Kip Jones

KIP JONES, an American by birth, has been studying and working in the UK for more than 15 years.
Under the umbrella term of 'arts-based research', his main efforts have involved developing tools
from the arts and humanities for use by social scientists in research and its impact on a wider
public or a Perfomative Social Science.

Jones is Reader in Performative Social Science and Director of the Centre for Qualitative Research
at Bournemouth University. Kip has produced films and written many articles for academic
journals and authored chapters for books on topics such as masculinity, ageing and rurality,
and older LGBT citizens. His ground-breaking use of qualitative methods, including
biography and auto-ethnography, and the use of tools from the arts in social science research and
dissemination are well-known.

Jones acted as Author and Executive Producer of
the award-winning short film,
RUFUS STONE, funded by Research Councils UK.
The film is now available for
free viewing on the Internet and has been
viewed by more than 11,000 people in 150
countries over the past year alone.

Areas of expertise
• Close relationships, culture and ethnicity
• Social psychology, sociology
• Ageing, self and identity
• Interpersonal processes, personality,
individual differences,
social networks, prejudice and stereotyping
• Sexuality and sexual orientation
• Creativity and the use of the
arts in Social Science

Media experience
His work has been reported widely
in the media, including:
BBC Radio 4,BBC TV news,Times
Higher Education, Sunday New
York Times, International
Herald-Tribune
and The Independent.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Kylie and the infamous silver show curtain

It was a performance by Kylie Minogue and the Crazy Horse Saloon dancers on an ITV special (A poor quality vid is available here.) that inspired the silver show curtain that I sometimes use in my presentations.

It was the simplicity of the curtain that inspired. Something iconic that represents 'performance'. Easy, portable, and camp!

"I know that I personally have learned more about producing performative social science, for example, by watching Kylie Minogue than by reading Judith Butler. If 'camp' can be seen as a production technique, then I certainly owe more to the former than the latter". --Kip Jones

Jane (I S S A) sounds worried ...

MATTERS OF THE ART
is it just vanity?

why do the justifications about the value of 'ART' feel at odds with what is 'in the air'?
why do i feel like I should get a real job?
why would a 'real' job make me feel more part of humanity?

...
meanwhile, if i could, i would book a studio tomorrow
and create music and musicals and operas and design beautiful public spaces and humming temples and zen-like elder homes and films.

--I S S A Open Letters

Dear I S S A,

A while ago, Mary Gergen emailed and asked me to contribute to a presentation that she was giving by discussing my experience of “being on the margins”, how this may have affected my career over time, how I have felt about this status when it is happening, about how I define marginality at all and changes over time in my experiences of marginality.

I don’t think I ever really answered her question. When someone brings up a topic, particularly one that excites me, I tend to think tangentially. That is, the question leads to other questions, then to other places, concepts and ideas, spawning creative connections, reminding me of experiences and stories, and sending me reeling into the outer spaces of the unknown. If Mary had been with me in the room, she might have tried to “reel me in”, get me back “on message” and perhaps extracted a more precise answer to her question. Left alone, I was left to my own devices. Instead, I started thinking about “the edge” and “going to the edge” and what that might mean.

Tangential thinking is, in my estimation, the basis for the development of the World Wide Web and its popularity. Take a subject, do a search and eventually you will end up in some interesting place you never planned to go in the first place. This is the nature of discovery (and social science research would benefit from more of this approach too). There are people “going to the edge” on the web without even knowing what is happening to them, participating in French educator Pierre Lévy’s concept of a web that does not have a unique centre and no right place to start. The ‘web has permanently various centres that are mobile luminous pointers, jumping from node to node. Each centre creates an infinite network around it, defining an instantaneous map’ .

What is marginality or the edge? The cutting edge or the abyss? It is probably a bit of both, in my estimation. Having spent my life (creative and academic) exploring the boundaries in order to map out new territory, I am aware that dissatisfaction with the status quo compels us into unknown territory, which, in turn, often creates misunderstanding around our activities—the price we pay for going to the edge. Much of my working life has been guided by the principle that creativity is the uncanny ability to change boundaries while, at the same time, working with them. Creative efforts push and shove at the edges. Like a child’s first wonderment at her/his artistic use of excrement, these explorations and products need to be shared. There is a compulsion to return from the edge or margins and convince others of our great discoveries/creations. Often, like the creative child, they are received with horror or embarrassment.

