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Free Seminars

The Free Seminar began in 2015 as an ad-hoc space for student-led symposia, discussions and workshops. We met weekly with the idea of creating an environment, outside of the timetabled curriculum, to talk freely and to self-organise. Free Seminar is a community of sorts – one that is always shifting in numbers and people. Essentially it gives us reason to spend time together and learn from each other. Participants have joined us from various programmes at Goldsmiths, including MAs from the Centre for Research Architecture and students from across the Visual Cultures and Cultural Studies BA, MA, MRes and PhD programmes. 

The sessions would change in format and focus, but the basic idea is: each one, teach one. We had a mixture of reading groups, film screenings and Free Seminars, where different members of the group would arrange to invite speakers, hold workshops and have discussions that overflow and augment. In other words, we all contribute something in whatever way we want.  

As the meetings were at the end of the day, we arranged that each one would be a Potluck – where everyone would bring food to share with the rest of the group.


This year's focus for The Free Seminar is "Novel Research Methods" that creates space for the demonstration and discussion of experimental methods. The programme will realise a series of workshops led by practitioners and field specialists, including on: listening and sound walking, rhythms and vibrations, fieldnotes, and open source investigation.

30 July 2020
Novel Research Methods Open Source Investigation – workshop with Bob Trafford
. Watch Free Seminar here

Novel Research Methods Fieldnotes in Practice with Juliet Sprake. Watch Free Seminar here

28 July 2020
Rhythms, Relationalities and Vibrations with Julian Henriques. An introduction to rhythms and vibrations as the periodic patterning of performance, gesture and transformation. Watch Free Seminar here

23 July 2020
Sonic Methods and Acoustic Ecology with John Drever. An interactive session on sonic methods from an acoustic ecology perspective. Watch Free Seminar here

Everydayness Listening Exercise in Soundscape Composition: Listening to Context and Contingency, 2019. PDF

25 February 2019

Screening and Discussion of The Shape of Now, a film by Manuel Correa, 2018, 70 mins.

23 July 2019
Anatomy of Ice: Research and Ephemerality. Artist Hannah Rowan has just returned from the Arctic Circle Residency and will reflect on her recent exhibition at Assembly Point in Peckham in relation to new material she is creating out of her latest trip, which she will preview. “I would also like to open up the discussion for us to think about our many different ways of gathering research (through various disciplines) alongside the ethics of how we approach working in a place we have not previously encountered.” 

28 June 2018
Radio Techno Fossil workshop with Sasha Engelmann and Sophie Dyer. Radio Techno Fossil tells the story of a radio-image as it traverses the bounds of the Earth’s surfaces, atmospheres and techno-geographies.  At 0.2 Hz scien3sts in the Finnish arc3c listen for Very Low Frequencies that index industrial, military and cosmic ac3vity. At 2.4 GHz ac3vists prototype Wi-Fi kits for use in European refugee camps and by sea rescue vessels. At 30 GHz the radio relays of financial traders amass at the French port of Calais. This is a poli3cs of frequencies. A parallel wireless world, on which our contemporary moment is contingent.

19 June 2018
Louis Moreno on Althusser’s footnote. In a cryptic footnote in Reading Capital, Louis Althusser asks what role do spatial metaphors play in theorising capitalism as a ‘real’ system of economic power. In this free seminar we’ll explore this question (by way of Stuart Hall) asking, how does space constitute the imaginary grounds upon which the power of capitalism is realised?

Suggested readings:
Louis Althusser, "From Capital to Marx's Philosophy" in Reading Capital; the Complete Edition, 9-26.

Stuart Hall, "Ideology and Ideological Struggle" in Cultural Studies 1983, Jennifer Daryl Slack and Lawrence Grossberg eds.

28 April 2018
Superluminal Blues. Free Seminar with the artist, Jol Thompson and curator, Dan Meththananda. Screening of G24|0vßß (2016) shot at the Cryogenic Underground Observatory for Rare Events at Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso in central Italy. The film is set in a larger apparatus that descends into a thermal zone near absolute zero and sits in a clear field of cosmic silence — the required environment for rendering neutrinos detectable. As Jol would put it, neutrino detection becomes an “expression of entanglement in the liminal spaces between subatomic particles, an ice shelf, digital sensors, human labor and curiosity, equations, hypotheses, and vast technological and bureaucratic architectures." Following the screening, Jol will present new raw material from his recent expedition to Siberia at the laboratory-landscape, neutrino sensing device, the Gigaton Volume Detector at Lake Baikal. As part of this presentation and in the vein of the artist's diffracted research, he and curator-writer Dan Meththananda open an "entangled" discussion around, and from within Jol's post-human ethnographic film practice.

23 March 2018
“Rurality Reimagined”. Following 'the ecological thought' of Timothy Morton via Arthur Schopenhauer's problematic claim that art provides an escape route from reality to a space-time of pure 'knowledge', Wood Roberdeau will discuss the cultural turn towards political ecology as examined through selected agricultural art projects by John Gerrard, Gianfranco Baruchello, Atelier Van Lieshout, Futurefarmers and Fernando García-Dory.

8 March 2018
This week Free Seminar hosts our very own Susan Schuppli who is screening a film from her ongoing project Material Witness that examines a series of media artefacts, which have emerged out of situations of contemporary conflict and historical violence. The project tracks these media materials through the various public and legal forums in which they participate as corroborative or disputed forms of “evidence” such as the ICTY, the UN, International Atomic Energy Agency and COP15. Rather than focusing entirely upon the content of such media as might be expected, the project also explores the ways in which crisis is registered as a “material violation” itself.

2 March 2018
A Free Seminar on Translation. Film screening and performance workshop. Xala by Ousmane Sembene, followed by a Ritual of Gestures. Learning to become untranslatable, becoming the lacuna (the gap), to be beyond translation. How to evade meaning, and the ontological through bodily action. The heft is not ‘translatability’ as in ‘replaceability’, but in being unknown, not being replaceable or commensurable with another. A manual based directly on a transcribed script of an Act of Xala. a method of appropriating methods of ‘becoming untranslatable’ whilst being a world that demands translatability. This manual will be based a series of instructions for bodily movement that in themselves will resist translation.

14 February 2018
Free Seminar session with Irit Rogoff to discuss her notion of 'free knowledge'. 

Read E-Flux article here

9 February 2018
Free Seminar | Parallel School with MARA alumni Sophie Dyer and Robert Preusse to talk about Parallel School, an initiative they were part of that explored the possibilities of learning together. Parallel School belongs to no one. Parallel School has no location. Parallel School is not teaching. Parallel School is learning.

31 February 2017
Film screening and discussion of Serpent Rain with artist Arjuna Neuman. Serpent Rain is as much an experiment in working together as it is a film about the future. The collaboration began with the discovery of a sunken slave ship, and an artist asking a philosopher – how do we get to the post-human without technology? And the philosopher replying – maybe we can make a film without time. The result is a video that speaks from inside the cut between slavery and resource extraction, between black lives matter and the matter of life, between the state changes of elements, timelessness and tarot. Together we ask: what becomes of the human if expressed by the elements? Serpent Rain is a collaboration with Denise Ferreira Da Silva and commissioned by Stefano Harney (freethought) for The Bergen Assembly, 2016