Celebrating a year of research, rest and rethinking interdisciplinarity
Opinion / Published: 14 October 2015
This month marks the first anniversary of The Hub's inaugural residents, Hubbub, a research collective exploring the theme of rest and its opposites. Kimberley Staines, project coordinator for Hubbub, looks back on the group's first year and life in The Hub.
For a group investigating strands of research attached to the dynamics of rest, Hubbub couldn’t be better positioned – above a public gallery space on a busy intersection of the Euston Road, sandwiched between a city hospital, a major rail hub and numerous academic institutions, and just a short walk from parks, shopping centres, urban homes and business districts – places where public and private lives unfold with huge variation in restrictions placed on, and interpretations of rest.
This central location has enabled Hubbub's network of over 50 collaborators to gather together in The Hub's incredible space for monthly Hub Clubs at which we develop Hubbub's research strands. We've hosted interdisciplinary workshops on lullabies, mindwandering and exploring creative responses to data, making efforts to traverse disciplinary boundaries between the neurosciences, social sciences and arts and humanities.
We've discussed topics as diverse as data visualisation, sleep aids and the use of breath in the performance of a composition for flute.
Residency in The Hub has also allowed us to work closely with staff at Wellcome, drawing on Collection materials and collaborator research for rest-themed poetry experiments, such as our Soundings series, and to look to Wellcome staff to help us pilot some of our activities before making them public.
Outwardly, we've held public discussion events on themes including exhaustion and rest in the modern world, bringing together varied sets of expertise across the disciplines of sociology, history, poetry and psychiatry.
We took over Wellcome Collection for a Friday Late Spectacular hosting an eclectic range of activity, including fidgeting workshops, live streams of airplane noise from Heathrow, discussions around Freud’s couch, and performances of ambient music, during which audience members were invited to consider the restful qualities of the genre.
Our collaborators, Guerilla Science, have appeared at UK festivals featuring Hubbub content with guest appearances from colleagues at the Max Planck Research Group for Neuroanatomy and Connectivity. Collaborators even took a trip to ZSL London Zoo to talk about slothfulness in the distinguished company of the zoo's family of sloths.
Of course all of this public activity features work in progress from our relatively new collaborator network, which has only just turned one. Behind the outward facing and interactive events, our researchers are focused on furthering their individual and collaborative research strands.
Researchers' explorations of rest
Anthropologist Josh Berson is working with LUSTlab (a specialist studio dedicated to graphic and interactive design) on the Cartographies of Rest project. They're developing a mobile application for the purpose of self-tracking, which allows users to comment on their mood and state of alertness in relation to how they feel about their current environment.
Elsewhere, mental health and inequalities researcher Lynne Friedli continues to build on her work investigating the problem of workfare and use of coercive psychology in job centres. She has teamed up with Nina Garthwaite of In The Dark to explore real-life experiences of rest, or lack of rest, shared by residents of Queen Victoria Seamen's Rest, a shelter providing accommodation for seafarers, ex-service personnel and those experiencing homelessness.
We've set up The Hub's own Diary Room, inviting Hubbub collaborators and Hub residents to explore interdisciplinary entanglements through a series of staccato interviews with a disembodied voice, recorded while an enormous eye printed from Wellcome Images' own collection peers over the interviewee.
Meanwhile, Hubbub's research publications continue to grow in numbers, with the recent release of Charles Fernyhough and Ben Alderson-Day's paper exploring the resting-state experience within an fMRI scanner.
Coinciding with this first anniversary, Hubbub's director Felicity Callard and Des Fitzgerald are launching their book, Rethinking Interdisciplinarity across the Social Sciences and Neurosciences. It draws on their experience of conducting research across these disciplines, and provides a candid account of interdisciplinary working in the 21st century
After a first year in The Hub spent looking to one another to develop collaborative interdisciplinary ideas, we at Hubbub are looking to the future and planning some exciting opportunities to build on projects developed to date, and to work with external partners in engaging the public to learn more about public perceptions of rest.
Find out more on the Hubbub website, hubbubresearch.org
Follow Hubbub on Twitter, @hubbubgroup