Drawing, Building (teaching), Text: Alternative Narratives & the Practice of Anna Johnson by Anna Johnson

* Click on the red time-stamp to go directly to each segment in the video

00:10 The Chair (Suzie Attiwill) introduces the examiners: Stephen Loo, Peter McNeil and Jenny Lowe and explains the proceedings

02:22 Examination begins by explaining the exhibits (Structuring)

04:05 Anna explains how she will proceed through the presentation (Structuring)

04:28 PhD Summary Statement (Structuring)

07:03 First Mapping Process explained (Methodology / structuring)

10:18 First Project ‘Traverse’ in detail (Project narrative)

16:31 A new relational map – a series of trajectories (Practice methods / methodology)

19:03 The Abbotsford convent – used ‘to interrogate an architecture of reciprocity’ (Methodology)

19:45 Second ‘map’ explained (Methodology)

24:14 Sydney Nolan project (Project narrative)

27:56 A shift in the way Anna views architecture (Practice narrative / structuring)

29:37 Various publications described (Practice narrative)

32:57 A trajectory explained: the loaded plan / narrative beginnings (Practice narrative / methodology)

35:20 A series of cross-sectional images from different projects (Practice narrative)

37:03 The next trajectory: Openings and Entrances explained (Methodology)

40:50 The seven ‘lamp’ design propositions (Project narrative)

54:40 Conclusion including the contribution of the PhD (Contributing)

57:28 The presentation ends. Applause

57:56 Peter McNeil (PM) A question about the difference, in her work, between writing and criticism

1:01:26 (PM) Do you reflect on your subject position? And is it relevant or not that you are a writer and a woman?

1:03:02 Stephen Loo (SL) What’s your research question? And what’s the difference between writing and drawing that allows a translation to occur?

1:08:02 (SL) Something about criticality in writing and drawing. Does one remain mute or a hand-maiden to the other?

1:10:38 Jenny Lowe (JL) expresses a frustration that she felt she could not pin down the various points as they ranged (like a butterfly) up and down the wall exhibit. Then asks a specific question about image and caption in the Seven Lamps section – does one support the other or do they exist independently?

1:16:40 (SL) Is the last section of the presentation (Seven Lamps) an opening up or closing down of the trajectories described in the presentation?

1:20:33 (PM) Q: You mention your admiration for Conrad Hayman and mention the ‘latency’ of his writing, can you talk to that?

1:22:32 (PM) Has the PhD enabled you to develop strategies to: push, subvert, shift, nudge architectural writing in this country?

1:24:51 (SL) Has your teaching shifted your writing and drawing?

1:31:06 (JL) If you were to start a book now what would it be about?

1:35:10 Examination concludes

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This PhD is a critical examination of Anna Johnson’s practice as expressed across a 12-year period through her design, writing and teaching. Defining the mode of that practice are Johnson’s three distinct roles: her position as a full time lecturer within the architecture department at the RMIT School of Architecture and Design; architectural critic and freelance writer with more than 10 published books and over 100 journal articles; and thirdly, her own architectural design work. This PhD process has enabled a defining of Johnson’s procedural working methodologies. From this was established Johnson’s position of Architect Writer, her writing – like her drawing – has generative affectual consequence for her design and teaching work. The reciprocal relationship she evolved between words and form – text and drawing – define the parameters within which architectural content (meaning, representation and form) are manifested, tested and then resolved. The acts of observation, critique and narrative development – activities central to her written practice – have a generative and consequential relationship for her design and design teaching. What has emerged is the generative exchange between writing and drawing, one is not produced without the other and a certain interdependency exists between them.


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