PhD Project Proposal

22 01 2010

Below is the Project Proposal that I have used for application to an MPhil/PhD programme at both Camberwell and Goldsmiths. The proposal represents a crafted plan that will continue the work that I am currently doing towards my MA. Aspects of my practice that I intend to develop vis-à-vis a post graduate degree include interactivity (regarding mobile devices), deepening my knowledge of the Philippines through visits and further contextualization of artists that have worked with themes of networks in both digital and identity art.

Rod Dioso: MPhil/PhD Project Proposal– 890 words (bibliography not included)

Title: Bridging Displacement: Digital Connections Between London’s Filipinos and the Philippines

Aims & Objectives: The primary aim of this project is to investigate the spaces that bridge the displacement between the Philippines and the Filipinos who have migrated to London through the creation of a self-generating real-time installation. The project will further develop my practice-based research around space and displacement. It will have as a foundation my Digital Art MA, which investigates the ways in which the Philippine diaspora are changing the urban landscape of London. For my MA work, I have utilized Arduino technology to create a collage that blends images of London streetscapes with advertisements from publications by Britain’s Filipino community, as well as images of Philippine products and specialty shops.  In my research of this community, I have found that the concept of home and acceptance was in constant emotional flux and so images in this project change in relation to the heartbeat of the viewer.  My proposed PhD project will continue this investigation into the relationships between the physical location of a diaspora and its concept of ‘home’ and how to represent this fluidity through interactive digital media.

To achieve this, I first intend to define multiple narratives within the Philippine community and the nature of each of their displacements. What are the age, gender and religious demographics of the population? Have there been any specific waves of immigration and if so, what are the reasons for these waves?

I then intend to locate the spaces where community members connect back home. Is home the Philippines, the nation, or is it the family they left behind? Do these bridges to home exist in physical locations or are they merely conceptual? How do these bridges hinder or contribute to integration?

Next I will analyse the nature and modes of exchange. What is being communicated and exchanged? Is it of a physical nature (ie. objects, bodies, food, money, etc.) or is it conceptual (ie. ideas, news, love, etc.)? What is the purpose of this bridge? Is it a communication that continues after each passing generation and how is it related to the concept of home? In what way can I best represent these connections in real-time using digital technology?

The Context: My research seeks to connect the theories of Philippine and Diaspora Studies with those of Digital Art. In particular my work has been influenced by Edward Said’s theories of Orientalism, Benito Vergara’s Marxist analysis of global Filipinos as well as Fredric Jameson’s theories of history, narrative and space.

My montage aesthetic is influenced by the ‘joiners’ of David Hockney and experimental films of Zbigniew Rybczynski but I am thematically linked to diaspora artists such as Coco Fusco who references ‘differential identities’ in her performance work.

While my art practice fits into the context of digital and new media theory, the work of Lev Manovich and other new media theorists lacks an analysis of race and hegemonic power. I hope to connect the two trains of thought in the theory of my PhD thesis, which will guide the practice-based component of the project.

Methodology: In the creation of this work I will consider a variety of physical and virtual spaces such as airports, post offices, money transfer institutions, travel agencies, Philippine specialty shops, newspaper circulations, adverts, websites, wikis, Facebook groups, emails, texts and twitters.  I will photograph, film, screen grab and record evidence of the ways that the Philippine community of London connects with home.  I will also interview individual community members in person and online to determine views on identity, nationalism, displacement and integration. Transnational and Philippine Studies theory will frame the questions I ask of the community and the data that I collect.

After this data collection, I intend to create a series of moving image installations through digital cropping, layering, morphing and animating techniques with Pure Data or Max/MSP.  Manovich’s theories of ‘spatial montage’ will be the basis of my construction of the installation.

The entire creative process will be documented in a blog, which will serve as a venue for recording my field research, displaying my experimentations and facilitating self-reflection throughout the project.

Work Plan: The project will consist of three stages. The first stage involves further study into theoretical context. I intend to find connections between transnational and digital art theory as well as deepen my knowledge of Philippine Studies and Tagalog (main dialect of the Philippines). Furthermore, I wish to expand my scholarship in film theory in respect to art installation.

Secondly, a data collection stage will involve the selection of relevant locations, virtual or physical, in the UK and in the Philippines. I will then determine the appropriate means to record information from these places and confirm ethical clearances to use this data in my project. Finally I will archive and organize all the data digitally for use in the generation of the work. Physical artifacts will either be photographed or scanned.

The final stage requires development of technical skills. I intend to increase and refine my knowledge of graphical programming languages in the Pure Data or Max/MSP environment in order to create audio-visual projections that are both interactive and self-generating.

Outcome: The realization of this project will be in the form of video installations that incorporate real-time imaging from locations in the UK and the Philippines.


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