In September, 2016, I started a PhD.
It still feels strange writing that: I am doing a PhD. I am a PhD Candidate. I am studying… well yes, my point is made.
I set up this blog in the hopes that I could somehow find a space that would sit outside of academia, or at least far enough on the edge that I could write about my thoughts and research tangents in a discursive (i.e. rambling) and more accessible way. It is mostly a personal log to remind myself to keep moving forward.
So here I am:
Starting a multidisciplinary/ interdisciplinary PhD is both exciting and daunting. For very similar reasons.
The scope of the digital economy is vast; allowing for multiple disciplines to look at a whole host of topics from different perspectives.
One of the biggest challenges I’m finding in working in an interdisciplinary school is the successful integration of disciplines.
Luckily the CDT I am part of is set up in such a way that you don’t have to face this challenge on your own. You have a support from the supervisory team, mentoring from people who have done similar work, and the opportunity to engage with multiple fields of study within the university.
You also get a chance to up-skill in the first year to help you develop the skills necessary to get a start on your own novel interdisciplinary research.
So where do I fit in? I come from a humanities background. I’ve a degree, and two Masters in Arts and I in the coming months I really want to learn how to apply robust methodologies to my research.
The bibliographies to my MA theses read like a Verso Books catalogue. Not only are they heavily influenced by classic cultural studies texts, they also come from a Marxist foundation.
Which isn’t a bad thing when the Frankfurt school and later French theorists like Bourdieu, Baudrillard and Lefebvre look at issues of Art in society/culture.
But it is relatively harder to start to question the digital in relation to these established discourses that predate our digital reality by 20 or more years
As the title of this blog suggests my own position within the research is going to be looking at the artistic explorations of personal data +/or digital identity.
Currently I’m at the ‘What is?’ stage. What is ‘art’? What is ‘personal data’? what is ‘digital identity’? What is my PhD about? The answer is: I don’t know yet. But, fortunately I have just over three and a half more years to find out.
What I would love is to see if I can produce a piece of art that challenges people’s perceptions of their relationship with technology and the Digital economy. And then critically explore its conception, production and reception.
My lack of experience as an artist makes me wonder if my object d’art will end up being no-more novel than a (hopefully subversive) picture book.*
However, I will persevere in my hopes of creating something engaging and novel, and, perhaps, if I remember, chronicle here the trials, tribulations and random thoughts I have along the way.
There is no guarantee on the frequency of the posts I make, I will not hold myself to a weekly word-count, as to do so may engender disappointment.
*I will reluctantly admit to studying Art for the Leaving and having studied, for 2 years, foundation level classical animation. But that was a lifetime ago and I apologise for the quality of any and all doodles I share in the future.