Wellcome Trust “Once More with Feeling” Workshop

< Extra Artistic Development. Follow-up of the Object-Based activity on Learning&Teaching unit + a follow-up from my Artefact for the Inclusive Learning unit.  Creating an artwork online&live during a neurodiversity workshop at Wellcome Trust. The piece has somehow brought the two Units’ inputs together, creating a new artistic output and reflection that I can surely develop further. As well as being part of my creative practice, I thought to add it to the course-blog as an extra development of artistic research and practice in inclusive learning.>

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//This is a live blog-post activity, happening remotely during a workshop lead by Natasha Trotman at Wellcome Trust in London. Connecting here as part of the development of reflective thinking in Inclusive Design, that I can consider for further critical thinking in relation to Inclusive Learning and Research on Neurodiversity. The post is shared live as part of the development in the day.//

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Day: Friday 18th May

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My object for this session is related to something I have started to investigate during some of my academic research at the PgCert in Academic Studies at UAL. So, in terms of images and definition of object (+ primary activity and feedback) please see here: http://lucam.myblog.arts.ac.uk/2018/03/30/micro-teaching-session-reflections/

During this workshop with Natasha (and Wellcome) I would like to reflect further on the object (my diary, with its patterns of thinking and emotional balances) and use this experience as part of my academic development for the course too. In this workshop I am keen to relate to areas of my aspie experience especially in relation to hyperacusis which is something I am struggling with at the moment. So, I would take this workshop to reflect (with auto-ethnography) on this for the duration of the day, hopefully creating a visual output.

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Following from the previous Object-Based activity, here I am then considering the evaluation and conclusion, and taking the process further.

With hyperacusis (and severe tinnitus at the moment), all the different categories of time, reflection, thoughts get mixed-up. As a visual response to that, here I try to put the images as a selection of the pages/mind-flows present in the object, in the mind, but with the key element of disruption and disorder that hyperacusis brings. Somehow the different stages of thoughts are cross-connected and even mixed-up.

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…becoming a mix of data and info (both external and internal) … hyperacusis brings an atmosphere that makes overwhelming to decipher information, causing overload. So, the “clearer” and structured perception and mental processing become hard to analyze and to balance.

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…when the overload builds-up then the sensation is a repetitive matter, that:

  • scales down —–> multiplies —–>

  • reshapes —–> turns —–> scales down —–>

  • multiplies —–> disrupts itself —–>

  • disrupts itself —–> segments itself —–>

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And so here I finally develop the end-piece for the workshop:



Inclusive – Task_03 – Race

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Some thoughts written down…mixing-up the readings and related responses…no editing on purpose as I want to keep them as thoughts…some visual inputs…hope it flows!

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Within the Shades of Noir material, I could include a variety of links and resources to instigate further critical thinking, to show the processes of current debates in higher education, and to also cross-connect with different media art outputs for a more inclusive conversation. The balance with ethics, action, impact in academic steps both from staff and students. I find particularly relevant the connection with the various artistic practices, as well as the connection with social concerns from a macro to micro lens. On a couple of students’ projects this year, I have engaged with the Soul of a Nation exhibition at Tate Modern (http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/soul-nation-art-age-black-power) and this created very interesting discussion not only of the subject but also on a wide variety of artistic media practices and responses to consider. It underlined the importance of social justice education in higher education but in the wider society too, showing how art and design can create effective discussions and underline different voices. I believe more resources and outputs, especially with creative communication, should be available to the wider public too, in order to create different exchanges.

And these exchanges (also reading Tapper’s article http://www.abrahamsvision.org/files/A_Pedagogy_of_Social_Justice_Education_A__Hahn_Tapper.pdf) are key elements for shaping a social justice education model and methods. They can be a way to impact the university scenario, flowing between staff and students recruitment and creative critical practices, as well as being explicit in identifying the disparities and working towards a more balanced system and programme. This can be achieved in my own individual practice with my students and exchanges with colleagues, but it also needs a more larger cross-institutional action in order to affect guidelines and programmes’ roots. And also, perhaps we should work more with outreach and public engagement programmes, allowing open access and open data outputs outside the university setting too.

This might mean, create participatory art collaboration with grass root communities and/or libraries, offsite art installations, pop-up exhibitions, talks, street workshops, etc. And this could engage with Freire’s inputs on Pedagogy of the Oppressed, when we should then look at investigating further the structure of the roles, of the techniques, of the approaches we choose as practitioners. How can we empower more different voice and learn from it? What is the process of positive social change if we don’t put our own role and system into question?

