Baldwin, Michael, Mel Ramsden and Charles Harrison (Art & Language). "Now They Are Surrounded." Journal of Visual Arts Culture vol 6, no 1 (2007): 13-31.
Barrett, Estelle. Introduction to Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative Arts Inquiry, edited by Estelle Barrett and Barbara Bolt, 1-13. London: I.B.Taurus & Co Ltd., 2007.
Keywords: arts research, emergent methodologies, interdisciplinarity, situated and/or subjective knowledge, cultural capital
The introduction to an important collection of case studies on practice-led arts research, Estelle Barrette’s text does two things: First, it contextualizes the anthology by mapping debate around arts research as a particular approach to elaborating knowledge. Barrette highlights this tack as experimental, interdisciplinary and aligned with producing cultural capital. Subsections are dedicated to each of these themes. Going broad rather than deep, she canvasses various ideas, including Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of practice, Martin Heidegger’s notion of “praxical knowledge” and Louise Johnson’s typology of cultural capital(s).
This text also provides a useful (if, at times, oblique) overview of the subsequent chapters. Another aim of this anthology: identifying criteria for assessing quality research in the field, something Barrett relates to cultural capital, though how the two mesh is not well explored.
This introduction not only challenges arts researchers to discuss their work in relation to other disciplines, it also charges us to attend to the deployment and circulation of their research (though Foucault’s theories of authorship are not mentioned). Barrett believes this will help bridge the gaps between art and other kinds of research; it will highlight what in particular arts research offers the theory and practice of research more generally. But for whom is this discourse intended in the first instance? For arts researchers or other disciplines? What risks do we run – what compromises must we make – if, as arts researchers, we investigate not for the benefit of our discipline [read: art] but for the reception of this research by others? These concerns are not mutually exclusive. However, distinguishing primary and secondary audiences for this research is indispensable to the growth and development of this field. Said differently, arts researchers do arts research—and ultimately research more generally—a disservice when they sacrifice the former for the latter for the sake of easy uptake.
In a different but related vein, Barrett’s discussion forgoes comparing and contrasting arts research with humanities research, an approach also concerned with the subjective and hermeneutic. That arts research differs from research in the hard sciences and even social sciences is well established. Important work remains to be done, however, around the synergies/differences between arts and humanities research and how these broad categories of investigation might illuminate and/or ally each other.
Relevance: The text (inadvertently) underscores the difference between "research" and "reports on research" and the varied competencies these tasks entail. It's also the first reference to arts research as a space for exploring cultural capital I've encountered. Moreover, Barrett's introduction affirms my sense that recognizing art's extradisicplinarity (rather than interdisciplinarity [Stephen Wright]) is paramount to art research that serves the interest of art. Or, to use Barrett's words, a new "species" of research (and art?), something she further elaborates in the final chapter of this anthology with reference to Richard Dawkin's ideas about memes. And finally, Barrett signals two areas for further investigation when (a) she recognizes practice-based research as learner-centered, real-world activity operating within a specific problem, context and solution; and (b) briefly discusses Paul Carter's interest in the artwork as an opportunity for "staging" knowledge in ways that returns the subjective to the universal.
Francis Halsall, Julia Jensen and Tony O'Connor. "Editorial Introduction: Aesthetics and and its objects - challenges from art and experience." Journal of Visual Art Practice vol 5, no 6 (2006): 123-126.
Keywords: aesthetics, relational aesthetics, situated aesthetics
This short introduction highlights the challenges posed to aesthetics by the dematerialization of the art object and the resultant disconnect between the philosophies on art (of which aesthetics is one) and developments in practice. The authors call for a new aesthetics depedent less on unitary objects, uniform media, genres, styles and/or individual subject--an aesthetics that instead ignites the political potential of contemporary aesthetics. Surprisingly, they don't consider how the aesthetics of performance (dance, theatre, etc.) might shape an aesthetics of contemporary art, though this may be explored elsewhere in the journal. According to this introduction, other texts in this dedicated edition consider subjects including Fluxus, Minimalism, Pistoletto's Art Project, Kant's notion of natural beauty.
In addition to some useful signposting/overview, this introduction offers a succinct critique of relational aesthetics on the grounds it tends to absorb the individual into a situated public in a way that totalizes individual subjectivity. Useful parallels are also drawn between the call for a new aesthetics in the 1960s and the present urgency for an expanded understanding of cultural experience. The authors also observe that the failure of aesthetics to accommodate emergent art practices has pushed artists and curators to seek out other models for understanding their work. These include sociological frameworks, such as Marxism and gender. (And to which I would add ANT.)
Relevance: On the one hand, Halsall, Jansen and O'Connor's critique of relational aesthetics compliments Bishop's; on the other, they align aesthetics with politics (and the everyday) in a way that may inform my work on the relationship between aesthetics and ethics. And finally, they provide a good rationale for the role played by sociological theory (including ANT) in practice-led research like my own.
