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Issue Zero


October 2016

This prologue issue addresses the notion of response while being structured by a proposition to respond. At the centre of this publication, and its impetus, is a lecture-performance by Adrian Rifkin, entitled ‘On Writing the Last Line First (One of Three Possible Titles)’. Whereas responses are usually ‘rapid’, or else rarely formally integrated in research publications (despite the enthusiasm for response and collaboration across disciplines), here the entire issue is constituted by research-based ‘responses’ to an initial prompt. These include essays, music, images, a film program, and Rifkin’s own response. Taken together, they explore and instantiate modes and means of responding, and manifest the mechanisms of an essential yet diverse process, whereby new ideas and practices set out from previously articulated ones.


The cover page of this issue responds to the contents in the form of a comic strip conceived by Julien Mercier, the designer of OAR. The work seeks to restore the author’s impressions of Adrian Rifkin’s lecture, decoding and recoding it in accordance with textual and visual comic tropes.

Cover – Impossible Knowledge

Julien Mercier

Taking as its starting point a lecture-performance by Adrian Rifkin, this prologue issue addresses the idea of response, and is structured by a proposal to create a rejoinder, answer or reaction. The responses show the ways in which one event may set in motion a wide range of new ideas and propositions.

Introduction – On Having the First Line Written

Jessyca Hutchens, Anita Paz, Naomi Vogt, Nina Wakeford

A performance-lecture by Adrian Rifkin which has been transcribed by different audience members. The lecture covered the themes of research and loss, footnotes and beginnings, a previous lecture, archives and childhood memories, film sequences, finding without looking, voice, visits and Visitation, the history of art, and Tinker Bell.

A Transcription of Adrian Rifkin’s ‘On Writing the Last Line First (One of Three Possible Titles)’

Adrian Rifkin

Considering the role of ekphrasis in art history–together with the role of looking away–Naomi Vogt’s essay upsets disciplinary divides between seeing and making meaning. How might research outputs (such as that offered by Rifkin) treat objects as agents rather than products, and make them crystallise, like a musician’s interpretation of a score?

Seeing First and Then Still: Art Historians and Objects

Naomi Vogt

Using a quotation by Adrian Rifkin as her starting point, Anita Paz’s essay opens a philosophical exploration around the nature of response. Conceptualising the response, exploring its possible modes, means, and courses, this discussion highlights a larger question around the activation of moments of thinking: how are we to think new thoughts?

Setting Out

Anita Paz

Based on Rifkin’s promise not to use the archive, Jessyca Hutchens addresses expectations of revelation held around research. She weaves together the seduction and the asymmetries of the archive, from the gaps in colonial sources to documentary discoveries romanticised by cinema, in an essay that advocates getting lost before filling dossiers.

Rifkin’s Dossier for Lost Documents

Jessyca Hutchens

Nina Wakeford reworks a section of The Dialogue of the Carmelites (Poulenc, 1956) to interpret and reanimate the words of Adrian Rifkin. The result is a manipulated image of the score, and a soundwork sung by the artist Hannah Jones.

Hearing the Sound of One’s Voice

Nina Wakeford

This photography series responds to Rifkin in the form of a personal urban rippling. Arturo Soto selected lines from the lecture, not to illustrate them but as an attempt to find their resonance in the aftermath and broader environment of their presentation. Decontextualized, the lines resurface in the experience of Oxford’s urban landscape.

A Certain Logic of Expectations

Arturo Soto

Dimitri de Preux and Anna Tarassachvili respond to Rifkin’s film narrations, intended to replace archival and academic rhetoric. Their essay discusses the politics and authority of this enunciation that ‘places knowledge into the present’. A film program follows, with a film selection that envisages ‘film’ as one of the languages spoken by humans.

Enunciating Film – A Response to ‘On Writing the Last Line First’ in the Form of a Film Program

Dimitri de Preux, Research and Film Program: Dimitri de Preux and Anna Tarassachvili

Adrian Rifkin offers thoughts on Issue Zero and some of its underlying themes, in conversation with Nina Wakeford.

This is the point for practice based research; If one is possessed by clarity, one is doomed

Adrian Rifkin

Call for Responses to Issue Zero