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

The project page is over on my personal site at


Part of the game of any research process is finding ways to test your one’s own thinking, understanding, biases1 and assumptions. The dancer Chrysa Parkinson posted a self-interview in 2011 as (I suspect) a way to develop and share her understanding:

It’s playful, lucid and direct, and such a useful example of a way for artists to interrupt their thinking or to draw a line under a period of practice or research.

Tip of the hat to my friend and colleague Scott deLahunta for sending me the video.

  1. I’ve written about cognitive biases here: 



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.


knudsen and cactus

Erik Knudsen is a Professor of Visual Culture at Bournemouth University. In 2016 he gave a presentation at “Practices and Processes of Practice-Research: Interdisciplinary and Methodological Critique” at the Centre for Practice Based Research in the Arts, Canterbury Christ Church University.

It’s a great presentation and you can watch it here:

At one point, though, Erik says that “research is research, knowledge is knowledge, but there are many different ways of generating that knowledge” (4:43min).

I appreciate Erik’s desire to put an end to some of the anxieties of artist-scholars grappling with epistemic questions, but I think he’s wrong about knowledge being knowledge. I think he’s wrong because this desire for parity has been the key ideological project of practice-as-research: to get art “on the books as research” [1] by bending it into the dominant epistemological systems of the academy. There are of course good reasons for wanting to do these kinds of gymnastics: status, legitimacy, resources.

I suspect that the desire for equivalent status is actually a distraction from the profound epistemological possibilities of artistic research, and by doing those gymnastics (or making those compromises) we are in effect devaluing and denaturing the epistemic and political work of artistic research.

Knudsen’s talk reminded me also of this by Rocco, Biggs and Büchler:

[Research] is a response to a set of basic questions about the world and our knowledge of it. The first is an ontological question: what kind of things can we know? The second is epistemological: what is our relationship to that knowledge? The third is methodological: how does one go about finding this knowledge? [2]

And lastly, I was watching the Knudsen video with the closed captions on and instead of practice we got cactus:

20171026 - knudsen - Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 18.52.12.png

  1. Magee, Paul. 2012. “Introduction. Part 1: Beyond Accountability?.” Text. October.  ↩
  2. Rocco, R, M Biggs, and D Buchler. 2009. “Design Practice and Research: Interconnections and the Criterion-Based Approach.” Aberdeen., p.376  ↩