Archiving Oil – images

Just thought I would post some images taken by Neville Gabie of the Archiving Oil event we installed in the Earth Sciences Rock Collection Store on May 16th as part of the University of Bristol’s Museums at Night events.

We had a great turn out of 200+ over the course of the evening.











Archiving Oil- list of artworks


Neville Gabie

As part of his Leverhulme funded residency with the Cabot Institute at Bristol University, Neville Gabie has been working on a series of short films considering the materiality of oil and chalk amongst other materials. This evening he will be screening some of the oil based films.

Experiments in Black and White 1 – video installation – duration 13mins 13 seconds

[basement corridor opposite the lift]

Experiments in Black and White 3 – video installation – duration 13mins 29 seconds

[basement corridor]

Experiments in Black and White 4 – video – duration 24mins 55 seconds

[rock store]

Neville Gabie – Merle Patchett

Archiving Oil – installation with video projection – duration 8 mins 27 seconds

[rock store]

Archiving Oil is an ongoing collaborative project that emerged out of The Oil Common Room an ‘object-orientated’ seminar we hosted in the School of Geographical Sciences for which we invited colleagues to bring an object with them that in some way archived their relationship to oil. Before adding their objects to our collection (some of which are on display here) we asked colleagues to create a label that detailed what is was, where it came from and its personal significance. These objects range from everyday petroleum-based products like plastic bottles and bags, to personal items such as passports and photographs, to research-related items such as modelling software and scientific research papers. Collectively these objects begin to archive oil’s presence and permeations both within and beyond our research worlds, whilst their labels offer personal records of oil impressions.

You can read about one visitor’s experience on the Cabot Institute blog:

We will be holding the exhibition again as the ‘Oil Common Room’ which include a few new pieces by Neville and a public workshop aspect.  This will be held during BIG Green Week on the 18th and 19th of June 6pm-9pm – it would be great if any of you could make it!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Archiving OIL (as part of Museums at Night) – All Welcome

Please Join Neville Gabie and I on Thursday 16 May in the Geological Collections Stores at the University of Bristol where we will be ‘Archiving Oil’:

Neville Gabie: Archiving OIL (as part of Museums at Night)

Thursday 16 May, 6 pm -10 pm

Geology Collection Basement Stores

Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol


The Cabot Institute at the University of Bristol has created a structure through which researchers from all fields can contribute to inter-disciplinary dialogue and research under a common umbrella.

From the Cabot Institute, Artist in Residence Neville Gabie and Cultural Geographer Merle Patchett, invite you to join them in Archiving Oil as part of the University of Bristol’s Museums at Night event – ‘Alight – The unexpected in the dark’ in the Wills Memorial Building.

Of all substances what is more ubiquitous than oil. Fossil fuels, oil in particular, have entirely shaped our evolution since the industrial age. It touches every aspect of our lives, landscapes, economies and politics. It impacts in some way on every area of research within the Cabot Institute. And yet it is almost unseen, or hidden away from curious eyes.

In an attempt to make oil’s presence more visible Neville and Merle will be installing a series of art works in the Geology Collection basement stores which archive the ways in which oil permeates and sediments itself within our research and wider worlds. This will include the premiere of a series of short films Neville has created in response to the experimental scientific work of Cabot Institute researchers.

Come and join us on the 16 May to experience oil’s sticky presence within the University of Bristol whilst taking part in archiving oil’s permeations and permutations beyond it.

This event as part of ‘Alight – The unexpected in the dark’ is free to attend and all are welcome.  No booking necessary.


More Information on Museums at Night at the Geology Collection University of Bristol:


Alight – The unexpected in the dark

16 May 2013, 6 pm – 10 pm

Explore what comes to light in the collection stores and lay your hands on some extraordinary crystals and fossils. You can also join us underground for a tour of the basement collection where Cabot Institute artist-in-residence Neville Gabie is ‘Archiving Oil’.

This is also a unique opportunity to enjoy a view across the city of Bristol by night as part of the Wills Memorial Tower Tours. Tours start at 6.30pm and 8.30pm and will take about 1 hour. Advance booking required.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Year of the Bird at Maitland Regional Gallery, New South Wales


This weekend is the last chance to see the exhibition Year of the Bird at Maitland Regional Gallery, New South Wales which Kate Foster and I submitted joint work emerging from Fashioning Feathers to.

