On the question of research

Fall semester, 2020 / Prof. Brandon LaBelle, Department of Contemporary Art, University of Bergen

The series of lectures and seminars looks at questions of artistic research, and aims to reflect upon some of the key terms or pillars defining research culture. Topics such as knowledge, writing, peer review and institutional practices will be unpacked in order to question what particular qualities or perspectives artistic research contributes: what forms of knowledge can one expect from artistic research? In what sense does artistic research understand itself in relation to artistic practice? Is artistic research an art form? What consequences does artistic research have for education and the contemporary art scene? Contending with some of the challenges around the “science of art”, the series intends to open a set of questions as well as productive vocabularies for nurturing research as a creative gesture. It also considers in what ways the notion of the artist as researcher may entail the construction of a unique set of terms or manners, which would include a shift from argumentation to speculation, from reference to gesture, from thesis to aesthetics. From such a view, is the artist researcher to be understood as a type of poetic hacker of research culture, a figure pirating the terms of science? Reflecting upon these perspectives, we will map out what research is from an artistic point of view, and how it may contribute to the project of art in general.

Seminar 1 (Sept. 22): On Knowledge / If one of the main criteria for artistic research is the development of new knowledge, how does art relate itself to knowledge production? Given that art making is often relating to a diversity of issues, and pulling from a range of topics outside of art, what do we understand as “artistic knowledge” and its common references? Mapping particular views onto epistemology, we’ll consider in what sense artistic research impacts onto understandings of knowledge. Can artistic research provide a particular approach to what it means to know, and what might be the consequences?

Seminar 2 (Oct. 27): On Writing / Often within the field of artistic research the question of writing is raised, and attempts are made to enable “alternative” forms. How do we understand the function of writing in this context? Should artistic research, and in particular doctoral programs in the arts, establish other conventions of writing as well as referencing? In considering these questions, we’ll look towards a range of “models of writing” and reflect on how writing enables participation within a community of peers.

Seminar 3 (Nov. 24): On the Institution / Artistic research, and doctoral programs in the arts, necessarily raise the issue of the institution: while artists often challenge institutional constructs, in what ways does artistic research understand itself as an institutional practice? What kind of institution emerges by way of artistic research, and what consequences might artistic research have for art education? What happens when art education shifts from educating artists to educating researchers? Exploring the issue of the institution, we’ll raise fundamental questions around notions of autonomy and responsibility.