Trying to understand why things are the way they are. These curiosities come from daily life. The curiosity lingers for some time until I am ready to start unpacking it. There is often little prior knowledge. It is at this moment, before the unpacking, that the artistic research starts, as straight away the question emerges how to unpack? There are so many methods, how and which does one choose? A journey has started. Resources easy at hand are used to start the investigation. Workshops, internet, books, texts, sounds, discussions with various people and groups, documentaries, other art works and artists. I think all artists perform artistic research, but the question remains whether it is recognised and how is acknowledged. To be a well-grounded artist, one must investigate the following questions to decline falling into the trap of the isolated ivory tower. Why do you do what you do? What is your urgency? Who are your peers? What work already exists within this narrative? And not to forget ethics. As artists we have responsibilities, so how to respond to teach other, how to listen, how to learn? Research allows other people to participate and thus seeks public discussion. To take a proactive position as described in the 10th concept art-driven research defined by Julie Harboe[i]. There is a hope that through art-driven research, the work will provide a renewal for society, other ways of co-existing. The emphasis is on the process, wherein art works come out of. To research in the art world with the intention to create a body of works.
My investigational process is one in which personal story telling together with an urgent issue has the chance to unfold and be addressed. The current issues are heritage, citizenship, identity, home and foreign. An investigation into the everyday world to try and grasp at alternative hidden narratives instead of official stories of governments and journalists. To recognise other forms of social relations and marginalised individuals and communities, and to try and change the status quo of everyday violence’s. The process of thinking together, trying, making, failing, choosing, redoing and negotiating. To understanding your position, your privilege and the privilege of others. The start of a process in which the destination is unknown. There is no intention to make a finished work or production but to let them grow out of the experimental nature of the process thus allowing for constellations of alternative realities. I like the term used by Irit Rogoff ‘creative interrogations’[ii], as it also includes how the research should be viewed. Engagements without drawing conclusions; an open-ending to allow further discussions and narratives to arise. Unlike science, I do not have anything to prove, and as artists we need to think our areas of interest through care and form[iii]. I can therefore, identify with Biggs and Buchler when they suggest, ‘In art practice, an answer is often less important than its pursuit’[iv]. The outcomes are not predetermined, due to unexpected encounters. For the same reason, I like to try different mediums/ possibilities. Revealing implies the sharing and showing of the work. Thus, the need for the audience. Here, I can identify myself with the ‘performative perspective’ and ‘immanent perspective’[v]. By revealing your work, new worlds (discourses) can be created. By sharing your work, the practice gains relatedness in the social world. Harold Pearse’s categorization in the interpretive-hermeneutic art making model, recognises the communication system of the individual’s relationship with the social world[vi].
Grey Area/ Possibilities
I prefer to see artist research as a grey area, because this allows me to mould my own process, and the freedom to deconstruct existing information. It allows me to work with my own inner logic and sensitivities. I think that artistic research should remain grey, to ensure that it does not become canonised. It has already become a buzz word. It differs from science research in that artistic research is about breaking or bending rules, and working with uncertainties. It provides a space for developing methods to help your own inquiries, and work outside the comfort zone. To continuously mould this grey area to different forms to fit your needs, and not to be defined by it. In this grey area unpacking can occur as a representation of one possible truth/ narrative. My favourite times of the day are twilight, as in this time the boundaries become blurred and undefined. It therefore allows for an interdisciplinary practice in which artists are free to explore the use of stories, music, sounds, discussions, writing, walks, the body, architectures, histories, technologies, and much more.
Tom Barone and Elliot W. Eisner, define arts-based-research ‘as a kind of research that uses artistic and aesthetic approaches to address and solve social issues’[vii]. I prefer to call it, working from the ephemeral, the in-between space which enables looking from different perspectives. The ephemeral is a space between the known and the unknown, and allows for new possibilities[viii]. It is in this space where confrontations take place; confrontations that can be used in the public sphere, and provide an articulation of the world in which we live in today. In this space, I can harmonise my world in chord and discord. To encounter the world at another closeness. Engaging with art as a site of thinking through materials[ix], for both myself and the audience. Within the immanent perspective, I can understand the no-longer split effect of a personal story and that of society at large, constantly zooming in and out on issues (micro-macro), as my art-practice is influenced by experience, stories, histories, philosophies, emotions, current social issues. The intertwining of events and listening to patterns of difference. It is important to remain vulnerable within this complex environment.
New knowledge/ knowing
The task of creating new knowledge, poses the question, ‘new
for whom?’ As what might be new for me might be known for another. Therefore,
it is important to research what work has already be done and to understand your
peers. ‘Knowledge production’ and/ or ‘knowing’ are terms used extensively in
the understating of artist research. In any research, I do not think we create
new knowledges, but we can create alternative dialogues of interrelatedness. We
can only build on the knowledge already available to us today. Thus, to add to
the accumulation of knowledge[x]
and more importantly to take care.
[i] Julia Harboe, page 76, Mapping Artistic Research, Towards Diagrammatic Knowing, by Vytautas Michelkevicius, Vilnius Academy of Arts Press, 2018.
[ii] https://vimeo.com/271887079, Irit Rogoff: Becoming Research, MIT 2018.
[iii] Lucy Cotter, ‘Whether or not artists articulate their practice in terms of research, they will think their areas of interest through form’, page 3, Reclaiming Artistic Research – First Thoughts, Mahku script 2017.
[iv] Biggs and Buchler, page 113, Mapping Artistic Research, Towards Diagrammatic Knowing, by Vytautas Michelkevicius, Vilnius Academy of Arts Press, 2018.
[v] Henk Borgdorff, page 42-43, ‘The performative perspective on the relationship of theory and art is closely related to what underlies artistic research, as the latter is also based on the premise that practice creates new worlds and, partly, concepts and theories about them’. The immanent perspective, ‘..there is no case of an art work not being influenced by experiences, stories, or convictions’. Mapping Artistic Research, Towards Diagrammatic Knowing, by Vytautas Michelkevicius, Vilnius Academy of Arts Press, 2018.
[vi] Harold Pearse, Page 117, Mapping Artistic Research, Towards Diagrammatic Knowing, by Vytautas Michelkevicius, Vilnius Academy of Arts Press, 2018.
[vii] Tom Barone and Elliot W. Eisner, Page 115, Mapping Artistic Research, Towards Diagrammatic Knowing, by Vytautas Michelkevicius, Vilnius Academy of Arts Press, 2018.
[viii] Graeme Sullivan, page 89, Art practice as research, ‘…capable of changing human understanding’, ‘…create an intermediate space between the known and the unknown’, ‘…artistic research presents new possibilities for invoking the unknown to question what is known’, Mapping Artistic Research, Towards Diagrammatic Knowing, by Vytautas Michelkevicius, Vilnius Academy of Arts Press, 2018.
[ix] Lucy Cotter, ‘It is crucial furthermore to take formal intervention and material enquiry seriously if we truly wish to engage with art as a site of thinking’, page 3, Reclaiming Artistic Research – First Thoughts, , Mahku script 2017.
[x] Mika Hannula Page 88, Mapping Artistic Research, Towards Diagrammatic Knowing, by Vytautas Michelkevicius, Vilnius Academy of Arts Press, 2018.