In 2013 I wrote and presented a paper at Roehampton Dance called “Giving up on practice-as-research”. I thought some of the ideas might be interesting, provocative or even just plain useful. A lot of the latter part of the paper (which is where it gets a little more interesting) came out of reading Issue 14 of TEXT.
Here’s an exercept:
One of the key questions in traditional practice-as-research is what it is that is known as a consequence of doing it. But what if this is the wrong problem? In other words, if artistic research is stripped of the assumption that we ought to be addressing questions, then perhaps we are freed from the container of knowledge-building and can get back to the work of doing what it is that artists do.
“If a concept can be captured clearly in academic writing as a question, what would be the point of making art with it?” – Lachlan MacDowall 
What if, in the context of artists developing and making work within the academy, we were to abandon (research) questions altogether as a flawed idea and inappropriate practice?
I find this hard to fathom or imagine. I’ve long used processes of questioning as a means not only to bolster my standing, but also as a means of delaying taking a stance on understanding. How could research be research if it didn’t involve research questions? What kinds of outcomes might be developed if they are not the result of some kind of questioning?
Writing about the art of the exegesis, Danny Butt, describes what he calls the worst situation of all as:
“interesting practices (de)formed into ‘research questions’ that the works are then supposed to answer. Duchamp did his best to dissuade such thinking, believing that ‘there is no solution, because there is no problem.’ Now the need to find problems to satisfy a demand for academic rigour seems to be the problem.” – Danny Butt
Here’s a link to the entire paper: Giving Up on PaR
- MacDowall, Lachlan. 2012. “Art and Knowledge Systems: Teaching Research Methods.” Text. October. http://www.textjournal.com.au/speciss/issue14/MacDowall.pdf. ↩
- Butt, Danny. 2012. “The Art of the Exegesis.” Mute. April 10. http://www.metamute.org/editorial/articles/art-exegesis. ↩