tacit and reflexive

The Artistic Doctorates in Europe project published a resource collection last year. In the introduction, Vida Midgelow (who also happens to be a very dear friend) wrote the following:

Artistic researchers might be said to pursue ‘hybrid enquiries combining creative doing with reflexive being’ (Kershaw 2011, 64), deeply informed by ‘expert practitioner knowledge’ (see Melrose 2005). So, whilst many approaches to research have sought to place a distance between the researcher and the researched, artistic researchers tend toward tacit approaches, wherein the researcher is very much caught up in the particularities of the/their situation and their own agency.

— Vida Midgelow nivel.teak.fi/adie/introduction

I understand the profoundly first-person nature of artistic research although I’d suggest this hardly makes it unique. But what caught my eye was the way Vida seems to fold in tacit approaches with reflexivity. It’s not clear to me what this relationship between tacit approaches and reflexivity might be. Is there something peculiar about reflexive first-person research processes artistic research that pulls the researcher towards that which can’t be seen or felt?

If you happen to be reading this Vida I’d love to hear your thoughts.


One of the things I must enjoy about artistic research is the space it provides for ambiguity and uncertainty. I’d see both of these words as being fundamental to artistic research experiences. We cannot know with certainty, and the ideas, materials and sensations we are involved in are ambiguous.

But there is also a time for precision and my sense is that such a time is most obvious or pointed in the writing we sometimes create as part of articulating reflections on practice.

Here’s a benign example from Andrea Davidson’s Introduction to the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices’ special volume on technology (Volume 5):

As de Lima notes, ‘experience, consciousness and perception are not abstract concepts, but are active embodied practices resulting from a continuous and recursive inter- action with the environment’

– Davidson, 2013: 12

But if you go to de Lima’s article (in the same issue) she writes:

Furthermore, Damásio’s theory emphasizes that notions like experience, consciousness and perception are not abstract concepts, but are active embodied practices resulting from a continuous, recursive interaction with the environment.

– de Lima, 2013: 24

These ideas regarding embodied practices are not de Lima’s at all, they belong to Damásio and that places them in an entirely different context, legacy and indeed way of thinking about the body.

Of course, this isn’t a problem peculiar to practice-research, except to say that because we are constantly shifting registers as artist-scholars — between the poetic, the scholarly, the deeply researched, the profoundly intuitive — perhaps it’s a little easier for us to fall into the trap of lacking precision when precision is possible?


Davidson, A., 2013. Somatics: An orchid in the land of technology. Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices 5, 3–15. https://doi.org/10.1386/jdsp.5.1.3_7

de Lima, C., 2013. Trans-meaning – Dance as an embodied technology of perception. journal of dance and somatic practices 5, 17–30. https://doi.org/10.1386/jdsp.5.1.17_1

the five credibility tests

The ‘Research Frame’: The Five Credibility Tests by Brad Haseman

  1. That there is a clearly established problem which drives the study, usually made clear through a ‘research question’ or ‘an enthusiasm of practice’.
  2. That, just as the research problem and its content are under scrutiny, so too will the process of research be scrutinised. It is necessary for the study to articulate its methodology convincingly and so make it available for scrutiny.
  3. That the research undertaken is located within its field of enquiry and associated conceptual terrain.
  4. That the knowledge claims made from the study be must be reported to others and demonstrate the benefit of the study in social, cultural, environmental or economic terms.
  5. That what becomes known is made available for sustained and verifiable peer review.

— Brad Haseman (2007) TEXT, Vol 11 No 1 April 2007 https://www.textjournal.com.au/april07/haseman.htm

Thanks to Lee Miller and Bob Whalley for reminding me of this work.

gadamer and understanding as an event

Gadamer conceives our interaction with historical texts as dialogic, on the model of conversation. Understanding the performance means neither discovering its original meanings, seeing and hearing it as it was originally seen and heard, nor imposing our own meanings on it. ‘Understanding proves to be an event’, the emergent result of the conversation between ourselves and the performance, a conversation to which both sides are understood to contribute. ‘In this the interpreter’s own horizon is decisive’, writes Gadamer, and this is necessarily true, as the conversational event takes place in the present, against this horizon.

— Philip Auslander, Reactivation: Performance, Mediatization and the Present Moment, in: Chatzichristodoulou, M., Jefferies, J., Zerihan, R. (Eds.), Interfaces of Performance. Ashgate Publishing Limited, Surrey, pp. 81–94. This quote from pp.87-88.

practice and research

On the same trip to Malta I also got to spend a couple of afternoons with the undergraduate dance cohort at University of Malta. One of the sesssions was about practice and research. Tough sell.

The session was an experiment really and throughout the session I started working on a whiteboard as they were working with tasks, feeding back, etc. This is what the board looked like at the end.

corporeal epistemics

I was in Malta last week for the Performance Knowledges conference. We got through the first day and then the conference folded as travel bans and quarantines were imposed. It was a shame — the first day was provocative and I was so looking forward to hearing more of people’s research.

My presentation explored ideas to do with epistemology, datafication and the things we can and can’t say about body-based practice. But, it never happened, so instead yesterday I made and published a desktop presentation version:

If you’d prefer you can download a PDF transcript of the presentation at skellis.net/_assets/_corporeal_epistemics.pdf.

The project page is over on my personal site at skellis.net/corporeal-epistemics.