Propositions for Unfinished Thinking:

The Research Score as a Medium of Artistic Research

Research Approach

This research exposition presents the process and results of my doctoral research at the Performing Arts Research Centre of the Theatre Academy at the University of the Arts Helsinki. My artistic research is crafted around Body Weather, a comprehensive approach to training and performance developed by the Japanese avant-garde dancer/choreographer Min Tanaka and his entourage from the late 1970s. Initially, the aim of my investigation was to articulate the impact and epistemic potential of the so-called Manipulations, a duo hands-on practice based on yoga, shiatsu and acupuncture, and one of the core elements of the training. In the course of my research, my focus shifted, however, from the Manipulations to the main practical method of my investigation, the so-called ‘research score’. The research score is a modified solo version of the original duo practice, and combines the physical re-creation of the experience of receiving the Manipulations with the concurrent expression of thoughts and observations.


The focus in this commentary is on tracing the evolution of the research score, from a method of embodied reflection in and on the Manipulations into a medium of artistic research. This account is a necessarily partial and fairly idiosyncratic (re-)construction of a process of research and knowledge-making that inevitably leaves open many questions. For example, despite the fact that up to now there is still relatively little scholarly research about Body Weather,1 from the outset the aim of my research was not to take an art historical approach and to make a contribution to the field of dance history, but to focus on a specific part of the training, the Manipulations, and to explore the epistemic potential of this practice from the perspective of artistic research.


For this reason, I have dedicated some attention to the origins and philosophical foundations of Body Weather (Chapter One) and to the Manipulations (Chapter Two and Chapter Three) in order to contextualize my undertaking. My proposed contribution, however, consists less in creating knowledge about Body Weather, than in indicating the knowledge potential of continued experimentation and artistic research with this particular approach to performer training. The subject of my research, and of this commentary, is thus not Body Weather per se, but the exploration and unfolding of the Manipulations’ epistemic potential in the course of its transformation from an artistic medium into a medium of artistic research (Chapter Four). Furthermore, for reasons that are discussed in Chapter Five and Chapter Six, the approach that I have taken towards the research was not to first create a coherent theoretical framework and then to apply a pre-fabricated system of concepts to my own practice as a method of knowing, but instead to draw on diverse theoretical resources as a means to further my understanding of the practice.


This eclectic approach resembles more a kind of tinkering (Spatz 2017) with concepts than a systematic building of a robust theoretical method as a tool for analysis. Some readers may find it irritating that concepts are taken up and dealt with rather pragmatically, and often without the more detailed analysis they would surely receive and deserve in a more theoretical context. However, my take on artistic research does not strive for the same conceptual rigour as one would expect in the humanities or philosophy. In my understanding, the core task of artistic research is to create a medium of reflection, which also, but not predominantly, operates on a conceptual level of thinking in and through artistic practice. A medium of artistic research offers contact points (Elo 2014) for concepts to change and transform (Badura & Dubach 2015).


The aim of this commentary is to trace the evolution of the research score into a medium of artistic research, and to indicate its epistemic and performative potential in relation to concepts, rather than turning the practice into an object of conceptual thought. Concepts are considered mainly in terms of their capacity to connect to, and to co-articulate with, physical practice as a means of generating a kind of thinking that is unfinished (Borgdorff 2010).


Artistic Research into Performer Training

In the context of research into performer training, the duality between ‘practice’ and ‘reflection’ is seen as one of the central challenges. Being engaged and immersed in the training is typically understood to be incompatible with the action of documenting or reflecting on the training (Pitches 2011). By pausing and stepping back, the critically reflecting practitioner-researcher inevitably has to separate him- or herself from the practice, turning the latter into an object of thought that comes to be represented through language. On the other hand, the bracketing of language during practice is often seen as necessary in order to attain, and maintain, a state of immersion in the world of sensing. Thus, the action of non-verbal bodily reflection in and through practice is conceived as virtually incompatible with the action of critical linguistic reflection on practice. This separation of verbal and non-verbal modes of reflection into different action complexes (Brown et al. 2011) reaffirms the often-bemoaned gap between practice and language, and by extension the division between theory and practice, which artistic research is committed to challenge and overcome.