And so here I connect to The Room of Silence film (https://vimeo.com/161259012) where I find very interesting to see a collective response through different students’ voices into how higher education (with a specific case study here, but I believe we could enlarge to many institutions) faces the very concept of race and ethnicity in academic work, practices, environment…I find this piece to be a good critical tool for enabling more social justice education exchanges, also creating provocations to question more our own knowledge and our own responses as lecturers and how we could create ad-hoc open discussions in our curriculum. That said, it came also clear that there is a need for open sharing and for inserting diversity in all its faces as a key aspect of the programmes in education, from professional developments of staff to rethinking how the curriculum is structured. As well as different analyses and approaches from teaching, we need a stronger institutional framework that can support it and can allow a more wide spread understanding of this healthy conversation we are having (without pointing fingers) even just here on this Inclusive Teaching unit.

Inclusive – Task_02 – Faith

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Some thoughts written down…mixing-up the readings and related responses…no editing on purpose as I want to keep them as thoughts…some visual inputs…hope it flows!

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I grew up in Italy and I was brought-up as a Catholic when I was a child; art and religion were somehow always the main method and connection, even in education, to teach various catholic/christian values and histories. Major artists in Italian history actually painted, sculpted, drew only the religious scripts and human dynamic coming consequently from it. Many artists at different point of history only worked and made a living as artists because the Church commissioned them to create art that was focusing on spirituality…and power we should add. Power that was balanced for human social constructed needs; power that was given by the strength of the religious architecture, by the dimension of the paintings, by the richness of the colours on the glass-windows, by the complexity of the construction of the mosaics.

And so artistic skills in combination with religion were a way of underlining the beauty of infinite and unknown spirituality as well as framing the human condition of belief and role in society. I even remember the convent and the nuns (who I loved a lot) in my primary school time, and how the space was shaped with paintings and sculpture and floor-mosaics in the context of education too. I don’t commonly connect religion within my own artistic practice and/or academic research, but religion was strongly present at the very beginning of my education path. Christian values are present in my way of being still today, and I have family members, friends and colleagues with a variety of religious beliefs and religions/scripts to follow; open conversation and respect if key.

I also have at least three UAL students this year that are looking at religion in relation to design; in the past there were a few other students looking at religion and race, as well as visual spirituality and social construction. My way of teaching and tutoring in these cases is open as it usually is in other projects; every project needs to be taken seriously and analysed in depth. It is interesting to come to term as well with ethnographic and auto-ethnographic practices and how those can also affect the students’ experiences during their processes. In the UK I find that even more exciting as you have a multi-facet cultural society and so the different angles and perspectives can be better contextualised, maybe focusing on case studies if needed, data gathering, self reflections and visual ethnography. From what I have observed from those projects, it was a flow of questioning faith in relation to art&design and vice-versa….

…and then, connecting again to Modood and Calhoun stimulus paper, this questioning and framing and contextualising comes as well into complex thinking about how identity is formed and shaped by cultural frameworks. In a public scenario, how much space we give to discussion and exchange around the topic, how institutions approach and/or how far they believe in diversity, and how the dynamic of treatment of differences is included in daily practices and not only in a written guideline…

…a written guideline that is then reflected by a political belief of some kind, that might change from political party to political party; of course that can have different degree from country to country, but usually a right conservative perspective and a left liberal political perspective is clearly very opposite and can affect national guidelines on equality, tolerance, respect for difference, help others.

And so, here, I just want to link to that cross-connection about written truths (that is also present in BBC lecture on Creed) and how those truths are used religiously and politically to determine and to shape an ad-hoc social constructed truth. And so those scripts (not only as religious texts but also political programmes) are then interpreted in a variety of ways for power dynamics and can be used to turn people against others (see also the use of social media in relation to that) for various topics of immigration, religious minorities, new sub-cultures forming.


Then it becomes clear (at least to me) that the practice of religious values can cross-over obstacles and change (in time and in people and in ideas) that a “following” of a static textual truth cannot give. The complexity of human identity puts us in this reality of struggles…and those struggles can be faced by communication and discussion and respect and openness. And so, as I see these as key elements and ingredients for a better society, I see those as key ingredients of my teaching and learning too.


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Inclusive – Task_01 – Gender

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Some primary thoughts with no editing as I want to keep them as first thoughts + some visual responses + some links. Hope it flows!

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Patriarchy is embedded in all societal flows – history has shaped that frame of understanding (even in certain cases subconsciously in contemporary days) and it is challenging to come to conclusions, reflections and thoughts that can overturn it. The socio-political elements of it, in all situations from family environment, to education, to sport, to work, are important to be reflected upon. I have a couple of students looking at the role of male power in graphic design and typography, so will be interesting to open cross-connection not only with gender but with the concept and dynamic that a patriarchal system brings to the table with its socio-political elements, as well as the socio-economic aspects of it, building up the history of the roles of men and women, the expectations given to men and women in a variety of forms, and the dynamic of change, and if change, what change…

Just a few days ago we were celebrating 100 years of women voting in the UK – on February 6th 1918 the Representation of the People Act came to force and women were by law first given the vote in UK. How has patriarchy changed by then? Rooted in historical kingdoms and violence, and powering injustice throughout the centuries. Reading Hooks’s Understanding Patriarchy paper, I find troubling and real the fact that still there is a visible sense of a political and social system that identifies males as dominant, powerful, somehow superior, in charge. I mean, even the current BBC (just as one of the various examples coming to light now..) issues with equal pay between men and women covering same roles of talent, experience, responsibilities.

And then how men (who aren’t patriarchal in their being) can challenge that idea of men. At points, as a man, I want to argue back, trying to bring up examples where this isn’t the case. I analyse further my surroundings and can see that things are changing within new generations (still a lot to change of course…), but I also see how that patriarchal dynamic is so very present in family life, in university, in politics, in religion, in economics. And in certain circumstances, even where patriarchal ingredients are far from present, somehow there are situations that at points recall it. I can reflect on countries where I lived such as Italy, Spain, France, Burkina Faso, the US and the UK. Patriarchal systems, within their different degrees, are actually present in various entities and national facets. And so, perhaps, national identity could also be an area to be analysed in its connection and roots of patriarchal needs…? I wonder what are the relationship with nationalism (from a soft to a more strong believe in it) and patriarchal/dominant flow in life for example. Just mind-mapping here…but this also makes me think further about the internationality of my course and group of students and how we can build-up a constructive discussion around it; but also a cross-exchange with tutors, looking at the roots of our academic disciplines too.

From this, to actually shape a more inclusive debate around this topic, I connect with inputs of Hooks’ paper within religion – I grew-up within a catholic system, went to catholic school (and studied post-school with nuns) until I was 10 years old, and lived in a surrounding flow of catholic structure. I think there are good things in the structure, and in certain values (although I am not catholic) but also we should think of: God as male…? As the father…? As the lord…? Why not immensity without gender? Patriarchy within religion and, as that cannot be detached from a social and cultural aspect of society, then reflects on the forming of diverse shapes of the societal framework, even within its grades of colours within/of patriarchy in relation to faith. And so, when researching or reading about religion and the arts (i.e. music, paitings, sculpture, etc), how can’t we reflect on patriarchal practice then, as it is very present and underlined in the messages that artistic creations are also proposing within their tones, layouts, compositions, colours, narratives.

And then, what role has that played, in consequence, within the political responses…? I think of Italy here, just as an example due to my origin for instance, and how we see constant men’s powers and approaches not only leading the country, but also shaping a cultural discourse that then, at points, translates into not putting ethics first, leaning at times into corruption, scandals, etc…a male chauvinism and sexism that fully reflects the patriarchal philosophy in all its negative aspects. OK…now it just came to my mind what just happened in London last month within a gala for charities and how MPs are calling for action and change now, but how unknown that was? www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jan/24/women-groped-and-sexually-harassed-at-london-charity-gala

And then, these men are fathers, they are sons, they are husbands, creating psychological imprints of social injustice. A social injustice that then can be fought by men and women who can change it, limiting the patriarchal needs that often come from unseen dynamics, or familiarity…and then often accepted within a “role play”.

And so, roles to play…



Roles to play that then clash with different perspectives. And here, connecting to the documentary on Marsha P. Johnson, a patriarchal system would not accept differences on gender identity, or recognise the importance to value diversity. And so, within the role playing, I start reflecting that performance is then an artistic response to this “role playing” model and scenario of thinking, allowing factors of fashion, music, drama, comedy to come to the surface as arguments and tools for social change and impact. This comes also into graphic design, media art, digital hacks…as well as photography and other creative practices, and so the artistic community questions the boundaries that we are given. Here is something within the Arts Council that I was looking into last year: http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/blog/celebrating-lgbt-community-through-arts-and-culture, as well as this one where I have also worked on with parallel workshops and discussions: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/queer-british-art-1861-1967, and then this project of a former student of mine, looking at queer identity in art and design, and playing with concepts of product design: http://www.johnphilipsage.com/QUEER-OBJECTS-Exhibition-Design-1

I want to see Grayson Perry’s UAL talk next Wed 14th Feb afternoon, part of the Changing Mindsets programme. If you can go, here is the registration form: http://events.arts.ac.uk/event/2018/2/14/Changing-Mindsets-with-Grayson-Perry-Staff/

Within the arts we can push those boundaries more and more with artistic experimentation and cultural inclusion. But how can we expand outside to create a more open discussion within local communities for example? Personal change to internal institutional change to outreach development for opening new exchanges?


Inclusive Teaching Learning – D1

Critical Thinking / Encourage Questioning / Connecting with Others / Developing Inclusive Space / Culturally Aware / Work for Social Justice / Critical Pedagogy / Participatory Encounters / Critical Consciousness / Lived Realities / Cultural Change / Diversity / Empowerment / Impact / Discursive Activism / Intersectional Experiences / Sharing / Exchanging Thoughts / Equality within Diversity