Artistic Research in the Future Academy, Danny Butt Chapter 3 Artistic Research: Defining the Field
What would you like to happen in this workshop?
Imagining what is and might be possible in arts research and education. I would like to learn about successful alternative models around the world.
What do you hope will NOT happen in this subject?
A dry, one-sided lecture on the state of artistic research in the age of Globalization.
If someone asked what motivates you to do research, how would you describe it?
Research is driven by the questions that arise from the process of making art projects.
- What is the relevant dialogic role of the essay film today?
- What new ways of thinking about the essay film, new narrative structures,forms of thought and consequently new ways to access history emerge from working hands-on with and reflecting on the material qualities of analogue and digital technologies.
- How can an essay film practice bring about new concepts of time that challenge linear historical narratives and the notion of historical continuity?
Thinking about how the narrative of what it is to be an artist, artist-academic, artist-researcher seems to be shifting as more and more artists are revealing the logistics and wholeness of their lives in artist talks, for example acknowledging external jobs, funding sources, family, relationship to students/teaching etc. as being part of the influence on their work.
Notes/quotes drawn from reading
A term full of life, movement and discovery- and I would add, mystery and contingency– to find out something thoroughly.
Institutions determine the value of the thing.
Sternberg, Robert J. “The Development of Creativity as a Decision-Making Process.” In Creativity and Development, edited by R. Keith Sawyer, Vera John-Steiner, Seana Moran, David Henry
Feldman, Jeanne Nakamura, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 91–138. New York: Oxford
University Press, 2003.
Sternberg identified eight different kinds of contribution research might make:
1.Replication, to confirm a field is in the right place.
2.Redefinition, to redefine existing knowledge from other points of view.
3.Forward Incrementation, to move the
field forward in the direction it already is going.
4.Advance Forward Incrementation to move the field forward in the direction it is already going, but by moving beyond where others are ready for it to go.
5.Redirection, towards a different direction.
6.Reconstruction/Redirection, to move the field back to where it once was so that it may
7. Reinitiation, to move the field to a different, as-yet-unreached starting point and then
to move from that point.
8.Integration, to integrate two formerly diverse ways of thinking about phenomena into a
single way of thinking about a phenomenon
Not just about truth or falsity of research
Bruno Latour- research creates controversies
Research is the beginning of a conversation
Mick Wilson (University of Gothenburg) I took a workshop from him on artistic research
1) The research university ideal must be historicised in order to overcome a monolithic
and pre-critical notion of “research” which inhibits the creative reconstruction of the
term, and which obscures the potential plurality of research ideals.
2) The Ph.D. is a contingent, multiply determined construct which has historically been
applied – through the action of metaphorical transfer – across divergent knowledge
3) It is through overcoming institutionalized amnesia in respect to prior historical debates
on university practices that we may re-contextualize and broaden contemporary debate
on artistic research and the Ph.D.
4) The Ph.D. provides an opportunity for – and indeed makes necessary – a critically
reflexive pedagogy. The ongoing interrogation of the supervisor’s role is the
precondition – or at the very least the corollary condition – of developing the reflexive
“performative contradiction” should be rigorously explored and fostered in the university
1992 UK (RAE) Research Assessment Exercise (1st wave)
Arts education has become a major industry- this change will have a major influence on arts production.
Totally agree with the assessment of Elkins style of early writing and critique of artistic research as “curmudgeonly”
Never knew this Picasso quote and didn’t know that the term research was even in the air at that time:
Picasso famously noted in 1923
The idea of research has often made painting go astray, and made the artist lose himself
in mental lucubrations. Perhaps this has been the principal fault of modern art.
The spirit of research has poisoned those who have not fully understood all the positive and conclusive elements in modern art and has made them attempt to paint the invisible and, therefore, the unpaintable.
As Christopher Frayling (1993: 5) notes in his widely cited article almost two decades ago, it is “once we get used to the idea that we don’t need to be scared of ‘research’ – or in some strange way protected from it – the debate can really begin.”
Hmm, seems like this is an ongoing issue…Reminds me of the quote from Gilberto Perez in his book The Material Ghost, on the films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet:
“No one would dispute that Huillet and Straub’s films are difficult, but it seems to me that what people find most difficult is giving up the notion that they have to understand everything. Politics is an area in which people have strong opinions about things they don’t know enough about, and it serves a useful political purpose just to make us aware of all that we don’t know.”
