A commoning creative practice: tending to mutuality in spaces of engagement

Hamilton, O 2018, A commoning creative practice: tending to mutuality in spaces of engagement, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Architecture and Design, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title A commoning creative practice: tending to mutuality in spaces of engagement
Author(s) Hamilton, O
Year 2018
Abstract This practice-led research began with initiating collaborative projects within commercial space that aimed to evade simply contributing to commoditised experiences and instead proposes new spatial, social and creative relations for those involved. Through a series of diverse projects, the research evolved into an exploration of how the practice of commoning can inform creative, spatial design projects, and vice versa, with an emphasis therein on what I call ‘creative mutuality’.

There is an ostensible disparity across the creative works that formed the vehicles for this research – magazine publishing, durational and participatory projects, several installations, teaching, interior design practice and an internet-based documentation system. Across this disparity, almost all the projects involved working with others and unfolded over time in physical and virtual commercial spaces. As such, the research largely concerns creative practices that are collaborative, spatial and durational. Each project is understood as a ‘movement’, through which creative practice and commoning come into varied correspondence. Within these movements, methodological questions concerning capture and documentation, emergent processes, open systems and a recurrence of technical and structural loops could be explored. These questions of method were investigated across such different modalities and levels of emphasis that it was only through gradual accretion that the collectivising characteristics and their affinity with contemporary notions of commoning became evident.

Commoning describes the relational process of maintaining or reproducing a shared life. It occurs in many modalities and contexts but the aim, in terms of individual and collective benefit, is the emergence of a profound sense of connectedness and meaning. This research explores ways of working interstitially across commoning and creative practice. It proposes that creative collaborative practices can bring new perspectives and capacities to commoning through being innately innovative and trans-disciplinary. In return, commoning can provide guides for creative practice through explicitly seeking, recognising and valuing experiences of mutuality. Mutuality is understood here as a generalised but profound sense of caring, and being cared for, by the social and spatial surrounds you are part of and contribute to. Creative mutuality, then, is mutuality specific to a creative project, where shared acts of creation become a focus through which mutuality flows. Creative mutuality develops when the project becomes the conductor of currents of mutuality that sustain further creative engagement and a deep sense of care for the work and others involved in the project.

Mutuality is an elusive phenomenon of socio-political significance. It functions as a transformative agent of change within the dispositions of individuals towards each other and their surrounds, and can offer both commoning and creative practice distance from neoliberal concerns and values. This research proposes that collaborative or participatory creative projects seeking to find such a distance can be assisted through commoning processes that help cultivate creative mutuality, thereby evading problems associated with transactional or exploitative relational systems.

The value proposition offered here is that attention to creative mutuality in the context of creative projects may offer a way to more widely counteract those kinds of systems. This research contributes to how creative practices can be developed and guided by commoning, and how, in turn, creative practice can be conducive to a proliferation of commoning. Ultimately, this PhD offers a framework for future collaborative creative practices and an approach to design teaching, through tending to commoning processes that develop mutuality, thereby engendering and prioritising relations and environments of inclusivity, care, emergence and exchange.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Architecture and Design
Subjects Interior Design
Keyword(s) commoning
creative mutuality
parafunctional space
shared space
public space
commercial space
creative practice
interior design
design pedagogy
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Created: Mon, 03 Dec 2018, 13:31:13 EST by Keely Chapman
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