These are two things I am currently doing regularly, and I think they both constitute a practice that could become a project of some kind (although that isn’t why I started them):
- love letters
This involves writing a brief (although sometimes they aren’t so brief) love letter – or reflection on love – every day (without fail). It takes 5 to 15 minutes. It doesn’t have an end goal, and is not directed towards anything. However, it is very direct. In other words, I understand what the activity entails, but not where it might end up. It is both i) internal: considering and practicing how my understanding of the nature of love might be articulated and felt; and ii) external: in dialogue with one key text: Badiou’s In Praise of Love.
This involves a brief improvised dance each day (although I am not as strict as with the love letter writing). It feels less clear, although it is very clear to me when I am doing the practice, and when I am not. Again, it takes 5 to 15 minutes each day. The external references are less clear but some key practitioners include: Meg Stuart, Eva Recacha, Kirstie Simson, and Deborah Hay.
In both examples this is what I think is important in terms of understanding practice-as-research:
- the activity is clear (or has become increasingly clear through doing)
- the activity is regular
- the activity is done and not simply imagined (this would apply to philosophical, conceptual or written practices as well)
- how they might be articulated/shared/performed/treated is open (that is, the endpoint is not yet clear), but possibilities are emerging
- there is a sense or understanding of my interest in relation to how others consider or have discussed/practiced the ideas and practice
As with sitting cross-legged in Zen meditation, this kind of experience doesn’t happen through intellection. It won’t happen, in fact, without you being there. You are either there or you aren’t. And if you aren’t all you have is ideas. Showing up makes the difference. You give yourself to the experience and see what happens. You see what changes.
– Kay Larson. 2013. Where the Heart Beats. Penguin Paperbacks, p.342