Leshem, Shosh and Vernon Trafford. “Overlooking the Conceptual Framework.” Innovations in Education and Teaching International 44, no 1 [Februrary 2007]: 93-105.
Keywords: conceptual mapping/coherence, explicit understanding, improved thinking, metaphors, viva
Conceptual frameworks are insufficiently addressed in (social science) PhD research and more thorough consideration of these structures could elevate the levels of thinking of doctoral students. Redressing this situation, Leshem and Trafford’s text explores conceptual frameworks from both theoretical and practical perspectives. Based on the authors' substantial experience as examiners, this discussion is underpinned by the sense that successful PhDs “begin with the end in mind”: that is, a sense of what contribution the research will make and how it can be packaged to enable easy to assessment.
The paper is divided into an introduction, a section on rationale, a literature review, a discussion on the implications of literature and the researchers’ own experience, and a few reflections on application. A final section on “afterthoughts” underscores the role of metaphorical language in discussions on conceptual frameworks, which the authors survey and group into three types: architectural, geographic and schematic.
Mapping metaphors predominate Leshem and Trafford’s presentation of conceptual frameworks, with these structures fulfilling two roles: First, they provide theoretical clarification of the researcher's aims and objectives; second, they afford readers/assessors of the research a sense of what it seeks to achieve and how this will be realized. One of the great values of conceptual frameworks is their making explicit that which might otherwise be taken for granted. This helps candidates answer viva questions, including: ‘How did you arrive at your conceptual framework?” Aspects of conceptual frameworks (100) include: the works of writers and researchers; the candidate’s own experience and observations; and, the act of reflecting on reading, experience and developing research assumptions.
A limitation of this approach for practice-based art research is that it assumes researchers can verbally articulate their conceptual appreciations. This may be feasible in some components, but it’s often less applicable to the practical aspect, where (1) meaning and significance often reside beyond the verbal and (2) artistic competency is not always tantamount to conceptual clarity. What, I wonder, are the possibilities of adapting conceptual frameworks to make them more "art-research friendly"?
Relevance: The proposed approaches will help me construct conceptual frameworks for the projects comprising my PhD investigation as a reflective/reflexive method for tracking their interrelations.
Macleod, Katy and Lin Holdridge, “The Enactment of Thinking: creative practice research degrees.” Journal of Visual Art Practice vol 2, no (1&2) (2002): 5-11.
Keywords: Art research, artist subjectivity/subjecthoods, language, philosophy, Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Katy Macleod and Lin Holdridge’s short text overviews The Enactment of Thinking conference (2001), a follow-up to Making to Writing (1998). Introducing this edition of JVAP and its focus on the conference, the paper identifies several themes, including: metaphor as a tool for thinking, states precipitated by practice and four-dimensionality as a space for thinking. The paper also considers the artist’s subjectivity, with the authors arguing that art research can now (following the conference?) be recognized as negotiating various socially and critically engaged “subjecthoods”.
The second part concerns the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty: his interest in art as ontological speculation on being in the world. Language is key here, with Merleau-Ponty refuting Decartes cognito on the grounds language precedes thinking. Only through language can we express our existence and “…bridge the construct this transcendental consciousness which emerges from the creative silence of the pre-reflective world.” (9) Aligning art with philosophy, the authors observe that, for Merleau-Ponty, “true philosophical knowledge is perception.” (9)
Relevance: Ignoring, for the moment, the paper's inflated claims (witness the theory of “live time” in the viva), its emphasis on language is useful. Understood in the broadest sense, as both a creative instrument and mode of communication, language enables things to speak and reveal truths, which for Merleau-Ponty (according to the authors) is the telos of art as philosophy
"Methodology" on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methodology [accessed March 3, 2008]
Keywords: methodology, methods, positivism, constructivism, qualitative, quantitative
Three notions of methodology are identified: It's a collection of theories, concepts, ideas; it's a comparative study of different approaches; it's a critique of individual methods. Underpinning the second notion is a sense of methodology as a rationale for research. It is consequently informed by the researcher's particular ontological and epistemological views. (The entry gives the examples of positivism and constructivism.)
Relevance: It's notable this entry underscores the tendency to use "methodology" when "method" is more appropriate for describing a specific research technique. This relates to Bulmer's sense of methodology as a combination of not only approaches but also focal lengths for research (big picture, on the ground fieldwork and so on).
An important challenge in my research relates to differentiating between a constructivist approach and a dialogic approach--assuming there's a distinction. Appreciating how various methods mesh in my research as well as what makes their combination valid is needed. Thinking through the potential and limitations of each method is key in this regard.
O'Riley, Tim. "An inaudible dialogue." Working Papers in Art and Design 4. (2006) http://sitem.herts.ac.uk/artdes_research/papers/wpades/vol4/torfull.html (accessed August 21, 2009).
