Thesis title: Artworks and Networks: an ethnographic study of creatives and urban spaces in Manchester and Brno
supervisor: Michael Edwards
Secondary supervisor: Ger Duijzings
Starting date: 1 May 2006
Projected completion date: 2012
A majority of placemaking practitioners and urbanists who are interested in creative-led development have limited knowledge of the actual workings of creative actors, and how the creative industry operates globally. These voids of knowledge hinder our ability to develop effective creative-oriented development and economic policies. Aaron Mo's Planning Studies thesis and visual essay attempts to address the missing pieces of information by identifying the interactions that may catalyse or hinder different phases and activities of a creatives' practice, and dissimilates how it relates with space and place. The investigations are undertaken in Manchester, England, and Brno, Czech Republic, so to avoid the potentially narrow 'World City' findings cliché.
Findings shows that creatives and their activities naturally segregate geographically and spatially at various scales (http://filesocial.com/94a65e4). Despite this, there are times where creatives need to come together to further their practice. These collectivities are facilitated by a network of cogitation and the accessibility of hubs, such as linked events in large managed workplaces (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggOdzZe-jNo), i.e. hubs.
Creatives' mode of production is influenced globally. A disproportionate amount of established, specialised creative markets found predominately in 'World Cities'. This requires creatives to work in ways which take account of global and other centres. In truth the global influence is influenced through cogitative hubs, as creatives work within individually tailored glocal networks.
This fine grain analysis of creatives' relationship with space and place offers an alternative angle to the creative industry, and an approach to prevailing styles of creative-oriented planning at both local and regional level.
Aaron Mo, born and bred in a bland London suburb, spent his whole higher education at Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, reading BSc Architecture, planning, building and environmental studies (2000 to 2003); DiP Town & Country Planning, with Urban Design specialism (2003 to 2004); MSc Town & Country Planning (2004 to 2005), and PhD Planning Studies (2005 to 2011).
Between studying for his degrees, he gained practical knowledge in the planning sector, working as a planning assistant for an architect firm and as a research assistant for a pedestrian movement consultancy. Since finishing his master degree, he spent seven months as a volunteer in Rome, where he learnt about cultural difference within Europe and planning’s influence on the third sector. During the PhD, he worked for NGOs that are interested in creativity and urban development. Aaron’s most recent practical contribution to city and cultural is as a co-author for Wroclaw’s winning bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2016.
His interest in the relationship between planning and the creative industry has been an evolving one. As a result, it now ranges from understanding the spatial impact of cultural consumption through to a detailed understanding of subcultural activities (for example the discrepancy in squatting activities, and the meaning behind ‘pop kitsch’ like Balkan Turbo-Folk or Baltic Disco Polo). Currently, his research focus develops around the spatial dimension of the creative industry’s social networks and mode of production, and the concept of glocalisation.
Aaron’s academic understanding is based in the in British, North American, and Central and Eastern European (CEE) creative industries, particularly in the visual & graphic art, and music sectors.
Publications and other work
Contributor. In Mironowicz, I. and Ryser, J. [ed.] (2011) 'Urban Change: the prospect of transformation'
Wroclaw [Co-author] (2011) 'Spaces for Beauty revisited: Wroclaw's Application for the title of European Capital of Culture 2016'
Wroclaw [Co-author] (2010) 'Spaces for Beauty: Wroclaw's Application for the title of European Capital of Culture 2016'
Mo, A. (2010) 'Shaping public participation at the local level of the English planning system/ Kształtowanie partycypacji społecznej na poziomie lokalnym w angielskim systemie planistycznym', Problemy Planistyczne Jesień 2010
Mo, A. (2009) 'Creatives, creative production, and the creative market', International Journal of Sustainable Development, vol. 12, Nos. 2-4
Buitrago, P. F., and Mo, A. (2009) 'A Tanzania for creatives: Opportunities and challenges for Tanzania’s Creative Industries'. British Council internal working paper.
Mo, A. (2007 & 2011) 'Artists and gentrification in London'. In: Die Planung / A Terv No. 25, 2011