I’ve posted one of Richard Blythe’s practice-based PhD summaries before but never got round to an extended version from 2016. In it he discusses artists’ fascinations (from about 2:50min):

[fascinations] are the sense of the wonderful, the things that practitioenrs return to again and again – their muses if you like, images, particular kinds of light conditions, projects by other practitioners – that have drawn extended enquiry from the practitioner … the projects that they will return to again and again, thinking through their own works. Fascinations can be text based, image based, paintings, art works, philosophical texts, all kinds of manner of thing; a fascination pool of individual practices.

Here’s the full embed:

If you are involved in a PaR PhD, or just interested in understanding the way in which PaR involves telecoping into instances of practice while extended and searching beyond their borders, then this video is well worth a watch.



that thing produced

I recently wrote a book chapter called That Thing Produced and in it I explore the epistemic conditions and possibilities of practice-research. Here’s a small sample:

In this chapter, I use the term knowledge in the conflated and ambiguous way – both intellectual endeavour and a tool for the knowledge economy. I do so to recognise its common usage in contemporary higher education, and to acknowledge that the absence of nuance enables academics rather fortuitously to speak with different audiences in the academy (with different goals, desires, histories and understandings) as if we are talking about the same thing. For example, even the statement “I am doing research” comes loaded with ambiguity because of how different people might understand differently the epistemic value and purpose of doing research. (p.483)

The chapter is part of a book called A World of Muscle, Bone & Organs: Research and Scholarship in Dance, and it is an open access PDF available from: www.coventry.ac.uk/c-dare/e-book.



Henk Borgdorff’s The Conflict of the Faculties : Perspectives on Artistic Research and Academia is a fantastic text about practice-research. It’s a goldmine really, but I particularly like the way he is very clear about the way in PaR that the art pratice is entangled with research and artistic development:

The entanglement of artistic research with art practice and with artistic development is so close that a conceptual distinction often appears contrived. (p.144)

He includes the footnote:

Such distinctions are usually made by people who first create a caricature of the one activity, believing they are protecting the other activity by doing so.

He then follows on with what is pretty old news, but does such a fantastic job of articulating the ways in which context helps to clarify the nature of the research:

Another distinguishing feature is that contemporary art practice constitutes the relevant context for the research, alongside the academic forum. The research derives its significance not only from the new in-sights it contributes to the discourse on art, but also from the outcomes in the form of new products and experiences which are meaningful in the world of art. In part, then, the outcomes of artistic research are art-works, installations, performances, and other artistic practices; and this is another quality that differentiates it from humanities or social science research, where art practice may be the object of the research, but not the outcome. This means that art practice is paramount as the subject matter, the method, the context, and the outcome of artistic research. That is what is meant by expressions like ‘practice-based’ or ‘studio-based’ research. (p.146)

The book is open access.

Borgdorff, Hendrik Anne Henk. 2012. The Conflict of the Faculties : Perspectives on Artistic Research and Academia. Leiden: Leiden University Press : Amsterdam. https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/18704.


research and truth

Last month I linked to Tim Ingold’s talk at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Glasgow. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to it it’s well worth it. Some things that Tim said stood out for me:

Research is the pursuit of truth.
Truth is aspirational.
It is absolutely not objective fact.

Truth is the unison of imagination and experience in a world to which we are alive and that is alive to us.
Truth requires that we take ourselves into the world. We can’t remain outside of it.
There is danger in conflating truth and objectivity.
It is the search for truth that underpins research.
Search and search again. Research is continually conducted in the dark.

Most of this bit happens at about 45min into the talk.

Listening to the talk made me want to own my search for truth; and because truth is a word that seems to have been spurned in the academy (and certainly in the arts and humanities), that now seems an ideal time to welcome its pursuit. That there things at stake in the claims we make as artist-scholars.


magee and an incoherent task

Here’s a bit more from Paul Magee, and from the same article as last week. This time it’s the part where he is talking about examining an “incoherent task”:

I am referring to that familiar examiner’s predicament of excusing poor art work because there is something good in the scholarly accompaniment, and excusing poor scholarship because there is something good in the artwork; and then excusing the fact that ‘there is something good in it’ is not good enough as far as either of these endeavours are concerned, on the grounds that it is actually unjust to fail a candidate set such an incoherent task in the first place. Each part of the practice-led research dissertation package has its alibi in the other and the whole offers an alibi for performance as well.

– Paul Magee, “Introduction. Part 1: Beyond Accountability?.” Text. October, 2012. http://www.textjournal.com.au/speciss/issue14/Magee%20(Intro%201).pdf, p.10