The epistemic proposition that I want to make with this research exposition is to consider the research score as a practice that questions the logics of this division. The research score is constituted by techniques that foreground the connectivity and relationality between modalities of reflection that are typically divided into separate action complexes. It explores how to co-articulate conceptual and non-conceptual modes of thinking without subordinating one to the other. It is a practice, I want to suggest, that has the capacity to bring thought to expression in a way that is sensitive to the ecology of experience from which language emerges, and which allows for the expression of the ineffable as that which also has its say in the articulation of discursive thinking and writing.


The research score is a proposition that addresses the problem of the separation between modes of doing and thinking, yet without making any claim to give a definite answer. Different from a statement, the question raised towards the proposition of the research score is not whether it is the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to tackle this problem, nor is it a question of whether my account of it is ‘true’ or ‘false’, but whether the proposition of the research score as a practice of unfinished thinking is more or less well-articulated (Latour 2004) – a question whose answer needs to be left to the reader.


Dissertation Writing and the Institutional Framework

A substantial part of the framework, within which this articulation has been able to find its written form, is provided by the official degree requirements of the Performing Arts Research Centre of the Theatre Academy at the University of the Arts (Uniarts) Helsinki, in which the written part that is required to obtain the doctoral degree is called the ‘commentary’. According to these requirements, the commentary is “aligned with the artistic parts, and it justifies the aims and methods of the doctoral research with respect to the research and practices of the field explored”. The commentary is further expected to “demonstrate an ability to analyze, articulate, conceptualize and theorize the artistic designs of research, and to contextualize these in ways that are characteristic of artistic research”. The degree requirements offer a range of possibilities for how the writing of the commentary can be realized. One of the options that are given is the format of “a web publication or other multimedial form”.2


The subject of ‘writing’ has been at the forefront of discussions in and about artistic research in recent years. Over time, there has been a shift in the debate from establishing the epistemic qualities of art to the question of how these qualities can be made known (Schwab 2012). Parallel to this shift, there have been attempts to re-define the frame of academic writing in the field of artistic research, and to extend the possibilities for exposing art as research (Schwab & Borgdorff 2014). With the development of the Research Catalogue (RC) as a platform for publishing artistic research, the horizon for writing research has been expanded, giving artist-researchers the possibility to re-negotiate the frame of academic writing in ways that suit the specific necessities of their projects. I happily accept the invitation articulated by the degree requirements, and embrace the opportunity offered by the RC, to write the commentary in the form of a multi-medial research exposition. At the time when I was deciding about how to write and publish my doctoral research, in spring 2017, I was speculating that this format would be more appropriate to the specific qualities and needs of my research than the format of a book. I took the opportunity to write the commentary in the form of a research exposition as an incentive to continue, if only in a modest way, to experiment with the potential of the research score as it becomes transposed into the ecology of an enhanced digital publication format.


While I do not regret my decision, I must admit that the feeling of exposure that comes with this particular publication format makes me a little uneasy. I do not at all consider myself an expert in web design, and my technical means and skills continue to be very limited. The main reason for justifying the decision to work towards a web-based publication format has been my conviction, and a clear intuition, that this is what the artistic research process needs. The only way to be faithful to my own research, and to what I consider to be the goals of artistic research, is to allow myself to not know, and to bear the feelings of doubt and failure concomitant with the process of writing, and finally publishing, my doctoral research in the web-based format of a research exposition.


Body Weather

Chapter One outlines the points of departure for my research, and consists of two parts. The first part traces the origins of Body Weather’s formation in the late 1970s and the foundation of Body Weather Laboratory in Tokyo in 1979. Drawing mainly on Drive On (Body Weather Laboratory 1978-1980), a bi-monthly and bi-lingual (English/French) newsletter that served as the mouthpiece of Min Tanaka and his group, as well as on the recollections of practitioners who joined Body Weather Laboratory in Japan during the 1980s and 1990s, the chapter provides an outline of what I consider to be some of the main ideas that inform the philosophy of Body Weather, and which underlie its development into an approach to training and performance practice.


The notion of Body as a medium of Weather3 takes a foundational place in Body Weather’s thinking, and it plays an important role, likewise, in the practice of the Manipulations, whose inception in the late 1970s is closely connected to the formation of Body Weather. Bodies are conceived as open and constantly changing entities. Weather, in this sense, can be understood as the potentially infinite influences that occur inside and outside a body. These influences may occur at any scale, from small to large, from short-term to long-term, from micro to macro, from the past to the future, from real to imagined. They might be related to other—human or non-human—bodies, sensations, thoughts, memories, objects, things, processes, events, etc. Becoming a ‘medium’ is to render bodies open and receptive to these influences, and the Manipulations are a practice that foregrounds and fosters the capacity of bodies to change and transform by becoming Weather(ed).


