The Material Encounters research cluster led by Dr Catherine Baker and Dr Jacqueline Taylor seeks to extend and interrogate the boundaries of materiality within the context of contemporary art. The cluster provides a critical intellectual space for the exploration of embodiment, subjectivity and aesthetic practices as they are encountered through material and theoretical investigations. Central to the discourse between the researchers is a shared commitment to examine the possibilities and unknowns of matter as a critical meeting point between thought, intention and the expectancy of what might transpire.

Our aims are to explore and promote, both within and beyond the University, a breadth of material-based investigations through rigorous, ambitious approaches to research activity. Sharing insights and interpretations to build a collegiate, supportive network of practitioners for whom the physical materiality of the encounter is essentially an active partner in the research enterprise interrogated through both practice-based and theoretical approaches. 

The cluster researchers occupy a broad territory across contemporary art theory and practice embracing cultural exchange and collaboration with scholarly partners both within and beyond the academic environment. The broad range of individual research concerns include interests in the collaborative idiom through co-creation, performance and participation and ethico-aesthetics. Notions of the body both as physical object, a vehicle for encounter, as embodied subject in the environing natural world of objects tie the diverse practice of researchers together. This diversity facilitates a thought-provoking and richly discursive situation contributing new thinking and insights to an international community of researchers in contemporary art.

Check out our Birmingham City University cluster page here.

The Photography Research Hub

The newly established Photography Research Hub,  led by Dr John Hillman, joined the Material Encounters cluster at the end of 2020.

The hub aims to bring together academics, artists and thinkers from across the faculty and beyond who engage with research and discussion around an expanded notion of the subject of photography. Orientated toward the future, it will consider technology’s role in understanding the development of contemporary photography and image making. The research will be historically grounded, with an emphasis on thinking and restating the cultural value of images and image making. The ambition is that our research will shape ideas contributing to a new understanding of photography, in the twenty first century.

We welcome new members, via an application process. If you are interested in joining the cluster and/or hub, please contact us here.

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