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Always Pushing Away the Abstract Child

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

A PhD project description,
by Tam Hare
Post–Tinnital project image – on noise & tinnitus

Proposed Thesis Title:
Always Pushing Away the Abstract Child

Uses ‘fiction-theory’ literary practice to speculatively construct a character ‘the Abstract Child’ as a basis for collaborative performance philosophy that takes as its theoretical foundation Ray Brassier's 2015 Performing Arts Forum (PAF) lectures.

Proposal Summary:

My rationalist reading of Ray Brassier’s lectures at PAF frame the project’s theoretical foundation. This approach focuses the work’s methodology on my construction of a speculative character formed through written practice, collaborative music/'sonic' performance and an engagement with these lectures. This happens by developing foundational written accounts ('fiction-theory') that are fundamentally informed by Brassier’s work at PAF and are then explored through performance philosophy collaborations. This methodical focus on these lectures creates an evolving framework that produces an indexing system for the project’s conception. This continual structural development is pivotal to the project’s success.

'Conditions of Redirection: A Trialogue', performed at Fylkingen in Stockholm, April 2022.

Project Proposal [under the three listed headings]:
w/ Research Questions

Objectives & Questions

My research aims to challenge conventions of academic and artistic practice by investigating ways of philosophising and performing that attempt to bring together forms of art-making practice. This is done through an engagement with performance philosophy1 that stems from my fiction-theory writing practice. What is meant by fiction-theory practice is, an intention to refocus a texts’ foundations towards lucid anthropocentric framings that break with primarily fixed subject-based accounts. I attempt to create works in this spirit by formulating texts that explicitly question and experiment with language and forms of literary writing.

This speculative inquiry confronts ideas of reason in relation to Brassier’s work at PAF by utilising a character-construction as a vehicle that conceptually ‘drives’ this experimental ‘test’ of philosophical rationalism. I intend therefore to unveil conditions that engender notions of reason within this subject by creating a distinct representation of the character’s cognition. Subsequently, its ‘matter of concern’ is the means by which this realisation occurs. It happens through my literary fiction-theory practice’s experimentations with collaborative musical performance.

Thus, at its core this project is an exploration into literary practice. This happens through fiction-theory writing, for it is the ‘artistic realm’ where all the work for this project leads from. These literary texts shape and are shaped by the project’s collaborations and become the key constituting element of the PhD’s eventual performances and the following key questions.

Research Questions:

Q1. [context] How will I use the three topics of Brassier’s PAF lectures (which are: *Time; ‘Modality’ (Semantics); and Capital & Abstraction) to contextualise my character’s alienation through reason and fiction-theory literary practice?


Q2. [objective] By successfully establishing this character through my philosophical research and literary fiction-theory work, how will this produce a basis for collaborative-performance?

Q3. [method] How will the PhD’s objectives create its methodology through collaborative-performance that applies research into philosophical rationalism to my character, in order to generate a distinct performance philosophy art practice?

Hence, these aims and questions inform my principal research question:

What judgements can be made about reason from my research into the three topics of Ray Brassier’s ‘PAF lectures’ — by/through experimenting with ‘fiction-theory’ writing and collaborative performance philosophy — and how will this shape the creation of my speculative character:

‘the Abstract Child’?

These two images come from my Fylkingen performance of ‘Abstract Child: Only Ever Close’ (May 2016); the latter is one of Anna Glantz’s commissioned images used in the project’s inception, visuals and designs.

Research Context:

*Time, ‘Modality’ (Semantics), and Capital & Abstraction, viewed from a rationalist perspective here, are the three topics of Brassier’s lectures. Subsequently, these terms and concepts structure my work by constructing, examining and revealing my character’s cognition and their alienation. Throughout I am drawing on aspects of contemporary philosophy, particularly elements interested in literary practice, fictions and ‘fabulations’. A treatment epitomised by contemporary philosophers such as Amy Ireland, Fred Moten, Reza Negarestani and many others.

Hence, the PhD explores continental philosophy’s established preoccupation with embodied characterisations through literary practice in order to create a distinct creative-critical project that advances the research potentials of an artistic practice-based PhD. This is happening through my experimental writing, which brings together the fields of contemporary performance-based philosophy, character-narrative fiction-theory and collaborative new musical (sonic) practices.