The second part of this chapter briefly outlines my time of training with Body Weather Amsterdam as a practitioner from 2002 to 2009, and as a performer in the performance project Something Here That Is Not There (SHTINT) from 2005 to 2009. I situate my engagement with Body Weather Amsterdam and SHTINT in the wider context of research-oriented dance in the Netherlands, and briefly sketch my first experiments with the Manipulations while undertaking the Artistic Research Master program at the University of Amsterdam from 2007-2009. In my graduation project for the MA, there remained a gap between theory and practice, which became one of the departure points for my doctoral studies at the Performing Arts Research Centre (Tutke), which I began in 2011.


The Manipulations

Chapter Two zooms in on the Manipulations, as I was introduced to this practice during my time with Body Weather Amsterdam. I highlight in particular those aspects of the practice that I consider to be crucial with regard to the further course of my doctoral research: its transmission; its bracketing of language and the associated tendency to exclude thinking (in the medium of words); the techniques of breathing, of attending to bodies, of releasing muscular tension, and of reflecting; the relationship between the ‘giver’ and the ‘receiver’ of the Manipulations; and the shift from inter-subjective relationship between two bodies to the foregrounding of the material relations of their inter-corporeality. I discuss at more length the issues that I see in the bracketing of language, and in the underlying understanding of the relationship between language and embodiment.


While I recognize the pedagogical motivation behind suspending verbal communication between the two partners during the practice, I also see the risk that the ongoing exclusion of language could eventually become tacitly embodied as a division between words and the world. Against the idea of language as framing and fixing experience, I emphasize its generative and performative potential. The chapter concludes by considering the Manipulations through Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s (1987) notion of the ‘Body without Organs’, and by indicating some of the ethical implications and possible pitfalls of this practice, which has been described as a path towards killing the body-ego (Cardone 2002).



The third chapter further opens and develops the discussion of the practice on a conceptual plain by considering the Manipulations as a knowledge-practice, and by relating it to different notions of knowledge. Drawing on Bruno Latour’s (2004) notion of ‘articulation’ and Ben Spatz’s (2015) notion of ‘technique as knowledge’ that structures practice, I propose conceiving of the Manipulations as a practice that is structured by techniques to articulate bodies in order to activate and enhance their capacity to affect and be affected. In line with Jaana Parviainen and Maija Eriksson (2006), I suggest that the knowledge constituted by the Manipulations is created in the overlap between ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ knowledge, i.e. it is equally constituted by a linear and constructive process of accumulating knowledge of how to do things, as well as of knowing what is better not to do.


Whereas Spatz considers the automatisation of technique to be the hallmark of advanced training, in my understanding, precisely the opposite is the case in the Manipulations: the aim of repetition is not the embodiment of movement to the point of its automatisation, but its reflective re-articulation in order to proliferate (the perception of) difference, instead of minimizing it. In the Manipulations, reflection both in as well as on the perception of movement is key to the performativity of this practice – which consists in its capacity to produce difference by not repeating movement and its perception either automatically or habitually.



Reflection is typically considered to be a key method in the transformation and making explicit of practitioners’ tacit knowledge. However, we will see that there are differing views concerning the modality of reflection in which this transformation is accomplished. Robin Nelson (2013) argues that critical reflection on and about the practitioner’s practice in the medium of language and concepts creates knowledge of what works (‘know-what’) in the doing of a given practice. For Parviainen (2002), on the other hand, bodily knowledge is created via non-linguistic modes of kinaesthetically reflecting in and through the body; according to her, the knowledge engendered through bodily reflectivity cannot be translated into verbal language. In line with Susan L. Foster (1995) and Leena Rouhiainen (2003), I question Parviainen’s disjunction between experience and conceptual reflection, and suggest instead to foreground the productive and performative potential that is activated in the encounter between dance and language.


Language is involved both in learning and in making dance. The fact that language becomes tacit, as it were, in the process of embodiment should not lead us to think that it does not have a say in it, or that it has become absent. In the process of embodiment, language becomes implicit. The (back-)translation of corporeal writing into discursive writing is therefore very well possible, but it requires a heightened sensitivity to the particular requirements of bodily discourse. Writing about the body has to take place in dialogue with the body, and it must be aware of the traditional hegemony of language. Foster (1995) proposes creating an interdisciplinary space in which both modes of writing are at eye level. I understand the research score as a practice that creates such a space on a corporeal (micro-)level, and artistic research as a trans-disciplinary field that cultivates the (macro-)relations, connections and transitions between the conceptual and the corporeal.


