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Timothy Smith

Published date
09 Jan 2020

Queering of Memory, Temporality, Subjectivity: Subversive Methods in Audiovisual Practice

College: London College of Communication
Supervisors: Professor Angus Carlyle, Dr Maria Walsh


This practice-based research attends to queer and feminist understandings of sound, memory, voice, temporality and spectrality, specifically in relation to audiovisual art. Through an analysis of artworks and material practices, I identify a range of subversive strategies implemented by artists intent on amplifying the voices of marginalised communities. These include alternative modes of listening, seeing and feeling that complicate hegemonic notions of history, genre, representation and subjectivity.

Context and background

The project examines five single-screen, digital artworks that I have created as part of my research, as well as works by seven other artists: John Akomfrah, Clio Barnard, Evan Ifekoya, Mikhail Karikis, Patrick Keiller, Charlotte Prodger and Wu Tsang.

In relation to my analyses of the artworks, a number of theoretical concepts are developed: Queering of Memory draws primarily on queer and feminist theories of spectrality, temporality and voice (Gordon: 1997; Dinshaw: 1999; Cavarero: 2005; Freccero: 2006; Love: 2007; Blanco and Peeren: 2013). Haptic Aurality builds on established theories of cinematic embodiment (Sobchack: 1992, 2004; Marks: 2000, 2002, Barker: 2009), by attending specifically to sound (Voegelin: 2010; Leimbacher: 2017) and breath (Quinlivan: 2012, 2015). Diffractive Listening is inspired by theories of diffraction (Haraway: 1991, 1997; Barad: 2007, 2010, 2014) which are reconfigured with a much-needed aural sensibility (Lipari: 2014; Goh: 2017). Finally, the disruptive and transformative potential of Interference is considered through the metaphor of the wave (Rodgers: 2010, 2016) and the power of collective action (Butler: 2015; Davis: 2016; LaBelle: 2018).

The structural framework of this thesis is comprised of different configurations of time and subjectivity. A journey that encompasses a vast array of temporalities: from the deep time of geological landscapes and their mythological narratives; the embodied present in all its haptic sensuality; the recent ‘historical’ past; then forwards and outwards towards the future, with all its multiplicitous possibilities.

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