National Productivity Investment Fund PhD Studentships 2018


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A crew working on an art installation

National Productivity Investment Fund PhD Studentships 2018

As part of its Industrial Strategy, the government announced a National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) to support additional PhD studentships with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), to start on 1 October 2018.

In 2017 Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership (NBDTP) and Northumbria-Sunderland Consortium in Art and Design (N-SC) jointly secured 12 awards, funded by the AHRC. This year we have secured 4 more studentships, this time with a specific in interest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data-Driven research, in relation to the Creative Industries.

AHRC/NPIF Criteria for Studentships

The support for AI builds on the recent report published by BEIS and DCMS, ‘Growing the Artificial Intelligence Industry in the UK’ (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/growing-the-artificial-intelligence-industry-in-the-uk).

More broadly, the funding for these studentships is to support skills gaps and vulnerabilities relevant to recognised and identified industrial need, including new approaches that are enabled by big data and novel analytical tools.

Studentships also need to demonstrate alignment with the Industrial Strategy and involve an industry engagement or collaboration with an industry partner (including the Creative Industries) as per the priorities and challenges outlined here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/702810/180425_BEIS_AI_Sector_Deal__4_.pdf

There are some UK residency status criteria: Eligibility criteria are set out in the Terms and Conditions of Research Council Training Grants at: https://www.ukri.org/funding/information-for-award-holders/grant-terms-and-conditions/

Studentship at the University of Sunderland
Critical Creative Data and AI: ISIS Arts and Open Data Institute

“AI” and “Data” are words often used loosely, but current news stories have highlighted the need for critical approaches to these complex terms, and analysis of power structures that can be communicated to non-experts. Since the last century, the digital and visual art organisations ISIS Arts and Open Data Institute have been applying the highest levels of critical and analytical approaches by international artists, to systems of data, and the affordances of generative software (Artificial Intelligence). The results have included the CornersLive live exchange of stories from the edges of Europe, a software platform called Mural, interventions into funding policy, a knitted data discrepancy, a semi-sentient crisp vending machine, and pneumatic machines which respond to City Council expenditure ‘open data’.

The University of Sunderland has also supervised new media PhDs since the last century, including Dani Admiss’s curating work on the popular Big Bang Data exhibition at Somerset House London, which included the addition of the Black Shoals: Stock Market Planetarium by Joshua Portway and Lise Autogena.

This partnership could therefore support a studentship concerning a critical creative approach to systems of data, and Artificial Intelligence, in relation to the creative industries. The research could include new economic and policy models (ODI was originally funded by the Cabinet Office), and a critical approach to the metrics used for evaluating audiences and arts organisations.

Industry partners

ISISArts, Newcastle http://www.isisarts.org.uk
Founded in 1991, ISIS Arts has run an international programme of commissions, residencies and events for over 25 years, using digital and other media to reach diverse regional and international audiences of over 95,000 people with events and artists talks in the past 10 years.

Open Data Institute, Data as Culture, London and global network, https://theodi.org and https://culture.theodi.org
The ODI’s Data as Culture art programme has engages diverse audiences with artists and works that use data as an art material. They exhibit and commission artworks for their headquarters in London and for external galleries and venues. The art programme has reached hundreds of thousands of people, on and off line, and has shown works from 34 well-renowned artists, hosted four artists in residence and commissioned 10 new works.

Main supervisors (may be be subject to change)

Professor Dr Beryl Graham Professor of New Media Art, Faculty of Art Design and Creative Industries (Curating new media art)
Professor Dr Lynne Hall Professor of Computer Science, Faculty of Computing (Digital innovation, non-intrusive user experience evaluation)

Further information on wider research in this area Digital Art / Curation, including current NPIF students:
New Models for Collecting and Distributing Media Art, Georgia Smithson (NPIF with Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art)
Blockchain, Audiences and Music Distribution, Simeon Soden (NPIF with Sage Gateshead)

How to Apply at the University of Sunderland

After consulting the guidance notes (.pdf), and before they begin to complete the application form (.doc), potential applicants should make contact with Professor Dr Beryl Graham as soon as possible after the competition has been advertised and by no later than 5:00pm Friday 11 May 2018.

If agreed to proceed with an application, they should complete Section A of the form, and email to beryl.graham@sunderland.ac.uk by 9:00am Tuesday 29 May. At Sunderland it is NOT necessary to fill in a separate University PhD application form, as we just use the single NPIF application form.

Shortlisted applicants will have a short online interview, on 31 May. The completed application forms of the selected applicants (including Section B and full references) will be submitted by the University by 11 June 2018.