Artistic research in Europe 2010: A necessary dialogue of users and stakeholders


Ruxana Demetrescu, National University of the Arts, Bucharest
Aims, challenges and benefits of artistic research

Artistic research became in the last years a commune place (locus communis) all over the European countries. Under the pressure of the implementation of the 3rd cycle of the Bologna system, the artistic academic education has been confronted in Romania (in the last decade) with a compulsory PhD in the visual arts for all the professors involved. Otherwise, the practice of application for different grants has obliged the artistic academic community to revaluate the challenges and the benefits of artistic research.
In the first part of the presentation I’d like to focus on a case study concerning the main problems related to the PhD in visual arts in the University of Arts, Bucharest. I’ll comment on the number of PhD graduates (over a hundred since 2000), on the generations (from the maestros to the young artists), on the content imposed to a doctoral thesis and on the topics developed. The result of the retrospect demonstrated that the most reluctant were the maestros (a polite word for the old generation) who emphasised the lack of utility of a theoretical exercise and whose attitude was defined, in most cases, by an endemic presumption. The young generation adapted easily and regarded the thesis as a challenge and a chance (also related to scholarships). The most interesting part concerns the topics of the artistic projects: from different aspects of artistic research (involving theoretical items, as archive, fragment, or image in the post photographic era) to the auto referential aspects. Therefore I’d like to demonstrate that artistic research may be regarded as a new way of the artistic literature (Kunstliteratur). The imposed theoretical exercise involved in each doctoral thesis had – in my opinion – developed a most valuable amount of texts written by important contemporary artists. The challenge of a critical investigation was transformed in a benefit: a new image of the artist as a thinker, or a theoretical person (most unusual in the Romanian context) and an interesting link between word and image.

Timothy Emlyn Jones, Burren College of Art
Art Research as Creative Process

This presentation seeks to recontextualise the development of art research in the mainstream of C21st art on the basis of the following points:
• creative rationales in art PhDs have developed to the extent that intuition need no longer be considered intrinsically mysterious. An expanded view of intelligence including emotional and visceral intelligence alongside mental intelligence means that intuition can be learnt even if not taught.
• PhD art methods pave the way to an aesthetics of method as a contemporary alternative to the modernist aesthetics of style
• the language of art research to describe contemporary art practice is already well established in the culture of curating and museology and is normal within art museums internationally.

This presentation pursues the argument by addressing five of the engagingly controversial questions identified in the call for presentations for Symposium 2, responding in the same animated spirit:

• “is this academisation of artistic practice a new form of control?” – this question will be discussed in relation to the conservative anti-intellectualism and complacency found in a number of art institutions – we need to recognise and celebrate the ways in which art is intellectually different from other spheres of intelligence. Is it really suggested that art is not intrinsically intelligent and intelligible?
• “...control over subjectivity and over 'free art'?" – this question will be discussed in relation to the apparent duality of subjectivity and objectivity and a broader view of artistic consciousness based on difference will be proposed
• “will the 3rd cycle prevent [the recruitment of non doctoral artists]?” – the credentialisation of art teachers will be discussed in an international perspective with reference to the radical conservatism of many American academics, and the gradualism of academic change. A larger view of professionalism in art teaching will also be discussed.
• “Do managers and politicians at all understand...?” - this will be discussed through the need for artists and art academics to be explicit about how our subject is different within the academy, rather than abandoning the theory of art to critics, theorists and historians
• “is it excluded that criticism and and self-reflection are alien to creativity...?” - this point will be discussed in relation to praxis and more recent theories of creativity which recognise the interdependence of divergent and convergent strategies.

Kerstin Mey, University for the Creative Arts, Surrey
‘It takes two to Tango’– Artistic research and impact assessment under the new Research Excellence Framework (REF) in the UK

Addressing the theme of ‘Artistic Research in Europe 2010: a necessary dialogue of users and stakeholders’, this proposal takes as its point of departure the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) that is going to replace previous Research Assessment Exercises. A new feature of REF, which will be implemented by the end of 2012, is the introduction of the evaluation of impact of research. The impact assessment will replace indicators of peer esteem and asks institutions to provide impact statements as well as a selected number of impact case studies relating to the research outputs and based on the capacity (as full-time equivalent) of the submitting subject-specific research units.

The currently proposed menu of impact indicators for REF orientates primarily towards qualitative measurements of the benefits of research for society at large and favours primary and secondary economic effects. Whilst considerable work on impact for the Arts and Humanities has already been undertaken by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), REF necessitates a continued critical debate on the specific qualities, processes, purposes and applications of artistic research in society and its dynamic and complex relationships with potential and actual users and stakeholders. This necessarily includes a discussion on how its effects can be evidenced.

This paper will draw out key issues for user engagement and stakeholder dialogue by drawing on ‘Towards a Pedagogy of Curiosity’, a recent collaborative research initiative with Susan Benn, which incorporates a number of distinct but interrelated projects, as a case study. ‘Towards a Pedagogy of Curiosity’ is an emerging body of engaged and interdisciplinary research on the role of sensory and embodied perception in stimulating creativity in and beyond every day life and in promoting imagination as a life-long learning tool. Through a range of issue-driven and site-specific exchanges and collaborations between artists, scientists, educationalists and a wider public of all ages, diverse social and ethnic backgrounds, the project aims to promote resilient yet enhanced qualities of life.

