ESA 2016 Proceedings published

The European Society for Aesthetics Conference took place in the Department of Philosophy of the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Barcelona in June past.

Members of the Aesthetics Group presented papers on a variety of topics. Néill O’Dwyer presented a paper “Death and Ecstasy: Reflections on a Technological Sublime” which focused on the shift, taking place in the arts, brought about by the migration from mechanical to digital technology and the import of software into working processes.The materialisation of mathematics and algorithms in artistic practice was highlighted which led to a questioning of the experiential shift taking place in the encounter with new digitalised art forms.

Mick O’Hara presented a paper titled “Tracing the Invisible” which addressed  Jacques Derrida’s deconstructive reading of Merleau-Ponty, focusing particularly on both philosophers’ writings on the visual arts. Defending Merleau-Ponty, the paper considered the role of embodiment in the mark making processes of drawing and painting while pointing to Merleau-Ponty’s deepening ontology of his later work.

Connell Vaughan returned to the experiential nature of digital media offering a critical analysis of iconoclasm in state building with a particular focus in Islamic State’s mobilisation of digital technology and the deliberate digital documentation of the destruction of cultural heritage sites. The paper titled “Statecraft: Vandalism and Iconoclasm in the Digital Age” argued that such documentation was strategic and not simply blind iconoclasm but vandalism in the service of state formation.

The Proceedings from the conference have just been published and can be read and downloaded here.

‘THE ENQUIRY’ @ Irish Museum of Modern Art IMMA



The Enquiry is a seminar group affiliated with the Graduate School for Creative Arts and Media, Dublin (GradCAM) and hosted by IMMA. It was first convened in 2009 by Georgina Jackson, who was then a PhD candidate with GradCAM. Originally the group was concerned with collating research on seminal counter-exhibitionary strategies. The current working group comprises Jeanette Doyle, Jennie Guy, Fiona Hallinan, Emer Lynch and Kate Strain. We are concerned with developing a performative analysis of exhibition-making modes, both historical and contemporary.

As a culmination of six months of regular meetings, ‘The Enquiry @ IMMA’ was conceived as a platform to perform our practice-based research. The event took place on Friday 15 July 2016, commencing in IMMA’s former bookshop, where visitors were welcomed with warm beverages prepared by Fiona Hallinan.

Download review here

EARN (EUROPEAN ARTISTS RESEARCH NETWORK) conference. October 13th/14th 2016 LUCA School of Arts, Brussels.

Cathy O’Carroll presented a Performance – Palimpsest – at this two-day international conference.  The conference drew attention to what it means for art to exhibit bringing together research projects that integrate processes of artistic agency and mediation in the field of contemporary art and visual culture at large. Its aim was to explore the notions of curation and display/exhibition as artistic research practices.





: Men (Pause)

: Women (Pause)

: Children (Pause)

: Fawns (Pause)

: Deer (Pause)

: Stags with huge antlers (Pause)

: Women with antlers (Pause)

: A woman, with hair like antlers…and a penis… (Pause)


: 2 Women give birth to snails (Pause)

: The theme of doubles is persistent…


: Twins (Pause)

: Twin orbs (Pause)

: 2 in a bath (Pause)

: And couples (Pause)

: Coupling (Pause)

: Copulating (Pause)

: Reproducing (Pause)

: Replenishing… (Pause)

: And the piece pauses for a moment on this image, 3 seconds, a breath (Pause)

A light piano refrain tinkles…

: Echoes peace, resolution, stillness, completion…

: For this moment, the throbbing soundtrack stops Allowing music and image to play a little longer… Remain, a little longer.

(Excerpts from PALIMPSEST by Cathy O’Carroll)


At the TaPRA (THEATRE AND PERFORMANCE RESEARCH ASSOCIATION) annual conference. September 5th – 7th 2016, University of Bristol, U.K.



Cathy O’Carroll presented a paper ‘Local identity & national brand: contesting ‘amateur’ identity through scenography’ at the annual conference of this internationally respected research association where I’m a member of the Scenography working group.. TaPRA exists in order to facilitate research through and into theatre and performance.

This paper interrogates the interrelation of scenography and local/national identity within hyper consumerist constructions of culture that seek to instrumentalise the arts in the service of economic goals as part of a national ‘brand’. Current funding policy tends to conflate ‘art’ as public sphere with economic and ameliorative concerns, conceiving identity in terms of design and management. Disinterested spectatorship and performance practices conceived in terms of excellence, innovation and ambition are valorised within this milieu and local subjective interest is disenfranchised and relegated as ‘amateur’.


IFTR (INTERNATIONL FEDERATION OF THEATRE RESEARCH) annual conference. June 13th – 17th 2016, Stockholm University, Sweden




The conference theme was “Presenting the Theatrical Past. Interplays of Artefacts, Discourses and Practices” and addressed questions concerning our relationship to theatre history. My paper ‘AUTHORED SITE AS ‘AMATEUR’ SPACE’  responded to the conference theme, examining the interrelationship between scenography and site in the work of Dublin based company Anu Productions’.

Cathy O’Carroll’s paper considered examines the interrelationship of scenographic authoring of space in site based, historical performance within processes of contemporary transformation. It questions whether professional expectations of arts practice, the means by which it is considered legitimate, enforce a filter that, despite the egalitarian intent of the artist, can undermine any political efficacy.

Click to access book-of-abstracts-iftr-2016.pdf


Re-turn to Schiller: Dublin v Barcelona

Friday 10th June 2016

1.30-2.30pm (IST) Dublin

2.30-3.00pm (CET) Barcelona

There shall be a communion between the formal impulse and the material impulse – that is, there shall be a play instinct – because it is only the unity of reality with the form, of the accidental with the necessary, of the passive state with freedom, that the conception of humanity is completed. (Schiller, Letter XV)

In recent years there has been a noticeable turn to education in aesthetic theory and practice. A number of theorists including Jacques Rancière, Grant Kester and Doris Sommer have returned to Friedrich Schiller’s Letters On the Aesthetic Education of Man. Why?

We warmly invite you to an international conversation on the topic of Schiller’s Letters on the Aesthetics Education of Man involving a live feed link between a seminar on the topic of “the Educational Turn in Aesthetics” as part of the Creative Agency in Local Communities conference in DIT Grangegorman, Dublin and the European Society for Aesthetics 8th Annual Conference in University of Barcelona. The seminar in Dublin will host an audience of art practitioners and educators including Professor Doris Sommer (Director of the Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University). The conference in Barcelona will host an audience of philosophers of art.

The conversation will be hosted by GradCAM’s Aesthetics Research Group, Connell Vaughan and Mick O’Hara in Barcelona and Jeanette Doyle and Cathy O’Carroll in Dublin. The conversation seeks to marry aesthetic theory, practice and policy and their associated communities. Participation by attendees of both conferences to the conversation is welcomed and integral to this event.

This conversation will continue with a consideration of practice through an introduction to the first Department of Ultimology.



Aesthetics & Football…Beautiful

Connell and Mick will be presenting at the upcoming:

The Beautiful Game: The Poetics and Aesthetics of Soccer in Transnational Perspective | University of Basel, June 30-July 2, 2016

Our paper will be titled:

“Caveman stuff”: Ireland’s Soccer Struggle with Identity, Style and Success

In the paper we will be analysing, discussing and playing with notions and questions of style and success of the Republic of Ireland National Men’s soccer team. This will hinge on an analysis of identity and how it informs and shapes the perception of Irish football both home and away.

Should be fun.

ESA 2015

The Aesthetics Group have produced for the European Society for Aesthetics 7th Annual Conference an essay, titled Turn, turn, turn: Civic Instrumentalisation and the Promotion of Autonomy in Contemporary Arts Funding, reflecting on the economic instrumentalisation of Arts policy in contemporary Ireland.

ESA2015The Aesthetics Research Group with Curator Kate Strain