29 SES 03, Debating artistic research in arts education
Prior to accessing the eventual research-mania of the Bologna declaration, the question of research in itself being good or bad for art and artists must be assessed. If research is good, then the Bologna process seems to be a beneficial force in the right direction. If not, it should be resisted on those grounds. I shall attempt to defend here that research is good and, furthermore, it constitutes a means for empowering the artist. I’ll try to make a case for the analogy of artistic research and experimental (scientific) research, and try to show that the lack of epistemologically clear methods of assessment of value in art does not undermine the value of the artistic research, as research in itself.
I’ll discuss the requirements of artistic research and attempt a justification of the use of art-works as the embodiment of the results of artistic research against the need to produce written texts as their translation (as is required by some PhD programs). Therefore, I will focus on artistic research done through art, where artwoks are the means and embodiment of the results of the research activity. I will not be talking of research about art (which is epistemologically uncontroversial). For art to be a source of knowledge it must be able to be knowledge as art.
When talking about the possibility of art being a source of knowledge (John, 2005) we can situate the discussion between two extremes: the enthusiastic defense coming from people who say that they can learn from art, and, people that deny this possibility stating that art does not meet the traditional criteria of well justified true belief (Stolnitz, 1992).
Scientific knowledge is propositional by design. Is constructs discrete categories the enable the modeling of the real world. The real world is dense as defined by (Goodman, 1968), not discrete. This categorical discretization simplifies the real and enables the construction of well defined sets of objects and concepts that are the basis for the propositional deductive logic of science (Popper, 2002). The fact that propositional logic is a discrete modelization of a dense world makes it incomplete.
The “new cases” that are constantly emerging are cases which the artist, through his practice, takes form the infinite set located in the dense analog space of possibilities, and produces an artwork reducing the possibility to a concrete artifact. This artifact can be viewed as a proposition in the sense that it exists and can therefore be compared to any set of criteria of value.
Nelson Goodman lists four conditions necessary to the occurrence of art (Goodman, 1968). He lists semantic and syntactic density as symptoms of the presence of art. These are absent from propositional logic by design. Goodman also adds repleteness and exemplificability. Elgin (Elgin, 1991) focus on exemplification and the ways it enhances understanding in arts and the sciences. In a dense field the artist making artworks is really working in the exemplificability effort and thus contributing to the advancement of the exploration of the relevant field. The research will be good as long as it demonstrates that the works produced are a contribution to the field. The degree of success in this endeavour is directly relevant to the quality of the research.
Finally, I will argue that artistic research is a tool for the artist to take back some control over his practice. One effect of art research would be for the artist to attain a more-in-control position over her own art and engaging in a meaningful discussion with other agents in the artworld.
The methodology i used is of a theoretical nature. It involved the review of literature related to, on the one hand, artistic research stemming from the polemics brought by the bologna declaration and, on the other, to aesthetics and the epistemology of the arts. Also, as an artist, many insights came about by reflecting on my own artistic practice. This work is the natural product of reflection on these fields by a doctoral student who is deeply interested in the analysis of artistic practices. The engagement with people in the artworld gave me the opportunity to reflect further on the research in art and in bringing together the various disciplines relevant to this paper.
In this paper I argue that artistic research is a tool for empowering the artist if it is done within a set of parameters that gives it some epistemic value. It must comply with a minimal set of requirements, some expressed via textual discourse others via artwork production. These are the development of an artistic concept, which functions as a central basis that acts as a center for building a state of the art which in turn will be the background against which the contribution is assessed. The contribution is the result of the research which is embodied by the real artworks that the artist creates as form of expressing the artistic sanction. The epistemic value of the results is derived from the concept of exemplificability as stated by (Goodman, 1968) and expanded by (Elgin, 1991) as a retriever of value in a dense universe of artistic possibilities. In a dense field the artist making artworks is really working in the exemplificability effort and thus contributing to the advancement of the exploration of the relevant field. The research will be good as long as it demonstrates that the works produced are a contribution to the field. The degree of success in this endeavour is directly relevant to the quality of the research.
Beardsley, M. (2012). An Aesthetic Definition of Art. In P. Lamarque, & S. H. Olsen, Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art. Blackwell. Bologna. (1999). The Bologna Declaration of 19 June 1999. Education, Joint declaration of the European Ministers of. Carroll, N. (2004). Art and the Moral Realm. In P. Kivy, The Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics. Oxford: Blackwell. Elgin, C. (1991). Understanding: Art and Science. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 16. Goodman, N. (1968). Languages of art: An approach to a theory of symbols. Hobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. Green, M. (2010). How and What We Can Learn from Fiction. In G. L. Jost, A Companion to the Philosophy of Literature. Blackwell. Irvin, S. (2005). The Artist’s Sanction in Contemporary Art. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63:4 Fall, 315-326. John, E. (2005). Art and Knowledge. In B. Gaut, & D. M. Lopes, The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics. London: Routledge. Kuhn, T. (1996). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. University of Chicago Press. Lesage, D. (2009). Who’s Afraid of Artistic Research? On measuring artistic research output. ART&RESEARCH: A Journal of Ideas, Contexts and Methods, Volume 2. No. 2. McAllister, J. (2004). Seven Claims. In A. W. Balkema, & H. Slager, Artistic Research, Lier en Boog, Series of Philosophy of Art and Art Theory, volume18. Amsterdam/New York: Editions Rodopi B.V. Pitz, H. (2004). Seven Remarks. In A. W. Balkema, & H. Slager, Artistic Research, Lier en Boog, Series of Philosophy of Art and Art Theory, volume18. Amsterdam/New York: Editions Rodopi B.V. Slager, H. (2004). Methododicy. In A. W. Balkema, & H. Slager, Artistic Research, Lier en Boog, Series of Philosophy of Art and Art Theory, volume18. Amsterdam/New York: Editions Rodopi B.V. Slager, H. (2015). The Pleasure of Research. Hatje Cantz Verlag. Stolnitz, J. (1992). On the Cognitive Triviality of Art. British Journal of Aesthetis 32. Uidhir, C. M., & Magnus, P. (2011). Art Concept Pluralism. Metaphilosophy, Volume 42, Issue 1-2, pages 83–97, January 2011. Verwoert, J. (2006). School’s Out!-? (V. a. Abu Eldahab, Ed.) Notes for an art school. Vries, G. d. (2004). Beware of Research. In A. W. Balkema, & H. Slager, Artistic Research, Lier en Boog, Series of Philosophy of Art and Art Theory, volume18. Amsterdam/New York: Editions Rodopi B.V. Weitz, M. (2012). The Role of Theory in Aesthetics. In P. Lamarque, & S. H. Olsen, Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art. Blackwell.
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