Thinking about this, I remembered George Kubler and his Shape of Time (1962), required (suggested?) reading when I went to art school. Kubler was the art historian and archaeologist who described the history of art as a vast mining exercise with innumerable shafts, most of them closed down long ago. Each artist works on in the dark, guided only by the tunnels and shafts of earlier work. We arrive at our work on the continuum or series of works extending beyond us in either or both directions. When a specific temperament (edginess?) interlocks with a favourable position, the fortunate individual uncovers forward movement in the field. This achievement is sometimes denied to others as well as by others.

An artist can not/would not/should not paint the Mona Lisa in the 21st Century just as, hopefully, social scientists would not want to retreat to mid-20th Century “laboratory experiments” and studies that used college freshmen (sic) as guinea pigs. Both the artist and the social scientist are, first, recorders of the time in which they live and must reflect their place on a historical continuum of work. It may be painful at times to be where we are, but that is all we have. We cannot go back (and shouldn’t want to, either). That’s why I often respond to negativity around or distrust of the post-modern with, “That is all we have. This is where we are”.

Does it “hurt”—this going to the edge? Being misunderstood is probably what hurts most. I was part of a dinner party recently where the participants were criticising contemporary art (the “a child could do it”’ argument). Because one of the dinner guests was a former chorister at Covent Garden, I reminded her of Bizet’s experience with the premiere of Carmen and how reviled this now extremely popular opera was in its time. In fact, Bizet died six months after the opening, disappointed in the extreme and exhausted from his misunderstood efforts to produce a masterpiece. The chorister seized upon my argument and followed with an animated discussion of the Bizet’s plight and death. I am still not sure that she got the connection to the earlier discussion, however.

As frustrating as these conversations can be, we must have them. We must come back from “the edge” and begin to incorporate our “data” from the perimeter into the fabric of community dialogue. This is where relational art/relational scholarship begins. Creativity is a process of invention, but the knowledge gained from these ‘uncovered forward movements’ (Kubler 1962) is a negotiated discursive construct that is created between people and agreed locally, opening up one or two obstructed passages (Bourriaud 2002), and connecting our discoveries from the margins back to the very community that motivated us to explore.

Cheers,
Kip

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Inspiration ...

The company Digital Kitchen provided the initial inspiration for me and my experiments in visualisation of research data. One of my favorites, the titles from Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital TV series:



This particularly inspired me when making my early A/V presentation, "I can remember the night"


Perhaps you can see the influence/inspiration!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Proustifications or Embracing the Journey

The first time I went to France (by way of winning a small prize) I was teeming with anticipation and a sense of adventure. I had never been away from my native America before and was filled with expectations. If I lived frugally, I surmised at the time, I would be able to stay in Paris for more than three months. I prepared for, consequently, the luxury of exploring Paris in an unhurried way that would allow the city and its occupants to reveal themselves to me in a natural, unfolding way.

Paris unveiled itself to me gradually. I spent a lot of time camped out in cafés, watching and meeting people. It was in observing passers-by that I particularly noticed other Americans on ‘holiday abroad’ charging from place to place, trying desperately to make all the appropriate stops at the necessary high spots of Paris, attempting to take everything in and doing all this within a very short visit. In the throws of this often-frantic process, my countrymen and women would frequently become quite annoyed with the Parisian French. Annoyed because they (the French) did not speak English, annoyed because their ways of doing things –their culture—was not the same as the American way. Surely they (the French Parisians) understood that they (the Americans) had a lot to accomplish in a short time and that they (the French and their culture) were only making the process that much more difficult!

The reality of the experiences of many Americans abroad is subsequently reinvented when they return home. Like art museum visitors who are more comfortable with the reproductions found in the museum shop (they can buy them) than the art in the galleries, the narratives of Americans’ trips abroad are typically reconstructed through photographs stateside. They are, habitually, not assured that their journey was a success until they get the photos back from processing and can reconstruct the story of their journey into a perceived reality. The defining moment, crucial to their reconstruction of reality, is the moment when they are reassured that they visited, in this instance, the right Paris. This is accomplished when family and friends agree that yes, they were at the right places because those were the same places that they too visited or certainly would visit. At last, after a long journey fraught with unexpected inconveniences, language barriers, unfamiliar terrain and food, peppered with what many American tourists misconstrue as the French penchant for rudeness, they can finally sleep restfully in their American beds. Paris was a success.

Paris for me was different from that. Perhaps it was the luxury of the time available to me to slow my pace down to fit the pace of Parisian life. Perhaps it was by finding the timeframe in which to generate discovery and allow Paris to reveal itself to me. I recall that at the end of my stay there, I did rush around to some of the tourist spots that I had never bothered to visit (even the Louvre, I must admit!) and snap photos of myself posed in front of miscellaneous monuments of French culture. I did this, ironically, in order to have photos to show family and friends back home. Yes, they too might wonder if I had ever been to Paris at all, if I had no photos of the places they had attended on their trips.

