Call for applications: Fully-funded PhD opportunity at UWA

Automation and Creative Labour 

Deadline for Expression of Interest: 25 May 2021

 The University of Western Australia is pleased to invite applications for a full PhD studentship, awarded under the ARC’s Discovery Project scheme to the project ‘A Cultural and Intellectual History of Automated Labour’, CIs Sarah Collins (UWA), Ionat Zurr (UWA), Oron Catts (UWA), and Elizabeth Stephens (UQ) –

The project examines the history of automated labour through the lens of aesthetics. It aims to: 

  • map key changes in how automated labour has been depicted in literature, music, fine art and the biological arts, and to explore the interaction between these shifting artistic representations and contemporaneous debates about labour automation in economic, scientific and philosophical texts, as well as in newspapers, government policy and in personal accounts.
  • analyse how perceptions and experiences of labour automation have been shaped by aesthetic categories. This will involve tracing the parallel shifts in concepts that are significant to both art and labour, such as ‘value’, ‘judgement’, ‘creativity’, ‘production’ and ‘consumption’.
  • explore historical and contemporary practices of exhibiting technologies of labour automation for public spectacle, as well as artistic practices that incorporate automated technologies or processes. We will analyse how these curatorial and artistic practices partake in changing attitudes toward agency and toward human interactions with non-human entities – including both mechanised and synthetically-created biological entities – involved in the automation of artistic labour.

The dissertation may focus an historical topic, looking at the interrelation between technologies and practices of automation in labour and art of the past. Or it may focus on the impact of a recent technology of automation or AI on artistic labour today. 

We encourage particularly topics that include consideration of practices or ideas related to the Global South or the Australian context, or topics that engage with either the creative sector or the galleries, archives and museums sector. But all topics and candidates will be considered.

The PhD project will be jointly supervised by Sarah Collins and Ionat Zurr (UWA). The award will cover the standard ARC grant towards living expenses for three years, plus a top-up from UWA, totalling $AUD 30,000 per year. This studentship will also give access to the standard UWA schemes to support some travel/research expenses and equipment. 

For informal enquiries about the scope and details of the project, applicants are encouraged to contact Associate Professor Sarah Collins ( The closing deadline for Expressions of Interest is 25thMay,through this portal:

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