The practice-component of this PhD is composed of two parts – the first is the construction of a database of metaphors, idioms and synonyms of heat. With over a thousand entries drawn from dictionary sources, HOT DATA is used to propose that our thermal culture is not primarily one of cosiness and comfort, but a contested and layered discursive field of power, economics, desire, love, productivity and war. These are not poetic embellishments, they are actively used in everyday communication and are partially constitutive of the subjects of knowledge work, immaterial labour and emotional labour.

In the second part of the project I use techniques originating in the theatrical method of Konstantin Stanislavski in a series of performances resituated within the specific context of the workplace of the knowledge economy.
Taking seriously the occupant as a subject constituted by management, whose entire being and passions are put to work, I place such a managed occupant into a thermal environment latent with the full cultural significance of its metaphors. In a series of HEATED EXCHANGES occupants negotiate for control of a thermostat, using metaphors and idioms derived from words for heat, tracing the management imperatives and motivations of advanced capitalism; and the implications of various modes of resistance.

Claudia Dutson, School of Architecture, Royal College of Art.