Curated by Helen Hopcroft and Caelli Jo Brooker, the exhibition  Year of the Bird features work by Vanessa Barbray, Caelli Jo Brooker, Marian Drew, Kate Foster, David Hampton, Helen Hopcroft, Pamela See, Emma van Leest, Trevor Weekes and Helen Wright.

You can see more on the Year of the Bird Exhibition Blog – including an account of by Kate Foster and myself about “Looking at the Hummingbird Cabinet

Dr Rod Bennison, CEO of Minding Animals International, will opened the Year of the Bird exhibition on Saturday 23rd February, 2013.

A catalogue is available.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to buy Strip Appeal Bookwork

The Strip Appeal catalogue is available for sale online from amazon for $60 CDN/USD including tax, handling and shipping. You can also buy it direct from the CRSC:

Address: City-Region Studies Centre Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta 2-184, 10230 Edmonton, AB, Canada T5J 4P6

Please make cheques payable to: University of Alberta.

If you are in the Edmonton area you can purchase the catalogue at Audreys Books on Jasper Avenue and University of Alberta bookstores for only $46.99.


Strip Appeal Cover

Strip Appeal Cover

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Strip Appeal Bookwork Published!

I recently received copies of the bookwork – Strip Appeal: Reinventing the Strip Mall – an outcome of the Strip Appeal design competition Rob Shields and I co-curated which is currently on exhibition at the Anderson Gallery in Buffalo, NY (Nov 17 6 PM – Feb 24 2013 5 PM).

The bookwork catalogue was edited by myself and Rob Shields, designed by Iowna Faferek and features a forward by Ellen Dunhan-Jones (Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and author of Retrofitting Suburbia) and essays by Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis (Assistant Professors at University of Buffalo School of Architecture),  David Karle (Assistant Professor of Architecture at University of Nebraska-Lincoln)  and Ondine Park (PHD candidate in Sociology at the University of Alberta).

The bookwork’s main purpose however is to showcase the 20 shortlisted strip mall redesigns from the competition including the winning design ‘Free Zoning‘ by Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis. The Free Zoning design radically reimagines a derelict strip mall in Buffalo, NY as a building quarry. Proclaiming the site free of zoning restrictions, Davidson and Rafailidis deconstruct and inventory all the building materials on the site and demonstrate how these can be re-used to construct community housing.

Here are pdf links to the Forward by Ellen Dunham-Jones and the two essays by myself and Rob Shields:

Dunham-Jones, E. (2012) Strip Appeal: Forward, in Patchett M. and Shields, R. (eds.) Strip Appeal: Reinventing the Strip Mall, Space and Culture Publications.

Patchett M. and Shields, R. (2012) ‘The Design Competition as Public Engagement Method‘, in Patchett M. and Shields, R. (eds.) Strip Appeal: Reinventing the Strip Mall, Space and Culture Publications.

Patchett M. and Shields, R. (2012) ‘The Future of Strip Malls‘, in Patchett M. and Shields, R. (eds.) Strip Appeal: Reinventing the Strip Mall, Space and Culture Publications.

Information on how to order a copy will be posted shortly but here’s a quick preview:

strip 2 strip 3 strip 4 strip 5 strip 6 strip 7 strip 8 strip 9 strip 10 strip 11 strip 12 strip 13 strip 14 strip 15 strip 16 strip 17 strip 18 strip 19 strip 20 strip 21 strip 22 strip 23

Posted in Architecture and Aesthetics, Exhibitions, Experimental Geographies | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Politics and Matter Abstracts and Timetable


Professor Andrew Barry (University of Oxford) 

‘Energy, Materiality, Cosmopolitics’

This paper is prompted by a puzzle. This arises from a sense that while there is a burgeoning literature on energy across the social sciences, including geography, the concept of energy has been surprisingly under-examined by geographers. However, to the extent that the concept of energy is referred to in the literature on materiality, it tends to convey a vitalist understanding of ‘energetic materiality’ or what Deleuze and Guattari termed ‘matter-energy’. Although such vitalist accounts challenge the notion that matter should be understood as a merely passive or inert substratum to an otherwise lively social world, directing us to consider the energetic liveliness of materials in themselves, they leave the analysis of the thermodynamic concept of energy, as it is understood in the physical sciences, unexplored. In this paper, drawing on Isabelle Stengers’ ‘Cosmopolitics’, I address the implications of the physicists’ concept of energy for geographical accounts of materiality.

