Dr Dean Kenning


I am an artist and writer. From Hounslow, west London, I studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths College and completed a PhD at the London Consortium, developing a critical theory of ‘idiocy' in art.

I make motor and sensor based kinetic sculptures that seek to generate nervous and affective responses (‘vitalist kinetics'). I also have a wide-ranging diagramming practice (‘exploratory diagrams') traversing art practice, theory and pedagogy. My video and performance-based works adopt a satirical and parodic approach to social and cultural material.

I was winner of the Mark Tanner Sculpture Prize 2020-21, making new robotic works for the touring exhibition ‘Evolutionary Love'. Other recent solo exhibitions have taken place at Matt's Gallery (2019), Beaconsfield (2019) and Piper Keys (2018). I have shown works internationally at group exhibitions and events including, recently: The Soft Display, Paradise Works (2020); Guest, Ghost, Host: Machine, Serpentine Marathon (2017); and EXO EMO, Greene Naftali (2017). Collaborative projects include the Diagram Research Group at Flat Time House (2020), the Social Morphology Research Unit at Space Studios (2019), the Capital Drawing Group at Bergen Assembly (2019), Sick Monday at various screening venues (2018-19), and Diagram Research Use & Generation Group (DRUGG) at the ICA (2015).

I have published articles on diagram theory and practice, artistic pedagogy, ‘idiot art', and the politics of the art world and art education in journals including Third Text, Arts, Visual Culture in Britain and the Journal of Visual Art Practice.

I mainly supervise practice-based PhD students at the Contemporary Art Research Centre and have overseen a number of successful PhD completions as first supervisor.

Academic responsibilities

Research Fellow


  • PhD: 'The Political Nature of Art Today', London Consortium/Birkbeck College, 2008
  • MA: Literature, Culture and Thought, Queen Mary, University of London, 2001
  • BA: Fine Art, Goldsmiths College, 1997
  • Foundation in Art & Design, Hounslow College, 1991


My research activity consists of art practice, practical pedagogy and art theoretical writing. The art is produced through hands-on material and process-based experimentation, and in the spirit of DIY problem solving. It often engages directly with political, philosophical and scientific ideas and theories, for example in the areas of cybernetics, biosemiotics, political philosophy and Marxist economics. My kinetic and animatronic sculptures and sound works are focussed not on technology for its own sake but on an experiential ‘vital aesthetics' of movement, particularly nervous or compulsive movement which is instinctively suggestive of ‘life'. Pathos and alertness are introduced to moving objects through abject materiality and the non-slick manual nature of construction; through ‘liveness' and non-predictability with regard to e.g. speeds and movement (floppy, juddering); and through the ways visitors trigger effects in non-obvious ways via sensors. If the possibility for emergence is one motivation for this – the allowance for contingencies to effect the way the work looks or sounds at any moment, then another motivation is to counter ‘seriousness' and the gallery's authority through humour and B-movie special effects.

I have used the term ‘exploratory diagramming' to describe a transdisciplinary method of abductive and figural-gestural thinking-through-drawing which, rather than rationally transcribe or explain already existing objects and processes (infographics), allows anyone to work through problems and construct new objects in real time by means of manual inscription: drawing analogies and plotting relations (across fields, states, etc.). These methods, employed in diagrammatic artworks and projects (e.g. Metallurgy of the Subject; Capital Drawing Group) have extended into methods of teaching, as with my development of ‘Social Body Mind Mapping' and diagramming workshops for close reading of philosophical texts (e.g. ‘Plato's Caves'). More recently I have written on ‘diagrammatology', drawing particularly on the theories of Peirce, Chatelet and Deleuze & Guattari.

Areas of specialism

  • Contemporary Art
  • Kinetic Sculpture
  • Diagrammatics
  • Art Education
  • Politics of Art

Scholarly affiliations

  • Diagram Research Group

Research student supervision

Main supervision

Other supervision


Number of items: 41.


Kenning, Dean [Artist] (2017) Renaissance Man. (kinetic sculpture).

Kenning, Dean [Artist] (2012) Untitled. (Kinetic sound sculpture installation).


Kenning, Dean (2021) Exploratory diagramming and diagram theory : Greimas, Peirce and Châtelet. Journal of Visual Art Practice, 20(3), pp. 177-195. ISSN (print) 1470-2029

Kenning, Dean (2019) What we do and what is done to us : teaching art as culture. Arts, 8(1), p. 31. ISSN (online) 2076-0752

Kenning, Dean (2019) Art world strategies : neoliberalism and the politics of professional practice in fine art education. Journal of Visual Art Practice, 18(2), pp. 115-131. ISSN (print) 1470-2029

Kenning, Dean (2018) Book Review of 'Who runs the artworld : money power and ethics' by Brad Buckley and John Conomos (eds). International Journal of Education Through Art, 14(3), pp. 397-399. ISSN (print) 1743-5234

Kenning, Dean and Kern, Margareta (2013) Art & Politics: which side is art on. Art Monthly, 369, pp. 1-4. ISSN (print) 0142-6702

Kenning, Dean (2013) What schools can offer art: towards an avant-gardist conception of gallery education. Visual Culture in Britain, 14(3), pp. 319-341. ISSN (print) 1471-4787

Kenning, Dean (2012) Refusing conformity and exclusion in art education. Mute, ISSN (online) 1356-7748


Drew, Benedict, Hart, Emma, Jenkins, Dal, Kenning, Dean and Till, Corinna (2013) Reclaim the mural. London, U.K. : Whitechapel Gallery. 32p. ISBN 9780854882090

Book Section

Kenning, Dean [Author-contributor] (2020) Foreword. In: Sharp, Andy, (ed.) The English Heretic Collection : ritual histories, magickal geography. Repeater. pp. 9-15. ISBN 9781913462093

Kenning, Dean (2018) The Zone. In: Duman, Alberto , Hancox, Dan , James, Malcolm and Minton, Anna, (eds.) Regeneration songs : sounds of investment and loss from East London. London, U.K. : Repeater Books. pp. 413-420. ISBN 9781912248230

Kenning, Dean [Interviewee] (2016) Dr Dean Kenning is a Research Fellow in The School of Fine Art at Kingston University. He is also a writer and an artist, most recently writing about art education. We interviewed him at the Royal Festival Hall, London. In: Allen, Jo and Rowles, Sarah, (eds.) Professional practice : 20 questions : Interviews with UK undergraduate Fine Art staff exploring how students are prepared for life after art school. London, U.K. : Q-Arts. pp. 221-232. ISBN 9780956435583

Addison, Nicholas, Burgess, Lesley, Kinsella, Victoria and Kenning, Dean (2015) Learning in art and design education. In: Addison, Nicholas and Burgess, Lesley, (eds.) Learning to teach art and design in the secondary school: a companion to school experience. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. pp. 21-70. ISBN 9780415842891

Kenning, Dean (2015) Thinking through art: the social body mind map. In: Addison, Nicholas and Burgess, Lesley, (eds.) Learning to teach art and design in the secondary school: a companion to school experience. 3rd ed. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. ISBN 9780415842884

Kenning, Dean (2010) Circling the borders. In: Sassi, Andrea, (ed.) Across the boarders. Reggio Emilia, Italy : Dispari & Dispari. pp. 28-40. ISBN 9788895600024

Conference or Workshop Item

Kenning, Dean (2018) Metallurgy of the subject. In: ASA18 : Sociality, matter, and the imagination : re-creating Anthropology; 18 - 21 Sep 2018, Oxford, U.K.. (Unpublished)

Kenning, Dean (2018) Exploratory Diagrams. In: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018; 28 - 31 Aug 2018, Cardiff, Wales. (Unpublished)

Kenning, Dean [Interviewee] and Power, Nina [Interviewer] (2018) Nina Power and Dean Kenning in discussion. In: Where it was; 31 Mar 2018, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)

Kenning, Dean (2017) Art world strategies : neoliberalism and the rise of professional practice in fine art education. In: For, about, nearby : the value of diversity and difference in fine art practice, research and education; 14 - 15 Sep 2017, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)

Kenning, Dean (2017) Neoliberalism and the politics of professional practice in fine art education. In: We Need to Talk About This : illusion of separation between us; 06 May 2017, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)

Cornford, Matthew, Rodriguez, Soraya and Kenning, Dean (2016) Panel 4. In: Transitions Out of Fine Art Education; 25 Jun 2016, Glasgow, U.K.. (Unpublished)

Kenning, Dean (2016) Freedom and control within the art school. In: Reflections on the Work of Albert Hunt / Within the Art School and Without; 17 Mar 2016, Bradford, U.K.. (Unpublished)

Kenning, Dean (2016) The social body mind map. In: Words of Art; 29 Nov 2016, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)

Kenning, Dean (2015) Exploratory diagrams. In: Plague of Diagrams : Symposium; 22 Aug 2015, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)

Kenning, Dean (2015) Social body mind mapping. In: Play Sense : Talking; 23 May 2015, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)

Kenning, Dean (2012) What schools can offer art : towards an avant-gardist conception of gallery education. In: Towards an avant-gardist conception of gallery education; 08 Dec 2012, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)


Kenning, Dean [Artist] (2019) Psychobotanical. .

Kenning, Dean [Curator], Scully, Liam [Curator] and Scully, Vanessa [Curator] (2018) Sick Monday. Sick Monday. .

Kenning, Dean, Hulson, Marc, Craddock, Lisa and Sharp, Andy (2015) Luxury Complex: Remembering Satan. Luxury Complex: Remembering Satan. .

Kenning, Dean and Burrows, David (2015) Plague of Diagrams. Plague of Diagrams. .

Berriman, Sovay [Artist], Plastique Fantastique [Artist], Harris, Rowena [Artist], Kenning, Dean [Artist], Rebelo, Ines [Artist] and Sames, Lucy A. [Curator] (2013) The Starseed transmission: a diagrammatic message from outer space. The Starseed Transmission. .

Still/Graphic Work

Kenning, Dean [Artist] (2018) Risograph prints. (risographs).

Kenning, Dean [Artist] (2017) Diagram of Walter Benjamin. (Diagram). London, U.K. : MA Biblioteque. ISBN 9781910055366

Kenning, Dean [Artist] (2017) Jackson 5 Flowchart. (Drawing). A4. Marker pen on paper.

Kenning, Dean [Illustrator] (2014) Cover illustration for 'Malign velocities'. (Book illustration).

Moving Image/Broadcast

Kenning, Dean [Artist] (2020) Attention, Entropy and the Arrow of Time. (video recording with moving graphics online and Kenning's own diagrams).

Performance/Live Event

Kenning, Dean [Artist] (2017) Stuck Machine. Guest, Ghost, Host: Machine! Marathon.

Kenning, Dean [Artist] (2017) Dialogue of the Dead. Janusware 2nd Cycle.

Kenning, Dean [Artist] (2017) Diagramming Politics. Please Specify! International Conference on Artistic Research.

Kenning, Dean [Artist] (2015) Building the Fetish.

This list was generated on Fri Apr 12 07:05:33 2024 BST.

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