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Student Showcase Archive

Nayan Kulkarni

PhD Work

PhD work

Naktam: Speculative Cinematic Movement

Solid-state lighting combined with advanced networked control systems means that digital image effects, once contained within theatrical and cinematic production, have infiltrated the built spaces that we occupy. Furthermore, we can observe that complex arrangements of functional and aesthetic lighting are increasingly deployed to intensify the exploitation of the city at night. We are in a new paradigm of light: a luminous economy. Dynamic lighting and digital projection require us to consider the city as a moving image. This image is a multi-temporal and spatialised layering of deliberate, accidental and contingent nocturnal image making. The research project aims to establish new ways of understanding the city as a dynamic luminal image in order to identify what is really at stake when the sun goes down.

Can we use an image to re-imagine, to create a new order in space, or a new order of spaces? If to re-imagine is not always a private internal act then perhaps it also needs to be understood as an action, an action predicated on the command to think differently, see differently, in order to make possible a change. Otherwise why do it at all? Furthermore, if we are to understand these images as continuing symptoms of the post modern spatialisation of temporality, is it possible to test their limits in order to better understand them as image events?

Artificial light constantly reforms an embodied city experience into an image city experience. This research sets out to argue that it is the sites and processes of ‘re-imagining’ are also at stake. That contemporary art, through dynamic lighting and image projection, can be a powerful agent to interrupt these normative imaging processes.

The principle methods combine embodied and representational modes, including: walking; first hand observations; the production, design and deployment of new city scale lighting and control paradigms; sound, still image and moving image production. In parallel to these field activities, the project draws from: Frederick Jameson’s post-marxist perspective on post modern temporalities; Sean Cubitt’s ‘Vector’; David Harvey’s and Saskia Sassen’s urban geography; Henri Lefebvre’s ’total body’; and Slavoz Žižek’s ‘vanishing mediator.’ The research deploys Jonathan Beller’s Cinematic Mode of Production as its primary cinematic articulation.

This practice based research uses embodied, empirical and critical methods for creating lens, light and sound based artworks within installation and the urban contemporary. It also provides an alternative means to understand, unpack and problematise the role of imagination in the formation of the contemporary city, and seeks to speculate on the formation of the cities of our future. The project is realising a significant body of work in the field, as well as distilled studio and gallery installations. It seeks to offer a new way understanding the changing relations between lens based technologies, cinema and their impact and future potential within the contexts of city imaging, urban regeneration and spatial policy.



  • Nayan Kulkarni
  • PhD


    School of Arts & Humanities


    Sculpture, 2013–