The case study serves to critically and creatively address the tensions between the process-based, often speculative and dynamic nature of artistic research and the outcome driven focus of policy makers, many funders and commissioning models. From the current lack of thinking imaginatively about ways to evidence the qualitative benefits of artistic research and to deal with the assessment of complex and dynamic categories such as ‘qualities of life’ and their underlying value hierarchies it aims to propose alternative ways forward.

Klaas Tindemans, Erasmushogeschool Brussel
Artistic research on theatricality and reality

“The document as performance / The performance as a document”

Since 2003 the RITS, the Brussels school for audiovisual and performing arts, invests in projects of artistic research. Both in its processes and in its output, artistic research at the RITS forms an integral part of a continuous pedagogical renewal. And for artists it creates a possibility to ‘reboot’ their artistic work in protected environment.
The Drama Department, in collaboration with the Department of Audiovisual Arts, worked on research themes such as ‘the tragedy, the tragic and the political’ and ‘subversion and subversivity’. Today, artistic research is done under the header ‘The document as performance. The performance as a document’. This project is representative for the specific research policy of the RITS.
A theoretical starting point is provided by The Return of the Real (1996), art historian Hal Foster’s essay on the meaning of avant-gardism today. Foster explains the way contemporary art deals with problems of representation. Contemporary art, Foster says, runs parallel with two types of ‘counter-science’ developed in the 20th century: psychoanalysis and ethnology. Art thematizes, since the beginning of the 1990’s, the traumatic effects and affections of the unrepresentable ‘real’. Or artists record, document and (re)present, as ethnographers in an urban environment, the (dis)continuities in social constructions.
The research project of the RITS focuses on four clusters:
(1) The development of ‘artistic-scientific’ concepts of (documentary) radio, starting from the ‘paradox of globalisation’: the omnipresence of ‘the world’ as a mediatised entity, and the near absence of artistic – let alone ideological – answers to that challenge.
(2) The relationship between document (archive), documentary (journalism) and theatricality in contemporary performance practices. The nature of the ‘truth claim’ and the ‘reality check’ of these practises is the central research question.
(3) The translation of the theoretical paradigm into concrete issues of the historiography of art today. How can we take into account the notion of ‘deferred action’ (Freuds Nachträglichkeit), when making a ‘back up’ of our performances?
(4) We resume these issues and redirect them to a theme of repressed history: Congo, Belgium’s ex-colony – a part of our collective subconscious. Both this repression as the almost cliché-like ethnographical/anthropological connotations of this theme, make it suitable to serve as the meeting point of the aforementioned issues.
This contribution wants to demonstrate how a specific research project on essential issues of representation can clarify more general questions of artistic research in contemporary urban contexts.


Art Schools in Relation to Creative Enterprises 

Stephanie James, Arts University College Bournemouth
The role played by the Higher Education Art and Design sector in the development of ‘value’ and ‘quality’ in association with the cultural industries

This paper interrogates a much-debated but complex issue of current and future significance to the practice and dissemination of contemporary visual arts: what constitutes ‘value’ and ‘quality’ in this context? Further, how are these terms understood both individually and in relation to each other by stakeholders, including the public who visit the contemporary art gallery and engage with the work exhibited there?

In September 2008, the Arts Council England (ACE) published the findings of its two-year-long ‘Arts Debate’, concluding that ACE will ‘create most value for the public’ by enabling people to ‘experience high quality art’. However, the ACE policy document does not engage with what is understood by ‘value’, nor does it offer a range of criteria for an evaluative approach to what constitutes ‘high quality art’.

This paper discusses the generation of new insights and the role played by the Art & Design higher education sector in the development of value and quality in association with the cultural industries. This paper brings academic researchers into dialogue with those interested in the trends that have shaped/are shaping the practice of, and critical context that informs, the contemporary visual arts - artists/practitioners, gallery directors, representatives of funding bodies and other stakeholders.

Audience research reasons that the main criteria for ‘high quality’ relate to the crafting of the art work, the display of skills and virtuosity by the artist, in relation to the professed intent or meaning of the work. The measures of ‘high quality’ relate to the audience’s experience of the work and their satisfaction with the value of the experience. Contemporary art galleries struggle to find the appropriate criteria in order to identify ‘public value’.

The way the price of artwork influences its cultural value sits uneasily with Art & Design education and the success of Art Fairs such as Frieze has a significant impact on the expectations of students in determining their futures.

Emergent Social Media and New Educational Narratives

John O’Connor, School of Art, Design and Printing, Dublin Institute of Technology
Finding life hard? Start over!

For all of us working in the creative industries it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the creeping invasion of online social media. Indeed, it would be foolhardy not to acknowledge the ubiquity of 'always on' communication channels and the potential they offer.

Nevertheless, this brave new world has changed the playing field for designers: whether or not we yet realise it. Bruns identifies the emergence of 'produsers' - those who are both producers and users of content. Bloggers, facebook users, those who post to sites such as YouTube, Flickr, etc are all part of this new world where we are all becoming creative individuals comfortable with originating material for our own and others' consumption. The notion of the designer as conduit for a client's message is no longer the full story. For example, blogging tools make it possible for anyone to self-publish to a fully professional looking standard. Selecting from a amazing range of professionally designed templates a novice can produce a professional looking website in a very short time.

Online virtual worlds take the phenomenon even further and residents, as those who inhabit such places as Second Life are known, design and build not only their own houses but entire cities that are living breathing communities. Inevitably, as these communities become bigger and more complex those with creative skills become sought after.

'Virtual Environments: Is one life enough?' is an accredited third level module for designers delivered entirely in Second Life. The module ponders these issues and seeks to understand their impact on the design profession, the opportunities for designers and the wider impact on society.

Lynda Devenney and Laurence Riddell, IADT,Dun Laghaire

Lynda Devenney and Laurence Riddell (School of Creative Arts, Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire) will be presenting a site-specific project from the 1st year BA Hons Visual Arts Practice programme in collaboration with The Irish Museum of Modern Art. The project incorporates online mapping tools for reflection and critique and the creation of a visual dynamic archive of project work completed off campus.

In support of research autonomy and self-direction students are given an opportunity to cultivate strategic thinking and processing and to transfer strategies to other problems and contexts. Effectively students become authors off their own learning experience. Web technology and to be more specific the Wiki site was adopted as a tool to assist students in self-direction and self-evaluation and as part of the project outcomes students were asked to publish online research material. This presentation will show how online mapping tools and online publishing enriched the learning experience through sharing knowledge and creating dialogue and feedback with a wider audience.

Hyunjung Bae, Columbia College Chicago
The Wikiest Link: Intentionally informal use of SNS for post class discussion

Substantial social science research has explored the relationship between the structure/design of Social Network Sites (SNS) and the effectiveness of communication (e.g. Boyd and Ellison, 2007; Donath, 2007, Ellison et al., 2007). Among many emerging SNSs, Facebook is of particular interest because it embodies a variety of the social utility of emerging technologies (Paparcharissi, 2002). This study is particularly interested in the latent function of Facebook as a learning tool rather than for its utilitarian functions (e.g. submission of assignments, grading, sharing supplemental materials). Two related research questions are (1) Does/ How does having an exclusive (classmates only) FB page help students understand the material? (2) How do less structured interactions within a closed Facebook page influence/ facilitate learning?

Simply having more time to discuss the subjects that are not fully explored during the class time may increase student’s understanding either via direct participation in the discussion or even merely as an audience to such discussion. Students who are less extroverted may find it easier to participate in online discussions rather than vocalizing opinions within the classroom setting. Perhaps more importantly, having an arena where they can propose new topics, ideas, and material may increase student’s sense of ownership of the material, hence facilitating the understanding and the retention of the subject matter. While these findings may be conventional in their value, the working of the interaction itself is of more interest. Casual contacts with the classmates with whom they may not have interaction outside of the class on SNS fosters a sense of belonging and community, which in turn enhances teamwork and promotes participation.

A critical point for the instructor to consider is that the contacts among the members of the class Facebook page must not be staged or orchestrated. The sense of belonging and community building is an organic outcome rather than a goal. The challenge for the instructors is quite similar to that of the conventional managers of large corporations: let go of control. Highly controlled, prefabricated corporate messages have lost their efficacy and have been replaced with consumer (often called prosumer) - generated messages. Class Facebook pages resemble a company R&D centre (e.g. Yet2.com, InnoCentive, Legoworld) that is open to the interested, involved, and qualified consumers. Prosumers of such Facebook pages learn networking, peering, and sharing critical to the development of arts students.

(h)eART(h): Regeneration of cities and the role of the art schools

Kevin James Henry, Columbia College Chicago
Craftivism: reconnecting art and design education through the social act of making

The split between craft and art was accelerated in the fifteenth century due in part to Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Painters a cohesive narrative that elevated art above craft despite the fact that many of the artists described had apprenticed as artisans. Craft provided a foundation for broad-based approaches to solving problems while creating communities of shared knowledge. Brunelleschi, a goldsmith by training, used empirical methods to complete the dome of the Florence cathedral as well as validating his nascent theory on perspective- an experiment that spawned centuries of refinement and innovation. As author Malcolm McCullough describes it: “Towns created guilds- and guilds made towns- in order to instigate commerce.” Art thrived on this commerce as artists and artisans plied their skills and imagination to glorify their merchant benefactors. Vasari, according to historian Richard Goldthwaite, was amongst the first to use the word competition (concorrenza) in the economic sense to describe the intense struggle amongst individual artists for commissions.

Fast forward to the 21st century and we are witnessing new forms of collaboration based around social networking and open sharing of resources and knowledge- dynamics that traditionally bind craft culture. Does this represent a significant shift away from the individual and back to the collective or merely a temporary trend? Sociologist and urban historian Richard Sennett, author of The Craftsman, greatly expands craft’s definition to include ‘social capital’ accumulated through social interaction which includes medical practitioners, opensource programmers or any individual or community devoted to the acquisition and shared use of ‘skilled’ knowledge. Citing the 10,000 hour rule, Sennett connects craft to process (trial-and-error persistence) as opposed to specific outcomes only. Craft, in Sennett’s definition, is helping redefine the idea of design/studio practice as a collaborative process.

In this presentation I will discuss the complex and multifaceted ways in which artist and artisan/designer can converge once again in the knowledge economy and embrace ‘craftivism’- localized problem solving/making with an activist sensibility to improve the greater social good of communities (urban and small town alike). I will examine historical ties (social, cultural, and economic) between art, craft, and commerce and present case studies of current work to propose ways of re-thinking arts education to leverage the power of social networks and opensource knowledge exchanges that deal directly with the impact of passive consumption and environmental degradation to create stronger and more sustainable cities and towns.

Meltem Yılmaz (Hacettepe University, Faculty of Fine Arts Department of Interior Architecture & Environmental Design)
Lessons Learnt from Vernacular for Sustainable Cities

Vernacular buildings are human constructs that result from the interrelations between ecological, economic, material, political and social factors. If the vernacular makes up 90 per cent of the world’s buildings and consists of approximately 800 million dwellings, it can not be ignored within the context of future architectural research (Paul Oliver, 2003). Despite this statistic, the vernacular is often ignored in both architectural education and from within the architectural profession.
Once the vernacular is seen not as a static building form, but as constantly evolving, reacting to changes in the communities that shaped its form, it will become higher on the agenda in architectural education and more considered in the world of the practitioner concerned with conservation and the sustainability of the built environment.
Many cities are subject to the danger of commercialization and cultural uniformity, which destroys their own individuality and identity. This includes, real estate speculation, infrastructure projects which are out of scale with their environment or mass tourism. These factors frequently combine to cause serious damage to the social life of towns and cities and to reduce their potential as attractive locations for living. The different lifestyles of inhabitants of towns and cities have to be viewed as a part of the cultural heritage within vernacular architecture. The research of vernacular is important for learning the natural way of solving problems; without using any mechanical equipment hence not giving any damage to the natural environment.

Technological developments suggested an alternative world against the natural one in which we inhabit and by which we are embodied. It attempts to establish new mode of existence by setting its own notions of space, time, reality, community and identity. Locally determined identities are no more valid in the global theoretical, representational and artistic movements.

Architecture as being one of the ancient disciplines to shape an identity was influenced from the new mode of information and its borderless circulation. The computerized technology became the medium to receive and transfer this information throughout the world regardless the local conditions. The world, now, has begun to live simultaneously as a condition of the great global market . One of the consequences of this development was the loosing of local identities and their transformation according to the market demand. In this paper we will attempt to encourage the research of vernacular and derive lessons from the vernacular to apply the current cities as principles.

Petr Oslzlý (Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts Brno (JAMU), Theatre Faculty)
The role of theatre and theatre schools in the creation of the human dimension of a city home institution

Culture, including theatre, is the offspring of the community, its vision and foresight, shaped and named and seen by the selfsame group. Culture is the fertile soil of the community, developing and defining its relations, forming both its face and soul. So every artistic act places its brand on community life, and can only be truly comprehended through its community.
Every aspect of art, for good or ill, is rooted in the community, and thus every product of art reflects both the community and the times. Theatre lives and breathes the moment, and therefore any “theatrical act”, irrespective of performance space, should be seen as the face and fundament of the community, coming into being only in that given time and place through the interaction of performers and audience.

In our investigation we must address the matter of “the social responsibility of theatre”, which is the base-line of pedagogical elements in theatre schools, and, with students, explore:-

1/ The position of art and artists in society. The relationship of society towards what is termed living culture.

2/ When, and by what medium, is a feeling of community introduced into society. Which art forms and what cultural activities can evoke this feeling.

3/ The relationship of an artistic fiction to reality. The issue of authenticity in an artistic work. The resonance of the specific theme of theatre (and other artistic) “evidence” in relation to the material, legal or judicial, and intellectual or spiritual state of affairs in society.

4/ The mission of art in society. Under what sort of political (judicial or economic) conditions does art begin to substitute for some other of society’s functions?

5/ The relationship of art and ethics. Can the supreme quality of an artistic work protect it against having unclear ethical ramifications? Under what circumstances is the ethical quality in a work of art more important than the aesthetic? Does catharsis exist in contemporary theatrical (or other artistic) work? What can evoke a feeling of catharsis in the present day?

6/ The issue of the theatricality of contemporary public life, especially politics.
These objectives of intellectual solution however must rest on cultural anthropology and performance studies, and must move to interdisciplinary frontiers, and are thus the rightful remit of theatre schools.

Writing the Story: Narrative Trails in Academic Writing

Franziska Nyfenegger, Luzerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts
Becoming friends with the ABC
Reflections on writing across the design curriculum

Writing is not a favourite subject of art and design students; yet academic writing is still less popular (Clarke, 2007; Francis, 2009). Often art and design students perceive writing as opposite to creative work (Orr & Blythman, 2002) and academic writing as a useless burden imposed by Bologna reforms (Nyffenegger, 2009). As well in other study fields like pedagogy, history or social science students perceive academic writing as a hard and difficult task (Kruse, 2007). How to teach academic writing in a motivating and successful way has therefore been widely studied and discussed in the last decade (Bean, 2001; Björk et al., 2003; Ehlich & Steets, 2003; Girgensohn, 2007; Kruse, Berger & Ulmi, 2006; Ruhmann, 2008). In many disciplines, writing centers and writing programs have been established. In the UK, the teaching of writing skills in art and design disciplines has become an own research field (see http://www.writing-pad.ac.uk and Journal of Writing in Creative Practice). All the same, most european design faculties – except for the UK, Ireland and Norway – ignore these experiences and lack a systematic, research-based debate about writing in and across design curricula. Writing and especially academic writing are poor cousins to design students as well as to design lecturers.

This paper examines in the first part results obtained in the frame of writing research in general and of writing research in art and design. It then presents current teaching practice using blogs as learning instruments. Blogs allow to establish a narrative in a class and along a course. Blocking search engines, they offer a semi-public and safe space to overcome writing problems. They suit the interweaving of creative and academic writing. They promote discourse among students and among teachers and students. And they allow students to experience the core of writing: sharpening thoughts by sketching with the alphabet. Selected examples illustrate what has to be considered when using blogs as a learning environment and as a tool for assessment. Success as well as failure are considered and evaluated. The final discussion focuses on the narrative qualities of blogs (Pachler & Daly, 2009).

The Training of an Artist as an Intervener

Serge von Arx, Norwegian Theatre Academy
training art guerrillas

A workshop in the fall 2009 with the 3rd year scenography students at the Norwegian Theatre Academy focussed on the role of the “art intervener”: in Østfold a new Science Center is about to be built. The architectural project and its functions is largely defined. Its scenography needs to be elaborated which was the task for my students. They approached this topic in a way which may only be imaginable within the safe intellectual compounds of the Academy. The students developed a scenography reflecting all parameters of a Science Center and merging the arts with science by questioning all common understandings of this relationship. Their project was not an art work serving science, but an encounter of art and science on the same level. The notion of disciplines became obsolete. The work being more tactics than a concrete design was presented by the students to the Science Center’s executives as well as regional politicians.

Artistic work is about asking questions and not giving answers. In any art discipline the students should first acquire skills and knowledge which allows them to artistically reflect the world surrounding us; at the same time they put into question the knowledge and skills they have obtained. We train our students as intervening artists on the BA level. A paradox lies in my conviction that the students first should have a solid foundation which they can build their work on, while at the same time I am aware of the “cultural socialisation process” this inevitably entails. The true art guerrilla should be educated more openly, more freshly, unbiased. This development is similar to our children growing up in the Western society: by learning and acquiring “our” knowledge they loose the ability of thinking abstractly. Only few keep the childlike spirit which is a key aspect for any distinct “creator”, be it in the arts, science or any other field.

Facing the paradox mentioned above I try to teach my students in these two tracks running parallel; constantly building a theory and skill based knowledge while challenging their artistic approach to any given task or topic. The practical side as well as the interdisciplinary reflection are the key elements in this training. And since the interdisciplinary precedes the “disciplines”, it becomes a contradiction in terms. In this sense the “intervener” is defining his or her very discipline while researching and implementing it.

Karin Fleming, University of Ulster
Does my S3 look big in this?

Usually when scientists work with artists, the scientist tells the artist about science, and the artist finds some way of presenting that to the public as an artwork. A team of textile artists has reversed that trend, by helping their science project partners develop new understandings of the human body – using, amongst other things the medium of a pair of jeans!

Dermatomes are areas of skin supplied by a single spinal nerve. These are important in illness - when you get shingles, a dermatome area gets infected. They are also important in anaesthetics, if an area of skin needs to be numbed for an operation or procedure. There are standard maps of dermatomes in medical textbooks, dating back generations. However when artists and medical educators worked together and began painting the dermatomes on the living human body, they found that things weren't as simple as they seemed. The maps show front and back views, not the sides. "As a textile artist I was used to thinking about the seams at the sides of garments, so I was particularly interested in the side view. We were surprised to find that the text book pictures just didn't work - the front view and the back view didn't join up".

This has both significance, in terms of how the conventional views came to be represented in text books, but could also have clinical significance, leading perhaps, to new understanding of the maps which are currently found in most doctors' surgeries.

It can also lead to new fun ways of teaching that have impact upon engagement, learning and professionalism. The team was already exploring the use of haptic and craft engagement in a truly memorable way through body painting with medical students and radiography students in two UK universities. As a quicker version of getting the message across, three pairs of jean were created, showing different aspects of the dermatome maps. These strategies have been well received in the medical teaching environment, for example at Association for Medical Education in Europe conference and at international anatomical meetings. Here we will outline how art can enhance induction experience and promote deep learning, developing essential professional and communication skills through cross disciplinary research.

And the title of the presentation? Your rear end is supplied by the third sacral nerve - so the title of the talk in Nantes is "Does my S3 look big in this?"

Discipline Sessions


Johan Verbeke & Adam Jakimowicz, St. Lukas School of Architecture
Artistic Research and Research through Designing

This contribution “Artistic Research and research through Designing” originates from the observation that there are plenty of similarities to the current developments in artistic research and what is happening in the field of architecture in relation to ‘research through designing’. These issues have been discussed during many international conferences including ‘The unthinkable doctorate’ (2005), ‘Communicating (y) Design’, ELIA Conference (2008), the Sensuous Knowledge conferences, ‘The difference of art and art research across the disciplines’ (2009) and many others.
The authors intend to first discuss developments in the field of architecture and report on the developments in their own School. The School of Architecture is currently in the process of forming a faculty of Architecture and Arts allowing to discuss synergy and differences between artistic fields (eg. music, visual arts, design, architecture).
The authors then intend to explore this field by introducing to and discussing with the audience statements which intend to trigger and provoke debate between the participants.

The statements/citations will include:
• Basic research is what I am doing when I don’t know what I am doing (Wernher von Braun);
• The outcome of any serious research can only be to make two questions grow where only one grew before (Thorstein Veblen);
• If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it? (Albert Einstein);
• Creative work is play. It is free speculation using materials of one’s chosen form (Stephen Nachmanowicz);
• The core characteristic of knowledge is the ability to recognize new elements of what is named via the name (Gerard De Zeeuw).

These will be complemented by some other citations of leading researchers in the field of artistic and architectural research (eg. Henk Borgdorff, Halina Dunin-Woyseth). They will be visually strenghtened with carefully chosen images – synergically supporting the content and introducing the parallel thread of understanding.
Moreover, this contribution will introduce some running PhD projects in the arts and in architecture to function as tangible cases to support and illustrate the more abstract discussions.
Based on the previous statements, the authors intend to start a discussion on the specific characteristics and differences on developments in the field of artistic research and (architectural) research by designing.

Fine Art and Curating

Lucy Renton, University of the Arts London
Rob Flint, Nottingham Trent University
The Curriculum is Out There

"…the mechanisms of contemporary art, rather than the results, could be a field of academic knowledge... Instead of studying works and canons, we would study processes and strategies”
(Elkins 2007)
The expansion of networked sources of information, entertainment and educational content is forcing the University to redefine its role. No longer the privileged source of information held for, and accessed by, the elite few admitted within, the institution now has to define itself as other than the repository of content, since content is everywhere.
The discipline of Fine Art is uniquely positioned to provide a pedagogical model for this change. Why? - Because the discipline is formed by a practice which is led from outside the institution itself. Perpetually mutating, self-critical and non-teleological, the practices of art in the present century have willfully sought to evade incorporation into purposeful (and therefore ideological) systems of meaning production.
A concise history of art practices since the last century shows a development from the creation of artworks for a pre-existing context (the collection, the gallery, the museum) toward a closer critical examination of the context itself. Increasingly, the artist engages in the production of concepts rather than objects, even when objects are being produced.
This has necessitated a change in the older model of the studio as training, via emulation and mimicry, in the requirements of a sub-discipline or pathway (painting, sculpture, etc) towards a model which is social, largely self-determined, but consisting of experiences which foster independent critical practice.
Amid the current discussions of qualification in terms of equivalence, this paper urges us to maintain focus on the student experience as something distinct from, and not reducible to, a certificate. Using instances from the 'open curriculum' or non-pathway model of Fine Art learning and teaching at English art schools including Nottingham Trent University, and case study projects supported by the Higher Education Academy Art Design and Media Subject Centre, this paper shows how professional practice ‘outside’ may be delivered as curriculum content, and how student employability is enhanced by independence, rather than technical skills.
While UK HE faces massive cuts, and existing funds are directed towards ‘STEM’ (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) subjects, this paper argues unfashionably against the Skills agenda for a non-teleological art education that emphasises the experience of education over the qualification, and the context of production over its content.

Sissel Lillebostad, Bergen National Academy of the Arts
The daily practice of imaging things differently

For the practice of a curator, an essential question is related to the position of the curator as placed inside the existing division of art. The freelance curator that emerged in the late 1950’s, like Harald Szeemann and Seth Siegelaub, were quite aware of the gap described by Marcel Duchamp – the creative act. Duchamp claims that the work of art is not the sole making of the artist. The artist just delivers the raw material. The audience is playing the part of the finishing creator, the maker of the end result. A work of art therefore exists only in relation with a public and in public.
The creative act serves here as a hypothesis – which has to be tested. And artists and curators, in a mutual relationship where the border between these professions gets merged, do the testing. Curators play (in this ideal functions) the role of the mediator, putting the hypothesis in contact with an audience, which then function as the responder, maybe even as a testing ground for critical self-awareness. In this model the curator take part in the production line of art – on the same side of the creative gap as artists. They – as collaborative curators – are not the judgers of art anymore. They will also be working in a state of doubt and insecurity, where the exhibitions as such are depending upon the transformation from raw art (testing ground) to a completed work being performed by an audience.

Curating moved in this period from being a post-production work towards developing a dynamic formula where the exhibition consisted of fragments, processes and a site-dependency that also included time as a frame. The exhibition turned into a vehicle where critical thinking about and through art is investigated.

This also means that the curator does not take a hierarchical stand, every work has the same weight, the relationships between works are open-ended and in a state of flux. This might be an answer to the quest for coming-into-being as posed by Deleuze and Guattari, but we can also trace the same thinking in the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty. As long as the object/event is not fixed and finished, it is still alive – in the meaning it can still change.


Andrew Kulman, Birmingham Institute of Art & Design
Authorial Practices in Graphic Art Education: Empowerment and Communication through Words and Image.

My current research has looked at new developments in authorial practice in the fields of Graphic Art and Visual Communications. Through drawing processes visual language is being able to communicate across an ever widening arena by means of self authored publications/ ‘zines’ or simply Artist’s Books. New applications of traditional print making alongside developments in digital technology have meant that the process of self publishing has never been easier and is being used as an opportunity to communicate across cultural diversity as well as maintaining individual expression and values.
With the ever increasing pressure where art and design becomes an amalgamation of varied intentions, compromises and adaptations it seems very timely that more artists and designers are re staking their ‘territories’ and taking control of the whole publication process. In the Faculty of BIAD at Birmingham City University there have been several worthwhile initiatives that have promoted the opportunities for university students to become self publishers. As a result of this we have been able to consider cross-school/ faculty collaborations with both the School of Art and School of English. I would like to expand on the collaborative engagement of self authored works and the opportunities that can be developed from these.
The practice of storytelling both aural and written is very current in contemporary teaching practice and this is something that was the basis of the ELIA Teachers' academy held earlier this year in Sofia. This presentation seeks to build on some of the ideas and findings from that workshop and to consider further developments. The participatory aspect of self authored work that involves visual thinking and dialogue allows accessibility for greater numbers of artists/writers from different backgrounds. A wider participation from culturally diverse groups encourages different views and identities to be empowered with a personal, visual voice. When these authorial projects are most successful the participants have been able to express ideas that are not so easy to be verbalised, sometimes they are social often political.

Ezgi Hakan, Anadolu University
Focusing on 2D Software Aid in Tile Design

Computer aided design is a new technology and spreading approach in the product and surface design fields beginning from the end of 20th century all over the world. In the 21st century it is inevitable to use digital equipments as new generation design tools in terms of time saving time and shortening the process of design, production and manufacturing processes.
In addition these developments bring together the advantages of creating alternatives of design to choose the best version of all, to change easily and correct the details and to ease the use and keep of DATA base.

constructed on the demand of new era’s technological systems of the date., 2D and 3D soft wares are being used to practice new possible design resources that incites to develop creativity in ceramics design on the level of university education which is a necessity in accordance with the progress of market and industry evolution.

Focusing on 2D Software aided ceramic surface design at the 1st and 2nd classes, as starting point of design procedure, the students are enabled to develop their base of basic design skills, while using basic design principles and improving methods of creativity, working on free hand drawings and sketches and hand building to learn the production process of artistic and functional ceramics during this hand making centered education.

Being aware of every step of ceramics production, in the 3rd and 4th years the students begin to get familiar with soft wares of 2D modelling, besides working continuously on hand based applications as well.

This application dealing with computer generated 2D designs, while contributing to collaboration of industry and university contributes the students to be familiar with new era design and production systems, criterion while creating a new work area for them in the industry when they graduate.

Through these experiences they gin the opportunity to work as free lancer designs that produce designs for companies and production units of different scales or start to work to become expert at the product development departments of factories that are based mass production.

Film and New Media

Per Zetterfalk, Memoria Productions
Directing as Research

Last year, I was the first doctoral student to graduate from the University College of Film, Radio, Television and Theatre in Sweden. The result consists of a thesis, Inter esse, and a documentary film, Norén’s drama, on the internationally acclaimed playwright Lars Norén’s direction of a new work for the theatre.

My focus is the originator’s way to the finished work. From my perspective, artistic research has its main focus in praxis-based, problem-solving reflection. It is about creating an awareness of the extremely inaccessible modes of artistic choice.

What is the difference between being a subject, doing something oneself, and observing? In this research I assume both positions, in a double role. I am a registering and documenting researcher as well as a filmmaker.

Norén’s drama is both a tool of interpretation in the study of Norén and an intensifying of the overall research result. With the film I try to chisel out the unutterable creative subject and in so doing I attempt to widen a limit within science. This brings about a discussion of the process, the work and criteria for the meeting place between knowledge objects that my work attempts to create.

Norén himself, author of more than 70 plays and among the most produced living playwrights in Europe, has said that he can go on as an author in his directing, but that he foremost is an author.

With this study I hope to shed light on the author’s process indirectly, through the directing, through the way Norén captures the tone in what isn’t said and how his view on the text relates to the physical language of the actors.

The play itself was not finished when initial rehearsals began and as a result became more of a basis for something, a kind of search instrument. The intention was for the actors to participate, to have an influence on the script. My description of the process is about his work with the actors, and how the text is developed parallel to the direction.

Also, I describe my position as researcher thoroughly: both in the context of my developing relationship with Norén and in how I myself work as a filmmaker. With Norén’s drama I was able to both observe and manifest an experience of the process of creating meaning. It is a filmic essay on the creative subject seen through a process.

Tim Middleton, Bath Spa University
‘Where’s the timetable?’
Hot housing entrepreneurship in creative students
What happens when you take students from a range of creative subjects off campus and hothouse them together in a commercial studio setting? How does immersion in a collaborative and commercially oriented studio setting shape the work of students from a range of creative disciplines? Why do traditional patterns of study leave students ill-prepared for the collaborative creativity required in today’s creative industry employment settings? How does a timetable-free approach to teaching creativity enable the development of an entrepreneurial approach to practice? Do incubation units create entrepreneurial creatives?

This paper seeks to open up debate on these topics by presenting a case study of the first 18 month’s work at Artswork Media, Bath Spa University’s 320,000 Euro studio space housed in the Paintworks media park in Bristol. The studio was developed in the light of a 5-year programme of pedagogic research associated with the University’s Artwork centre for creative industries - www.artsworkbathspa.com. Artswork’s innovative Learning in the Arts project collected data enabling the University to learn about its creative industry students, their pre-disposition to creative traits, their expectations of their course, their motivation for studying, and their career aspirations. The research tracked students from over four years, and the data reveals much about students’ experience of their course compared to their expectations and picks up shifts in their perceptions, attitudes and aspirations. The multi-disciplinary experiential learning ethos behind Artswork Media was framed by this research.

At Artswork Media students from a range of Bath Spa’s creative programmes – including creative writing, media production, film, publishing and graphic communication – have the option to spend their final year off campus in the studio where they work collaboratively on live briefs and their own projects. For the University the project seeks to accelerate students’ entry into the world of work by immersing them in an entrepreneurial setting removed from the familiar campus environment and its routines. The presentation will present examples of the work created during the first 18 months of operation, and reflects on the wider implications for curriculum design in creative subjects by reference to the design ethos and pedagogic thinking behind the project.

International Relations

Philip Courtenay, University of the Arts London
Virtual encounters, and the constructions of memory

The first reference point is the history of the city of Nantes, and the way “centres” are the products of complex histories of communication and exchange. Paul Virilio, an inhabitant of Nantes during WW2, experienced the aftermath and devastation of the bombing of the city, but says ”when it comes down to it, only re-construction could really disorient me by destroying the constructions of my memory. In the research environment of e-space lab the connection of people and places, using easily accessible web-based digital technology, is a live project mapping existing urban and social fabric as it slips from “the constructions of memory” into re-construction. Through the engagement of artistic documentation, and the creation of situations of encounter, memory survives in a process of exchange based in the practice of everyday lives in Liverpool, Shanghai and Gdansk, cities in flux.

In “art in the cities” e-space lab is linking with Shanghai University School of Fine Arts and Liverpool School of Art and Design
Art and Design Academy at John Moores University, exploring the way art projects and processes affect sense of place, meanings, connecting the present with memory and so avoiding amnesiac futures. The learning benefits occur in both directions in encounters with different practices, city-to-city, locale-to-locale (and local to local, rather than local-global), and the possibility of generating entirely new concepts through mutual misinterpretations. This “catalytic” process opens up the notion that in art academies challenging the autonomy of art has potential pedagogical value in thinking more about art as a way to discover the world in all its particularities, rather than generally finding more about art in order to make new art. This connects to the theme of arts capacity to identify territories in a live and fluid process of activities.

Referencing the way e-space lab is constructing a theoretical framework will include the value of discourses such as Actor-network-theory and Non-representation theory, a world made up of diverse networks of association constituted by that association - by links rather than nodes of the network and by the traffic through the links. Looking at the city with its urban fabric as essentially an environment of hardware, we can see that the work of the artist is often about looking at the city as a software environment, a social fabric of ideas and fashions and connections, a context that can be shaped and re-shaped without the usual destructive consequences.

Tanya Power, University of Limerick
City Patterns: The Role of the Arts in Urban Regeneration

This presentation examines practice based research projects within the urban regeneration environment. In the presentation I will explore responsible commissioning and the potential for sustainable communication strategies within a context for creative exchange between partners.
Core aspects of the presentation will look at the environment of urban regeneration and arts based integration for social collusion/interaction and sustainable partnerships. To illustrate what constitutes environments of urban regeneration and creative partnerships I will look at models of good practice and why particular art programmes are successful in creative exchanges and why others are not.
I will look at strategies used in certain projects and how the communication and design of the art work was developed through a series of mediations into social and cultural relations – of people to place, of design constructions within the urban landscape and the connection of citizens to urban architecture and public spaces.
As part of the presentation I will outline how my professional experience of collaborative art exchange projects informed my thinking in respect of the commissioning process and the expectations of the artist, the community and the artwork. The “City Patterns” project* charts the effects of the linear landscapes within a modern urban context through an examination of dystopic spaces, regeneration, identity and communication.
The paper chronicles the re-evaluation of my own perceptions as an artist, in defining the brief, the design of the project and the re-contextualisation of the final art work. The artistic process employed posed larger questions in addition to the more immediate reflections after the project. Should the artist’s role within urban regeneration projects be as a researcher or as a mediator of social or cultural change? Or is the artists role as an agent of social and political commentator/activist?
The paper charts the role of the arts (the artwork and artist) within the area of urban regeneration in the context of the commissioning process, the funding partners and the rationale for commissioning arts based projects within areas designated as disadvantaged. The presentation examines the “collaborative” partners, the functions of art and the expectations of what art can deliver and for whom.


Henrik Frisk, Malmö Academy of Music
Musical improvisation and computers: Real-time composition and in-time performance

One of the perhaps more obvious differences between composed and improvised music is the fact that the latter unfolds in real-time whereas parts of the former is constructed outside of real-time. This is not to say, however, that improvised music is void of compositional strategies but that the in-time aspect of improvisation—the way it is embedded in time—is important and significant and that this property makes it particularly interesting for artistic research. To improvise with computers further complicates the picture as the temporal properties of a machine is in every respect different from those of a human. In this short paper it is discussed how the temporal aspects of musical improvisation with computers influence both the practice and the research performed through the practice.

In-time actions are actions where the time taken matters, where time is a factor whose value is decisive. For example, when I walk it is not just that my leg is moving that matters but also the time it takes to move it. Musical performance and improvisation are typical in-time operations. As for actions that occur over-time, the time consumed by the action is of little significance to the result. Computation is a typical example of an over-time operation: The primary interest is the result itself, and as such it will not be affected by the amount of time it takes to arrive at it. In other words, and in general terms: to combine musical improvisation and computers means to combine different temporal modes of operation.

It is argued here that research in and through the practice of musical improvisation should resist the temptation of objectifying the in-time performance (through transcription, recording, etc.) and instead embrace the possibilities and the great challenges that lies in investigating the in-the-moment, unfolding, real-time, processes of creative and interactive activities. Furthermore, such inquiries performed on musical improvisation with computers may provide related practices and more general fields of research, such as Human-Computer Interaction research, with interesting insights.

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