Defended PhD projects

Since 2008, the University of Antwerp has conferred the Doctor of Arts on 39 PhD candidates.

Defended PhD projects 2021

Ali Moayed Baharlou - Parallel narratives

​different elements and forms of representations and their influence on the audiences’ perception 

  • 19 February 2021 
  • Supervisors: Dr. Philippe Meers (UAntwerpen), Dr. Tom De Smedt (Sint Lucas Antwerpen)

Abstract

Parallel narratives, different elements and forms of representations and their influence on the audiences’ perception researches parallel narratives in film and how choice can lead to different destinies for the protagonist. The questions raised are how the audiences perceive these topics in parallel narratives and how filmmakers can change or manipulate the perception of choices, multiple paths and free will by diverse narrative elements, devices and different forms of representations.

Peter Lemmens - Exit strategies and a stand alone complex

  • 28 April 2021
  • Supervisors: Pascal Gielen (UAntwerp), Johan Pas (Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp)

Abstract

This research aims to include a set of intangible aspects of artistic production and distribution and deploy these as critical and aesthetic moments. Borrowing from Fan Fiction, as a divergent field that relies on self-organization, I wanted to look at an artwork’s operational levels for its social, economical, political and artistic capacity. On this intersection, I question how to organize oneself as an artist as I look for unsound methods and indirect approaches. To be indirectly involved as in Fan Fiction, to be engaged alongside something else is an entry point disguised as an exit. My artworks are demarcations not only of what needs to be done differently, but also of what can be done simultaneously. In this way, I like to step away from binary thinking into the ambiguous, the superimposed and the paradoxical. I adopt a strategy of simultaneity that looks for small diversionary tactics as a permanent, fragile mode of production and distribution. The research looks for its necessity, not in depicting models for linear problem-solving within a work, but in creating interfering moments of paradoxical thinking beyond the work. In this way, I look at how to create slow, indirect narratives of involvement. Through the lens of distribution I expand the question of “what is produced” with “how it’s produced”. 
The digital publication 'exit strategies and a stand alone complex’ can be downloaded at http://diversions.be/downloads/book.html.​

Mashid Mohadjerin - Freedom is not Free

  • 20 May 2021
  • Supervisors: Roschanack Shaery-Yazdi (UAntwerp), Johan Pas (Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp)

Abstract

Across the Middle East and the rest of the world, historically and today, women have been essential to achieving political change. Without their participation, many revolutions would have failed. My PhD project revolves around the importance of women and the photographic representation and challenges thereof within the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. It culminates in a personal journey to my native Iran in search of my roots and my own story of a revolution.Inspired by the Arab Uprisings and the overwhelming presence of women within the protests, this research project investigates the influence of representation and photographic images within the context of revolutions and the way it is used on both sides of the political spectrum. I question existing (mis)representations of Muslim, Arab and Middle Eastern women and my aim is to create an alternative representation based on their and my own internal gaze. Aware of the existing conventions within my practice, which is documentary and portraiture photography, I attempt to depict the struggle and environment of iconic female figures through a multidimensional approach in which I base my image making on intimate conversations.Through archival images and texts, a historical dimension is added in the form of collages. The conversations with activists and critical reflections influence my selection and sequencing process and help me paint a more complex and nuanced narrative. The final result is a personal kaleidoscopic account of women and resistance in the Middle East, North Africa and Iran that interweaves the journalistic and the artistic.

Levente Kende - Endlich etwas wirklich neues

  • 13 June 2021
  • Supervisors: Henk de Smaele (UAntwerp), Stephan Weytjens (Royal Conservatoire Antwerp)

Abstract

Endlich etwas wirklich neues… (Ferruccio Busoni about Béla Bartók’s 14 Bagatellen / 1908) versus Darf man solch ein Ding schreiben oder anhören? (Ferenc Liszt about his Csárdás macabre / 1882) 

Comparative research of (r)evolutionary innovations in the late piano works (1860-1886) by Ferenc Liszt and the early piano works (1908-1912) of Béla Bartók by Levente Kende 