Timothy Emlyn Jones, “
The PhD in Art & Design,” in Elia Cómhar (Dublin, 2002)
Jones traces three generations of “practice-based”
Ph.D.’s in the United Kingdom:
“Early ‘practice-based’ Ph.D.s, such as those at the University of Wolverhampton and
elsewhere gave students some dispensation in the word length of the written thesis
that had to accompany the work.”
These theses sometimes entailed twice as much work as a standard Ph.D. (with two resolved bodies of work to be assessed).
“The second generation of ‘practice-based’ Ph.D.s, such as those initiated at the
Wimbledon School of Art, did not prescribe a word count as such and envisioned
a sliding scale of portfolio and text, whilst retaining a requirement for the written
element.” While this was a laudable attempt to reduce the duplication of effort, it had the unintended downside of presuming an equivalence between text and practice
without addressing their very different functions.
A third generation emerged at the Glasgow School of Art, where a distinction was
made between “the material submitted for examination and the documentation of it
for the purposes of future reference to the research content.” For Jones this is where the
practice-based Ph.D. becomes equivalent to any other Ph.D., except for the manner in
which outcomes are presented.
Four traditions of artistic research:
-The first and longest-established tradition is from the education field, where the
training of art teachers has been the rationale for university-level art studio education
throughout the history of the modern university.
When artists themselves engage the issues of practice-based research in an academic format, their orientation tends to be more to the philosophical than the social scientific, and this gives rise to a second tradition of commentary. In this mode the artist is seen as aiming to produce meaning through multiplicity, rather than pinning it down in a social-scientific form.
Katy Macleod and Lin Holdridge, “Introduction,” in Thinking through Art: Reflections on Art as Research (London and New York: Routledge, 2006).
Meanings are made after the event, through the act of viewing or contemplation and
by the artist initially. An entirely obvious fact, but one which in the culture of academic
research, is an uncomfortable truth to the discipline.
-A third tradition also emerges from the education literature, but rather than seeking to
establish a model of visual arts research, it has been concerned with empirically establishing the roles of various actors in higher research degrees in the creative arts through qualitative research techniques such as interviews and focus groups. Experimental in nature.
-A fourth tradition- is concerned less with theorizing practice and more with seeking to
account for the relationship between the institutional protocols of the university and the
forms of and positions within artistic production and education that are increasingly subject to them. Key areas of concern:
the tension between academia and the professional norms of the art
field – it is hard to imagine disciplinary quality as defined in the academy against the professional field which births the discipline, yet academic work rarely drives exhibition decisions (Mottram, 2009: 18), and many “professional” artists omit information about their employment status as academicians;
the definitions of research that circulate in the various institutions and shape the
academic perception of the studio disciplines in general as well as (via funding) the
resources available to students and staff
genres and formats for submission and examination of relatively new doctoral qualifications, particularly with respect to documentation of creative works and the purpose of any written component.
Skeptical idea: art is art research is research
As the German academic once told me when I was considering a PhD in Germany, “the border between art and research is well defined in Germany, and you will not cross it.” (!)
1. the research through practice must have its transferability secured through accompanying writing.
Even though the discipline-specific nature of research is accepted, in this view it must still conform to the generic principles applying to research across other disciplines.
2. which waives the requirement for an explicitly formulated question and
accepts that knowledge in the work may become established through the investigation, in
ways unforeseen when the project was initiated. However, in order to make the purposes,
methods and results of the investigation transferable to the research community, there must be some kind of written accompaniment to map for one’s peers of “the route by which they arrived at that product.
The fourth approach is that creative works in themselves constitute a form of research which can contribute to knowledge.
Debt and Study
Fred Moten and Stefano Harney
Debt is a means of socialization.
Debt is mutual.
The student has a bad habit, she studies.
The Global South
The student will be indebted.
“Come, let’s plan something together.”
The University and the Undercommons: Seven Theses
Fred Moten, Stefano Harney
Social Text, 79 (Volume 22, Number 2), Summer 2004, pp. 101-115 (Article)
The University and the Undercommons: Seven Theses – Moten+and+Harney+2004+-+The+University+and+the+Undercommons+-+Seven+Theses
Philosophy thus traditionally practices a critique of knowledge which is
simultaneously a denegation of knowledge (i.e., of the class struggle). Its
position can be described as an
irony with regard to knowledge, which it
puts into question without ever touching its foundations. The questioning
of knowledge in philosophy always ends in its restoration: a movement
great philosophers consistently expose in each other.
