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David Eckersley

Associate Lecturer

Nottingham School of Art & Design

Staff Group(s)
Graphic Design Photography

Role

Dr Eckersley began teaching at NTU as an Hourly Paid Lecturer in 2014. He is now an Associate Lecturer and currently teaches across the undergraduate and postgraduate Photography programmes. He is the Module Leader for the final year undergraduate Dissertation module. He also teaches across 2nd and 3rd year contextual studies modules on the BA (Hons) Graphic Design programme.

Career overview

David is an artist-researcher and academic, whose practice involves image-making, writing and performance. His interests are interdisciplinary and broadly focused around the critical intersection of aesthetics, politics and philosophy, with a particular attentiveness to the production of subjectivity. Spanning a number of different concerns and critical directions, David’s work operates through multiple modes and methods, which are often collaborative and consist of practice-based research in concert with more conventional academic strategies.

David holds a BA in Photography and a Masters in Critical Theory. In 2019 he was awarded a PhD in Critical Theory and Cultural Studies from the University of Nottingham. His thesis, Get Rid of Yourself: Toward an Aesthetics of Anonymity, examines the conceptual history of anonymity in dialogue with practices that explore and experiment with the politics, ethics and aesthetics of anonymity as a way of resisting and refusing the dominant techno-economic system and the majoritarian forms of subjectivity it produces. During his doctoral research, he worked as part of the Public Programme and Research team at Nottingham Contemporary.

He has been a visiting lecturer at Konstfack (University of the Arts), Stockholm and has previously taught on the BA (Hons) International Media and Communications Studies and BA (Hons) Art History programmes at the University of Nottingham, and the BA (Hons) Communication & Society and Media programme at NTU.

Research areas

David’s current project, Bleak Plateaus: Ecological Aesthetics in the Dark Peak marks a new phase in his practice. It builds on research developed over the last two years into post-representational perspectives on photography theory and practice, bringing it into contact with, and further developing, practice-based research begun during a residency at Nottingham Contemporary, during which time he co-developed and co-facilitated the Three Ecologies Research Group, conceived to explore collective methods for interrogating locally situated issues of a political-ecological nature. David has been awarded an NTU Early Career Researcher Prize to help develop the project.

Bleak Plateaus focuses on Kinder Scout, the most famous of the north Derbyshire moorlands. It takes peat as a departure point, conceptualising it as a form of media. Informed by the concept of ‘ecological aesthetics,’ developed by Matthew Fuller and Olga Goriunova, and employing a mixed media approach, including photography, moving image, oral histories, writing and peat itself, the project responds to Kinder as a site of productive ambiguity, where, for example, subsistence, joy and anguish at impending ecological devastation all intersect. It pays close attention to the polyphonic composition and varying scales of the multiple human-non-human entanglements that crisscross Kinder’s slopes and plateaus, seeking to develop artistic methods of responding to and synthesizing scientific and cultural reflection on this important site. It uses these methods to address how image-making and writing can be used to negotiate, describe and communicate the affective anguish associated with ecological crisis without erasing or diminishing the joy and vivacity of such a location.

Previous research projects include:

Three Ecologies Research Group (2016-2018). This experimental research project developed through collaboration between the Public Programmes and Research team at Nottingham Contemporary and members of the University of Nottingham’s Centre for Critical Theory. It grew out of a series of ‘summer school’ events, which David was involved in organising and facilitating. The Three Ecologies Research Group brought together artists, academics, curators, a GPS enthusiast and other interested parties in order to develop collective methods for interrogating locally situated issues of a political-ecological nature. A reflection on the project, in the form of an artists’ manual, was published by Nottingham Contemporary in October 2018. The Slow Reading Group, one offshoot of the project, continues to happen monthly.

https://www.nottinghamcontemporary.org/whats-on/slow-reading-group-the-climate-of-history-in-a-planetary-age/

https://www.nottinghamcontemporary.org/whats-on/the-three-ecologies-end-of-the-summer-school/

https://www.nottinghamcontemporary.org/whats-on/end-of-the-summer-school/

The SRU (2011-2014): Before commencing doctoral study, David co-founded and co-facilitated, with William McCrory, the Sitting Room University: a peripatetic and experimental education project that ran from 2011 to 2014. The SRU brought together academics, artists, activists and other interested parties to focus on the relationship between spaces of art, experimental pedagogy, and radical politics, resulting in a number of different outputs, including participation in exhibitions, the formation of discussion groups and a temporary alternative school.

