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:
By adopting an explicitly apprentice-style method, or by actively engaging in the practices they study (see, e.g., Lee & Ingold 2006; Retsikas 2008), the contributors to this volume have developed their individual understandings about learning and knowing by ‘doing’ what they study. Cultivating such understanding, as they convincingly convey, demands long [p.S11] immersion, perceptual and kinaesthetic awareness, careful reflection, persistent questioning, and a constant probing of the complex and multiple factors that constitute any field of practice.
I’m curious about the extent to which ‘articulating process’ is merely a truism of practice-research. Who said that this is the spirit of practice-led research? Or is it simply an unquestioned convention?
In part I worry that we end up reifying process in the way that Barthes warns us about method:
Some people speak of method greedily, demandingly; what they want in work is method; to them it never seems rigorous enough, formal enough. Method becomes a Law …. The invariable fact is that a work which constantly proclaims its will-to-method is ultimately sterile: everything has been put into the method, nothing remains for the writing; the researcher insists that his text will be methodological, but this text never comes: no surer way to kill a piece of research and send it to join the great scrap heap of abandoned projects than Method.
— Roland Barthes, (1986). The Rustle of Language (R. Howard, Trans.). New York: Hill and Wang, p.318.