Steve Tromans


research expositions (collaborated)

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Exposition: Nietzsche 5 : The Fragmentary (01/01/2015) by Michael Schwab
Steve Tromans 05/02/2016 at 13:06

 “Nietzsche 5 The Fragmentary” is an excellent contribution to the field of artistic research in music; a thoroughly enjoyable and informative exposition. Its key point of resonance with the theme of the issue is that of the fragmentary as research gesture. The exposition is a beautiful example a fragmentary presentational format, which encourages its readers to perform and to articulate, in a multi-modal engagement, the gestures suggested by the research. Further, this kind of openness to presentational freedom highlights the question of the relations between the various media (writing, audio, visual) and the multifarious gestures and trajectories to be traced through these by the reader. The reader is allowed to partake in the research process – to be more than just a recipient of the knowledge-project of the authors’ (ongoing) research. In so doing, the research exposition is kept open and fragmentary in a positive and creative way, in a manner that is not achievable via more traditional fixed formats of research presentation.


The encouragement and opportunity for the reader to engage with the exposition in an unlimited number of ways – anything from a more straightforward left-to-right and down the page approach, to a fragmentary “nomadic” singular trajectory of one’s own choice – suits the object and focus of this particular research admirably. The exposition’s fragmentary layout on the (web)page resonates effectively (and affectively) with the theme of the research. I took particular pleasure in accessing multiple elements at the same time – for instance, triggering an audio excerpt and a video clip of one of the authors talking to camera while reading one or more of the written texts.


The artistic practice carried out here is fundamentally grounded in the research project that this exposition is part of. This makes the exposition exemplary of the possibilities and benefits of artistic research as a relatively new epistemological paradigm. The theme of the research – the fragmentary in Nietzsche’s music and philosophy and, in wider context, the fragmentary as a means of exploring early romanticism and contemporary artistry – provides both a focus for the enquiry and also a method of operation and presentation.


The exposition is itself a fragment of an on-going research project (Nietzsche N), and this particular portion of the research (Nietzsche 5) is, in part, itself a multi-modal blueprint for a future research event (Nietzsche 6). This demonstrates the authors’ complex practice-as-research gesturing. The reader is able to garner a sense of the eternally returning, fragmentary nature of the theme/s under investigation, and to experience first-hand (through interaction with the diverse materials presented on the page) his/her own historical perspective as an active (though fragmented) part of the temporal flow/s of the Nietzsche N research project.


The authors’ research is grounded in artistic practice, and therefore the relationship between the two (practice and research) is from the outset a complex one. This is, of course, one of the benefits of adopting a practice-as-research approach: utilising such complexity in the service of engaging with the multifaceted relationships operative both in music and philosophy, via the metaphor as well as the theoretical/practical/presentational tools provided by the fragmentary.


The fragmentary as a method of research enquiry, presentation and artistic practice has important implications for other fields of artistic practice as well. For instance, in my own areas of expertise – jazz and improvising music – I can clearly envisage potential applications and further developments of the fragmentary approach presented here.


Steve Tromans