Reflexive Dance

A further problem of Parviainen's conception of bodily knowledge is its tendency to bind knowledge in dance to movement. André Lepecki (2006) has criticized an ontology of dance that is tied to movement, because such an approach belongs to a political ontology that subjects bodies to an economy of mobility and thereby sustains late capitalist modernity. Next to Lepecki’s critique, profound changes in (European) contemporary dance since the 1990s have made it more than questionable whether the knowledge that is created in the medium of dance can be reduced to non-propositional forms of knowing in and through movement.


While there may have been a time when it was important to establish the dancer’s tacit knowledge in and through the body as a mode of knowing in its own right, and to push back language as the dominant medium of knowledge- and meaning-making, it seems to me that in the current situation, a non-essentialist and up-to-date epistemology of dance needs to account for the close entanglement between conceptual and more-than-conceptual modes of knowing.


Rudi Laermans (2015) has proposed the term ‘reflexive dance’ when referring to the work of a new generation of dance artists that began to emerge in the 1990s, who started to question the traditional parameters of dance, such as movement, and who shared instead an affinity with reflexive, collaborative and discursive modes of working. While certainly not all contemporary dance artists in Europe whole-heartedly adopted the principles and values of reflexive dance, this movement unquestionably has had a broad and lasting impact – indeed, today, reflectivity and discursive knowledge play a crucial role in learning and creating dance.



Peter Snow (2002) points out that the researcher’s task is to translate a body’s experience into verbal language, and that for this reason it is vital for the researcher to engage corporeally with the practice that he or she is writing about. But how to approach the act of translation? Typically, in the context of (academic) research in the arts, the methodological problem of transposing a non-linguistic mode of embodied knowing into a discursive language is solved by the application of ‘method’: the researcher pauses and steps back in order to critically reflect on the practice by applying a (prefabricated) conceptual framework that is imposed onto the practice. This application of critical reflection as a method of knowledge-making not only implies a division between practice and reflection (Pitches 2011), but it typically also goes hand-in-hand with a subordination of the practice to the needs of theory and the production of discursive knowledge (Massumi 2002, Cull 2012).


Employed as a method that is applied to practice, reflection maintains the dichotomy between theory and practice, and reaffirms the hegemony of language. Against this division, Snow (2002) emphasises the productive connections between practice and language, and the performativity of practitioners’ rhetoric in the training as well as the artistic process. The words that are used make two things happen: first, they create new realities; second, they articulate the deep corporeal insights that are the result of years of extensive practice, which otherwise remain hidden to those who are not initiated. Thus, the possibility of language to create shortcuts can bring the uninitiated nearer to practice – and practice nearer to them. Furthermore, it can help to demystify practice, open the door to participation, and create a kind of accessibility that is vital in a research context.


The Research Score

Chapter Four tries to accomplish this task through a double articulation of the practice of the research score with two modes of writing. One is a more analytic and descriptive mode of writing about the research score, the other is a performative mode of experimental writing with the research score. The descriptive articulation of the research score starts out by briefly reiterating what I consider to be the key aspects of the Manipulations, in order to create a basis for understanding what is at stake with the research score: the alteration of (self-)perception; a body becoming a medium; the activation of techniques as modes of knowing how to articulate bodies. This is followed by a detailed analysis of the research score, which not only carves out the differences between the research score and the Manipulations, but also emphasizes the continuities between the two. Whereas the re-creation of the sensation of receiving the Manipulations aims to restore the ecology of experience brought forth by the original practice, the undoing of the bracketing of language marks a significant change and aligns the altered version of the Manipulations to the specific needs and goals of artistic research, driving its transformation from an artistic medium into a medium of research.


Parallel to the descriptive articulation of the research score runs another thread of writing, which was created on the basis of writing with the research score over a period of several years during the course of my research. This second thread of experimental writing offers a specific articulation of the concepts and notions that activate, and are activated by, the research score – but this time from within its practice. In this way, a representational mode of writing about practice and a performative mode of writing with practice touch on each other. By bringing into contact two modes of writing that emerge from different practices—and materialities—of language-making, the chapter prepares the ground for an expanded mode of academic writing – towards a kind of experimental writing in which the research score itself is given the opportunity to show its mettle.


