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Celebrating a year of research, rest, and rethinking interdisciplinarity with Hubbub

14 Oct, 2015

Hubbub 2

This month Wellcome Collection celebrates the first anniversary of The Hub, its flagship interdisciplinary research space in London. It also marks the first anniversary of The Hub’s inaugural residents, Hubbub, a research collective exploring the theme of rest and its opposites, who today published an open access book on Rethinking Interdisciplinarity across the Social Sciences and Neurosciences. 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 fifty 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.

Members of the Hubbub Team. Credit: Wellcome Trust

Members of the Hubbub Team. Credit: Wellcome Trust

Residency in The Hub has also allowed us to work closely with staff at the Wellcome Trust, 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. September 4th saw us take 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. This past weekend saw collaborators even take a trip to ZSL London Zoo to talk about slothfulness in the distinguished company of the zoo’s family of sloths.

Hubbub 5Of 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. Anthropologist, Josh Berson is working with LUSTlab (a specialist studio dedicated to graphic and interactive design) on the Cartographies of Rest project, 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, by teaming 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.

Hubbub 4We’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.

Hubbub 8Coinciding with this first anniversary, Hubbub’s director Felicity Callard and Des Fitzgerald are launching their book, Rethinking Interdisciplinarity across the Social Sciences and Neurosciences which 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.

Read Rethinking Interdisciplinarity across the Social Sciences and Neurosciences, find out more about The Hub and visit the Hubbub website and follow them on Twitter.

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