Miriam Mallalieu

Current research/thesis title:

Taxonomies of Knowledge: a practice-led investigation into the organising, structuring and archiving of information.

"I intend to use Michel Foucault's The Order of Things as one point of focus for the investigation, expanding his analysis of structures to look at systems and taxonomies with specific attention to On Growth and Form by D'Arcy Thompson."

Through art practice and philosophical enquiry, how do methods of organisation, preservation and archiving of information influence our perceptions of knowledge and contemporary culture?

  • What are 'structures of knowledge'? If, for the sake of understanding, knowledge is fashioned into one framework, how does this model promote or limit changes of understanding?
  • How can art practices including sculpture, installation and printmaking help us understand the significance of preserving, recording and archiving information?
  • Are there useful ways in which the links between scientific and philosophical paradigms of knowledge can be scrutinised and reimagined in a creative practice?

The closely-related areas of taxonomy and collection will be the focus of this investigation, providing research that can begin to question what 'structures of knowledge' are, and how these structures affect perception and understanding. Taxonomy lies at the nexus of biology and linguistics. It is formally the practice of classification. Collection is the bringing together of things, and within an archival or curation context is often undertaken with the purpose of creating an idea or understanding.

I intend to use Michel Foucault's The Order of Things as one point of focus for the investigation, expanding his analysis of structures to look at systems and taxonomies with specific attention to On Growth and Form by D'Arcy Thompson. Foucault’s analysis provides a philosophical basis for excavating the trends and patterns in the organisation of knowledge, and how these patterns exert a power in wider society. 

Names of Supervisors: Prof. Mary Modeen, Dr Dominic Smith, Paul Harrison