Keywords: art research, distributed artwork, internality, dialogue, indeterminancy
Tim O’Riley’s paper thoughtfully speculates on when/where/what/how and why an artwork is; that is, what distinguishes this kind of expression in the world. Other questions propelling the paper include: (1) Where does the signficance of the of the artwork reside? (2) Can “research” can be identified with art?
The paper references the ideas of Marcel Duchamp (art coefficient), Howard Becker (indeterminancy), Joseph Kosuth (art as reflexive: it describes how it describes), Art & Language (the interiority/externality and figure/ground of art), Nklas Luhmann (autopoesis), Mikhail Bakhtin/David Bohm/Vilem Flusser (dialogue), Douglas Huebler (non-informative object as itself) and Jean-Marie Schaeffer (artworks as operating structures). O’Riley also proposes “the distributed artwork” as comprising a network of forms or elements. Across these interlinkings, the artwork has “object instances”: the gaps between—harbours—offering shelter to the unknown, the unexpected, surprise. The paper concludes with a position: “…my idea is of a research practice that engages with and absorbs things and interests outside itself as well as an engagement with such things, it articulates or reflects on itself and its processes in relation to the environment.” Research-led practice <> practice-led research: it seems this movement in parallel with shifting from internality to expernality is integral to O’Riley’s approach.
Relevance: I am interested in O’Riley’s notion of a distributed artwork as a way of understanding the work of Future Reflections Research Group. It strikes me there’s something pivotal about the tension between, for example, the collaboration's written and spoken papers. The idea of the distributed outwork may help us elaborate these relations.
ÇALIŞKAN, Sevda. "Ethical Aesthetics/Aethetic Ethics: The Case of Bakhtin." Journal of Arts and Sciences (May 2006). available from jas.cankaya.edu.tr/gecmisYayinlar/yayinlar/jas5/01-sevda.pdf.
Keywords: Bakhtin, ethics, aesthetics, dialogue.
Beginning with a short overview of Bakhtin's career, this essay observes the interplay between his theories of aesthetics and ethics. It argues that the form-giving activity of aesthetics is ethical when it finalizes an other: produces an image of the other. For only an other can finalize me. For me to finalize myself is tantamount to death; while alive, I am always yet to be. The other finalizes me not as an object but as another subject and maintaining this distinct identity is pivotal to Bakhtin's interest in the unique historical subject: his non-alibi of meaning. Although subjects may co-experience one another, they must ultimately return to themselves and exist outside the other to allow the other space to act and thus to be.
More of a summary than a critical argument, this essay nevertheless usefully connects the relationship between Bakhtin's ethics and aesthetics.
Clinton Sidle C. and Chester C. Warzynski. "A New Mission for Business Schools: The Development of Actor-Network Leaders." Journal of Education for Business vol 79 (1) [September-October 2006]. pp.40-45 Available from: <www.clintsidle.org/uploads/JEBParkLeadershipModel.doc> [Accessed 10 November, 2007].
Kewords: ANT, leadership, Cornell
This seven-part text (plus an abstract) claims to provide an ANT analysis of the development of the Roy H Park Leader Fellowship Program at Cornell. It instead offers an article-length advert for the program detailing its origins, curricula and benefits. A somewhat curious application of ANT, this text well exemplifies the abuses endured by this theory as it’s contorted to meet specific agendas, in this case program promotion.
Relevance: With the above said, Clinton Sidle and Warzynski embed useful leadership concepts in their so-called ANT description, which could enhance my facilitatory practice in the collaborations composing my research. Another two-fold positive: This article not only provides a compact survey of some ANT literature, it's also furnished with an extensive bibliography covering more general but relevant leadership material.
Taylor, Victor E. and Winquist, Charles E. "Subjectivity." In Encyclopedia of Postmodernism, 381-383. London: Routledge, 2002.
Keywords: Cartesian subject, symbolic order; socially constituted subject; linguistic determination and personal intervention; established protocols for communication and social transformation
Succinct but overarching, this entry is divided into three parts: The first considers the difference between the modern and postmodern subject; the second traces the development of studies in subjectivity through various theorists (starting with Marx and Freud and then Saussure, Lacan, Derrida, Foucault and the French Feminists); and the third section looks at developments in studies in subjectivity since the 1980s related to post-colonial studies and cultural criticism concerned with marginalized groups.
Relevance: This short text offers a specific history of studies in subjectivity. The legacy of Foucault's work on discourse and power is emphasized with the view of highlighting recent scholarship in subjectivity as situated at the intersection of linguistic determinism and personal intervention/agency - at the rub between pre-established protocols for communication and the potential for social transformation. Reference to community is, however, it is limited; there's insufficient discussion of the tension between individual and group becoming. Perhaps this lack indicates the emphasis on individual experience characterizing much theory and practice in the late twentieth century.
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