Rolf Hughes and Rachel Armstrong: Writ in Rock

The full paper takes the form of a presentation/performance via an online conferencing platform lasting 30 minutes, including 10 minutes audience feedback. Positioning the locus of writing beyond the human, it questions our anthropocentrism by drawing on the notion that traces of worlds in motion create recognisable details (forms of writing) that can be read if we pay them the appropriate care and attention. Such issues are essential in our greater literacy for ecological thinking, and actions capable of engendering life-promoting practices. How we may read the writing of the more-than- human realm is not just essential for our own understanding but a communications issue in search of a better relating to a changing reality. Raising questions about the recognition of the “other,” the attention paid to atypical subjects and an ethics of care for those we do not easily understand, are subjects for broader discussion with respect to artistic research in assessing and deciding what kind of writing works and is valuable in artistic research undertakings. Writing is thus conceived as an ethical undertaking rather than a purely formal concern. Our chosen forms of writing direct questions to the critical objectives of artistic research that is ecologically focussed, de-centring the human subject, and inviting new engagements through writing that can be presented in artistic research contexts and publications.


Rolf Hughes is Professor of the Epistemology of Design-Driven Research at KU Leuven and Director of Artistic Research for the Experimental Architecture Group which develops pioneering transdisciplinary research, design prototypes and immersive experiences for the emerging ecological era. A prose poet, he applies artistic and design-led research methods to explore ecological epistemologies that foreground ethical relationships with non-human agencies in architecture, bio-design and beyond.

Rachel Armstrong is Professor of Experimental Architecture at the School of Architecture, Newcastle University, Visiting Professor at KU Leuven, a Senior TED Fellow and a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Rising Waters II confab Fellow. She holds a First-Class Honours degree with 2 academic prizes from the University of Cambridge (Girton College), a medical degree from the University of Oxford (The Queen’s College) and a PhD (2014) from the University of London (Bartlett School of Architecture).