Test Lab


Test Lab offers PhD students at CSM and across UAL an opportunity to present their work in an informal and discursive setting.

Students are welcome to present papers on any aspect of their research: a chapter, a case study, an exhibition, an artwork, a workshop, etc.

This year, Test Lab is split into 3 themed sections: Ways of Being (Autumn Term), Ways of Thinking (Spring Term) and The Ethics of Making (Summer Term Reading Group).

Test Lab 2016-17 is being organized by 4 CSM PhD candidates: Sara Buoso, Adriana Cobo, Richard Crawford, and Giorgio Salani.

If you would like to participate in Test Lab, please contact Sara Buoso at – s.buoso1@arts.ac.uk .

Test Lab will run on alternate Wednesdays (to The Art of Questioning)  throughout the academic year from 4:30-7pm at CSM, Library, Pods 


Autumn Term

Theme: Ways of Being

‘Theory’ and ‘practice’ are possibilities of Being for an entity whose Being must be defined as ‘care’. (Heidegger M., Being and Time, 1962, p.238)

This first section of Test-Lab is dedicated to Ways of Being, or ways of positioning one’s research in the fields of Arts and Design, with a focus on methodology. We encourage presentations which highlight the process of identifying research’s questions, and those that discus diverse approaches to envisioning theory, writing and practice.


Wednesday October 5

Speaker 1    Introductory Session to Test-Lab

Speaker 2    Sara Buoso, Horizons of Light (CSM)

Abstract: The presentation discusses the notion of ‘horizon’, as a typology of light-art practices, focusing on the installation Your Black Horizon, by O. Eliasson, 2005. Horizons are here understood as events of the experience, punctured by light. Within this theatricality, light becomes material presence. Beyond optical aspects, the paper addresses an investigation of material qualities and technologies of light towards the virtual.

Speaker 3    Richard Crawford, Artists in the New York Museum of Natural History, 1936, (CSM)

Abstract: I will be looking at artist’s taxidermy in museums. My theoretical perspective is constructionist: I see knowledge of the world as constituted through language. In natural history museums, animal displays present a view of nature that is institutionally, culturally and historically contingent. Michel Foucault has  described the way in which ‘nature’ has been presented in museums through ‘schemes of interpretation’. These would include Linnaean taxonomy that has been used to organise nature’s diversity into a single schema. My presentation takes a close look at the Akeley dioramas in the American Museum of Natural History and asks “How have artist-naturalists such as Carl Akeley, William Leigh and Robert Rockwell challenged the museum’s scheme of interpretation, and were they being deliberately subversive?”


Wednesday October 19

Speaker 1 Sasha Burkhanova, The Ethics of independent art curating as ‘care of the self’ (CSM)

My research introduces a perspective on the formation of curatorial ethics in the conditions when a fixed professional code is impossible. As the notion of ‘independency’ in curatorial practice designated the arrival of a curator as an author, it was followed by her self-alienation from the well-defined responsibilities, subordinated to the imperative of an art museum. Liberating itself from institutional affiliation, curatorial practice automatically left behind the prescribed code of ethics, which previously orchestrated one’s engagement in the processes of selection of new works for the public collection, maintenance of conditions for their preservation, contribution to the discourse in a particular “art-historical” fashion, and anonymous organisation of the exhibition display.

The conceptual and practical challenge that emerges here constitutes the state of “infinite responsibility” on the overlap of the conflicting interests of artworks/artists, publics and institutions — and it is the independent curator who is assumed to be responsible for balancing these demands. However, instead of treating the said conflict of responsibilities as an unwanted condition to be minimised by a means of curatorial engagement, I suggest to approach it as an organic and necessary environment for an independent curator to function as an ethical subject par excellence. In conditions of missing authority to control one’s execution, and unprecedented work scenarios that nevertheless require one’s informed decisions — a curator’s “care of the others” (that is, acknowledging demands of publics, artworks, artists, institutions) would be thus primarily grounded in an adaptable strategy of “care of the self”. That is, in enabling immanent ethical experience — as opposed to the one constructed by a unified professional code, and rethinking morality and the dualism of right and wrong actions.

In one’s perceived internal aspiration for ethical engagement in the presence of the other — that is not be confused with affirmation of the imposed external demands, coming from the other — the entry questions are posed: How to sustain flexibility and openness before it turns into auto-destruction? How intensively can the process of adaptation run? How to know that one reached the threshold of own sustainability? How can one’s self-adjustment be handled with care?

Speaker 2 Mahtab Hanna (CSM), Silent Protest: the questionable existence, role and impact of political jewellery in Iran.

My study is concerned with exploring the core fields of enquiry:  Can a jeweller be called a messenger?  Does society deem it necessary to allow communication through a static inanimate object that communicates a clear vision, a definitive symbol of a movement or does it create a gap between the messenger and those at whom the message is aimed?  Can silent protest, therefore, be developed by the way a wearer adorns the item of jewellery, as well as how and by whom the jewellery is made.

Identity, gender and consciousness are central to the theme of political jewellery because explicit or implicit empowerment forms part of the strategies that can be used to convert people to/from particular movements within politics.  The research envelopes how the beliefs of many can be divided into segments, namely those who have invented those messages, the patrons of the jewellery, then those whose job is to proclaim and eulogise the meaning according to a scripted message, and, finally, the consumers, be they monopolists of thought or granters of freedom of thinking.  Whether it is a totalitarian state or regime, the politics and counter politics of jewellery is akin to the official as well as unofficial representation of power and struggle.


Wednesday November 2

Speaker 1  Giorgio Salani – Micro-ethnographies of artisanal pottery (CSM)

I introduce the subject of my research on artisanal pottery and give a brief summary of the methodological approach. Diagrams and video clips are used to summarise some points made in my confirmation paper. An example from the analysis of my interviews with practitioners illustrates how a practice-based mixed-method approach is used to produce an original contribution to knowledge. I would like to use this opportunity to have a discussion about methods and methodology, and how best to present them.


Wednesday November 16

Speaker 1  Adriana Cobo, Taste Untold: Every Performance as taste narrative in architecture

This research is a theoretical inquiry into the field of taste in architecture, sustained by a tailored research-practice on everyday performativity, situated on Granary Square – London. The project questions what is taste in architecture? And how could notions of performativity and performance practice contribute towards new understandings of taste within the framework of spatial practice?

The thesis departs from a simple premise: the fact that in architecture, taste has generally been naturalised and made visually recognisable to architects and publics alike within the logic of formal styles, such as classicism, modernism, postmodernism, etc. The research argues, however, that the story line of taste, as offered by sequential changes in style, has left unexplored spaces in connection with a field wider than that of architectural form. The thesis proposes taste as a distinctive internalised system by which architects embody and perform architecture, differentiating themselves as a professional clan. Research-practice is constructed with a tailored approach to performance, as a method for exploring how notions of taste play out in the public realm, focusing on use and program. It addresses visually masked aspects of taste such as class distinctions and power structures, often veiled by an emphasis on formal production and form-based taste narratives.

For Test-lab, the presentation will focus on how to build bridges between the main line of argument motivating the research, and the proposed research-practice which sustains it. It will frame practice within theoretical frameworks and projects on performance and performativity and ask the question: What does this have to do with taste?

Speaker 2  Julia Dudkiewicz, Kelmscott Manor: The Making of William Morris’s ‘Most Famous’ House and the Memorialisation of William Morris (1871-1938).

The topic of this presentation will revolve around the central premise of Julia’s PhD project. This thesis explores the deceivingly simple, yet surprisingly complex, phenomenon of Kelmscott Manor’s fame, its interrelated role as a Morris memorial, and the connotations ascribed to the house in connection with William Morris’s 25-year tenure of it.

Today Kelmscott Manor is not only inherently associated with William Morris, but it is undoubtedly the most famous of his houses. Unlike any of his other residences, it features in the Collins English Dictionary as ‘a Tudor house near Lechlade in Oxfordshire: home (1871-96) of William Morris’. Although Kelmscott became a significant catalyst for Morris’s wide-ranging creative work and ideology, paradoxically, it was the only one of his houses, where Morris never lived with his family for any length of time. It was only ever a holiday retreat, maintained alongside his permanent homes in London, and his visits there were spasmodic. Moreover, Kelmscott was not the domestic and/or rural idyll it was portrayed to be. Not only was it the least comfortable of Morris’s houses, located in the proximity of a noisy factory, but its tenure was tarnished by his wife’s affairs, with his sometime co-tenant, D.G. Rossetti (in the 1870s), and Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1880s and 1890s).

In response to the above paradoxes, this thesis traces and investigates the origin and complex mechanics behind the unexplored phenomenon of Kelmscott’s fame, and its interrelated status as a Morris Memorial. It does so through interrogating key historical, economic and cultural factors, such as the agents of image building, publicity and memorialisation (i.e. people, images, texts, events, and activities), which have played a part in the process.


Wednesday November 30

Speaker 1 Tsuyoshi Amano (CSM), Prototyping in Business Model Innovation: Exploring the Role of Design Thinking in Business Model Development

The main theme of my research is how to apply prototyping approaches in design to business model development to propose a concept of business model prototyping as a methodology of managing innovation. The research is theoretically located among the arguments of innovation, business models and design (and design thinking). I will present how I position my research in the various subjects. Also, the session possibly includes an introduction of a business model exploration tool modified for academics.

Speaker 2  Tobias J. Yu-Kiener (CSM), The Representation of Iconic Visual Artists in Comics

Comics have emerged as important tool to communicate ideas of history/memory/culture that reaches further than traditional ways of knowledge transfer. The last decade saw an unprecedented publishing boom of comics featuring ‘iconic visual artists’ (IVA), such as Rembrandt, van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci. Some of the publications were commissioned/funded by world-famous art museums (Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Centre Pompidou), others by leading comic publishers (Vertigo, Marvel) and a few were done by independent comic artists. My research will critically assess the interpretations and means of construction of historic/cultural narratives and memories, through the example of these comics.


Spring Term

Theme: Ways of Thinking

‘This is what we call most thought-provoking. And what it gives us to think about, the gift it gives to us, is nothing else than itself – itself which calls on us to enter thought’. (Heidegger, M., What Is Called Thinking, 1976, p. 121)

Ways of Thinking focuses on the theoretical frameworks, which underpin research. From theoretical contexts to developing arguments, this section takes into account the relevance of thinking in the process of research. We welcome presentations which consider key-philosophical thoughts in order to investigate ways through which theory informs research.


Wednesday 11 January

Speaker 1  Yemima Safra

Focusing on the intersection between design and policy, my research explores how design methods and approaches may create new opportunities for political expression and action. For this seminar I will touch on some key ideas from John Dewey’s seminal work, The Public and its Problems (1929), and elaborate on how Dewey’s public(s) are conceptualized and given form in design for social change. In closing, I’ll share some rough ideas about working with paradoxes in design for policy. Also, since I would like to use film as a design research method, if relevant for others present, I welcome a discussion of its use in research and in co-design projects.


Wednesday 25 January

Speaker 1 Katherine Pogson (LCF Centre for Sustainable Fashion): The Companion Object: Craft, nature and the Anthropocene

This research originates the concept of the ‘Companion Object’ to define five key, potentially expressive elements of the fashion artefact. Rooted inreflective craft practice, it seeks to add to a growing body of alternative fashion approaches which redefine sustainable culture through promoting cherishing and adaptation to foster resilience and well-being.

Synthesising a theoretical framework from three areas of critical thinking – craft, anthropology and ecology – it develops a practice-based methodology to interrogate how notions of ‘value’ and ‘meaning’ are communicated through fashion artefacts, and explores the potential for these objects to act as ‘talismans of thought’, capable of initiating a specific dialogue with the wearer/contemplator about our interaction with nature, using the visual and poetic trope of the moth.

Speaker 2  Ellie Faden


Wednesday 22 February

Speaker 1    Laura P. Gracia, Curating Sound Art: Defining new strategies for the public exhibition of sound art

The historical context of this practice-based research investigates the incorporation of musicians and artists’ audio works in museums and galleries as a potential challenge to conventional visual arts curation. During the 1960s, sound art was developed with the involvement of artists in electronic and conceptual art, such as Nam June Paik, John Cage, Billy Kluver, Robert Rauschenberg, David Tudor, Charlotte Moorman, and Yoko Ono, who participated in events such as Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T., Armory Show, New York, 1966). The event influenced important curators in the field of modern art, such as Pontus Hulten. The Swedish art collector and museum director, edited the book 9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering with Frank Königsberg, (1966). Moreover, the curator Pontus Hulten was in charge of the competition for artists and engineers The machine: As seen at the end of the mechanical age (1967 -1968). Pontus Hulten was in charge of directing E.A.T. and announcing the competition for engineers and artists. The request for submission of works of art to be selected was for an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. The E.A.T. were so influential that changed the transcurse of the history of contemporary arts, and incorporated into the museum the new technologies of image and sound.

Since then, experiments with sound, art, media and electronics have tried to develop a sensitive response to traditional ways of exhibiting. For instance, the exhibition Orbiting Satellites, incorporated sound works and new media pieces demonstrating the value of sound art as a potential instrument to operate a change in the institution. This practice-based research critically observes and develops these issues in curating sound art, and respons to those conventions relating to visual curation and object display that obviated the field of sound arts. The theoretical writings of Jose Iges, curator of the exhibition Sound Art in Spain (1961-2016), Douglas Khan, author of Noise Water Meat (1999), and Caleb Kelly, writer of Sound (2011) discuss the neglect of sound in the Western history of art.

Developing on from their identification of a lack of auditory sensibility in curation, this practice-based research will produce a critical resource to enhance the practices of curating sound art in institutions. One of the methods employed to develop this practice-based research is the adoption of the concept Sonic Lab as a new curatorial method for sound art. The aims of this project are the critical definition of the problem with contemporary curation of sound art and the articulation of solutions to this problem. Through these new methods of curating sound art, a new participative, interactive, disruptive and procedural practice of curating sound art is to be accomplished. Consequently, the objectives of the practice-based research are to set in an exhibition space these new and advanced practices of curating sound art, using what will be the so-called sonic lab, with concerts, laboratory experiments, live performances, and workshops.


Wednesday 8 March

Speaker 1    Mark Donoughe

The aim of this presentation will be to examine what multi-projection Japanese prints can tell us about how we see images by referring to the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and ecological theories of perception pioneered by psychologist James J. Gibson. By multi-projection prints I mean prints that utilize different projection schemes to form one image but as these schemes are mutually exclusive, when used together it forms a fractured and heterogeneous space. I assert that such images can help illustrate the process by which we perceive pictures.

Speaker 2


Summer Term

Theme:The Ethics of Making (Reading Group)


26th April. Ethics and the Animal. Led by Richard Crawford.

Reading: Acampora, Ralph. Provocations from the Field; Epistemology   of Ignorance and Human Privilege. Animal Studies v5 (2) 2016


24th May.  Ethics and Light. Led Sara Buoso.

Reading: Malabou, C. The meaning of the feminine.


7th June.   Ethics and architecture. Led by Adrianna Cobo.


21st June. Ethics and Curating. Led by Sasha Burkhanova.

Reading: Hernadez-Navarro, Miguel.   The Curators demands: towards an   ethics of commitment,





The Doctoral Platform at CSM offers PhD candidates the space in which to meet, share research, as well as co-ordinate, curate and participate in a variety of events.

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