Although Liszt composed 'provocative' programme music with modernist elements from the very beginning - such as Les Morts, Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, Sonata, Faust-Symphonie - it is particularly remarkable that after 1860, he suddenly composed piano pieces - such as Trois Odes funèbres: Les Morts - La Notte - Le triomphe funèbre de Tasso, Années de Pèlerinage III., Nuages gris, Mosonyi's Grabgeleit - composes pieces that completely and remarkably deviate from his usual composition style. These works show a stylistic mixture of late-Romantic, impressionistic and expressionistic elements. Around 1860, an era began in which 'death and dance' was a regularly recurring theme in Liszt's works: his death poetry written in 'a compositional fever'. These late pieces (1860-1886) are expressionist, partly a-tonal, and were only played by Liszt and his pupils. The climax came in 1881-1882 with 'Csárdás macabre', the most remarkable of the very daring series of compositions, in which he increasingly threw himself into chromatic dissonances; a piece with protracted, droning and frightening empty fifths, chromatically moving between 'possible and impossible keys'. Liszt used a laconic question as a subtitle: "Darf man solch ein Ding schreiben oder hören?". 

As a stylistic predecessor of Bartók and 20th-century music, Liszt's Csárdás macabre is a fully-fledged composition that evolves from late-Romanticism to a polytonal pre-expressionism and opens a path to the atonal expressionism of Bartók's 14 Bagatelles. - In Liszt's oeuvre, and in the general stylistic evolution of the 19th century, this masterpiece for piano shows just as groundbreaking inventiveness as 26 years later Bartók's 14 Bagatelles. Between 1908-1912 Bartók composed an impressive series of piano works including the 14 Bagatelles and Allegro barbaro. With the 14 Bagatelles, a new era and a new "modern" style has dawned for the piano. - About this is the famous statement of Busoni: "Endlich etwas wirklich neues". Bartók wrote "The Bagatelles open up a new keyboard style in my career as a composer which most of my later piano works - with smaller or larger adaptations - consistently follow". During this study is also examined to what extent Liszt's late works not only form a (r)evolutionary break with high Romanticism, but are also an avant-garde basis for Bartók's style and compositional technique, and by extension for 20th century composers such as Debussy, Reger, Busoni, Schoenberg, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Messiaen, Kurtág and others, through which the expansion of tonal-functional music and also new musical forms could arise. The focus is on the Liszt-Bartók equation: what in the end led both composers in a similar way to realize this break with early modernity from their both late-Romantic, eclectic idiom. 

A deeper investigation analyses which leading passions and mental factors inspired Liszt in 1860 and Bartók in 1908 and how this is reflected in their respective compositions. This research tries to find an answer to the question why Liszt from 1860 onwards and Bartók from 1908 onwards essentially deviate from their composing techniques used for this purpose and realize an "avant-garde" (r)evolution in Europe and in Hungarian music both in the stylistic and compositional field. Essential quotations are mainly from Liszt's and Bartók's personal letters in a diary-like chronological form. But also from authentic and historical documents, first editions, press comments in historical journals. This makes it clearer how special living conditions and essential events have influenced both their thoughts and emotional world and therefore their musical stylistic evolution, their compositional techniques. In this way, Liszt's late and Bartók's early compositions are situated, correctly dated, inspiration models investigated, placed in historical context with the ultimate aim of answering the question "which late Liszt compositions were known to Bartók and have (substantially) influenced him". 

 Bartók's collaboration with Breitkopf & Härtel (1911-1913) for the publication of Liszt Complete Werken - Bartók's introduction to Liszt's Hungarian related compositions - is discussed in detail. Special attention is paid to Bartók's revision of Liszt's Csárdás macabre. The guesses concerning the right date of composing Bartók's most iconic work, Allegro barbaro, are now better situated so that this work now gets a correct re-dating. This is based on an extremely complete chronology of his work in 1910-19013. It is also highly probable that Liszt's Csárdás macabre was the model for Bartók's Allegro Barbaro.

Athar Jaber - Per Forza di Levare

  • 29 June 2021
  • Supervisors: Gert Verschraegen (UAntwerp), Ria De Boodt (Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp)

Abstract

The practice of sculpture, and of stone carving in specific, is related to violence on many levels. First, there is the evident, all to visible violence of the carving act. Secondly, sculptures and monuments play a representative role in service of authorities that govern through policies of systemic violence. And thirdly, stone, the very material with which many sculptures are made of, carries a symbolic value that can be associated to oppressive strategies of structural violence. 

In this practice-based PhD research in the Arts, Athar Jaber fuses critical thinking on the topic of violence with his sculptural practice. He elaborates on above mentioned aspects with the intention to address pressing socio-political issues that afflict our contemporary society and the human condition in general. 

Furthermore, the research intends to bring attention to the latent semiotic potentiality of stone to stimulate a more conscious use of it in contemporary art practices.

Defended PhD projects 2020

Ludivine Lechat - 'Digital Nature for healthcare'

Research on visual art & healthcare to reduce stress in children

  • 19 June 2020
  • Supervisors UAntwerpen: Koen Norga and Monica Dhar 
  • Supervisor Sint Lucas Antwerpen: Tom De Smedt

Julia Miller - A Case of Recorders: 

Recorder Use in Spanish Churches and Cathedrals in the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries

  • 14 October 2020
  • Supervisor UAntwerpen: Bruno Blondé 
  • Supervisor KCA: Eugeen Schreurs 
  • Supervisor KULeuven: David Burn

Abstract

This PhD project researches the use of recorders in performing sacred music in Spanish cathedrals and churches during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. As well, it examines the interaction of the historical findings with artistic questions arising in twenty-first-century performance of this sacred music repertoire.

When today's musicians seek to perform sacred Renaissance works in an historically informed manner, they are confronted with an array of questions arising from original music sources which did not generally specify the use of instruments or the manner of arranging the music for performance. Paradoxically, while numerous sets of recorders were purchased by ecclesiastic institutions during the period studied, most contemporary sacred music did not specifically call for their use. As well, surviving sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century documentation is highly fragmentary regarding the participatory role of recorders in sacred repertoire of this period.

At the same time, scholarly research and writing had not addressed this issue. Sacred music of this era offers the modern musician a large and rich potential repertoire of supreme quality and beauty. Therefore, in seeking an historically informed basis for performance, this doctoral project asks if recorders were used in such works in Spanish ecclesiastic institutions during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and, if so, how.

Defended PhD projects 2019

Chin Cheng Lin - A study of movement in marimba playing

  • 6 March 2019
  • Supervisor UAntwerpen: Jozef Colpaert
  • Supervisors RCA : Ludwig Albert and Eugeen Schreurs

Abstract

This interdisciplinary artistic research concerns three aspects of applied Tai Chi movements, educational performing technique and artistic inspiration in marimba playing: investigation of musician’s movements and defining characteristics of marimba playing, development of online instructions with applied Tai Chi approach in marimba playing and evaluation of this approach in marimba education, and application of Tai Chi in musical compositions and discovering the connections between marimba and Tai Chi. 

The study examined randomized trials studying the influence of Tai Chi movements on marimba playing and measured two controlled groups, the Tai Chi intervention and the control group, by using 3D motion capture and real-time audio recording. 

The research showed that the playing of the marimba became noticeably better. It had a favorable influence on the control of breathing, the feeling of gravity, by the application of Tai Chi movements in the upper and lower body. More research is needed into the physical analysis and the educational method for performing the technique.

Boy Vereecken - Signature Strengths

  • 3 May 2019
  • Supervisor UAntwerpen: Prof. dr. Luc Pauwels 
  • Supervisor Sint Lucas Antwerpen: Michel Van Beirendonck

Abstract

Everything starts with an allegorical skit about the ‘1900’ Art Nouveau style;

‘… Loos began his battle with Art Nouveau a decade before “Ornament and Crime.” A pointed attack comes in 1900, in the form of an allegorical skit about “a poor little rich man” who commissions an Art Nouveau designer to put “Art in each and every thing:” Each room formed a symphony of colours, complete in itself. Walls, wall coverings, furniture, and materials were made to harmonise in the most artful ways. Each household item its own specific place and was integrated with the others in the most wonderful combinations. The architect has forgotten nothing, absolutely nothing. Cigar ashtrays, cutlery, light switches – everything, everything was made by him. … This Gesamtkunstwerk does more than combine architecture, art, and craft; it commingles subject and object: “the individuality of the owner was expressed in every ornament, every form, every nail.” For the Art Nouveau designer this is perfection: “You are complete!” he exults to the owner. But the owner is not so sure: this completion “taxed [his] brain.” Rather than a sanctuary from modern stress, his Art Nouveau interior is another expression of it: “ The happy man suddenly felt deeply, deeply unhappy . . . He was precluded from all future living and striving, developing and desiring. He thought, this is what it means to learn to go about life with one’s own corps. Yes indeed. He is finished. He is complete!” … For the Art Nouveau designer this completion reunites art and life, and all signs of death are banished. For Loos, on the other hand, this triumphant overcoming of limits is a catastrophic loss of the same – the loss of the objective constraints required to define any “future living and striving, developing and desiring.” Far from a transcendence of death, this loss of finitude is a death-in life, as figured in the ultimate trope of in distinction, living “with one’s own corpse.”’

Hal Foster, Design and Crime (And Other Diatribes), Radical Thinkers, Verso Books 2002, pp. 13-5.

Boy Vereecken is an Art Director and Editorial Designer based in Brussels. After graduating from LUCA School of Arts in Ghent (M.A.) and the Werkplaats Typografie (M.A.) in Arnhem, he started his practice in Brussels. From 2012 till 2019 he held the position of Art Director at the Kunsthalle Wien, a position that was rewarded with the German Design Award in 2014. Recent projects include the Art Direction for the Tai Kwun Contemporary’s Hong Kong Art Book Fair and the Belgian Pavilion for the Venice Biennial 2019. In 2016 published Signature Strengths and in 2019 Herewith the Clues, both dealing around notions of publishing history. 

Geert Goiris - World Whitout Us

  • 9 May 2019
  • Supervisor UAntwerpen: Luc Pauwels 
  • Supervisor Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp: Johan Pas

Abstract

World Without Us is a practice based Phd in visual art.Rather than stemming from a defined hypothesis or research question, it should be understood as a visualization experiment anticipating a world without humans. 

These excercises in imagination take shape in three interconnected presentations: two consecutive exhibitions and a publication.The exhibitions wants to pronounce the perceptional shift caused by current anxieties about the future of our planet.Fundamental changes in our ecosystem and the rise of artificial intelligences are modifying the world as we know it. The future of humankind will be a very different one. How does this affect our psychological state of mind, our imagined futures  and premonitions? In this ‘age of uncertainty’ the individual is overpowered by alarmist, conflicting information. Are we suffering from epochalism, the belief that our current era is unique in human history because it represents a disruptive break with the past? Or are we actually at a tipping point between self-preservation and self-destruction? Some of these images foreshadow what is left when humans have vacated the scene.Still and moving photographic images are on view: framed prints, monumental wallpaper prints, analogue slide projections and a video installation.The images are exhibited in a scenography designed in close collaboration with architect Kris Kimpe.  The book accentuates the spatial character of my recent work by presenting a number of installation views of the exhibitions in Antwerp and Bologna. Next to this documentation, a sequence of photographs and an extensive interview with Steven Humblet is presented in the book to further investigate the narrative potential of still images in distinctive spaces and temporalities: the exhibition space, the book space and in time-based media such as video-installations and analogue slide projections.During this Phd research I continued to develop a practice where fragmentation and different modes of narrativity are activated to evoke a possible, but unwanted future.

World without UsExhibition De Lange Zaal - Royal Academy for Fine Arts Antwerpen November 15th – December 20th 2018

Terraforming FantasiesExhibition Palazzo De’ Toschi – Bologna January 29th- February 28th 2019

World Without Us, Monographic PublicationRoma Publications, AmsterdamRelease date: May 9th 2019​

Lucas Vandervost - Tintin's Heel

  • 8 December 2019
  • Supervisor UAntwerpen: Kurt Vanhoutte  
  • Supervisor Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp: Bert Danckaert

Wim Wauman - Making Waves. A Play with Arts and Crafts

20 December 2019

  • Supervisor UAntwerpen: Gert Verschraegen 
  • Supervisor Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp: Ria De Boodt


Defended PhD projects 2018

Matthias Heyman - Revolutionizing the Jazz Bass: The Life and Music of Jimmie Blanton

  • 23 March 2018
  • Supervisor UAntwerp: Alexander Dhoest 
  • Supervisor RCA: Eugeen Schreurs

Abstract

This research project offers a comprehensive study of the life, music, and legacy of jazz bass player James 'Jimmie' Blanton, Jr. (1918–1942). Best known for his tenure with Duke Ellington and His Orchestra between 1939 and 1941, Blanton is widely regarded as one of the key figures in the development of jazz bass playing. From 1946 on, an iconic narrative came into being that established him as an artistic hero in the pantheon of jazz (bass) history. In most literature, such icons are treated in generalizing, uncritical manners, resulting in a flawed, limited understanding of Blanton. Previous studies have primarily focused on his recorded solos from 1940, and rarely compare his work to that of his fellow bass players. This research is the first to consider Blanton's complete recorded body of work taken from his entire five-year career, including a large number of broadcasts and live versions. Furthermore, considerable attention is dedicated to his accompaniments, and his work is properly contextualized with a selection of that of his peers.Through a combination of biography and musical analyses, I reevaluate the importance this bassist holds in the history of jazz, adding nuance to his iconic status. This is achieved through an interdisciplinary methodology, building upon such diverse methods as archival research, reception study, music analysis, visual analysis, and historically informed performance practice. As such, this research, the first one in Belgium to focus on jazz, offers new insights into the historical development of jazz bass playing up to the 1940s, into the social and musical milieus Blanton belonged to, and into the role Ellington played in Blanton's development as a performer. Furthermore, a number of technical matters are addressed, in particular his performance posture and the impact recording technology had on his reception.Overall, I argue that Blanton did indeed play a transformative role in the development of string bass playing in jazz, yet should also be considered as part of a continuum of bass players that each in their own way contributed to this evolution. While Blanton's approach laid the foundation for how the majority of future bassist soloed and accompanied, he himself relied in part on the groundworks established by other bassists such as Wellman Braud and Walter Page, his own musical influences such as tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and pianist Art Tatum, and Ellington's earlier experiments in writing for the string bass.

Karen Vermeren - Fault Lines. 

In Search of New Artistic Representations of the Geological Landscape.

  • 12 April 2018
  • Supervisor UAntwerp: Prof. dr. Ivan Nijs 
  • Supervisor Sint Lucas Antwerp: dr. Sofie Verdoodt

Haseeb Ahmed - The Wind Egg

  • 3 October 2018
  • Supervisor UAntwerp: Prof. Staf Van Tendeloo 
  • Supervisor Sint Lucas Antwerp: Werner Van dermeersch

Abstract

Haseeb Ahmed’s art practice integrates methodologies from the hard sciences in search of a techno-poetics. His exhibition at M HKA, as part of his public defence unfolds his ongoing Wind Egg experiment.

The concept of ‘wind eggs’ postulates that animals and people can be fertilised by the wind – a belief held for millennia by ancient Egyptian, Arab, Indian, European and Chinese cultures. Ahmed has worked to realise this idea with state-of-the-art wind tunnel technology at the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics in Belgium.

In the process of personifying the wind he blends art and aeronautics, myth and technology, reflecting the human capacity to project empathetic sensibilities onto nonhuman things. A project that moves from antiquity to astrobiology, the exhibition will function as a test-site for imagining the possibilities for humans to reproduce without men and with the wind.

