composition is not research

Some fairly provocative ideas from John Croft here:

He makes a lot of very broad assumptions about research which I find hard to reconcile but it’s definitely worth a read.

the cognitive content of art while insisting on its resistance to conceptualisation – it presents rather than represents, discloses without describing. In terms of Wittgenstein’s famous distinction, such things can only be shown, not told.

And here’s Ian Pace’s response:

On 25 November there’s going to be a conversation about these ideas.

I have plans to make it along.


little r and big R research

It doesn’t really matter which is the little r and which is the big, but regardless they different in kind:

  • r: the research we do to serve an idea. This is the kind that happens when we do background research about a theme or concept. e.g. I am making a work about upholstery and now I’m doing a lot of research about the history of upholstery, how it works, etc. 
  • R: the research we do that seeks to understand the nature of what we are doing. This is research that expands our understanding of the world we live, work and play in.

satisfying curiosity

Habermas’ insistence on the interests behind research procedures can be seen as a blow to a positivistic insistence on impartial objectivity of research: we choose scientific methods out of interests! And of course we do. Research is not just following certain rules, but trying to find answers to questions that we find pressing or interesting, solving urgent problems, creating things we want or need – or just satisfying curiosity. And hopefully we find the relevant methods for solving those problems. But Habermas’ insistence on the interests behind research may remind us of the one thing that we more often than not must search for in vain in general and abstract discussions of artistic research, namely statements about the aim of these kinds of research. What do we want to know that artistic research will be able to tell us? What do we want to achieve through artistic research?

— Kjørup, Søren. 2010. “Pleading for Plurality: Artistic and Other Kinds of Research.” In The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts, edited by Michael Biggs and Henrik Karlsson, 24–43. London: Routledge. p.30