Ever felt like your PhD brain is made of fluff? Or perhaps it has taken the form of an interconnected, entangled giant rabbit warren, where ideas get lost as soon as they emerge? Ideas that you know are there or could be there, but there seems to be too much white noise in the way?

Have you ever wondered about how it might feel to take all of it out, lay it out in front of you and unpick the tangles? Unearth all the unsolved ideas, questions, pictures or sounds to reveal the potential and extent of your research? …

It seems that PGRs certainly get these feelings from time to time and so The PGR Studio’s Inside//Out festival provides a platform for PGRs to foster their research – in all its entanglement – in a supportive environment. PhD students are invited to present, discuss, exhibit and perform their research, but more importantly, to share their work-in-progress ideas, thoughts and questions with other Arts, Design & Media students and members of staff.

Continuing the work from last year’s event, this January saw the PGR Studio’s second ever Inside//Out festival, to provide a relaxed, informal environment celebrating the variety of ideas and approaches across the Arts, Design & Media Faculty.

Our thematic emblem and mascot for the day was a giant möbius loop that helped illustrate the intricacies and interconnectedness of the doctoral research journey and encourage getting inside thoughts out there. If travelling along one side of the loop, you would find yourself moving both inside and outside of the shape, travelling on the same path but exploring very different aspects of the research. Rather than approaching the dissemination of research as a big leap of faith, the Inside//Out team used the description of this complicated journey as embodied in the möbius loop: the researcher is travelling on a path with unknown direction, they just need to get moving and see what happens!

Due to its innovative multi-functional, multi-media and state-of-the-art technology, we returned to The Hive in Curzon B building. Last year’s festival showed us that The Hive’s truly unique circular, tiered lecture hall provided an even-keel amongst all presenters and attendees. With the multitude of screens at every seat and wall space, the room was immersed with everyone’s research, enabling us all to see inside ideas out there in action. After a fantastic ice-breaker from one of the PGR Studio team, we had a room full of researchers all warmed-up for the acts! Researchers were asked to write down their ‘three favourites’ and share them with a peer. Similarities and differences emerged and resulted into a lively and excited chatter kicking off our research festival.

The final line-up consisted of more than 15 presentations, provocations, performances and posters.

Our headliners this year were a fantastically diverse bunch, providing a fascinating insight into ADM PhD research. In the spirit of getting inside ideas out, our headliners presented their research at all stages in their PhD journey, and were all creative with both the format and the content of their talks. We were lucky enough to encounter an opera aria, a video piece, a live guitar performance of improvised composition through to a widely diverse set of presentations with themes ranging from an allegoric research ‘quest’ and aliens in Middle Eastern Science Fiction Art.

In keeping with true ADM and PGR Studio spirit, we decided to change it up a gear this year and add a playful twist to the already energetic set-up. The headliners presentation order was organised at random to keep people on their toes. Once one presentation had finished, people had 5 seconds to compose themselves before the next presentation queue began …

… and it worked! Each speaker waited with baited-breath and leapt up when it was their turn to speak. They didn’t have long though – each slot was timed, so when the time was up, so was their act! The automated system took no prisoners and our acts responded excellently; engaging the audience with their research, whilst under this timely pressure, making Inside//Out once again a playfully academic event. To round this all off, and with the support from the BCU Student Union, we were all able to conclude the day with a well-earned pizza feast-ival.

Check out the original Inside//Out call for contributions here.

Our second Inside//Out Research Festival was a roaring success, leaving us with only a few months to wait for our next big PGR Studio research event. Our annual conference ‘Alchemies of Research Possibilities and Transformations in Arts, Design & Media’ will be taking place on 5th July 2019 and the call for proposals is already out! If you missed the Research Festival, make sure to join us at this annual conference.

Want to get a sneak peak of the Inside//Out festival? Check out the video from the day, provided expertly by Save As Agency | Save As Creative Ltd.


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