Duncan Cook



My pedagogical approach to the teaching of the histories and theories of art and design involves establishing environments for collaborative learning, in this context I see my role as a facilitator, enabling learning through group discussion and debate. Alongside this I encourage discovery learning through reading seminars, student presentations and student-centred research projects. Emphasis is placed on setting up dialogues between art and design disciplines and the historical and contemporary debates that respond to, and inform contemporary art and design practice.

Research Interests

As a practitioner and writer my research has always been focused on how practice and theory are increasingly being co-constituted. My areas of interest include the intersections of visual and spatial culture especially cartography, ecology and agency.

Art, Agency and Eco-Politics: Rethinking Urban Subjects and Environment(s)

My Phd project aimed to examine the extent to which cultural agency can be seen to ‘act’ in an eco-political context and how its operations urge a rethinking of the processes that govern the production of urban subjects and environment(s).

Responding to the fact that in recent decades, art and architectural cultures have converged around a shared concern for ‘ecological matters’ and that discourses in visual/spatial culture have become increasingly ‘ecologized’, the research broadens the points of reference for the term ‘ecology’ beyond that which simply reinforces an essentialist perspective on ‘nature’. The thesis re-directs the focus of current theoretical discourse on ‘ecological art’ towards a more rigorous engagement with its frames of reference and how it uses them to evaluate the role of cultural production in enacting ways of thinking and acting eco-logically. In doing so it develops an eco-logical mode of analysis for mapping and probing the attribution of cultural agency, how it intervenes in the production of the commons and how it discloses the participants and mechanisms of a nascent political ecology. Setting cultural agency within a more expansive and multivalent field of action, means that the nexus of agency (and intentionality) is dislocated and translated between ‘things’. Reconfigured in this way, ‘an ecology of agencing’ demonstrates the profound implications this has for any ‘bodies’ of action, cultural or otherwise. Locating this exploration within the socio-natural environment(s) found in urban spatialities this thesis attends to the relatively under-theorised, but highly significant area (in eco-logical terms) of aesthetic praxis operating at the interstices of art and architecture. Pressing at the boundaries of the formal and conceptual enterprises of both disciplines, critical spatial practices represent a distinctive form of eco-praxis being cultivated ‘on the ground’. Through a series of encounters with its operations this research looks to the ways in which practice and theory, in relation to the question of ecology, are becoming increasingly co-constituted.