First Artistic Part

In the structure of the doctorate at the Performing Arts Research Centre at Uniarts Helsinki, the so-called ‘artistic parts’ take a central place. According to the degree requirements, an artistic part is expected to “display profound understanding of the research topic, and ability to approach the research problem in a mode that critically renews the particular field of art”. In principle, a doctorate includes between one and three externally-examined artistic parts, which can be “performances, demonstrations, experiments, workshops or other kinds of performative arrangements”.4 Whereas most of the regular coursework of the program focuses on theoretical subjects, the research that is accomplished in and through the artistic parts is crafted on the researcher’s artistic practice.


As outlined in Chapter Five, the aim of my first artistic part was to create a written articulation of the impact of the Manipulations, and of the modes of knowing that are embodied and activated by this practice. The way I approached this task was by creating a glossary. The idea behind the making of a glossary was to source language by drawing on the vocabulary from inside the practice, rather than by imposing a conceptual framework from the outside. The Glossary created in the course of the first artistic part thus offers a glimpse at the language of instruction that was employed in directing the training, for example in the process of transmitting the Manipulations.


While it may not seem very original to make recourse to Body Weather’s ‘own’ language in order to articulate the (bodily) knowledge created by this practice, the main advantage of drawing on the lingo of Body Weather is that it maintains a certain continuity in the movement from the physical articulation of a body to its verbal articulation, and it keeps intact what Latour (1999) calls the ‘chain of transformation’. In addition to this, the Glossary makes explicit the language that becomes embodied in Body Weather training, and which then tacitly shapes the practitioner’s experience and perception of the practice, thus problematizing the notion of ‘non-conceptual content’ that is embodied in the artist’s practice. Instead of postulating such a notion, I think it is more appropriate from the perspective of artistic research to speak of more-than-conceptual content, thus emphasizing the connectivity and intertwinement of the physical and the conceptual rather than the division between the two.


The Evolution of the Research Score

The research score was one of the main practical methods that I used to think through the Manipulations and to create the Glossary. By embedding linguistic reflection on the practice within the practice itself, rather than creating a division between the two, the research score, like the Glossary, preserves the continuity between practice and its linguistic translation. It places linguistic articulation in the middle of the relations that are constituted and activated by the practice, instead of working from opposite ends. The research score thus creates the inter-disciplinary (micro-)space called for by Foster (1995), which affords the dialogue between discursive language and corporeal writing, without subordinating one to the other.


Besides the Glossary, another outcome of the second artistic part was the establishment of the research score as a method of embodied reflection. In the further course of my research, I used this method not only to think through the Manipulations, but I also started to regularly employ it as a means to reflect on possibly any concept that I would come across in my theoretical research. The process of writing two articles about my research in 2015 and 2016 further advanced the research score’s detachment and differentiation from the Manipulations. It forced me to closely examine my main practical method, made me more aware of the distinctions between the two practices, and created a healthy distance—though not a separation—between the committed Body Weather practitioner and the artist-researcher who follows different research goals and interests.


The Research Score as a Medium of Artistic Research

As a result of continued practice in combination with critical reflection, the research score gradually evolved into a practice in its own right, and it became the main epistemic subject/object of my research. In line with Esa Kirkkopelto (2015), I consider this process in terms of the transformation of an artistic medium into a medium of artistic research. Kirkkopelto argues that a medium of artistic research not only performs a change, but enacts this change in such a way that the materiality and the techniques that mediate the change can become experientially perceptible, and therefore intelligible and accessible, to us. Through the transformation of the artistic medium—the Manipulations—into a medium of research—the research score—the former becomes available for its discursive re-negotiation and critical re-assessment.


In the case of the research score, its evolution into a medium of artistic research was further driven by two small but significant changes in its practice. The first change is related to the impact of alteration on the practitioner’s body and (self-) perception, and concerns the subject/object relations in the research score. Whereas, typically, a knowing subject reflects on an object to be known, in the altered ecology of the research score, the mode of intentionally reflecting on a word or concept is superseded by a relational modality of reflecting with.


The second change has to do with a technical adjustment of the research apparatus. At the beginning of 2015, I changed my way of working, from immediately writing my thoughts out on paper to making a recording of their verbal expression. The recording of my voice interfered much less with the process of re-creation than the act of physically isolating my right arm in order to note down my thoughts. As a result of this technical adjustment, and by using the voice as a recorded writing tool, it became easier to negotiate the precarious balance between the different modes of verbal and non-verbal reflection. Both of these changes in combination enabled the shift from reflecting on to reflecting with.