— Jacques Rancière,
On the Shores of Politics
I am a black man number one, because I am against what they have done
and are still doing to us; and number two, I have something to say about
the new society to be built because I have a tremendous part in that which
they have sought to discredit.
— C. L. R. James, C. L. R. James: His Life and Work
The Only Possible Relationship to the University Today Is a Criminal One
The United States: it cannot be denied that the university is a place of refuge, and it cannot be accepted that the university is a place of enlightenment.
…to be in but not of — this is the path of the subversive intellectual in the modern university.
After all, the subversive intellectual came under false pretenses, with bad documents, out of love. Her labor is as necessary as it is unwelcome.
The moment of teaching for food is therefore often mistakenly taken to be a stage, as if eventually, one should not teach for food. If the stage persists, there is a social pathology in the university.
The beyond of teaching:
…teaching when you give away the unexpected beautiful phrase —
What the beyond of teaching is really about is not finishing oneself, not passing, not completing; it’s about allowing subjectivity to be unlawfully overcome by others,
a radical passion and passivity such that one becomes unfit for subjection,
because one does not possess the kind of agency that can hold the regulatory forces of subject-hood, and one cannot initiate the auto-interpellative
torque that bio-power subjection requires and rewards.
The negligence of professionalization, and the professionalization of the critical academic. The Undercommons is therefore always an unsafe neighborhood.
Students must come to see themselves as the problem, which, counter to the complaining of restorationist critics of the university, is precisely what it means to be a customer, to take on the burden of realization and always necessarily be inadequate to it.
There Is No Distinction between the American University and Professionalization
What is lost in this undecidability? What is the price of refusing to be either for the
Universitas or for professionalization, to be critical of both, and who pays that
price? Who makes it possible to reach the aporia of this reading? Who
works in the premature excess of totality, in the not ready of negligence?
…it is theories of pragmatism in the United States and critical realism in Britain that command the loyalty of critical intellectuals. Never having to confront the foundation, never having to confront anti-foundation out of faith in the unconfrontable foundation, critical intellectuals can float in the middle range.
Gramsci Monument, Thomas Hirschhorn
He uses language in a forceful way that is against artistic research practices. He is interested in universal frameworks where he takes responsibility for the project that is not connected to other related projects. Outside of terms ‘identity’ and ‘culture’, outside of cultural/institutional spaces which he claims gets away from universal experience. Inside of low income housing. Gramsci (S. Bronx), Deleuze (Avignon, France), Spinoza (Amsterdam), Bataille (Kassel, Germany).
The Event of the Poem
“the gramsci monument”
José Esteban Muñoz
Gramsci Monument, Fred Moten:
the project and the projects
Method and Methodology: Not only what are you doing and why are you using that tool?
Contextual Review: Examination in monuments related to 3 other philosophers
Questions/gaps in knowledge: a question of universal monument versus particularism/ we question the choice of location. Monument to what?
Universality as a way to fight particularism
Relevant theory: related to ideas of Gramsci (S. Bronx), Deleuze (Avignon, France), Spinoza (Amsterdam), Bataille (Kassel, Germany). The philosophers that he looks at, he examines them out of context. He calls it a monument.
Methodological frameworks: These are projects in the projects-
Outcomes: many of these are beyond him that has to do with what is generated within the communities.
Deborah– Title of the project: The Past Sealed Away, The agency of glaciers in the Anthropocene.
Description of current work- Deborah immerses herself in the properties of ice and the idea of profound environmental changes that occur overtime.
Methodological frameworks -Is it possible to illicit the idea of loss in a non-mimetic way using sonic and visual artwork and multimedia materials to evoke the idea of the multi-layered narrative?
Methods- She is embedded in glacier, geology and anthropology labs and ships to generate research and collect narratives. She uses photography, painting, sound, performance/multi-media materials.
Contextualization- Her piece Between the song and the silence– looked at impact on sonic silence particular to the song of extinct and threatened birds. She also the construction of graphic notation of sound.
Questions- Can glaciers have the same agency relating to the idea of absence and memorialization? How can her work provoke meaningful discussion about loss?
