Aims of the Collaborative Research


I invited five experienced dance and performance artists—Outi Condit, Rikka T. Innanen, Tashi Iwaoka, Paula Kramer, and Josh Rutter—to collaborate with me in the research for my second artistic part in 2016. The proposal was simple and straightforward: I wanted us to put my research to the test through collaborative performative research. The aim was to test my proposition of the research score as a medium of artistic research, and, following Barad, to explore its potential to shift the knower-known relations from a representational system of knowledge-making to a post-humanist performative model.

 

The goal of the collaborative interrogation of my research was not to prove or falsify its outcomes, or to achieve consensus and agreement with my collaborators, but to create a situation that was favourable to critically examine and reflect on the research score, and to eventually bring forth a more differentiated and multi-vocal (re-)articulation of my research. The focus was thus on the research score as the main driver of our collaborative investigation. The participants’ experience and their critical reflections were an important part of the process, of course, but my main interest was to see if and how the research score could also possibly work for others. This is to say that, strictly speaking, my collaborators were not the ‘objects’ of research in this second artistic part, but rather the research score and its capacity to become a medium of artistic research for other artists and artist-researchers.

 

Expanded Peer Review


I envisioned the collaborative research process to be a kind of expanded peer review. Previously, some of my academic writing had been peer-reviewed, but my reviewers had had no first-hand experience of my practical research. Their feedback solely concerned the discursive articulation of my research. While their comments certainly helped me to clarify my thinking and writing, it was at least equally important for me to obtain well-substantiated expert feedback about the practical part of my research – a practice review. How would my collaborators see the research score? Were the issues and questions raised by it of interest and relevance to them? What was it within the practice that they would possibly experience differently, and how would that change and add to my own understanding?

 

In addition to this focus on the practical part of my research, there was another question that was important to me, which concerned the relations between the research practice and its written articulation. Before starting to work together in the studio, I sent my collaborators the texts and articles that I had previously written about my research.x Based on their existing bodily experiences and knowledges, what would they think about my conceptualization of the practice of the Manipulations and the research score? What was it that I had possibly failed to consider? What were the gaps and blind spots? What made this second artistic part a process of expanded peer review to me was that my collaborators were able to test and assess the articulation of my research in both its bodily and its academic modes.

 

Research Process


One of the challenges in relation to the aims of the collaborative research was of a pedagogical nature. Before the project started, only two of the participants had some experience with Body Weather and the Manipulations (Josh Rutter and Tashi Iwaoka). The other collaborators had only been briefly introduced to Manipulations Number One & Two by myself, before committing to the research project. Furthermore, none of them had ever practiced the research score before. In order to enable my collaborators to put to the test my proposition of the research score, and to critically assess my research based on their own embodied insights, I needed to come up with an effective means of transmission. A research practice that had been developed over the course of several years had to be taught and learned within a few days.

 

The project was structured into three phases:

 

The first phase (10 days with Paula Kramer and Josh Rutter in Berlin) focused mainly on the question of the transmission and practice of the Manipulations and the research score.

 

The second phase (5 days with all participants in Helsinki in June 2016) focused again on transmission, as well as on the deepening of practice, interspersed with moments of (critical) reflection and discussion. One afternoon, I asked my collaborators to discuss with me—both one-on-one and in the presence of the whole group—the relationship between the practical research and its written articulation. Next to the Manipulations and the research score, I also introduced the practice of (Imaginary) Breathing Through.

 

During the third phase (5 days with all participants in Helsinki in September/October 2016), the focus opened up from collectively practicing the research score to discussions about the research score’s connection to the Manipulations, and about its ‘translatability’. In addition to this, I was gathering and selecting documentation material for the research exposition that I was building in a dance studio at the Theatre Academy. On two evenings, we invited audience for test runs in order to rehearse the presentation and to draft a script of the event.

 

Throughout the entire period of the collaborative research, together we conducted a series of research scores reflecting with the concepts ‘diffraction’, ‘flow’, ‘knowing how’, ‘re-creation’, ‘connection’, ‘self’, ‘alteration’, ‘touch’, ‘giving’, ‘perception’, ‘reflection’, ‘resistance’, ‘listening’, ‘peeling off’, ‘manipulation’, ‘research score’, ‘difference’, and ‘translation’. Twice, we experimented with embedding reflecting with ‘difference’ into the practice of the Manipulations. From all of these practice sessions, and the reflections and discussions following them, sound recordings were made and transcribed. On the basis of this material, seven ‘Propositions for Unfinished Thinking’ were written for this commentary (see Chapter Seven).

