‘Theory as Practice’ is an adaptation of the MA Disertation in Creative Media Arts I realized at the London South Bank University (LSBU) between 2008 and 2010. The accademic paper is the skeleton that supports the main piece of my dissertation research, the documentary ‘A Winter Ritual’.
Below you can find the abstract of the academic text ‘Theory as Practice’:
‘Since the end of the 1970’s and responding to the challenges posted by what some call the processes of Globalization, mainstream academic research within the Social Sciences has witnessed a growing interest in ‘city studies’ and the reinterpretation of theories on ‘the practices of everyday life’. The reprinting of works from Michael de Certeau (1988), Gaston Bachelard (1994), Henri Lefebvre (2005) or Yi‐Fu Tuan (2008) has been accompanied by a plethora of studies on the theory and practice of ‘ordinary’ people’s use of space and place. This ‘usage’ is seen for some as the platform from where previously unnoticed social behaviors and cultural representations are reproduced, developed and confronted. Clearly explicit and popular examples of this renewed interest are ‘The Everyday Life Reader’ edited by Ben Highmore (2002), ‘Reading the Everyday’ by Joe Moran (2005) or ‘The Everyday’ edited by Stephen Johnstone (2008). Most of these studies mainly focus on the urban realm and try to interpret the strategies used by individuals and collectives proposing that, “in the fluid social web, the ‘weak’ makes use of the ‘strong’ and create for themselves a sphere of autonomous action and self‐determination” (de Certeau, 1988). Furthermore the city’s intertwined, laberinthycal and relational landscapes are the perfect scenery from where these strategies and useabilities can be enjoyed, described and theorized by the new rag picker, the ubiquitous flaneur, the social scientist that walks aimlessly though the city in search for new ordinary actions to be deconstructed, one could even say over‐analyzed.
The ongoing consequences of this renewed interest on ‘the everyday’ are unpredictable but one can have a glimpse of their fundamental effect in the storm caused by the radical theories of Bruno Latour’s ‘Reassembling the Social’. In his book, Latour doesn’t make many concessions when affirming that “there is not such a thing as Society” (Latour 2005, p.18). Two decades ago this sentence in the mouth of the neo‐conservative Margaret Thatcher sounded like blasphemy for the burgeoning middle class intellectual, but in 2005, theorized by a Social Scientist is seen, for some, as a revolutionary step forward within the academic discourse.
These are indeed the dramatic and exciting propositions of a way of understanding the social that follows the paths opened by George Simmel (Simmel, 1896) or Gabriel Tarde (Tarde, 1899) long time ago. These currents of thought have had a deep influence on the Post‐modern era and its project of ‘grand narratives’ disarticulation. In fact, since the 1970’s, concepts of ‘identity’, ‘race’ or ‘class’ have been deconstructed, re‐evaluated and put under pressure. We had to wait though till 2005 and Bruno Latour’s book to understand what was in ‘vox populi’ for some time: what we call ‘the social’ and by extension ‘society’ not only is a misleading concept but does not exist as an entity, it is indeed an academic short hand, a conceptual invention.
The interest of the present text is not to find out the reasons for the actual crisis of representation within the Social Sciences, or the consequences of the possible academic comodification of ‘everyday life’ theories. The concern of this study is neither to underline the sometimes arrogant but nonetheless wise ‘dis‐interestedness’ of social scientists’ object of study, nor to criticize the unnoticed danger that could suppose the compulsive search and generation of academic contents; an endemic illness called ‘theoretization’ that constantly needs to produce ‘otherness’ in order to exist. The focus of this paper, which more precisely could be qualified as an experiment, is to undertake a researcher‐based exercise using a self‐analytical methodology to investigate on one’s own experience of lived place and space. Its aim will be to break down acquired theoretical knowledge while testing its usability. This self‐analysis will be done by creatively documenting and critically commenting on a series of ordinary activities and local rituals in the context of Llorenc del Penedes: the village where I grow up and where I have been living for the last three months.
These activities and rituals have marked the researcher’s ‘everydayness’ when living in CeRCCa, an interdisciplinary living and working space for creativity and cultural research developed since January 2008 as integral part of the MA Creative Media Arts at LSBU.
Following Latour’s deconstruction of Social Sciences’ dogmas (Latour, 2005) I would venture to say that the present dissertation has the aim to function as a sign, a small dot in the tortuous line that draws the boundaries of a new way of understanding the Social Sciences. An approach based on the potentialities of inter‐subjective creative research as a means to move away from generic conceptualizations and the obsession for objective frameworks. In short an experiment based on two key concepts: Self‐knowledge as starting point to understand what is happening around oneself, and secondly the critique of the still imperious presence of scientific rationality understood as a positivistic methodology.
Proposing then the reinterpretation of the scientific methodology, the present paper pretends to blur the boundaries between theory and practice, reflection and action, in short, academia and its object of study. The need for the redefinition of this dichotomist paradigm is seen as a key step in order to extend the understandings of Social Sciences. Or put it in another way to reframe what we call the ‘Science of being together’ into a discipline that embraces creativity, promotes inclusiveness and enforces cultural syncretism’.
For the full text please click HERE
‘A Winter Ritual’ is a practitioner-based creative exercise documenting the everyday processes involved in the construction of a space and the creation of a place in relation to experienced local interactions and acquired theoretical approaches. Making use of Alternative Visual Anthropology, ‘A Winter Ritual’ functions as an experimental auto-ethnographic and micro-sociologic documentation of the local context of CeRCCa, a Residency Program I developed in my hometown Llorenç del Penedes a small village located near Barcelona.
‘A Winter Ritual’ is a documentary that embodies the dualism between what we understand for ‘theory’ and what we experience as ‘practice’ and represents a critique of this dualism. This critique is further explored in the text you are about to read.
To watch the documentary please click HERE
‘Theory as Practice’ won the MA Critical Arts Management Course Director Prize for Outstanding Achievement’ at LSBU, London (UK) and has been published at the catalogue of World of Art Program organized by SCCA Ljubljana (Slovenia)
‘A Winter Ritual’ has been presented at the Summer School for Art Curators’ in Yerevan and Ijevan (Armenia and at the World of Art School for Art Curators organized by SCCa Ljubljana (Slovenia).
With the support of: