Karel Doing is a PhD student at London College of Communication studying Expanded Cinema and its possible connections to the natural environment, his thesis title is Ambient poetics and critical posthumanism in expanded cinema. He tells us about his recent performances and what it’s like to be a PhD student.

Karel is a practice-based student, so will produce a thesis of up to 100,000 words and practice-based work. Karel has chosen to produce several works, one, a performance combining film with live elements. Karel says exhibiting his work has helped his PhD,

Performance can only exist in real time and also, it is a practice that is unstable, deliberately open to change. To develop my performance it was essential to perform it publicly several times, which I have done with considerable success.

He is still developing some work for his PhD which he has not yet shown, but regarding the performance it was important to test it and receive feedback from a diverse audience. Karel’s work has been performed in 4 countries and there are performances planned in 2 further countries, so he will have shown his work in 6 countries, over 8 performances.

Riga_01 Riga_02

Pattern/Chaos, taken during Eksperimentālā Kino Vakari organised by Ieva Balode in Riga, Latvia, photos by Kristīne Madjare.

Karel started a company (Film in Process) together with his good friend and colleague Bea Haut, focused on analogue film services for artists. This grew out of necessity but also provides him with a basic income during his PhD. Besides this, he occasionally teaches and curates. All these jobs relate and feed into his practice and theoretical research. For Karel, art, life and his PhD are synonymous,  sometimes stressful and exhausting, but he sees this as a natural consequence resulting from the choices that he has made.

Karel started his PhD in 2013, since being accepted on to the course, he has changed his title and narrowed down the area of his study. The environmental element of his thesis could be very expansive, studying such a broad range of topics is of course not feasible, so he had to start limiting his study. He was also unsuccessful in acquiring funding, this limited his area of study further.

Looking back this was not a negative process, it forced me to be really creative and resourceful.

Karel is now writing his thesis up and will have his viva in spring 2017. I asked Karel why he chose UAL,

When I met my Director of Studies, William Raban, we had an informal chat about my plans to do a PhD. His response was inspiring and stimulating. I did not compare the different universities but now that I have been around for a while, I certainly do not regret my choice.

William Raban is Karel’s director of studies but he also works in the expanded cinema field, Karel finds William very supportive; talking with him in both the formal setting of supervisory meetings and in more informal settings during screenings and performances. Karel’s second supervisor Nicky Ryan works in design, a field which is quite different, Karel finds the breadth of knowledge and the variety in thinking invaluable. The team normally meet together and have lively discussion offering multiple viewpoints, which Karel finds very useful

I cannot even imagine that I could get anything done otherwise.

Last year Karel acted as a student representative at LCC, he says his main motivation was to bring PhD students together, aiming for a lively exchange of ideas across disciplines.

The present state of affairs in culture and politics makes a lot of people very tense and jittery. One should practice democracy, instead of complaining about the lack of it. I tried to make a small contribution to this idea.


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