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22 FEBRUARY 2012

Towards a critical discourse of practice as research

"A problem confronting many artistic researchers is related to the need for the artist to write about his or her own work in the research report or exegesis, The outcomes of such research are not easily quantifiable and it can be difficult to articulate objectively, methods processes, and conclusions that emerge from an alternative logic of practice and the intrinsically subjective dimension of artistic production. Moreover, conventional approaches and models of writing about art generally fall within the domain of criticism, a discourse that tends to focus on connoisieurial evaluation of the finished product. How then, might the artist as researcher avoid on one hand, what has been referred to as 'auto–connoisseurship', the undertaking of a thinly veiled labour of valorising what has been achieved in the creative work, or alternatively producing a research report that is mere description (Nelson 2004)?

In this paper, I suggest that a way of overcoming such a dilemma is for creative arts researchers to shift the critical focus away from the notion of the work as product, to an understanding of both studio enquiry and its outcomes as process. I will draw on Michel Foucault's essay 'What is An Author ' (Rabinow, 1991) to explore how we might move away from art criticism to the notion of a critical discourse of practice–led enquiry that involves viewing the artist as a researcher, and the artist/critic as a scholar who examines the value of artistic process as the production of knowledge. As I will demonstrate, in adopting such an approach, practitioner researchers need not ignore or negate the specificities and particularities of practice – including its subjective and emergent methodologies which I have argued elsewhere, constitute the generative strength that distinguishes artistic research from more traditional approaches Barrett, 2005). In elaborating the relationship between a these aspects and the more distanced focus made available through Foucault's elaboration of author function, I will draw on Donna Haraway's (1991, 1992) notion of 'situated knowledge' and her critique of social constructivism which reveals how the scientific method is implicated in social constructivist accounts of knowledge. It is this alignment, suggests Haraway,that results in the effacement of particularities of experience from which situated knowledges emerge. In order to ground and illustrate the arguments and ideas presented in this paper, I will also refer to Pablo Picasso's, Demioselles d''Avignon and a selection of critical commentaries on this work by Leo Steinberg (1988), William Rubin (1994) and Lisa Florman (2003)."

(Estelle Barrett, 2006)

Barrett, E. (2006) "Foucault's 'What is an Author': towards a critical discourse of practice as research". Working Papers in Art and Design Vol 4 Retrieved from URL http://sitem.herts.ac.uk/artdes_research/papers/wpades/vol4/ebfull.html ISSN 1466–4917

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TAGS

2006academic writingart criticismartist • artist as researcher • artist as scholar • artistic processartistic research • auto-connoisseurship • connoisseur • connoisseurshipcontribution to knowledge • creative arts researchers • creative problem solvingcreative work • critic as scholar • design processDonna Haraway • emergent methodologies • established research strategiesEstelle Barrettexegesis • finished product • Leo Steinberg • Lisa Florman • Michel FoucaultPablo Picassopractitioner researcherproblem solving researchproduction of knowledge • research report • scientific methodsituated knowledgessocial constructivismstudio enquiry • subjective methodologies • traditional research • What is An Author • William Rubin • Working Papers in Art and Design • writing about creative work

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
17 JUNE 2011

Smart art: the mindful practitioner-researcher as knowledge worker

"For me, practitioner research is hybrid practice. It finds it's base mainly in qualitative research, although it's practices blur the boundaries of aesthetics and empiricism in an effort to capture and reflect the complex dynamics involved in the processes of artistic practice. This is a process that metamorphoses experience into practice, where the practitioner researcher seeks to uncover, record, interpret and position, from an insider's perspective and experience, the processes they use within the context of professional contemporary practices in the field. The resulting stories become portraits of life, placed in historical, social and cultural contexts and shaped through processes such as autobiography as self–portraiture, to mirror experience. In other words, this is about theorising practice."

(Robyn Anne Stewart, 2006)

Stewart, Robyn Anne (2006) Smart art: the mindful practitioner–researcher as knowledge worker. In: 2005 Speculation and Innovation (SPIN) Conference: Applying Practice–Led Research in the Creative Industries., April 2005, Brisbane, Australia.

TAGS

aestheticsartistic practicecreative industriesempiricism • experience into practice • hybrid practice • knowledge workerpractice-led research • practitioner research • practitioner researcher • practitioner-researcher • praxis • professional contemporary practices • qualitative researchRobyn Stewart • smart art • the field • theorising practiceUSQ ePrints

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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