PhD Research Week 8


Week 8 of research is highlighted by two talks extremely important for my research themes.

This week I have also attended Publish and Be Damned, small publishers fair at the ICA, for a refreshing overview of print matters.  This included the talk "I don't want to write  a PhD" from which the conclusion drawn is "a PhD in the arts should be hot, sexy, straightforward and provocative".

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Talk:  V&A DESIGN Future SalonsDesign activism: how does it change things? Jody Boehnert (EcoLabs) Noel Douglas (Occupy Design) Jonathan Chapman (University of Brighton) Paul Micklethwaite (Kingston University)

"Climate change, resource scarcity, economic crisis and struggles for social justice have given rise to new movements in design that seek more than creative and commercial fulfilment. What models of design practice support this? How might design work with other activist practices? What role do universities and museums have? How can it work with marginality?"

Very fortunate to attend this, as I am referring 3 of the speakers in my literary review.  Jonathan Chapman on "Empathy", Paul Micklethwaite on "Design for change" and Jody Boehnert on "Ecological Literacy".

Memorable points: - Activism is a state of mind.  Design is in between stories and we are moving into a more reflective story than the one to date. - "We don't need mass answers, we need a mass of answers" (Kate Fletcher) - We need designers to become aware of neo-liberalism and how they can be engaged. - We need a new visual language of communicators. - Design Activism - take away from the 'design' and make it open to public.. like Open IDEO - anyone is a Designer.

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Talk:  LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival : Fashion in Food

Claude Fischler - director of Research at CNRS national research agency of France Matthew Fort - Author and Food and Drink editor of the Guardian from 1989- 2006 Carl Warner - professional still life photographer Food Landscapes James Thornton - environmental lawyer, social entrepreneur, and the founding CEO of ClientEarth

"Food is something of an obsession in contemporary culture, with 'celebrity' chefs topping the best-seller lists and pop-up restaurants and foodie blogs the height of cool. But are we thinking about food in the right way? Food shortages are predicted to be the next major world crisis, and obesity and eating disorders increasingly test our health services. Do campaigns to encourage sustainable healthy eating make any difference?" This was possibly one of the best talks I have been to. Memorable points:

- Food is essential to status, fantasy life, mating life, survival... - What is fashion?  It is a contradiction fashion + food because food is  a primary need. - There have always been fads in food:  Green peppers in 70's, nouveau cuisine, small portions + big bills... - Everything about food has become individualized.  The process of individualization in western culture (ie: dinner for one). - The constant food scares (Barthes Myths) ie: don't eat carbs, fatty-acids, horse meat etc.. - A mean has time, space, people and context - otherwise it is  just eating.  Standing on the street eating, is not eating. (French expression for 'I didn't eat today, I had a sandwich.') - The importance of food + sex - two activities which determine the future of our species. - We are not obsessed enough with food, even though there is a tsunami of food related things, yet it is not generalized - it is a middle class form of self-expression - well educated people.  In this way, food is a form of social exclusion - for example, does everyone know what balsamic vinegar is? - New chefs and TV shows, talk to their own tribe of food lovers - the consequence is, we have an epidemic of obesity, diseases... - Food fashions are dictated by necessity - not by passion, not by fad. - Food writing, farmers markets, etc - it is all done by people that have no contact with the production of food, with the land. - The level of interaction of food is less than our grandparents - we know more about food, but we interact less with it. - We take food too seriously and we forget about the means of communication of food "don't play with your food". - The problem is we have a society that lectures people "5 a day" "you should eat.." and people become food rebels.  Food becomes a state of independence "I know it is bad for me, but don't tell me what to do".