Kip Jones

KIP JONES, an American by birth, has been studying and working in the UK for more than 20 years.
Under the umbrella term of 'arts-led 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 was Reader in Performative Social Science and Qualitative Research at
Bournemouth University for 15 years.
He is now a Visiting Scholar and and an independent author and scholar.

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.
Jones' most recent work involves working with Generation Z youth to tell their stories using
social media.
His ground-breaking use of qualitative methods, including Auto-fiction, 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 14,000 people in 150 countries.

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
and The Independent.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

My mother’s death/falling in love again

"The sweat on their bodies”

I was introduced to live musical theatre at the Valley Forge Music Fair. It was summer stock for New York actors, singers and dancers performed in a tent on the East coast of Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia.

I lived my simple, country boy life about 30 miles to the west. It was at Valley Forge that I saw shows like Pajama Game and Damn Yankees and, for the first time, fell in love with live musical theatre.

Theatre in the round and being so close to the sweat on the dancers’ bodies made me believe that there was a possibility of connecting somehow. As a teenager, these theatrical encounters were a part of my growing-up world of serious sexual awakening. I had put aside my childish desire to be Robin to Batman or follow Flash Gordon around in his lamé hot pants. These new experiences were comprised of all the senses; but mostly, it was the smell of the greasepaint mixed with the dancers’ sweat. I was breathless from the experience.

Every summer I would look forward to these performances under that tent, the actors in such intimate proximity, darting up and down the aisles, making their exits and entrances. The tension of wanting to reach out and touch them was palatable.

I would hang around the parking lot after the shows, hoping that one of the cast would come along and say hello. I lie. Come along and take me away with them. I wanted to join this musical circus; I wanted to fall in love and get laid. I still get these three things mixed up.

Spiegeltent has arrived at the Edinburgh International Festival with great success. This year it will host a new range of sideshow acts, cabaret and spectacles.

Spiegeltents are hand-hewn pavilions used as travelling dance halls, bars and entertainment salons since they were created in the early 20th century . There are only a hand-full of these unique and legendary ‘tents of mirrors’ left in the world today. The performances at Edinburgh’s Spiegeltent are live, in the round and under canvass.

Marlene Dietrich sang ‘Falling In Love Again’ on its famous stage in the 1930’s and, since then, its magic mirrors have reflected thousands of images of artists, audiences and exotic gatherings. It’s old Cabaret magic that has somehow become new again. It reminds me of my youthful awakening.

Speaking of Falling In Love Again, I did. Not that I expected to. He is a Russian dancer on a ship. We first met three years ago. I have been extremely guarded with my emotions since our first encounter. We see each other infrequently—two or three times a year. The story, retold as it heated up recently, unfolds below:

A conceptual narrative diary compiled from daily Facebook entries:

News Feed

. Time for the sea again....

· I should stop pretending it's luggage and just call them costumes.

· Sea day today. He is dancing his 'starring' role tonight. Me, organising my own costumes for the voyage. Stockholm tomorrow.

· Have to go now. Lunch date with the dancers tomorrow and not a thing to wear.

· 'The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.' –Marcel Proust

· He wants me to meet him at midnight. I am getting too old for this.

· Actually it was magical and moving. Overcoming my tendency towards inaction has been a theme in my life. In reality, it has brought me every reward.

· Having lunch with him today at the ship’s Ben Brittan restaurant; it's become a bit of a tradition.

·Things are getting very close to the edge.

· Someone said: 'Explain this to me'. I said, 'When I was sixteen I swam across a three-mile lake and back. These days I am happy when I can do a couple of laps in the pool. The same for emotional life, really'.

· In spite of all my best effort, planning and resistance, I am a bit lovesick.

· Remembering Carol K and her admonishment, after listening to my tales of love sickness: ‘Yeah, but did you get a painting out of it?’

· Time to forget, put aside and plough on with all of the projects and problems that I left behind. In a way, they will be a welcomed distraction.

· Do I dare? Have I lost my marbles?

· I constantly watch the ship’s webcam now. I watch the ensign change position on the bow. I make mental notes of the breezes. (Get a life, Kip.)

· Sunny, very little wind or activity. Ship in front is refuelling.

Fedor Tyutchev, Russian poet:

Я встретил вас - и все былое
В отжившем сердце ожило;
Я вспомнил время, время золотое -
И сердцу стало так тепло...

I met you and the past

came back to life in my dead heart.

Remembering a golden time,

my heart became so warm.

· The Baltic Sea is peaceful and blue, the sun refusing to set so far North. It’s almost 10:30 pm. He is about to start the second show, most likely.

· Should I be like a Brit and take a mini-holiday on the Bank Holiday weekend? Should I? Should I just turn up on the ship? Should I?

· Decision made. Нравится ли вам сюрпризы? (Do you like surprises?)

· Good-bye, Bette. You're with Dad now.

· ’Everything that passes away is only a reflection...' –Mahler’s 8th


Part of my intention in constructing a book out of a seemingly haphazard collection of notes was that these notes, by virtue of their accumulation and juxtaposition and patternation, would end up working overtime (not unlike what we might expect of the bits and pieces of a conceptual art’). –The Conceptual Novel: Michael Kimball Interviews Evan Lavender-Smith

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Navigating the personal ...

Someone said, 'Explain this to me'. I said, 'When I was sixteen I swam across a three-mile lake and back. These days I am happy when I can do a couple of laps in the pool. The same for my emotional life, really'.

What is it you want to write about here, Kip?
It’s Summer. Nobody wants to read about an old man’s love life.

A while back, I heard sociologist, Howard Becker, play the piano and I wept. How do these seemingly divergent interests in his life influence one another? I wanted to know.

I am known for banging on about how Performative Social Science (PSS) must be both art and social science, not one or the other. Then I went and invited some artists to present/perform at our upcoming Qualitative Conference: a jazz trio, an African drummer, a theatre director. I wanted to experiment and see how close to the edge (of art) we can go and still find meaning for social science pursuits. It will be interesting to observe the response/reaction of informal gaggles of conference-goers to this diversion from the expected. Audience is everything in my personal performative social science these days. The data and the audience. The researcher/scholar/performer simply acts as the vessel between the two, but also the interloper, the gadfly.

Prime Cuts’: I am compiling and editing short pieces from films and TV shows into a kind of montage/mash-up for my presentation at our conference in September, entitled, ‘Prime Cuts’. I am attempting to play with the auto-ethnographic by creating a montage of visual memories; not images from my life per se, but rather, images that heavily influenced my life and its work. This time, it will not be strictly ethnography through the lens of the personal observer or her/his experiences. It will be recollections of the graphic itself, those images from our pasts which compress and compel the personal forward and eventually transform into part of our own individual visual arsenals.

As we observe throughout life, certain cultural images become private and iconic. They twist and turn and eventually morph in various ways to be included as our own graphic memories (I shall always remember Mary Gergen’s recounting of Midwest grain storage towers in her interview with me). These images are truly Ethno-Graphic. These visual memories become imbued with both intense cultural and personal meaning. (A single example, previously written about here, is the notorious Kylie curtain, almost as personally iconic for me as her gold hot pants are to many by now.)

I plan to present my short film montage in a gallery setting at the conference. I want the environment to feel like one of those small rooms that you happen upon in museums where a film is playing on the wall in semi-darkness. You watch some of it, or all of it, or just walk by to the next exhibition/installation. I want to see if this contrivance from the curator’s toolbox has resonance for social science. I want to watch the audience watch the film (or not).

Busby Berkeley’s films were dark and aggressively sexual. What? I thought they were light and fluffy, chorus girls tapping to tunes from Broadway and silly story lines. If you think so, I suggest you revisit some of them, especially 42nd Street.

When I had finally decided that the gay world and gay bars themselves were not necessarily the ‘dens of inequity’ that I had been warned against, I ventured into my city’s most popular one, The Allegro, frequently. Because the bar didn’t get much business on Tuesday nights, they would show Busby Berkeley’s films on the third floor, using an old-fashioned projector. We would sit on the floor, sipping beers and watch that week’s Gold Diggers or other Berkeley films.

I became entranced with Berkeley’s intricate choreography and his particular way of filming it (and, of course, Ruby Keeler). The highpoint of 42nd Street however, is the longish title number. Dark and menacing, it tells a story of 1930-something New Yorkers out on the town, but also the darker side of the Depression, the casting couch, recreational drug use—all these things with the usual showgirl crotch shots which Berkeley became famous for. I was left with a lasting impression of how the presentation of seemingly light musical numbers could also tell a second, much darker story. A short clip from 42nd Street will be in Prime Cuts.

The editing of the clips themselves will not only reflect personal choices of meaningful images, but also, by the nature of montage, re-invent or ‘re-memorise’ the past through image to create something entirely new. Images from 1930s New York (I hadn’t been born then), for example, will ‘mash-up’ with more current footage. These montages will reflect, but deconstruct their originals, showing how remembered image can morph, change and enter the realm of the personal over time.

Compelling and repetitive, images of water and the sea will also be pervasive in Prime Cuts. Rather than representing specific memories, they become iconic and representational of particular personal emotional states. Derek Jarman’s use of a couple frolicking in the sea, for example, transfigures into more current footage of the sea with more private memories. Without my visual memory of Jarmon’s film, however, my own footage of the sea would not be imbued with the same meaning.

I have recently returned to the sea, or metaphorically that lake that I spoke about earlier, or at least the pool. Not actually, but figuratively. I have realised, somewhat late in life, that the love-sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs is the same, whether seventeen or seventy. The only difference now is that I have the visual reference points with which to tell that story again. If you observe Prime Cuts closely, Nureyev morphs into him, dancing enticingly.

Enjoy the rest of your Summer. ‘September Song’ can wait for September.