 

On some occasions, photographs were taken during the practice of the Manipulations and the research score, as well as video recordings. The one-on-one discussions with my collaborators were video recorded, and an edited version (“One-On-One”) was created from that.

 

Research Presentation


The examined research presentation combined elements of visual and textual documentation, re-enactments of practice, and discursive means of articulating the research. At the beginning of the event, visitors were given some time to stroll around and to have a look at the displayed materials, before I welcomed everyone and introduced the research project. After that, the research team split into couples and practiced the Manipulations, which was followed by the collective practice of the research score. For the purpose of the latter, I asked the audience to propose a word to us that we could take into the practice and reflect with; the suggested word we chose to work with was ‘war’.

 

After finishing the research score, I invited members of the audience to approach us individually with any questions they might have, about the shown practice or any other aspect of the presentation. Many audience members were keen to experience receiving the manipulations from someone from the research team, and they shared their impressions with the giver afterwards. This was followed by the last part of the presentation, a Q & A, which gave the examiners as well as the audience the opportunity to offer questions and comments.

 

The idea behind this presentation format was to create as much balance as possible between the performative enactment of the research process and its representation. More than merely documenting or representing the outcomes of our collaborative research by talking about it, I wanted us to extend the research process into the space of representation and into the expanded ecology of an examined artistic research presentation. The audience members were explicitly encouraged to follow their own curiosity and to move freely throughout the entire presentation, to witness us practicing from nearby, to look at the displayed materials while we were working, etc. The entrance door was left open during the event as a way of gesturing to the freedom and possibility of exiting the space at any time, and refreshments were served in the hall outside.

 

The Evolution of the Research Score into a Collective Practice


To me, the most important outcome of the research for the second artistic part was the evolution of the research score from a solo practice into a practice of collective thinking. In this expanded version, the research score is co-enacted by several bodies working at the same time and in close proximity to each other. This way of collectively enacting the research score adds new layers to an already complex ecology of experience. Whereas in the solo version, the receiver works single-handedly to (re-)create an altered mode of reflecting in and through practice, in the expanded collective practice of the research score, several bodies simultaneously co-constitute an expanded network of influences and relations by breathing together, by re-creating the sensation of being touched together, by uttering words and listening to each other, by affecting and being affected by each other.

 

Multiplicities become further multiplied, and the field of relations is largely extended. The solo improvisation expands into a group piece, and each body has to (re-)consider and (re-)negotiate the questions of what to include and what to exclude in this ‘dance of attention’;x of how to cope with ‘too much’; and of how to fail with more or less articulation.

 

In the collective practice of the research score, the always already precarious balance between physical and linguistic modes of reflection in the solo version of the research score is further destabilized by the presence of speech uttered by several other bodies in close proximity. The activation of multiple tasks and techniques that constitute the solo practice of the research score has to be re-negotiated in relation to the altered conditions of collective practice: the Weather that is co-created by the presence of bodies that are audibly hissing-breathing, and that are expressing thoughts verbally, while at the same re-creating the sensation of being touched and moved by absent bodies.

 

How does the expansion of the network of relations in the collective practice of the research score change the way bodies think? What are the effects of this expansion on the economy of attention? What is the impact of the augmentation of speech on re-creating the shift from the inter-subjective to the inter-corporeal? Does the verbal expression of language by other bodies shift the modalities of thinking entirely away from material-physical modes towards linguistic ones? Do bodies revert again to an inter-subjective mode of being, or are they able to sustain the network of inter- and extra-corporeal relations with the other absent and present (non-)human bodies and things? Are they able to reflectively activate and maintain these relations without fixing their organization, i.e. without falling into automatisms?

 

In the collective practice of the research score, thought moves, forms and comes to expression in-between bodies, both present and absent ones. Thinking is not the property of an individual, intentional, agential subject, but rather emerges from within an expanded network of inter-corporeal relations. It moves in/through/with the sensation of being touched by absent bodies that are remembered, imagined and re-created by present bodies. Following Tanaka, who suggests that ‘movement happens on both sides of the skin’ (see Chapter One), it is tempting to say that in the research score, the movement of thought takes place on both sides of the skin.

 

Sometimes, thought comes to expression by moving back and forth between one body and another; at other times, it moves from one body to the next, and from there to yet another one, or it spreads out across several bodies concurrently. More often than not, thought seems to go nowhere and keeps circulating below the threshold of expression, dwelling in the realm of pre-articulation,x and bodies remain silent. Nevertheless, these silent bodies are bursting with thought,x even if this thought is not brought to expression through language.

 

Language in the Making


Erin Manning has theorized the making of language by drawing on practices of writing, for which Ralph Savarese coined the term ‘autie-type’.x According to Savarese, Manning explains, autie-type is a “modality of writing [that] is a genre on its own right, an intrinsically relational way of thinking and communicating” that “activates the associated milieu not simply of environmentality but of words themselves – a worlding in words”.x

 

Wording world with the world

Moving in-between micro and macro

Worlding words and wording worlds

With objects and entities far beyond the skinx

 

In autie-type, Manning explains, “language is a sensing practice in its own right – a field of affective tonality activated in rhythms and tones, in speeds and intensities”.x In this kind of writing, which is created through methods such as facilitated communication and rapid prompting, “the turn to expression does not cut itself off from the experiential vastness of sensation and perception but writes with them”.x

 

Spacing and placing thinking

With sensations

 

Thought is touching

And being touched

 

Thought is sensing

And being sensedx

 

Whereas (neuro)typically, writing would tend to express language by extracting thought from its associated milieu, and by cutting it off from the complexity of the ineffable of experience, autie-type, Manning notes, has the capacity to bring “the plane of feeling onto the plane of articulation, calling forth the more-than of language’s expressibility” by “bridging the worlds of sensory eventness with the affective tonality of language in the making such that the dialogue between these co-arising worlds can begin”.x

 

Techniques of the research score

 

Bring to expression

The more-than of language

 

Move thought into expression

From the midst of experience

 

Compose with sensations re-created

Articulated through touch

 

Express language from within

An altered ecology of thinkingx

 

In autie-type, Manning writes, “language does not replace the sensual exploration of the relational environment”, but “moves with it, becoming one more technique for composition. […] Words are an extra component of the experience of articulation, not its final form”.x They are “the selected extraction from the nexus of experience that converge into appearance”.x

 

Prearticulation


Manning proposes the concept of ‘prearticulation’ to indicate a way of bringing thought to expression with sensation; it is a becoming of language that retains the relational complexity of the environment from which thought arises, instead of cutting into it.

 

The research score

 

A technique of making language

From within the welter of experience

 

A technique of expressing thought

From the midst of relations

 

What comes to expression

Is oriented by a word

 

Oriented

Not forcedx


Thought prehends from the complex nexus that is the world in motion. Prearticulation is the preacceleration of language: it is where the language’s affective tonality comes to expression. The world in motion is made up of planes of experience. The passage from the plane of sensation to the plane of articulation, a movement toward the actual from the virtual stratum, depends on thought’s capacity to extract from the virtual chaos of experience’s unfolding. This extraction is a kind of editing of the nexus.x

 

Giving prearticulation its share

In the expression of thought

 

Without separating thought

From the ecology of experience

 

Including the absent body in the field of relations

Following the rhythm of breathingx


Like its movement-cousin preacceleration, prearticulation is about the virtual field of expressibility that precedes (or follows) expression as such. It is the feltness of language in the moving, before the saying, between the words. It can be gesture, rhythm, movement. It can be laughter, stuttering. It can be silence. From sensation to experience, from relation to perception, from feeling to writing, prearticulation makes felt how the more-than of expression—expressibility—accompanies language in the making. Prearticulation does not express some thing, or some body, it expresses-with. The proposition: there is no language that does not carry its share of prearticulation.x

 

Sensing the difference of intensity

Between body feeling-floor

And floor making itself felt

 

Sensing the unity of the difference

Between weight that is imagined and remembered

And actual weight

 

Floor as a constituent of Weather

Animating

Articulating

Formatting

Shaping

The body

With touchx


Foregrounding the share of expressibility within expression and shifting the register of experience toward articulation in language does not necessarily mean reducing experience to representation, and certainly does not mean undoing it of affective tonality. Language can remain expressive, can embody the more-than – this is what autie-type demonstrates so well. In fact, the foregrounding of language’s capacity to participate in an emergent, co-composing dance of attention is a gift autistics—like other wordsmiths—bring to writing.x


My proposition: The research score is a practice of making language in its own right, expressing the more-than of language—its expressibility—without cutting itself off from the complexity of experience from which it arises, and without undoing language’s affective tonality.

 

Composing-With


Manning proposes the concept of ‘composing-with’ to indicate a way of expressing thought that gives prearticulation its share in the making of language. “Composing-with”, she writes, is not only “making felt the more-than of experience in the telling”, but also “the more-than of expression in writing”.x

 

Composing with

Absent bodies

 

Re-creating absent bodies

The memory of their touch

The rhythm of our breathing

 

Composing with

The body

That belongs

To nobody

 

Composing with

The unity of the difference

Between touching

And being touchedx


Beyond the content of utterance—its most bare communicability—composing-with makes felt the collective breath of the more-than in the saying, makes heard the fragility of expressibility in its tuning to expression.x

 

Composing with

Floor

 

Floor supports

Connecting with touch

Becoming with

Expressing with

 

Composing with

The floor’s horizontality

 

Composing with

The verticality of the absent body’s weight

Passing through the body

Into the ground

Composing with

Floor-ness

 

Grounding thinking

By flooring thoughtx


Composing-with offers a different perspective on language, opening the play of wor(l)ding across registers of perception, sensation, and affect, activating language’s inherent capacity to write-with the edges of pure experience.x

 

Taking time

 

For slow extraction

 

 

 

Taking Time

 

For slow editing

 

 

 

Taking time

 

To edit and compose with

Absent bodies

 

 

 

Taking time

To feel enunciation's resonance

 

 

 

Taking time

 

To balance the complexity

Of layering with layers of expressionx


To compose-with is to place language within an ecology of practices. It is to think-with in the time of utterance’s becoming expression. To compose-with is to collectively write time in the shaping.x

 

Taking time

 

To dwell in the messiness of prearticulation

 

 

 

Taking time

 

To be with pain

 

 

 

Taking time

 

To be with tension

 

 

 

Taking time

 

To experience repetition

 

 

 

Taking time

 

To resist thought’s quick enunciationx


Composing-with […] suggests a commitment to making the pure experience of the more-than of expression felt. This is an ecological approach to language. It does not seek to delimit or deny the complexities (and unsayabilities) of expressibility. Rather, it addresses the fullness of autistic experience, adding to it another modality: words.x

 

Giving time

 

To inefficient language-making

From the midst

At the limits

Of experience

 

 

 

Giving time

 

To sense language’s affective tonality

To the more-than

Of language’s semantics

 

 

 

Giving time

 

To spinal thinking

At the limitsx

 

My proposition: The research score is a practice of composing-with the absent bodies’ thought in the making of language. It is composing-with the temporality and complexity that is created by the research score’s ecology of experience: its particular rhythm of touch-articulation, its alignment of breathing with an omni-central distribution of attention, its re-creation of touch-relations with absent bodies, its flooring of horizontal thought punctured by the verticality of weight, its pain and resistance, its stretching of thought to the limits.

 

‘Technique’ and its Outdoing: ‘Technicity’


Manning highlights that autie-type is a kind of writing that is intuitive, and not learned or honed.x The research score differs from autie-type in that it is a practice of thinking and writing that is learned and honed by techniques of articulating a body, as well as by techniques of bringing thought to verbal expression. The research score’s technicality consists precisely in the way in which different modes of thinking co-compose language with each other, and in how thought is expressed without cutting—too violentlyx—into the complexity of experience. Non-linguistic modes of thinking and conceptual (critical) reflection are not separated into different action complexes, but they belong to, and emerge from, one and the same ecology of practices. From a neurotypical perspective, the research score’s way of writing is rather counter-intuitive; it does not come for free, but requires laborious practice and the refinement of technique. It has to be earned.

 

For Manning, ‘technique’ is not “an add-on to a pre-existing body-form but […] a process of bodying”, “an in-forming of a mutating body”, and “a mode through which a body can express, aligning into this expression qualities of bodying”.x The specific qualities of bodying with the research score are constituted by the techniques of re-creation that articulate and inform a body, and that are aligned to the techniques of reflecting with through which thought is brought to expression.

 

According to Manning, the availability of technique on its own is not enough for the art of making language: “The technique will only open a field, altering the conditions of its emergence”.x Technique is needed in the art of thought, but it is not (yet) art in itself.x What is needed, according to Manning, and what art can do, is the outdoing of technique, for which she proposes the concept of ‘technicity’: “Technicity is the modality for creating out of a system of techniques the more-than of a system”.x It is “the experience of how the work opens itself to its potential, to its more-than”.x The issue in the outdoing of technique is that “this quality of the more-than that is technicity is ineffable – it can be felt, but it is difficult to articulate in language”.x

 

Following this, I want to re-consider the research score as a system of techniques for composing-with that opens up a field of experimentation. The creation of this new field of relations is not (yet) art in itself; it is only through the outdoing of technique that the potential of the practice, its more-than, can unfold. At this stage, the all-too-familiar problem that appears, once again, is the eternally returning question: How can we articulate the potential of the more-than that is technique’s technicity?x

 

The Application of Method (Revisited)


Typically, following the usual path of academic knowledge production, the proper procedure to follow in order to make sense of the ineffable more-than of the research score’s technicity, and the reasonable and ‘correct’ way to linguistically make sense of it, would be the application of a conceptual framework, a method, in order to reflect on and about it, thereby turning ‘it’ into an object of thought. I have touched on the problem of the application of ‘method’ already, when writing about the first artistic part in Chapter Five. Following up on—and further adding to—this, I want to briefly outline Erin Manning’s critique of method in order to highlight what is at stake in my research and, more generally, in the production of knowledge in the field of artistic research.

 

The problem with method, Manning writes, is its alignment of knowledge with a certain kind of reason that assumes to know in advance what it is that constitutes knowledge.x Method thus “works as safeguard against the ineffable: if something cannot be explained, it cannot be made to account for itself and is cast aside as irrelevant”.x For Manning, therefore, method is an “apparatus of capture”,x and it creates “a cut that stills. Method stops potential on its way, cutting into the process before it has had a chance to fully engage with the complex relational fields the process itself calls forth”.x Thus, the alignment of method and knowledge to reason is “setting into place hierarchies of relevance whose work it is to include that which is seen to advance knowledge”.x As a result of this alignment, the complexity of multiple modalities of knowing is severely reduced to conscious knowledge as the privileged way of knowing:

 

[K]nowledge tends to be relegated to the sphere of ‘conscious knowledge,’ backgrounding the wealth of the relational field of experience in-forming; the force of change that animates a process is deadened; the uneasiness that destabilizes thinking is backgrounded or effaced completely.x

 

Instead of asking how knowledge can best be organized and made reasonable by method, Manning calls upon us to look more closely at what it is that knowledge actually does. By recognizing that knowledge occurs in “the field of relation as an ecology”, and outside existing registers, we would come to value what escapes that register, and what cannot be named or accounted for:

 

To engage the field of relation as an ecology where knowledge occurs, to place knowledge outside of the register of existing knower-known relations, allows us to consider the importance of what escapes that register. The ineffable felt experience of the more-than is also a kind of thinking, a kind of knowledge in the making, and it changes experience. That it cannot be systematized or hierarchized does not make it less important to the realization of the event.x

 

So here I am once again, faced with the difficulty of writing about my research for the second artistic part, and about the evolution of the research score into a practice of collective thinking and writing. I have already started to approach its conceptual articulation in terms of ‘prearticulation’, ‘composing-with’, ‘technique’, ‘technicity’, and ‘method’. I have started, indeed, to create a conceptual framework. How to move on from here, if not by creating and applying a method that stops the potential of the ineffable more-than through a cut that stills? How to continue, if not by pausing and standing back to critically reflect on my research, and by creating a separation between the knower and the known? How else to proceed, if not by making a division between modes of thinking. a division that subsequently needs to be patched up by the language of representation? How to write about my research, if not by reducing the complexity of the relational field of multiple modalities of knowing, and by creating hierarchies between the remaining registers of knowledge?

How to include, instead, what otherwise would typically escape the known registers of knowledge, and which cannot be named or accounted for by language?

 

Dissertation Writing


I consider the research score to be a system of relational techniques that articulate a body’s thinking in a way that aims to preserve—as much as it can—the relations to the ecology of experience from where thought is brought forth into expression. I also consider that knowing in the research score resides outside of existing knower-known relations in the ineffable more-than of its technicity, i.e. in technicity’s capacity to open the research score to its potential more-than. Given this, I question how it could be possible to accomplish the shift in register from a relational mode of writing with practice to a kind of writing about practice that demonstrates “an ability to analyse, articulate, conceptualize and theorize the artistic designs of research, and to contextualize these in ways that are characteristic of artistic research”,x as demanded by the current degree requirements of the Performing Arts Research Centre that form the institutional framework for the writing. How could I keep alive the research score’s ecology of experience, and the force of change that animates the practice, as the work was moved and transposed from the studio to the realm of (academic) representation and publication? How could I extend, and negotiate, the writing with the research score into a format of (academic) writing, in a way that still grants space to the ineffable and to what escapes existing registers of ‘knowledge’?