External activity

David has delivered academic papers and lectures at Konstfack (University of the Arts), Stockholm; the Association for Art History annual conference; Nottingham Contemporary; the University of Leicester; and the University of Nottingham. He is a member of the International Association for Visual Culture, the Association of Photographers in Higher Education and the Association of Photographers.

He has programmed and facilitated a number of public events at Nottingham Contemporary, including a series of Study Sessions exploring the politics of opacity; chaired public discussions and led exhibition walkthroughs as part of Nottingham Contemporary’s Wednesday Walkthrough series.

David often works with artists and curators. In recent times he has contributed to Lara Favaretto’s Thinking Head, which was installed at the Central Pavilion of the 58th Venice Biennale, and The Annotated Reader: a publication-as-exhibition and exhibition-as-publication, a project developed and realisedby Ryan Gander and Jonathan P. Watts. The Annotated Reader has been shown widely, beginning at London’s Cork Street Galleries, before touring locations across the UK, Europe and North America, including Great Yarmouth (originalprojects); M HKA Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp; Lewis Center for the Arts, New York; Quartz Studio, Milan; Printed Matter’s Art Book Fair, New York; Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; and Castlefield Gallery, Manchester. It was published by Dent-de-Leone in 2019.

http://www.thinking-head.net/about

https://www.dentdeleone.com/product/the-annotated-reader-br-ryan-gander-jonathan-p-watts

David continues to work on long term photographic projects and is currently working toward the publication of two photobooks, Homo Bulla and Uncertain Architectures (working title). A selection of his photographic work can be seen at https://weareradonclamps.com/.

He is also co-editor of Cycle Shorts, a zine project that explores cycling culture, focusing on voices, organisations and issues that are absent from or under-represented in the mainstream cycling media.

@cycleshortszine

Publications

David is currently working towards two journal articles:‘Anonymity and Photography in the Age of the Computational Image,’ for submission to Photographies in March 2022; and ‘Revisiting Anonymity (and its Discontents)’, for submission to Critical Inquiry in May 2022.

As a translator, his work on Luigi Burzotta’s ‘Perversion and Sublimation’ (2017) appeared in Perversion Now!, edited by Diana Caine and Colin Wright, and published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2017.

Other publications include:

Eckersley, D. (2020) ‘The Anatomy of a Peak District Crash.’ In: Cycle Shorts, Issue 0.1, October.

Eckersley, D. and Fontaine, Sal (2018) ‘Free your Probe Head.’ In: Ryan Gander and Jonathan P. Watts (eds.). The Annotated Reader: a publication-as-exhibition and exhibition-as-publication. London: Dent-de-Leone

Eckersley, D. (2018) ‘Hydra.’ In: Three Ecologies. Nottingham Contemporary.

Eckersley, D. (2016) ‘This is Nottz (Interview with writer and researcher JD Taylor).’ Left Lion, September.

Eckersley, D. (2010) ‘Elephant in the Room or Birds in the Brain: An Exorcism for Cataclysm.’ Lump, 1.

Eckersley, D. (2010) ‘Hymn for the Modern Age.’ In Proposition Invitation Consequence. Nottingham: UKYA.

Course(s) I teach on

  • Work by Alice Stone - Packaging 'Fuse'
    Undergraduate | Full-time | 2023

    https://www.ntu.ac.uk/course/art-and-design/ug/ba-hons-graphic-design

  • Work by Alice Stone - Packaging 'Fuse'
    Undergraduate | Full-time | 2022

    https://www.ntu.ac.uk/course/art-and-design/ug/this-year/graphic-design

  • Kim Warren, BA (Hons) Photography
    Undergraduate | Full-time | 2023

    https://www.ntu.ac.uk/course/art-and-design/ug/ba-hons-photography

  • Kim Warren, BA (Hons) Photography
    Undergraduate | Full-time | 2022

    https://www.ntu.ac.uk/course/art-and-design/ug/this-year/photography

  • MA Photography Adam Deakin
    Postgraduate taught | Full-time | 2023

    https://www.ntu.ac.uk/course/art-and-design/pg/ma-photography