A few days before my departure from France my lover at the time, whom I had met in a Parisian café, said, “You haven’t even been outside of Paris the whole time you’ve been here! We must take the train to Versailles!” We departed the following morning, arriving at Versailles in a light but steady rain. We walked the crunchy gravel grounds of Versailles for a while, noted the long queues for the palace and made a dash back to the village of Versailles and a small bistro/café. We sat for hours at a table talking, just under a window, the rain beating its steady rhythm on the leaded panes. It was not exactly Madeleines dipped in tea, but it very well might have been. We sipped slowly these last moments, savouring them for memories. We both knew that the palace of Versailles would have to wait for another time; the pain of imminent separation was far more monumental than any French palace could be. I have been glad of that day since, and retell the story often.

When one approaches a journey slowly and with a sense of expectation at every turn, the journey is never really completed. Fortunately, I was able to return to Paris many times after that first visit. I believe today that it was the way I approached my first stay that provided the longing to return, the opportunities to return.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Aspen in a box ...a continuous source of inspiration

Explore Aspen, the multimedia magazine-in-a-box published 1965-71 by Phyllis Johnson. Each issue of Aspen presented a different perspective on the 1960s art/pop scene, delivered in a customized box filled with booklets, phonograph recordings, posters, postcards — one issue even included a reel of Super-8 movie film. It's all here. Go »

Bourriaud and Altermodernism




" ... relational aesthetics scorn the idea that art exists within boundaries – gallery walls, say, or the visual realm – and hold that art is to be found more or less anywhere: in DJ-ing, or knitting, or delivering lectures".
--Charles Darwent, The Independent, Sunday, 8 February 2009

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Finally! a mention in a Wiki ...

Wikispaces

Great Qualitative Books & Articles: An Annotated Bibliography


Jones, K. (2004) “Mission Drift in Qualitative Research, or Moving toward a systematic review of qualitative studies, moving back to a more systematic narrative review”, The Qualitative Report, 9, 1, March 2004. "The paper argues that the systematic review of qualitative research is best served by reliance upon qualitative methods themselves. A case is made for strengthening the narrative literature review and using narrative itself as a method of review. A technique is proposed that builds upon recent developments in qualitative systematic review by the use of a narrative inductive method of analysis".

Virtually speaking.....

Trevor Hearing (Media School, BU) and I experimented with a keynote address for the Center for Qualitative Psychology in Germany (http://www.qualitative-psychologie.de/) conference in Weingarten, Germany yesterday.

We sent two videos ahead of time and then hooked up through Skype yesterday morning to take questions from the conference audience. The videos consisted of two projects on which Trevor and I have collaborated. The first, "Day Dreams, Night Games" documents the Centre for Qualitative Research's biennial conference held in September, 2008 at Bournemouth University. The second video, "Beyond Text: relations of dialogue, parody and contestation", in which we discuss the making of the first video, begins to establish our on-going collaboration around concepts such as 'beyond text' and what this means in a visual platform.

Both videos are now available on the sidebar!

For me, the audience questions and reactions were the interesting part. Some of the questions touched upon typical anxieties of qualitative researchers who work in (mostly) quantitative environments, particularly in this case, Psychology. By the end of the 'conversation', however, I think that we began to convince the audience about considerations of 'audience' itself. Bourriaud's 'conviviality' and even fun (Mary Gergen's 'serious fun') were concepts that we left them with. Hopefully, some possibilities were opened up for participants but, like 'night games', these changes often happen when we aren't looking, even sleeping!

Kip's Chapter in new book

Ethnography And The Internet: An Exploration
by Mannar Indira Srinivasan Dr. Rohit Raj Mathur
Chapter: "How Did I Get to Princess Margaret and How Did I Get Her to the World Wide Web" by Kip Jones
"In this experiment on autoethnography, the author puts himself as an object for research and argues that research is not a method of gathering information, but a vehicle for producing performance texts and performance ethnographies about self and society where text and audience come together and inform one another in a relational way".
Includes the script for the on line audio/visual production, "The One about Princess Margaret"

http://www.books.iupindia.org/newarticle.asp?isbn=978-81-314-2205-2

"The One about Princess Margaret"

The articles in the on line journal, FQS


"Rough talk and chocolate brownies" I recall how I came about writing and producing “The one about Princess Margaret” for the World Wide Web on Leicester University's Online Research Methods site.