Is it possible to illicit the idea of loss in a non mimetic way using sonic and visual artwork?
relevent theories- Albrecht’ss idea of solastalgia, Kreussen, and Stormer on the Anthropocene.
results/outcomes- Writing and exhibitions and performances with the intent of provoking discussion on the idea of loss.
future research- to delve more into the idea of the more than human using multi-disciplinary tools, continuation of the ideas of anthropocene and solastalgia.
An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization (2011)
Imperative to Re-imagine the Planet
Try and understand how one can ethically engage with the questions of globalization and work through structural differences to be able to actually talk about a democratic world. As opposed to European notion of democracy that says basically, eventually, everyone will become something like ‘us’ I.e. westernized.
The idea that there could be a model for ethical engagement with others on the planet she now thinks is naive and unattainable.
Spivak tries to do this however through teaching- how to have an ethical relationship with the other. I.e. teaching romanticism from an English language framwork by citing English language writers so as to allow the students to assume responsibility for and connection to the materials.
The globe is not about a place. It is an abstract ball with longitude and latitudinal lines and no one inhabits it but the forces of capital are well aligned and connected here.
The planet is something else. We inhabit it and we are it. But every time we buy a cup of coffee we are in the globe. Even though we don’t live in the globe we are in the globe.
It is a double bind- because the planet, the globe and we are fundamentally linked together. How do we live being in and of the planet and on the globe?
“To be human is to be intended toward the other.”
“If we imagine ourselves as planetary accidents rather than global agents, planetary creatures, rather than global entities,….to think of it is already to transgress…”
We are both like and unlike all living creatures. Different from but connected to all living creatures.
We are not fully authoring ourselves. There is something other than ourselves that we have some sense of responsibility to: Mother, Nation, God, Nature. How can a social activity be rationalized or socialized? The concept of Mother, Nation, God, Nature- the forces that justify or are an explanation for our activities.
The term culture is used in two different kinds of ways. The relationship between sacred and profane and between the sexes. Seen in the enlightenment tradition as being cultured because they don’t conform to the culture of reason (neutrality and universality and freedom).
Spivak would question any use of the term culture that tries to fully describe. Because it is not the rational structure that allows for that.
What does it mean to talk about capability? What does it meant to talk about universal care giving? What does the notion of care mean in various cultures? Spivak hopes the idea of alterity starts to break that apart.
“How can we provide adequate justification for giving care, for considering the capacity to help others as a basic human right? How can we inscribe responsibility as a right rather than an obligation?” (p. 341) What is the mechanism that would enable that mechanism of care to develop?
If we consider the power of language and think about what it means to see care giving as a human right then we have a right and responsibility to put pressure on governments to create funding structures and spaces to support that right.
The Haq, Al-Haqq, حقّ, birth-right and the truth of my being, the para-individual structural responsibility. By offering hospitality and by taking care of others you support their position as a human being.
This is not a solvable kind of relationship- there is no pathway or roadmap we are supposed to follow but if we are open to thinking of it like this then it becomes a dynamic situation.
Spivak is not talking about a political party or movement but a practice.
The Gas Imaginary (2011-on going)
poetry, 3-D drawing, installation
What an aesthetic divestment looks like in terms of cutting off from fossil fuels?
Fracking, dredging in Rachel’s home town Gladstone, Australia.
Frackman The Movie
Felix Gonzales-Torres, Untitled (Perfect Lovers) 1987-90
Excercise with Michele Vara, calling out potent memories from personal life and world events. Barthes punctum.
Foucault’s lectures in the 1970’s on neoliberalism and it’s distinction from liberalism.
Timebanking is a time-based currency that helps to build circles and network of mutual support. With timebanking, you give one hour of service to another, and receive one time credit. An hour is always an hour — regardless of the service offered. You can use the credits in turn to receive services — or you can donate them to others.
Timebanks are formed when people come together to use time credits to achieve a shared goal. Many choose to focus on community building. But timebanks have also focused on tutoring in schools, health and wellness efforts, hospital discharge support, juvenile justice, helping seniors to age in community, civic engagement and more.
Timebanks can be local, regional, national or international in scope. They can vary in size from as few as 20 people to tens of thousands. Most (but not all) timebanks use timebanking software, which helps them keep track of member activity. Because timebanks are self-organized, we cannot know precisely how many there are, but in the United States we can guesstimate there are around 500 local and regional timebanks, totaling around 40,000 – 50,000 members.
The Public School: