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Thinking about all the other disciplines that I could still dive into to learn more about photography, besides psycho-aesthetics, such as communication sciences, marketing, social sciences, art history and photography criticism, philosophy, etc., makes me feel a bit dizzy and overwhelmed. At the same time, it is nice to know there is always a lifetime and a day worth of new things to learn, for any particular topic of interest. I guess it is a matter of choosing which lessons and ideas you want to learn in your finite number of days (in a PhD and in life)
353 days left
Commuting to Leuven today – I am switching to a different (shared) office there. Hope the different (and green) view and context can help in making this last PhD year my most productive one so far. Unfortunately, since covid cases are rising again, I might not have much chance to commute and work there over the next weeks. Will enjoy my day there to the fullest today then, reconnect with colleagues, share some coffee machine smalltalk. Will use my train time to further rewrite the essay I started a week ago – as it fittingly starts with eavesdropping on the train. My office time will be used for working on the major revisions of my article on processing fluency and aesthetic impressions of photographs.
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Currently in the process of rewriting an article on processing fluency and aesthetics in photography. Getting excited thinking about all the ways a photographer can play with her photographic degrees of freedom to make photographs more fluent or more disfluent to perceive.
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Tired Sunday after a night and morning of writing out the essay that I got inspired about in the middle of the night. Still needs some work. It is a more informal essay with thoughts that range from eavesdropping on the train, to social media, to photography and ugliness and beauty. It definitely does not count as scientific writing, but I enjoy writing these more informal pieces with loosely collected thoughts and associations. Tomorrow is Monday again, science can wait until then.
363 days left
Week-end, so no official work day – but explaining my PhD to someone new, I realised that I still haven’t found a short ‘pitch’ of a few sentences of what I am specifically researching and what makes photography such a fascinating and relevant topic to me. There are still lots of floating thoughts and ideas that need to be organised better to come to a satisfactory short summary – hopefully I will have one by the time I actually defend the PhD.
On the positive side – it is now in the middle of the night (03.43 am), I could not sleep and found myself suddenly inspired to write a short essay on one of those floating ideas ideas triggered by a sentence about beauty overheard on the trein yesterday (see 364 days left). Let’s see how the writing looks in the down-to-earth morning hours after some sleep, but it might potentially find its way to this website.
And if not, the realisation that writing about that was what I wanted to do – in the middle of a sleepless night during a week-end – makes me aware that I continue to be inspired and fascinated by my topic, and that’s a good place to be in during this countdown.
364 days left
Sitting on the train – mouth mask on, laptop ready to do some work – I was interrupted by a conversation going on in the seats behind me. Interestingly, it turned out that one of the guys was doing an art residency and was talking about his project that played with both the medium of photography, as well as film.
So I closed my laptop, tuned on my ears and listened to him explain how mundane street scenes could turn into something beautiful if you looked at them longer, how street photography displayed in a gallery as a neat sequence of photographs hanging on the walls might not be the best way to express the feeling of being in the city, how his mentor’s questioning of everything might actually be good for him, and how he was already having sleepless nights over the project.
Sometimes the best PhD inspiration comes from closing your laptop and work documents and tuning into the world itself.
365 days left
Today, I officially start my last year of the PhD trajectory. Three years done. One year left. One year to process all the data about how people look at photography that I have assembled over the last three years. One year to turn all this information into publication-ready scientific articles. One year to organize my thoughts about what exactly I have learned about photography and aesthetics. One year to make a compelling thesis that contains all of this. One year to also add in some more artistic and creative output. One year to kick into higher gear. Really, now is the time. Part of me thinks: “Help!”, part of me: “Bring it on!”
Focused on: Magazine ‘Inside the box’, which will comprise of:
1) My photography series ‘Tips from an introvert’;
2) Results of a study where I asked people to submit a beautiful and ugly photograph during the COVID-19 lockdown
3) Interviews with people on their personal definitions and experience of ugliness and beauty.
Progress: finished the first draft of the text for the editorial; introduction to the introvert photo series; and introduction to the lockdown study
Extra-curricular: Flat & Framed newsletter