Panel 1: Beyond the Self
Chair: Dr Jason Lee


Robin Bale
Artist, Royal College of Art



This is a piece that I have performed in numerous venues and situations, most lately at Cockfosters bus station as part of the “In the Shadow of Senate House” event organized by students and staff members of Birkbeck College. Words are spoken and flat special brew is poured on the floor. The actual invocation, and the ritual words that it uses, acts as a framework for other content that changes according to both the physical context (ie. place) and the event that it is part of. The additional content is a combination of material improvised on the spot and texts that I have previously devised. The overall effect is intended to be fragmented or impressionistic. What is being presented is the process of composition and revision – not, however, as a “work in progress”; every performance is intended to stand alone.

The model for this piece is partly the lay-preacher, in the sense of speaking as the spirit moves whilst also drawing from a pre-existing text; and partly the bus stop wino in the fragmentary and sometimes confrontational delivery. The invocation to Hermes itself (who has been identified with the Egyptian god of writing, Thoth) in company with “the Good Dead” and “the Bad Dead”, is to draw the past into the moment that in simultaneously being invoked and passing away with the spoken word and the beer that is poured on the floor.


Dr David Bessell
Senior Lecturer Music Technology, University of Bedfordshire

The mathematics of Chaos and the role of irrational creative strategies in ‘Labyrinth Lit by Fire’

Playback of a recording of the piece in question. (Piano and electronics)

A short reflective analysis of the role of fractal procedures with reference to particular features of the piece. Fractal procedures in music and mathematics tend towards chaotic complexity which at a certain point exceed the capacity of rational analysis in the listener. How can this chaotic excess be compatible with traditional concepts of musical structure? (accompanied by illustrations from the piece).

Further theoretical speculation on the role of irrational and intuitive procedures of other types in the same piece, including discussion of the faulty fugue, ‘trap doors’ in hermetic systematic compositional procedures and the structural role of other aleatoric procedures. Some comparative exploration of the relation this has to strictly predetermined algorithmic approaches in composition and the implications this has for our view of the creative impulse.
Finally, a short conclusion on the role of intuition versus determinism in this piece and my other practice based compositional work.

David Manderson


Lecturer Creative Writing & Screenwriting, University of the West of Scotland

Losing the Body: Determining Creative Practice

Lost Bodies is a novel successfully written for a PhD at the University of Strathclyde.
The actions of the main character illuminate the fact that the core origin of creativity within the individual is formed socially, and that there may be ‘bad’ creativity just as there may be ‘good’. The conscious process of the main character is just one part of what he knows, his reasoning for his actions, the story he thinks he is telling: he is unaware of, or determined not to see, the compartments of his mind that contain the rest. His determined path – his plan, his proposal, his predetermined ‘art’ – is destructive because it is not about discovery but about what is thought to be already known, and the site of this un-creativity is the body.
The fiction stands as a metaphor for the determining of creative practice. When do proposals go bad? When they are too closed, too impervious to penetration from the outside, too rigid? When the proposal creates a barrier between the creativity inside an individual and those to whom it might apply? When pre-determinism stifles what might be? As the main character continues to commit evil acts for no reason he knows or cares to think of, he illustrates the absurd proposal that determining and creating are the same thing. When is a plan no plan at all?

Lost Bodies has won prizes at the Cinnamon Novel Award and the Yeovil Literary Festival, financial recognition from the Scottish Arts Council and widespread applause at professional readings in Scotland, England, Ireland and New York. I will read extracts from this work of fiction that deals with creativity, determinism and predestination.

Panel 2: Breaking the Self
Chair: Dr Gavin Stewart


Keith Jebb
Lecturer in Creative Writing, University of Bedfordshire

The pronominal monster: the poetics of accretion, collage, and the not-self

The common assumption that the 'I' in a poem is either the more-or-less biographical poet, or the voice of some determined 'other' - the character in a monologue- is difficult to shift. The one infects the other, as in the notion of the 'mask' behind which the poet hides. But both stand to one side of the poem, as if independent of the text itself, which is their testament.

I want to posit the notion of the 'I' in my own practice as a quasi-cybernetic machine, which 'produces' the text from within; an amalgam of neural rat-runs and psychical-linguistic processes, capable of inveigling itself into a poem made up entirely of found or collaged material and leaving the signature of its phantom presence. A ventriloquist's dummy running off at its own mouth, speaking in tongues. I will present a handful of poems registering the construction and growth of this monster made of corpses, from its genesis in an act of genuine plagiarism, through its angry rounding on the reader who recreates it in an act of recognition, to its political activism and inherent empathy with the displaced and selfless. In the midst of this, the image of a self composed of one unending surface, a moebius strip with neither heart nor horizon, where Lyotard haunts the Maximus of Charles Olson, will emerge as both the form of this 'I' and of this 'me' who is both its creator and its creation, a tattoo of a face upon a face.

