Walking and Listening: Artistic Research as Pedagogy

Kats, Anton. 2018. Walking and Listening: Artistic Research as Pedagogy. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This practice-based PhD explores walking and listening – both literally and conceptually – as modes of what I name “Artistic Research as Pedagogy”. The thesis explores the cultural frame in which practice takes place, asking critical questions about urban and spatial belonging, redevelopment, formal and informal networks and community formation. Based on two major projects that I devised and continue to facilitate in collaboration with local communities, and following their genesis and long-term development through photography, video, audio and publications, I argue that the concrete and conceptual dimensions of the works coexist simultaneously; in each instance, these are therefore introduced as different registers of the same work. As such, the distinctions between theory and practice are rendered productively ambiguous. It is within this affirmative ambivalence that the original contribution to knowledge is located.

The research is conducted within the framework of Cultural Studies rather than Art or Art History. Instead of merely documenting the practical work, this thesis positions the projects, their evolution, form and framing within a wider critical domain. By doing so, the thesis challenges the roles and forms of art, the artist and the institutionalization of artistic, and academic research and pedagogy.

The research derives from two projects:

Radio Sonar (2012–ongoing) invites young people and adults to take part in a series of radio interventions that unfold in the context of schools, art galleries, local neighbourhoods and academia both in the UK and Jamaica. The notion of radio “narrowcasts” as an overarching methodology of listening and collaborating allows for a particular understanding of radio as a social construction of power. Here I foreground the concept of “concrete listening”, which is concerned with solidarity, mutual support and action, and which allows for reflection on the possibilities of structural change that emerge through the actions of the project.

For a Walk With… (2013–ongoing) invites elderly people experiencing dementia to take a walk. Based in two residential care homes in London, the project explores the efficacy and the ambiguity of art and provokes an examination of the politics of redevelopment and the conditions of residential care and care work. Walking is addressed as a non-representative activity that is carried out amidst a diversity of institutional agencies. Relating memory (and its loss) to redevelopment, I argue that the prevailing understanding of redevelopment as urban amnesia is obsolete; instead, I propose that thinking the city through dementia is more useful in practice, since the latter affects increasingly more people and demands novel and collective responses.

The thesis derives from personal and practical artistic interventions and draws on transdisciplinary theoretical strands, which are prioritised over a survey of art history, art theory, and comparative contemporary art practices. Accordingly, the figure of the artist is one who addresses the problematics that arise through the development of the works, taking art practice as a legitimate site of critical enquiry.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Artist Anton Kats, Radio Narrowcast, Narrowcasting, Concrete Listening, City, Dementia, Urban Dementia, Non-representative art practice, Research, Pedagogy, Artistic Research as Pedagogy, Open-ended enquiry

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)


30 April 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

18 May 2018 14:04

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:07



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