Professor Diana Coole (Birkbeck, University of London)

‘The New Materialism: Agency, Embodiment and Ecological Sensibility’

The presentation will discuss some implications of new materialist ontologies of vital / generative immanence for the way we think about agency, especially in relation to the body. Is it feasible and / or desirable to distinguish between animate and inanimate bodies here, even if the distinction between human and animal bodies is effaced? What are the implications of generalising materiality in this way? Should / can we expect these new ways of considering matter and its materialisation to yield a new ethical sensibility or ethos? If so, what are its prospects for change – and how important is it that they should be supplemented by a critical theory of the material systems bodies inhabit / are entwined with?

Dr Beth Greenhough (Queen Mary, University of London)

‘Catching Colds with Canguilhem: Culturing new relations with common cold viruses’

“Disease is a positive, innovative experience in the living being … [D]isease is not a variation on the dimension of health; it is a new dimension of life” (Canguilhem, cited in Philo 2007)

This paper explores materials from the archives of the UK’s Common Cold Research Unit (CCU) and sets these against the accounts of the CCU’s research found in the scientific papers and reports. Drawing on the work of the philosopher Georges Canguilhem, the analysis considers how different accounts of the work undertaken at the CCU offer different readings of the relationship between humans and cold viruses. One approach recounts processes of viral isolation, culturation and characterisation; the other remembers a distinctive research environment cohabited by scientists, technicians, volunteers and cold viruses. One seeks new ways of curing the common cold, the other recounts the formation of novel human-viral ecologies, reflected in the CCU’s visitor books, media interviews and popular histories. These alternative post-natural histories challenge our preconceptions about the costs and benefits of living-with-viruses and the role of infection and associated symptoms in drawing lines between the ‘normal’ and the ‘pathological’. Within the archives of the CCU we find traces to suggest that infection can be a “positive, innovative experience”, new ways of encountering viruses and their histories and a growing sense of the diverse ways in which cold viruses come to matter scientifically, socially, ethically and politically.

Dr Ben Anderson (Durham University)

‘The Foucault Affect’

By way of reflections on Michel Foucault’s (2008) brief remarks in The Birth of Biopolitics on ‘state-phobia’ as a ‘sign’ of a crisis of governmentality and in History of Madness (2006) on ‘the great fear’, I will consider two emerging problematics in the literature on affect and matter. First, how to sense and disclose the strange reality of a collective affect and the process by which a collective affect becomes a condition for life? Second, how to conceptualise changes in affective conditions whilst simultaneously attending to what Foucault (2008) describes as the ‘integration of a differential field’? I will conclude with some questions about the politics of collective affect.

Dr Emma Roe (University of Southampton)

‘The food animal as visceral-object: practices of meat production, processing and retailing’

Studies of the food and agricultural industry have been at the forefront of work that explores relations about human and nonhuman bodies in terms that give a material agency to the nonhuman foodstuff (Murdoch 2006; Whatmore 1997; Goodman 2002; Roe 2006). Within this body of work the cultural practices of the meat processing and livestock production industry have received sustained geographic interest to illustrate the politics and ethics of commodifying nature’s plants and animals – in global agricultural production (Hinchliffe 2001; Law and Mol 2008; Holloway 2001). This paper builds on this work to consider how the agencies of matters that make-up edible bodies (chickens and cattle) in agricultural production practices are shaped by and are shaping the industrial practices that deliver the global provisioning of diverse foodstuffs that contain qualities of or constituted of meat protein for human consumption. It is suggested that understanding more about the agencies of matter-processes that bring meat products to supermarket shelves may further help to understand the environment in which contemporary phenomena of food inequality, food waste and obesity manifest. This argument involves appreciating the biologies of animal bodies of different species and how growth-rates and body-shape are linked to meat product requirements for high-value meat cuts and lower-value cuts and mapping this through to culturally-specific culinary practices and the supply of highly-processed meat products. This is tackled through developing the figure of the ‘visceral object’ whose generation is reliant upon the co-generation of other visceral objects of different biological matters and capacities. In this way a novel approach to causal factors of contemporary food crisis is articulated in terms of a politics and ethics of animal body matter.


For a proposed Timetable see:


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Politics and Matter Workshop

View of a tailings pond and Syncrude Oil Sand Mine in the distance. Photo: Andriko Lozowy

View of a tailings pond and Syncrude Oil Sand Mine in the distance. Photo: Andriko Lozowy

The Politics and Matter Research Group I am part of at the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol is hosting a workshop Tuesday 18th – Wednesday 19th December 2012 on the theme of Politics and Matter.

The two-day event is open to the public and will be held at the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol. We would like to invite researchers to attend the workshop, and to use the space to explore emerging problematics and dynamics pertaining to their own work and interests.


In the wake of recent ‘new materialist’ debates there has been an upsurge of interest within the social sciences around the themes of vital materiality, nonhuman agency, and the subsequent questioning of political action and responsibility that these matters present (Bennett 2010; Coole and Frost 2010; Braun and Whatmore 2010). Invited speakers will demonstrate their recent contribution to these theoretical debates through questions around the cosmopolitics of energy, to the biosecurity of the common cold, and from the ecological sensitivity of material concerns, to governmentality through collective affects. This workshop will bring together key thinkers within geography and cognate disciplines to consider how a vital materiality draws together philosophical, scientific, artisitic and ethical questions in ways that reconfigure the space of politics.

Participants include:  Ben Anderson, Andrew Barry, Diana Coole, Beth Greenhough, Paul Harrison, Steve Hinchcliffe, Maria Hynes, Emma Roe, Scott Sharpe, John Wylie

Politics and Matter Research Group: JD Dewsbury, Maria Fannin, Mark Jackson, Tom Keating, Andrew Lapworth, Joanna Mann, Naomi Millner, Merle Patchett, Tom Roberts, Stacey Smith, Georgie Urry, Nina Williams. 

The workshop will be organized around three themes concerning the relationship between material agency and the question of politics. These are:

Concepts‘ – What philosophical lineages and conceptual frameworks do we draw on when presenting the vibrancy of matter? How do these particular theorizations present a different set of questions, problematics and relationalities soliciting new modes of political intervention? What new concepts are being utilized and rearticulated in order to grapple with the processes of materialization that are being brought to the fore in the 21st Century?

Techniques‘ – What methodological approaches are we taking in evidencing, manifesting and bearing witness to the agencies of matter that we research? How might we go further in enacting a more radical and non-correlationist presentation of matter’s own agency after recent object-oriented ontologies? What vocabularies and performative writing strategies are we experimenting with in giving account of material presences; and how might these in themselves set the parameters for contemporary political collectivities?

Ethics/Aesthetics‘ – What facilitative rules do we use to evaluate what beliefs, feelings and thoughts we have when evoking immanent modes of existence that new vitalist ontologies and materialisms imply? How do we dramatise the figure of the human when the bifurcation of nature – and of thought and matter, mind and body, human and non-human – proves itself to be less than adequate for our times? Ethico-aesthetically, how do new modes and spaces of expression delineate questions in the present that are more open to the future than closed in by the past?

The invited participants and members of the Politics and Matter Research group will give brief presentations, oriented more towards the exploratory, provocative, or experimental, rather than formal papers. We asked them to consider the following questions: “What do you think are the key questions and problematics pertaining to the inter-relationships of politics and materiality, and how are you negotiating their address from within the specifics of your own work? Given that materiality, immanence, assemblages, ontology, affect, and hybridity are increasingly influential and perhaps even becoming sedimented, what are the key challenges and potentials for research, as you see them?”

The aim is then to facilitate a relaxed and informal, but stimulating and rigorous dialogue within which we can all consider such questions over the two days of the workshop.

Attendance is free, but spaces are limited.

If you would like to attend the workshop, please send an e-mail indicating your attendance to:

Attendees are welcome on both or either of the days. Please note that the schedule for 18 December is 0830 until 1730 – you are welcome to come along after the first opening sessions if you cannot make that early start. The schedule will conclude on 19 December at 1300. Unfortunately, we are unable to cover accommodation or travel costs for attendees.

For further information please feel free to contact JD Dewsbury <> or Mark Jackson <>.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Strip Appeal Touring Exhibit Opens at UB Anderson Gallery


The Strip Appeal Tour I curated has kicked off in style opening at the UB Anderson Gallery on17th November!

Exhibition Information:


UB Anderson Gallery, Buffalo NY


Nov 17 6 PM – Feb 24 2013 5 PM

Opening reception:

Dec 6 2012 6 PM – 8 PM


Strip Appeal: Reinventing the Strip Mall is an ideas design competition and traveling exhibit initiated by the City-Region Studies Centre (CRSC) at the University of Alberta intended to stimulate and showcase creative proposals for the adaptive reuse of suburban strip malls.

At the CRSC, we believe it’s time to rethink our relationship with the strip mall.

This touring exhibit offers creative reimaginings of the strip mall from the competition shortlist to inspire architects, developers and communities to adapt these ideas for their own neighborhoods.

For example, the winning submission — Free Zoning — radically reimagines a derelict strip mall in Buffalo, NY as a building quarry. Proclaiming the site free of zoning restrictions, Davidson and Rafailidis deconstruct and inventory all the building materials on the site and demonstrate how these can be re-used to construct community housing.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Oil Common Room – Neville Gabie


Continuing the Oil theme I have recently been chatting with Neville Gabie artist-in-residence at the Cabot Institute, University of Bristol and we found out we share a similar curiosity in finding out more about oil as substance and how it seems to permeate almost every aspects of our lives. Particularly interested in finding out how oil relates to the researchers and research being conducted at the Cabot Institute we are holding an ‘object-orientated’ seminar to try to ‘map’ how it permeates the department and research clusters we work within.

The Oil Common Room

13 November 2012, 4 pm

Seminar Room 1, Geographical Sciences, University Road, Bristol, BS8 1SS

Cabot Institute Artist in Residence, Neville Gabie and Bristol University Cultural Geographer Merle Patchett are inviting you to participate in the oil common room.

The Cabot Institute has created a structure through which researchers from all fields can contribute to interdisciplinary dialogue and research about living with environmental uncertainty.

Of all substances, what is more ubiquitous that oil?  Fossil fuels and oil in particular, have entirely shaped our evolution since the industrial age.  Oil touches every aspect of our lives and landscapes, economies and politics.  It impacts in some way on every area of research within Cabot.  And yet, it is almost unseen or hidden away from curious eyes.

On Tuesday 13 November,  from 4 pm – 5.30 pm, Neville and Merle are inviting you to an open ‘object-orientated’ seminar and we are asking you to bring something with you that relates to oil.

What can you bring?

We would like everyone attending the seminar to bring something with them that in some way connects to oil and we are looking for as wide an interpretation of what that might be as possible.  We are also looking for items which have a personal significance.

  • It might be a book, a text or something which you yourself wrote.
  • A song, record, or an audio recording.
  • A photograph describing social, political or physical landscapes influenced by oil.
  • It might be the materials and outputs of academic research, from an actual sample of crude oil or the host reservoir rock, to geophysical or molecular structure models.
  • A familiar domestic product which is oil-based.

During the seminar we would like to fill a table with things which will inform our discussions.  Merle will also talk briefly about her experience of growing up, living in and engaging in academic research on ‘oilscapes’ and Neville will show aspects of previous work and his current interest in considering oil as a subject.

Nb. This event is open to University of Bristol staff and students only. After this ‘test-run’ we hope to organize another Oil Common Room open to the public…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Speaking with Spectres: Experimental Geographies in Practice

Enigbokan, E. and Patchett, M. (2012) ‘Speaking with Spectres: Experimental Geographies in Practice’, Cultural Geographies, 19(4) 535–546.

This co-authored paper documents Terrible Karma: Reverberations of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire – a mobile sound and photographic installation produced by Adeola Enigbokan and myself exploring the global reverberations of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, on its 100th anniversary.

The title of the piece – Terrible Karma – referred to both the title of a protest song sung by Cambodian female garment workers at a union rally in Phnom Penh (July 2010 – click for translation) and to the idea that events of the garment industry past continue to haunt the present, that injustice unresolved always comes back. The work arised out of our mutual desire to mark the centenary of the Triangle factory fire whilst also exploring the constraints and conditions in which garment workers continue to work, live and die.

Unfortunately the journal Cultural Geographies is not open access, however for more documentation of the happening on this blog see:


Here is the original flier for the event:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment