After days of reading, writing and confusion it was lovely to come to the studio put on my old overalls and get on with something practical before sitting at the desk and switching on the computer.
I am tying myself in knots trying to write about my work for the research course. Writing about my work does not come naturally to me, at the moment I am so confused that I do not quite understand what it exactly is that I am even trying to write! Phrases from the final assignment float around in my head but somehow they remain intangible. Writing is not my medium, visual art is – and this is, I guess, the challenge faced by all artists wishing to participate in fields such as research where the demand for dissemination, communicability and academic status steer us towards the written word.
Being able to express my practice, or at least ‘give an account’ of it, in written form would be great, and I am certain that this skill would open doors for me beyond the immediate situation. I imagine that writing any kind of application or proposal would be easier if the ‘right’ words flowed freely.
Searching for inspiration I started to read about some of my favourite artists. This produced strange sensations of both surety and futility – I began to imagine that my work had a heritage and a context, and conversely I began to wonder where its originality, if it had any, lay.
The originality lies, of course, in the execution. The challenge I face now is how to make the execution (rather than the concept for example,) the focus of the writing, because for me the execution has always been the actual artwork.
If research is about improvement, what does ‘improvement’ mean in terms of artistic research?
If research needs to be evaluated, what does ‘evaluation’ mean in terms of artistic research?
If the intention of artistic research is to draw the research topic out of the practice rather than present the topic to the practice, how does the artist(ic researcher) produce and investigate the practice at the same time? It sounds as though I need to be simultaneously both inside and outside of the practice. Can that be right? How could that be possible?
Leaving the above aside (!), what have I come up with so far? What can I suggest that my artwork does in a way that might be considered ‘research’? It presents new ways to think about things, it encourages heightened/increased sensitivity to the material world, it attempts to offer new possibilities and methods of comprehension. (I worry that this all starts to sound rather patronising and egocentric.)
The idea of making new connections interests me as it starts to suggest a way of producing new knowledge, or at least extending existing knowledge, making additions, this is certainly something that I can draw out from my practice.
I worry that the things I have identified so far are not (nor should they be!) unique to my practice. Research is of course related to the access to, and distribution of, resources, which is why the question of ‘significance’ comes up so often. If I cannot make a good argument for the significance of my practice then I feel that it is unlikely to gain access to research resources even if it might be considered to be research. I find it particularly hard to think of how I might claim the significance of work that is yet to be made. Perhaps this is where the term ‘project’ has its use. Could the ‘project’ be the structure that gives subsequent artworks significance?
I resisted the word ‘project’ as I could not see its relation to my practice, perhaps I am beginning to realise its potential. This week we received information about the follow-up course that we are invited to apply for, it’s name: Artistic Research Project – maybe it’s a sign …