With this shift from on to with, the conventional relationship between a knowing subject and a known object—mediated by language—becomes transformed. In the research score, the knower is not separated from the known, standing outside of the practice and reflecting upon it, but is an ‘exteriority within’. With Karen Barad (2003, 2014), I came to consider the research score as a ‘diffractive’ way of thinking and writing that questions deeply-sedimented dichotomies. As a practice, the research score has the capacity to make felt, and intelligible, the shift from a representational model of knowing to a post-humanist performative model.


Second Artistic Part

Chapter Six opens with a presentation of the aims and objectives of the collaborative research for my second artistic part. My main concern was to put my research to the test by working with a group of artists and artist-researchers, and to explore the epistemic potential of the research score as a medium of artistic research. As an effect of the collaborative work, the research score evolved from a solo practice into a collective practice. I elaborate on the implications of this expansion of the practice, and I suggest that it brings forth a different kind of thinking—and writing—that exists in its own right, and which is difficult to put into words.


In starting to approach a conceptual re-articulation of the research score, I draw on Erin Manning’s (2012, 2013) exploration of the writings of people with autism, on the basis of which she theorizes about the making of language. Trying to follow her theory of language brings my ability to think to its limits. In the endeavour to reach towards, and to connect with, the complexity of her philosophical thinking, I draw on the research score as a tool of writing with the concepts proposed by Manning, instead of writing about them. For the reader, this part of the commentary may be the most difficult and challenging. It may even be perceived as presumptuous, lacking a thorough discussion that would help the reader to better understand the relations between Manning’s thinking and the research score. However, my intention is neither to run over nor to frustrate the reader, but to test another strategy of creating relations to Manning’s concepts through the research score.


Following on from Manning’s ideas, as developed in her book The Minor Gesture (2016), I re-consider the research score as a system of techniques that open up a field of experimentation and of knowing – techniques which are in themselves not (yet) art. According to Manning, it is by going beyond the mere re-enactment of technique­—what she calls the ‘outdoing of technique’—that the ineffable more-than of technique—what she refers to as ‘technicity’­—can be brought to expression. The challenge and difficulty in the process of writing about my research, then, is to articulate the ineffable more-than of the research score’s techniques, and the knowledge that is engendered by its technicity, through words.


In academic arts research, the default solution is the application of ‘method’. However, in line with Manning, and further elaborating on the discussion in Chapter Three, I consider method to be a problem, and not the solution: by aligning knowledge to reason, method not only creates hierarchies between modalities of knowing, but it also fails to account for knowledge that occurs outside of existing registers and in the ineffable more-than of technicity.


This problem of method leads me to discuss the question of what other options exist to approach the writing and publication of (doctoral) research, other than the standard format of dissertation writing; a kind of writing that is able to accommodate the performative mode of knowing within a more conventional model of representational knowledge-making. Following Borgdorff (2010), the task of artistic research is not so much the production of formal propositional knowledge, but providing a specific articulation of the non-conceptual content of art, its ‘unfinished thinking’. Nevertheless, some strands of artistic research are—more or less firmly—tied to the tradition of academic research, as is the case with the doctoral program at the Performing Arts Research Centre of the Theatre Academy in Helsinki. These strands of artistic research are therefore expected to meet certain criteria of 'research' set by academia, such as the appropriate documentation and dissemination of research outcomes. The question is therefore how to negotiate the tension between the singularity of artistic modes of knowing and academic modes of knowledge production (Rouhiainen 2017).


Propositions for Unfinished Thinking

Michael Schwab (2012) observes that the requirement to meet the standards of academic research has often meant that the essential qualities of the artwork are lost in the process of translating the non-propositional knowledge embodied in the artwork into language. With the creation of the Research Catalogue (RC) and the launch of the Journal for Artistic Research (JAR), there exist novel and, it seems to me, much more appropriate opportunities for artist-researchers to bridge the gap between theory and practice, and to publish their art as research.


Chapter Seven accepts the invitation to negotiate the limits of academic writing and to extend the performative research into experimental exposition writing, by articulating seven propositions for unfinished thinking. Propositions One, Two and Three were created based on recordings made during the first phase of the collaborative research for my second artistic part, with Paula Kramer and Josh Rutter; Propositions Four, Five, Six and Seven were composed with material recorded during the second and third phases, together with Outi Condit, Riikka T. Innanen, Tashi Iwaoka, Paula Kramer and Josh Rutter.


All audio material used in this chapter was created through the collective practice of the research score, with the exception of Propositions One and Four. The material for Proposition One was generated by a trio of practitioners: one practitioner alternately gave the Manipulations to two other receiving practitioners; while one of the receiving practitioners was silently experiencing the touch-applications, the other receiver was doing the research score reflecting with ‘diffraction’. The material for Proposition Four was created by three couples doing the Manipulations simultaneously, with the receivers reflecting with ‘difference’. Proposition Two draws on recordings from a research score reflecting with ‘know-how’, while Proposition Three is based on two sessions in which we practiced the research score together, yet each of us reflected with a different concept: ‘alteration’, ‘touch’, ‘giving’, ‘re-creation’, ‘connection’ and ‘self’. Proposition Five was edited with audio material drawn from collectively practicing the research score with ‘difference’, Proposition Six with the concept ‘research score’, and Proposition Seven with ‘translation’.


All seven propositions were edited and composed at the beginning of the process of writing this commentary, and before all of the other chapters had been written. One crucial link between the second artistic part and this commentary is the research exposition To Call That ‘Writing’? (Hug 2017b), published in an issue of the online journal Nivel that is dedicated to the ‘poetics of form’. In making this piece, I took up the work previously commenced in the collaborative research for the second artistic part. In the absence of my collaborators, I conducted my own series of research scores, reflecting with ‘writing’. Each time I practiced, I imagined being given the Manipulations by one of my previous collaborators. In this manner, I created five tracks, as well as an additional sixth, where I worked with an unknown imaginary giver. With only a few additional supplements, I put these six tracks of writing with the research score together into one piece.


The Research Catalogue functioned as a test bed for the creation of To Call That ‘Writing’?, which in turn became a sample for the composition of Chapter Seven and the creation of the seven Propositions for Unfinished Thinking. In the course of my doctorate, other occasions, similarly, provided ground for experimentation and for developing my research: conferences, festivals, workshops, publications, etc., all of which had their share in the activation of the research and in the evolution of the research score, from a method of embodied reflection into a medium of artistic research.



Traditionally, a thesis ends with a conclusion that summarizes the findings of the research, points out the contribution to the knowledge of a specific field, and indicates the open questions that could be the subject of further research. For the purposes of this commentary, however, and of the approach that I have taken, I do not see the advantage of closing the work in such a conventional way. This thesis is conceived and realized as a research exposition that re-negotiates and expands a traditional mode of academic dissertation-writing. It would be clearly against the concept and objectives of this approach to complete the work by returning to a type of academic writing that ultimately aims only to harness the performative potential of the research by claiming its possible contribution to knowledge. More than a fixed product, the research outcome is an ongoing process. By remaining open to the changing influences of Weather, each iteration of the research score has the potential to bring forth something new and different.


The InConclusion, therefore, strives not for a definite summary of the commentary, but continues to explore the performative potential of experimental writing with the research score, and to bring it to expression in the particular (digital) ecology of a multi-media research publication. It draws on fragments that are extracted from the Propositions in Chapter Seven, and which are re-composed and re-mixed with material created at the final stage of writing the commentary, which happened at a studio and at my home in Berlin-Weißensee. The InConclusion rounds off this commentary without making any final statements, thus gesturing at the open-endedness and the future of unfinished thinking with the research score.



[1] Notable exceptions, and important references in my research, are the PhD theses by Snow 2002 and Fuller 2016. For a concise introduction to Tanaka’s work, see Fuller 2018.

[2] Degree Requirements of the Doctoral Programme of Artistic Research in Performing Arts (2015-2020), University of the Arts Helsinki/Theatre Academy.

[3] I capitalize Body and Weather whenever I refer to these terms in a specific Body Weather sense, either as a concept (of body) or as a metaphor (of weather). In all other cases, for example when speaking of concrete bodies and of weather in the proper sense, I use the lower case.

[4] Degree Requirements of the Doctoral Programme of Artistic Research in Performing Arts (2015-2020), University of the Arts Helsinki/Theatre Academy.