Ahmed received his Masters from the MIT Program in Art, Culture, and Technology and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was previously also a resident at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht. His work has been exhibited internationally including at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Gothenburg International Biennial of Contemporary Art, and the Museum Barengasse Zurich. Haseeb Ahmed is based in Brussels.

www.haseebahmed.com

On Ying Adilia Yip - Inventing New Marimba Performance from the African Balafon Music Practice

  • 31 October 2018
  • Supervisor UAntwerp: Henk de Smaele 
  • Supervisor RCA: Kathleen Coessens

Abstract

The aim of this practice-based project is to search for new performance perspectives for the marimba (invented in the 1910s) by inquiring into the West African music tradition—the balafon of the Bobo and Bamana peoples living in Mali and Burkina Faso. Through a triangulation of research methodology—participant-observation, literature and artistic practice—I have gained insights into the artistic experience of stepping into the 'unknown' balafon world.

The written result is a discussion of how I have overcome the obstacles of learning, performing and listening to balafon music, and how these experiences have renewed and enriched my original artistic practice and ideas. Due to the music’s oral tradition, the balafon polyrhythm and melodic materials are embodied in forms of bimanual coordination patterns rather than symbolic representation. Music-making is largely informed by the performer's motoric sensory, and body movement is given a crucial role in music communication and sensory perception.

The second purpose of this research is, therefore, to apply these balafon practices to Western performance. This yields as artistic outcome—five commissioned compositions for the marimba and a concert program 'In the Heat of the Moment'.



Defended PhD projects 2017

Rudi Knoops - Cylindrical Anamorphosis.

Thaumaturgical Origins and Contemporary Workings

Joint PhD KULeuven - UAntwerp

  • 16 February 2017
  • Supervisor KUL: Willem Hesling
  • Supervisor UAntwerp: Kurt Vanhoutte
  • Supervisor LUCA: Bart Geerts

Abstract

The approach in both my arts practice and my PhD research is inspired by media archaeology: look in the rear-view mirror, gauge the affordances of an older and maybe analogue media technology, and explore how it can re-inject curiosity and wonder into our relationship with the techno aesthetics of contemporary society.Cylindrical anamorphosis is one such seemingly obsolete visual media technology. It has its origins in a seventeenth century Baroque context of artificial magic: a distorted image can be observed in its reconstituted form through reflection in a cylindrical mirror. The analogue cylindrical mirror has the strange pre-digital processual power to generate images based on the position of the observer. In our media-saturated world where digital processual images are becoming standard, cylindrical anamorphosis uses its own analogue processual power and re-injects its wild analogue magic back into the twenty-first century digital media apparatus. However, by using moving images that are digitally manipulated, cylindrical anamorphosis is contaminated by the present, and becomes a hybrid contemporary version of artificial magic.The appropriation of cylindrical anamorphosis is the central research topic in my practice-based PhD. A series of appropriations enables—or even demands—cross-links to other art disciplines such as music and dance, and a media archaeology inspired methodology of short-circuiting past and present can fashion new and imaginary media forms that may provide new insights into how we engage with media, and how media define us as human beings.

Jan Schacher, Music and the Body – Movement and Gestures in Composition and Performance for Computer Music and Interactive Media

Els Vanden Meersch, Mastering the Curtains

Wesley Meuris,Exhibiting Knowledge

Erik Hagoort,Ik weet niet wat jij gaat zeggen

Defended PhD projects 2016

Defended PhD projects 2015

Defended PhD projects 2014

Defended PhD projects 2012

Tom De Smedt, Modeling Creativity: Case Studies in Python

Hans Theys, Het kijkbeeld

Stefan Van Puymbroeck, Maddalena

 

Defended PhD projects 2010

Spank Moons, In Questa Tomba Oscura: Pixelation as a strategy of (dis)appearance

Bruno Van Dijck, Topografische resonanties

Defended PhD projects 2009

Yves Senden, Muzikale interpretatie vanuit het pragmaticisme van Peirce

Ewald Demeyere, A Contextual, Text-Critical Analysis of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Art of Fugue

Defended PhD projects 2008

Dirk Van der Eecken, De kunst van het onzichtbare

Pat Harris, Reduction within Figurative Painting