In Sydney to start my PhD research…

I’ve arrived safe and well in Sydney! Currently wandering around the city with my laptop burdened by jetlag, trying to prepare for this symposium that I am contributing to in a couple of weeks. For those of you who don’t know, I’m here to start my PhD at University of New South Wales with supervisor Lizzie Muller. My subject is one that I’ve been nurturing for a while now: links between art, technology and mental wellbeing. Here is a summary of my starting point…

Psychologies of Interaction: can digital art be used as a tool to raise awareness about mental health?

My research investigates the potential of digital interactive art for instigating audience engagement with the topic of mental health. It focuses particularly on interactive art as a tool for reflecting on affective and embodied experiences, and its ability to help audiences explore their own mental health in the gallery space.

The topic will be investigated using a combination of theory and practice. Existing discourses on affect and interactivity will be key to the exploration of the psychological processes at work when an individual encounters interactive art. Simultaneously, an enquiry into the experiential qualities of psychological distress, led initially by a Derridean study of rationality and affectivity, will help to clarify how artists can best engage audiences on the topic of mental illness.

My own work as a curator will form the basis of my practice based research; starting with an exhibition I am currently curating to take place at Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, UK in 2015. This exhibition will explore relationships between technology, society and personal wellbeing.

My project is formulated in response to the well-established link between art and mental health that arises through the history of art therapy and through contemporary trends in participatory art (Bishop 2012). In the light of technological advances that are fundamentally shifting the individuals’ psychological relation to the computer (Turkle 2012), and against the backdrop of increasing use of computer technology in mental healthcare or e-mental health, (Newman 2004) this project will make an innovative interdisciplinary contribution to discourses across the arts, technology and mental health.

I’m back in the UK in February to deliver the exhibition I am curating at FACT, but for now I guess I had better get settled in to my new home!

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