Although Ray Brassier is a philosopher who deifies conventional definitions, he is best known for his association with Speculative Realism. Philosophical engagement incorporating revision and debate is a recurring feature of Brassier’s work, exemplified in the nine hours of his PAF lectures. My affiliation with his research relates to performance philosophy. A vital connection being the ‘international network’ Performance Philosophy1. Consequently, the overriding emphasis for this project is reason, a subject Brassier focuses on extensively in his philosophy. Due to the many interpretations of this conceptual idea it is integral to identify what strains of contemporary philosophical rationalism are most relevant to my research. This ongoing task is conducted in direct reference to these lectures at PAF. In them Brassier takes reason to be the “engine” that will drive an emancipatory ‘promethean project’ like his (“there is no other way” he states), and this establishes the foundations of my project also.

Research Methods:

My literary and collaborative practice comes together to contextualise and direct the PhD’s methodology. For this methodology, I develop instalments of texts around defined narrative themes, which are used as fundamental subjects that drive their individual concept-focused performance collaborations. These then culminate in public performances, published writing, audio and film recordings. This distinct methodology is conducted through my fiction-theory writing which explores performance philosophy together with new musical/sonic practices.

This methodology centres on the character’s psychology and their socially alienated position and draws conclusions by connecting my experimental fiction-theory writing with performance-based collaborations. A contextual framework is used in this process, the principal concerns of which seeks new understandings and interpretations of key debates within contemporary philosophical reason. How the judgements made during this specific research process are applied to my character creation is what I am resolving in this PhD. Resulting in its character creation becoming a contemporary promethean study, whose literary forms are consistently assessed during the creation and analyses of my texts and performances.

These last two images are from the front and back cover designs of 'Assured Un-certain Chances' (May 2021). This text was performed as part of my ongoing collaboration with musicians Två Cirklar, at Fylkingen, Stockholm (April 9th 2022).

The *three defining philosophical topics of Brassier’s ‘PAF lectures’ provide the focus for the PhD’s thematic methodology. A necessity for defining the structure of the PhD’s methodology and shaping my creative practice is to continually refine these topics to align with Brassier’s extensive conceptual discussions. While working through these contextual topics they provide an insightful means of categorising my concerns for this project’s character. The objective of this methodology for my character’s metonymic premise is to successfully apply my research into contemporary philosophical rationalism to the character through my cross-disciplinary collaborative performance practice. The key result of this merging of disciplines will be the production of a new type of art-philosophical performance.

in conclusion:

As a Scot living in Sweden, I collaborate with various nationalities and my literary practice is a development and consequent of these key factors. For instance, aspects of my practice are concerned with the cultural impact citizenship and international solidarity have on an individual’s perception and their relationship to notions of ‘the state’, ’place’ and ‘belonging’. Equally, the results improvisational techniques have as collaborative themes on my literary fiction-theory writing practice, character-construction and performance work are the basis of this methodology utilised in my current collaborations with Swedish musicians Två Cirklar (Conditions of Redirection: A Trialogue, performed at Fylkingen, April 2022) and UK artist-musician John Bryden and others (Tinnitus Channelled/Texts). Work such as my tinnitus research, Abstract Child character and literary experimentations with philosophical performance are integral to the project’s cooperative multi-participatory ethos.

Here is the poster image and link to Fylkingen’s webpage, which contains the texts with more information regarding this event and collaboration.

— My relevant PhD project practice-based portfolio:

Short artist’s biography (September 2022)

Tam Hare (b. 1983 in Edinburgh, Scotland) is an artist, performer, writer-researcher based in Uppsala, Sweden. The foundations of his present research are primarily text-based, however, sound, performance, collaboration, image-making, photography and film, typically merge as key elements in his practice. Fundamental to the development of his work was the year Tam spent at Konstfack (Stockholm) on their prodigious CuratorLab, postgraduate research program (2015-16). Prior to this, he also completed his M.A. and B.A. (Hons) degrees in the UK in, 2011 and 2009 respectively.

Consequently, he began a PhD at Newcastle University in September 2020 and his current project is an evolving, collaborative, auto-theory-fiction work and speculative character construction. This study addresses a subject’s socio-cognition and alienation, alongside philosophical speculations on reason. Crucially, the work’s creation becomes a contemporary ‘promethean’ character study, developed through Tam's fiction-theory writing practice and collaborative musical performance.

As part of his practice, he works curatorially, collaboratively and in arts production

Tam Hare, September 26th 2022


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