neil cummings

April 2015

#TransActing press

11 Jul 2015

Market stall typology 1 I'm working as part of Critical Practice to produce

#TransActing: A Market of Values
Saturday, 11th July 2015, 12 - 5pm

This bustling pop-up market will feature artists, designers, donorpreneurs, publishers, civil-society groups, academics, ecologists, activists and others who creatively explore existing structures of evaluation and actively produce new ones.

Organised by Critical Practice, #TransActing will take place on the historic Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground, located between Tate Britain and Chelsea College of Arts. The flea-market like event will host skillshares, economists, a freegan juice-bar, an organ donation bank, expert and enthusiast knowledge, an Artists Union and other diverse communities of evaluation; values will be celebrated beyond the financial. Publics will roam between stalls, engaging in reciprocal, intimate, simultaneous and distributed conversations, discussions and exchanges.


Chelsea College of Arts
16 John Islip Street
United Kingdom

51.490469, -0.128312

Bright Light

27 Mar 2015

Bright LightPlease join me for the launch of Issue 2 of the CCW Graduate School Journal

5 – 7pm on Friday 27th March
Camberwell College of Arts
45 - 65 Peckham Road
London SE5 8UF

Bright Light: Thinking the Substrate

The Bright Light series of publications focusses on the latest debates in the arts and design. Issues such as the environment and technology, as well as socially-engaged practices and identity are looked at through the lens of current arts and design practice. Bright Light provides a way of seeing how practitioners are providing a fresh perspective on key questions facing designers, fine artists, lens based media practitioners, curators, archivists and critical theorists.
Our second issue, Thinking the Substrate, is dedicated to the idea of the substrate. It began with a series of three symposia hosted by the Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon (CCW) Graduate School in Spring 2014, where we thought about what a substrate could be and if the substrate might be an interesting way to speak cross-disciplinarily about practice.
Edited by Dr Dan Sturgis, the issue features articles by Simon Morley (Dankook University), Neil Cummings (CCW), Adrian Glew (Tate Britain), Richard Layzell (WCA), Dan Sturgis (CCW), Pia Gottschaller (Courtauld Institute of Art) and Jo Melvin (CCW).


Chelsea College of Arts
United Kingdom

51.490145, -0.128582

Community film-making

15 Apr 2015

The second in Open Cinema's workshops was developed and lead by Ed Webb-Ingall.

Ed's research looks to recover, reactivate and revive the history and practice of community video. Ed gave a brief  account, from 1968 to 1981 of the development of a medium and moving image style that continued the tradition of direct cinema (cinema verité) although with radically different in form and content—that of community video making.

Supported by public funding, the community video movement enabled groups and individuals to use a media that was often used to misrepresent them - through broadcast television, to  engage in new forms of collective self-representation. Women’s groups, working class communities, gay liberation activists, tenants associations and people of color had the means to explore and represent their own experiences collectively.  Video’s DIY possibilities was often a technology to encourage community organization.


07 May 2014

Substrate: the common and the doxa of property


This is a written version of a  presentation from the 7th May 2014,  my contribution to the Substrate Symposium (part 3) held at Chelsea College of Arts, it was written to be published in Bright Light


I haven't had time to write a paper for the Substrate workshop, sorry. Anyway, I sensed they're more an informal sharing of ideas than an academic performance. So, I made notes and I'll speak for as long as the media file that's playing lasts [a media file is playing from my laptop and displaying on a plasma screen]. The file is ten minutes and thirty six seconds long.

I came to some of the other Substrate workshops and to be honest I was a bit annoyed. Frustrated even. People seemed to confuse materials, canvas weights and paper textures, with substrates. ‘Substrate’ - I looked it up on Wikipedia - is described as an underlying layer, something profound. Something foundational. Like resources. Like oil, minerals, or justice, even freedom itself. Maybe water? I began to think of energy, sunlight, as a substrate and everything else as its solidified, liquidised or material form.

Still, Screen TestsAnd as always, I began to worry about who has access to these substrates, these foundational resources. How a commons-like access, by which I mean there are few, if any, rights of exclusion, are contested and even destroyed by the idea of substrates as a property. Like oil. Like fossil fuels. Properties produced by legal codes and force, creating owners, ownership rights, and rights of exclusion. Rights to exploit.

So what are the substrates in cultural fields? Creativity?

No. Because all creative acts are born into property, into copyright. Any instance of a thing you bring into the world, sufficiently different from anything else before it, is defined as a property, it belongs to you and is legally yours. Currently, yours for the rest of your natural life, plus seventy years. Copyright law evolved to enable literary authors to financially profit from their creativity after the advent of cheap reproduction, cheap printing in the early eighteenth century. The Statute of Anne of 1709, [hmm.......was it 1709?] of Queen Anne, was intended to stop other printers printing an author’s text and selling it. Copyright granted rights of restriction from unauthorised reproduction for fourteen years, then the published work would return to the commons, where anyone could copy, add, modify and re-publish it. There was a balance struck between financially rewarding the author and enriching the common substrate of creative resources.

Still, Screen TestsCopyright produces the ideological figure of the author, as a singular, bounded subject, as the source of the creative instance. It emphasises individual contribution and obscures the common. It’s no surprise to me that authorial and authority have the same root, linked by the power and the legal right to exert that power, to exclude. Largely unchanged for more than 200 years, copyright was extended in 1928 to 30 years, then quickly extended to the natural life of the apparent author, then the life of the author plus 30, then 50 years, and in 1997 extended to the life of the author plus 70 years. I'm sure lobbyists from the 'creative industries' are seeking extensions as I speak. And let’s be clear, it’s not authors or artists that are being rewarded here, but vast content and rights management industries.


Chelsea College of Arts
16 John Islip Street
United Kingdom

51.4902, -0.1283