James Swinson

Culture and Enterprise Programme; Tutor, MA Culture, Criticism and Curation

Central Saint Martins


I am an artist and writer whose practice has involved documentary filmmaking, site-specific installation, art video and television script/camera/edit/directing. I have both a science and fine art background, which is reflected in my research interests.

Research interests

Film and video maker, art, TV programmes, documentaries and fiction; critical writing and AV-installations focusing on city, technology and urban identity.

Research statement

My primary practice has been as a film and video maker producing a wide range of work from art videos, TV programmes, fiction and documentaries. My current work includes critical writing and audio-visual installation focusing on the city, architecture and urban consciousness. My current writing, research and artwork production centres on the city: streets, architecture, space, place, time and identity. This includes Urban Poetics a project that sets out to navigate the current contours of creative practice mapping the shifting relationship between the artist, technology and urban existence, defining the emergent field of new media theory against the confines of current theories of visual culture.

A trans-disciplinary investigation of theory and practice cutting across creative disciplines and media including urban development, visual arts, moving image, photography, literature, music, digital, data-based and network art. Phases of technological development from mechanical to electronic to digital are explored giving voice to creative practices, a poetics located in the flux of the modern city.


Current students & thesis titles

Gillian Addison, Something to hold onto: The re-materialisation of research in moving image practice.

Sara Buoso, "What Does Light Frame? Investigating the Material and Practices of Light in Contemporary Arts."

Carla Capeto, Space Dramaturgies; Performative Environments in Interactive Art.

Amy Congdon, "Tissue Engineered Textiles; ‘Can the integration of textile craft with tissue-engineering techniques lead to the development of a new materiality for future design applications?’"

Fahad Ali Hamid Dhawi, How can Arabic typography and graphic communication technologies help Arabic and non-Arabic speakers in bilingual (Arabic-Latin) communication design?

Maja Grakalic, Critical and Progressive Design in former Yugoslavia.

Annice Hsueh, Looking for Magnolias: the Poetics of Living in a New City.

Oonagh O'Hagan, The Never-Ending Object: considering theories on desire, could anti-counterfeiting techniques and related technologies influence the design of fashion objects and develop our relationship with them?

Colin Richard Perry, Into the mainstream: radical independent documentaries and television in Britain 1974-1990.

Tommaso SperettaAlternative AIDS Video: the representation of the AIDS crisis in independent art video and film in the 1980s and 1990s London–New York.

Gina Franca Tornatore, Appropriation, Gesture and Detournement: An Interpretative Schema of Art Film Process tracing the Significance of Scratch Video from the Perspective of Contemporary Artists' Film and Video Practice in a Gallery Context.

Tamara Tyrer, Of Space and Time: Film and the Female Performer.

Completed students & thesis titles

Sarah Diamond, Endurance, Performance, Surveillance and Creative Collaboration.

Nicola Kirkham, J18: Movements towards an ethico-aesthetic paradigm.

Genevieve Mc Gill, ‘Ireland on Screen: the development of a critical documentary practice exploring identity through the archiving of the mediated image’.

Alev Adil Reid, Drifting in the Dead Zone in Cyprus: the mediation of memory through expanded life writing.

Marin Sawa, A design-led investigation at the intersection of algal biotechnology and design.

Selected research outputs

  • SE11 [Re] Generations

    Swinson, James (2014) SE11 [Re] Generations. In: Consuming Architecture: On the Occupation Appropriation and Interpretation of Buildings. Routledge, London & New York, pp. 260-275. ISBN 978-0-415-82499-9

  • Jonas Mekas: Film-maker, archivist, activist and poet

    Swinson, James (2013) Jonas Mekas: Film-maker, archivist, activist and poet. Moving Image Review & Art Journal (MIRAJ), 2 (2). pp. 298-306. ISSN 20456298

  • At the nerve end of our dreams

    Swinson, James (2010) At the nerve end of our dreams. In: Scent of invisible footprints: the sculpture of Pitika Ntuli. University of South Africa Press, Pretoria, South Africa. ISBN 9781868886234, 1868886239

  • SE11 (re)generations: an exploration of the city in flux

    Swinson, James (2004) SE11 (re)generations: an exploration of the city in flux. In: Fixed Architecture, Incompleteness and Change, 7-8th April 2004, School of Architecture, Design and Environment, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK. (Unpublished)