Joa Hug

Propositions for Unfinished Thinking: The Research Score as a Medium of Artistic Research


Acta Scenica 59, 2020

ISBN: 978-952-353-026-3

ISSN: 2242-6485

PUBLISHER: University of the Arts Helsinki, Theatre Academy, Performing Arts Research Centre

© 2020 University of the Arts Helsinki, Theatre Academy, Performing Arts Research Centre and Joa Hug




Video recording of

Manipulations Number One & Two


Writing Residency


Research Grant

Ehrnrooth Foundation


"Reflecting with Practice:

Body Weather Performance

Training Becomes a Medium

of Artistic Research"


Workshop "Disturbing Thoughts"

August 2013

Theatre Academy Helsinki

Festival "Ausufern"

Tanzfabrik Berlin

31 August 2013

Workshop/Artistic Research Lab:

Manipulate Me! 

Theatre Academy Helsinki


 Open Studio









Society for Dance Research

October 2013


Performing Alteration:
On the Relationship Between Sensing, Perceiving, and Reflecting in Dance Performance


Journal Launch/Symposium


Linking Paper

First Artistic Part

"Modes of Knowing in

Body Weather Performance Training"

Manipulations Intensive


Berlin 12/2015


Festival for New Dance and Performance, Turku (11/2013)


Workshop Manipulate!


published in

School of Theatre and Professorship in Performative Processes,

Utrecht University of the Arts (HKU), 9 – 12th of March 2017

Programme & Abstracts

Inaugural Meeting at the Theatre Academy Helsinki, January 2014

First Artistic Part:

Imaginary Properties:

Thinking Through (the) Manipulation(s)






Research Grant

Ehrnrooth Foundation





With Frank van de Ven...


published in

Undine Enderlein,

ed. (2016)




Gesellschaft für Tanzforschung

(Society for Dance Research)


How Performance Thinks

London, Kingston University






Linking Paper

Interdisciplinary Colloquium:

The Cognitive Sciences and the Performing Arts

Grenoble, 03/2016



Script Presentation

Power Point Presentation


New Materialisms 4

Movement, Aesthetics, Ontology

University of Turku

16-17 May 2013

Second Artistic Part

"Reflecting with Practice: The Research Score

as a Medium of Artistic Research?"

4th annual research symposium of the Hollo Institute
Art and knowledge: Making sense of the sensible
University of the Arts Helsinki, Theatre Academy

& Christine



Research Presentation at the Theatre Academy Helsinki

1st of October 2016



Concept: Joa Hug

in collaboration with Paula Kramer

and Katja Münker


Tandem 1: Walking

Katja Münker & Ralph Fischer

Full-length video registration


Playful Communication

Entering the Ludic Field

Between Theory and Practice

Centre National de la Danse Paris (Pantin)


No Paper Conference

organized by Alice Koubová and Kent Sjöström

Prague, 09/2016

Archival Research

Fonds Christine Quoiraud




Stockholm University of the Arts/DOCH and WELD
March 19-24, 2018


Colloquium on Artistic Research in Performing Arts

28th February - 2nd March 2013

Report by

Helmut Ploebst


Tandem 2: Shifting The Human, Touching Matter

Paula Kramer & Wallace Heim





Tandem 3: Embodied Knowledge

Joa Hug & Mónica Alarcón


Summer Academy for Artistic Research

Hanasaari (Espoo/FI), August 2014




Poster Presentation

Academy of Performing Arts, Prague, Czech Republic

April 7 – 9, 2016

 Artistic Research:

Is There Some Method?





Gift to ADiE

Society of Artistic Research Conference

Please Specify!

"Sharing Artistic Research Across Disciplines"


Helsinki, Theatre Academy


Nordic Forum for Dance Research

Reijkjavík, May 2015




Wrap-up with Robin Nelson





by Frank Mählen

Jak víme to, co víme?  [How do we know what we know?]
Zpráva z „Gnothi Seauton – No Paper Conference“

Philosophical Journal 2015 (1)

Translated and published in:

The Future of Unfinished Thinking

with the Research Score












Klick here to enter a different page on the RC that exposes

the postdoctoral life of the research score.

(The contents of this page are NOT part of the commentary)




published in


Artistic Research in the Performing Arts

Collaborative Session:

Body-based research and Dissemination – a Collective exploration & participatory Methodology lab

by Paula Kramer

(assisted by Joa Hug)


Proposition One

Proposition Two

Proposition Three

Proposition Seven

Proposition Six

Proposition Five

Proposition Four

 Video version of Proposition Seven:

Touching Touch