James Snazell
Lecturer in Animation and Experimental Film, Edge Hill University

Determined Repetitive Strain

The focus of this presentation is based on a short film. I will reflect upon the use of a pre-determined process in moving image practice, used in order to produce the opposite, a non-determined response from the audience participating in the work of art.
The specific area of practice is the role of minimalist repetition in order to break pre-determined patterns of thinking. This acts as a catalyst in snapping a person out of a conditioned way of thinking. The paradox is that something pre-determined by way of a repetitive moving image sequence such as the use of a loop, is developed and used by way of setting up a process in order to produce the opposite, a non-determined responsive outcome. I use the term non-determined in the sense of not having a fixed viewpoint or position; with the artwork acting as a release of thinking definable, determined thoughts. The presentation will consider the use of a repetitive process seen in examples of moving image doesn’t necessarily relate to a sense of artistic progress, but rather works as an act of necessity.

Lesley McKenna
Lecturer in Creative Writing, University of Bedfordshire

Cutting it Up – Intertextuality and The Collaged Poem

In this presentation I will discuss the nature of creativity with regard to the direct intertextuality of the cut-up poem, alongside a reading of my latest poem, ‘Amaranthus caudatus (Love Lies Bleeding)’. The cut-up, or collaged, text, chaotically exemplified by the dadaists, and later by William Burroughs and other poets such as Giles Goodland in his recently published book What the Things Sang, asks the writer to think about their methodology in a very different way, in that such a work – created from other works, often completely unrelated – can allow juxtapositions that create resonance and relationship, in an apparently seamless join. These juxtapositions – often unexpected and apparently in conflict with each other – can provide mutable boundaries between unrelated ideologies, personal views, politics, religions, and texts from different eras This enables textual fluidity, and allows the accretion of various layers of meaning, and grows connections within the created text that may not be possible with the usual method of writing – that of ‘making it up as you go along.’

However, since such a text emerges from a methodology of deliberate choice and careful positioning of found text, can it ever be associated with a ‘spontaneous’ act of creation, and how does it create any kind of poetic unity?

I will discuss the nature of my own process during the creation of ‘Amaranthus’, which involved the accessing of and scavenging from numerous sources: novels, short stories, medical textbooks, and 17th century recipes for love philtres.

Panel 3: Institutional Determinants
Chair: Joanna Callaghan


Jeremy Bubb
Senior Lecturer in Film and Video Production, Roehampton University London

The Blank Page: Reflections on a new media film project

The film maker Ken Loach once said that, ‘when you set out to make a film you start with a blank page, not with nothing, but a blank page’, meaning you might not know what to put on the page but at least you know it’s a page. It is inevitable that in order to set budgets, establish working relationships and to define the site of the work, parameters, either written or otherwise are established. This statement suggests that in filmmaking at least, there are always determining factors and that a large part of the creative process is how one negotiates these parameters.

For many of us working in education we are looking to expand the boundaries of our practice and reflect on what we do; it is important therefore that we determine the nature of the reflection we carry out and its integral relationship to practice.

This presentation will reflect on these issues in relation to a practice as research project called Writ In Water; a new media film that explores the use of three screens to tell the story of the Rivers family; a family in crisis. I will be asking what are the determining factors in relation to the production of a film made in an academic context. Do funding guidelines influence the approach to the making of a piece, how does this relate to other practitioners in the commercial sector and will ‘Impact’ play a significant role in what we as practitioners do? Finally, I will examine the nature of collaboration and discuss how new technologies are facilitating innovative ways in which individuals are now working together in creating works for the screen.

Egle Obcarskaite

Author, philosopher, art journalist and researcher

I will discuss the topics of the symposium in relation to a project aimed at establishing an alternative discourse on contemporary dance and re-identifying the role of the dance maker/practitioner in the context of creative production. These goals were achieved through creating a newspaper.

The project was initiated by Inpex, an international network of artists, researchers and theorists based in Sweden. A team of editors were brought together, dance makers, writers, theorists and philosophers who met in Vienna, in August 2009, to develop the newspaper during dance festival, ImPulsTanz. The production of the newspaper, distribution and marketing were considered as a performative and investigative practice aimed at raising the awareness of the artist's role in determining his/her own creativity and practice.

The project is related to questions of power and market structures within the artistic field and the role of artists as being/not being able to act and practice their creativity while facing determination or demands suggested by programmers and leaders of those structures. The newspaper suggests an alternative discourse on contemporary dance. Not commissioned by the festival, however appearing during the festival and gaining notoriety, the project invites reconsideration of artistic determination not through given conditions, but through creative practices.

An in-situ creative contribution

Dr Gavin Stewart
Lecturer in New Media, University of Bedfordshire
Texter–In-Residence: A Mobile Phone Haiku Project

The Mobile Phone Haiku Project is a personal creative project which began life as an ill-defined New Year’s resolution. With this resolution I set myself the goal of writing at least one haiku everyday. Over the life of this year-long project, I also set myself the task of exploring a number of technologies for writing and distributing my daily offering, including using my mobile phone as a delivery platform.

I am also keen to engage with a range of creative ideas that take this project beyond the autobiographical. I have, therefore, accepted the ‘commission’ to be a texter-in-residence for this practice-based symposium at the University of Bedfordshire. I will be attending and participating in the panel sessions and will be providing short poetic injections on the processes of symposium.

I am keen to share some of my haiku on the day (and to receive the comments of participants in return by SMS). I will be using my mobile. I would also be delighted if you would sign up to this project by providing me with your phone number so I can communicate with you. I would also be delighted if you sent me any comments on the day or the project by return SMS.

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