.
Big Data exhibition view at CSM
Photograph by Carole Collet, 2014.

In February 2014, a project on the theme of big data brought together designers and scientists through a live project and two exhibitions at CSM.

This project explored some of the big challenges presented by big data in the biomedical spectrum. Designers from MA Textile Futures, Central Saint Martins together with architects from the Interactive Architecture Lab, RC3 (the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL) have spent three weeks in the Lethaby gallery at Central Saint Martins developing design proposals that explore issues related to big data within the context of sustainability.

The project explored the growing challenges of processing, editing and storing large amounts of digital data, through two exhibitions and a live project at CSM. Together the designers developed design strategies that appropriate living systems in response to seven areas of scientific study articulated by seven visiting scientists.

The exhibition catalogue below gives an interesting overview of the collaborative work and exhibits:

Watch the Big Data video

Intimacy Unguarded - symposium

Lindsay Seers. Print
Lindsay Seers. Print
Lindsay Seers. Print

Drawing on the work of artists, writers, and critical theorists this one-day symposium, held in February 2014, explored creative and critical approaches to autobiography, biography and memoir.

Intimacy Unguarded examined how autobiography operates as a creative space, the use of biography in contemporary art, and the persuasive voice of memoir as a bridge between factual events and imagination.

Aiming to acknowledge the power and function of the subjective as material, this symposium provided a platform for determining what is at stake for artists and writers 
who articulate personal, inner worlds to an audience today. Whether in the form of autobiography or memoir, the overlap and simultaneity of intimacy and publicity, questions of authenticity, truth, memory and the reconstruction of events are paramount. 

Given biography’s potential as a reflective document and elegy, Intimacy Unguarded also considered its adoption and adaptation by contemporary artists as a non-didactic fragmented form.

Jon Cairns (writer and curator), 
Diana Caine (neuropsychologist),
 Adrian Rifkin (writer),
 Lindsay Seers (artist),
 Emma Talbot (artist).

Organised by Joanne Morra and Emma Talbot from the School of Art at Central Saint Martins, this symposium was the starting point for a 2-year research project in collaboration with the Journal of Visual Culture, IAVC (International Association of Visual Culture) and POWAP (CSM Practices of Writing and Publishing Research Group).

Birds of Paradise: Costume as Cinematic Spectacle

Serpentine Dance by Annabelle, Edison, 1896. Book cover of Birds of Paradise, Marketa Uhlirova (editor)
Book cover: Serpentine Dance by Annabelle, Edison, 1896.
Copyright: Nouveau Musee National de Monaco. Photos Mauro Magliani & Barbara Piovan.

This book, edited by Marketa Uhlirova, explores cinema costume as a form of opulent visual spectacle.

This book explores cinema costume as a form of opulent visual spectacle. It focuses on dozens of lavishly styled films made during three distinct historical ‘episodes’ in European and American cinema – early film of the turn of the 20th century, popular exotic spectaculars of the 1910s and ’20s, and underground queer cinema with its core activity in the 1960s – in order to examine how and why they often foregrounded dress as the star of the show. 

Looking at the medium of film in parallel with wider cultures of urban popular spectacle and entertainment, especially fashion, dance and the theatre, the contributors to this book explore how dynamic displays of costume and splendour have helped visualise certain key concerns of modernity, such as movement, time, transience and gender identity. Above all, the essays highlight the immense transformative potential of costume and fashion in the moving image and beyond. The volume is illustrated with over 300 film stills, frame enlargements and other archival images.

The book won a 'Most Beautiful Swiss Books of 2014' award.

Edited by: Marketa Uhlirova

Book Design: Laurenz Brunner Studio

Essays by: Lucy FischerInga FraserRonald Gregg,Sumiko HigashiCatherine HindsonEsther Leslie,Giovanni ListaEugenia PaulicelliRyan PowellJody SperlingJuan A. SuarezKarl ToepferMarketa Uhlirova.

This book is now available in the UAL webstore.

Everything Made Bronze

Everything Made Bronze. Photograph by Graham Ellard
Everything Made Bronze
Photograph by Graham Ellard

Everything Made Bronze: A new film by CSM Professor Graham Ellard and Stephen Johnstone (Goldsmiths).

‘Everything Made Bronze' makes compelling use of two contrasting but related locations: Carlo Scarpa’s famous Gipsoteca plaster-cast gallery in the Museo Canova in Possagno, northern Italy, and the Venice-based plaster workshops of Eugenio de Luigi, one of Scarpa’s most important collaborators.

Fashion in Film

Fashion in Film Festival- Film still from 'L’Inhumaine' (France, 1924). Directed by Marcel L’Herbier
Film still from 'L’Inhumaine' (France, 1924). Directed by Marcel L’Herbier
Film still from 'L’Inhumaine' (France, 1924). Directed by Marcel L’Herbier

In May 2013 CSM Senior Research Fellow Marketa Uhlirova and Professor Caroline Evans organised the ‘4th Fashion in Film Festival’ in London.

Marcel L’Herbier: Fabricating Dreams was a special season dedicated to one of France’s most innovative but internationally overlooked film directors. The programme was the first UK presentation of some of his most significant films and achieved international press coverage.

Festival website

EN VIE/ALIVE new design frontiers

Let these lifeless features remind you of something alive by Fedor Toshchev. MA Photography, by John Sturrock, 2013.
'Radiant Soil' by Philip Beesley
Philip Beesley

This groundbreaking exhibition curated by CSM Reader and TFRC Deputy Director Carole Collet opened in Espace Fondation EDF in Paris in April 2013.

It showcased a range of designers, architects and researchers who re-orchestrated our relationship to nature by exploring the emerging area of “design with the living”. They created a future hybrid world, where our everyday products and manufacturing tools become ‘alive’.

Exhibition website


Bram Thomas Arnold presenting: Walking Literature through the Self and the Landscape, SensingSite Symposium 2013.
Bram Thomas Arnold presenting: Walking Literature through the Self and the Landscape, SensingSite Symposium 2013.
Photograph: Steven Ball.

A two-day symposium organised by CSM Reader Susan Trangmar, Dr Duncan White and Steven Ball.

Held at Parasol unit on 16-17 April 2013, the symposium explored the transformative potential of media such as moving image, photography, interactive technologies and sound through research presentations, events and performances. The overarching focus was on investigating materialities of landscape and place. This symposium was part of the ongoing sensingsite project based at CSM.

Making Knowledge

Display of Phil Baines work at Making Knowledge, 2013. Photographer: Daniel Silva
Display of Phil Baines work at Making Knowledge, 2013.
Photographer: Daniel Silva

‘Making Knowledge’ was CSM's first survey exhibition that focussed on research processes and work of CSM staff.

It took place at Lethaby Gallery from 20 February to 23 March 2013. Alongside a selection of recently published works by CSM staff, displays showed the working methods of nine individual researchers. Events coinciding with these displays included a series of lectures in the LVMH Lecture Theatre and round-table discussions staged in the gallery.

Exhibition webpage