Self Directed Research

TED deserves some credit for changing the face of the ‘researcher’ from the unknowable, painfully academic, hermit stereotype of the old world to progressive, socially aware, entrepreneur of the new world. In a [supposed] post-truth age full of pressing economic, cultural, social and personal issues, researchers are healthy and appropriate role models, especially for emerging generations who seem comfortable with fame for fame’s sake.

Elon Musk has become my poster boy for an idiosyncratic, future looking, commercial, research based type of problem solving. In the western world at least, there’s often a battle between progress and dissenting voices, militantly comfortable in their habits. To counter this, Musk’s tactic is to improve every single aspect of the thing until there’s nothing logical left to object to. In the manufacturing economy, no matter what you’re making or looking to update, if the product is more efficient, more ecologically sound, lasts longer, looks better and costs less then it’s time to move on, and have some fun doing so. There’s nothing wrong with treasuring elements of the past, quite the contrary, but we definitely need a future that’s worth keeping them in.



However, as Edward Bernays realised; ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ conduct very different emotional charges, our species are very emotional beings, and it’s these emotions that call us to action like nothing else. Beyond genetics, it’s our environment and experiences that influence us, the stuff that enters our peripheral vision. At the poles this could be things that you like, want to contribute to and promote or things that get under your skin, don’t sit right and need re-working; these are the starting points for my research. An effort is then made to explore, understand or make discoveries culminating in a conceptually appropriate output to formalise the inquiry.

Art [in it’s many forms] is a very emotional sport, but is still one of the most successful, efficient and romantic ways of showing concepts and ideas to an audience that civilisation has invented so far. This is one reason why modern art’s job is not only to show us who we are, but also to help us. A partnership with research could reposition both in the eyes of many, from an abstract frivolity to a valuable cross-curricular tool.

Self directed research (serendipitous and peripheral) is also concerned with things that grab your attention and the investigation of those leads through a personal curiosity or compulsion. In his talk, Visual (and not so visual) Research, Paul Minott describes these links and tangents as clues that you explore like a detective, driven by instinct. The work then manifests in one of the following ways; the theory comes before the content, the theory comes after the content, the theory is the content or the content is the theory.

As an AV Technician you’re used to creating and problem solving with new and old technology. On the other hand, part of the Curator’s role is to present work in the absence of conversation between the creator and an audience. 

Dinner for Five was a show presented in a series of Hollywood restaurants by Jon Favreau. He’d invite 4 other actors, directors, musicians etc. to dine with him and chat. Something must have gone wrong at sporadic points during digitisation or upload of several of the episodes to YouTube. This resulted in these splurges of data, delays and pixelation. Reminiscent of accidental digital Picasso paintings, I daisy-chained all the ‘glitches’ from multiple episodes into one video. Individual stills were then collected at the point the distortion was at it’s peak, each one was sent to the subject of the image via Instagram and Twitter.



RSA (2013) How to Change Education – Ken Robinson. Available at (Accessed: 13 Nov 2017)

TED (2017) The future we’re building — and boring | Elon Musk. Available at (Accessed: 1 Dec 2017)

Tech Insider (2016) Elon Musk unveils Solar Roof by SolarCity. Available at (Accessed: 13 Nov 2017)

Dinner for Five (2001-2005) Created by Jon Favreau [TV Series] IFC

Century of the Self (2002) Directed by Adam Curtis [TV mini-series]. UK: BBC, RDF Media

Minott, P. (2017) Visual (and not so visual) Research [Lecture] Research Methodologies Bath Spa University

Duke Mitchell (2016) Dinner for Five Glitches. Available at