 

Stepping back and taking distance from the research in order to critically reflect about it shifts the mode of engagement from the performative enactment of practice to a representational mode of description.x Dancer and artist-researcher Siobhan Murphy emphasizes the primacy of writing about one’s research project in order to cultivate reflexivity: “The articulation of what is at stake within the practice itself is the bedrock upon which other writing sits”.x According to Murphy, the value of reflective writing consists in its transformative power: “If one writes about ongoing experimental studio practice, that practice will be shifted by the reflexive process of writing”.x While in itself I do not dispute the necessity of cultivating critical reflexivity, a problem arises when critical reflection becomes aligned with the hegemony of language, and when discursive modes of reflexivity start to dominate artistic modes of embodied reflection, turning (artistic) practice into a fixed object of thought.

 

Could we instead consider the cultivation of artistic modes of embodied reflexivity as a way of transforming discursive academic modes of writing? What could it mean, more precisely, to theorize, contextualize, and write about one’s research in ways that are characteristic of artistic research?x Is there possibly a way of placing the performative mode as an exteriority within the representational mode of academic writing? Could it all be different?

 

Unfinished Thinking


What is a tonus that is conducive to thinking?

For thought to stretch out

And to reach towards

The not-yet-thought

For thought touching

The not-yet-felt

For creating thinking

With the not-yet-sensed

How to make yourself an apparatus

Of unfinished thinking?

A thinking that can never reach its goal

For a bodily thinking

At the intersection between touching and being touched

A reaching-towards

A thinking at the intersection of bodies absent and present

That cannot be conclusive

Inconclusive thinking

Inconclusive, but not inarticulate

A thinking with the unity of the difference

Between

The known and the un-known

Between

Change and continuity

A thinking with

The affective tonality of a proposition

Not a statement

Not right or wrong

Not true or false

But more or less articulate

With more or less affective tonality

Thinking with the more-than

Of the research score’s technicity

Escaping the cut that stills and stops potential

A thinking that co-articulates

The conceptual with the physical

The contents of my lungs and intestines

My head’s brains

This thinking’s artful-ness

Is to not make an epistemic claim

But to think with the feet

Slowly

To think with unfinished touch

Touch as a mode of unfinished thinking through the skin

To articulate a proposition

For unfinished thinking

What is the potential in the cut that stills?

What is the potential in bringing a practice to its end?

In bringing it to rest?

In resting the unfinished?x

 

According to Henk Borgdorff, the task of artistic research is “not so much to make explicit the knowledge that art is said to produce, but rather to provide a specific articulation of the pre-reflective non-conceptual content of art”.x Formal knowledge production and theory-building are not the main concerns of artistic research, he writes, but the deliberate articulation of unfinished thinking in and through art. “[The] primary importance [of artistic research] lies not in explicating the implicit or non-implicit knowledge enclosed in art. It is more directed at not-knowing, or a not-yet knowing. It creates room for that which is unthought, unexpected – the idea that all things could be different”.x

 

Towards

Again and again

Re-opening the investigation

To its potential more-than

To infinite relations

And relations to the infinite

Relations in their making

And relations in their undoing

Infinite possibilities to think differently

To create new sets of relations

To change the ecology from within

To play with imaginationx

 

Borgdorff further argues that the persuasive power of the non-conceptual embodied outcomes of artistic research “lies in the performative power through which they broaden our aesthetic experience, invite us to fundamentally unfinished thinking, and prompt us to a critical perspective on what there is”.x Thus, according to him, it is the specific articulation of unfinished thinking in and through art, and not propositional knowledge, that artistic research seeks to bring forth. Artistic ways of knowing in this respect operate differently from academic ones.

 

How far to stretch the capacity of imagining?

Have I exhausted the possibilities?

Have I done enough?

What else could the research score be?

What could it be otherwise?

Into which ecology could this thing be transplanted?

In relation to which other practices?

How could it further proliferate and differentiate?

In the encounter with whom or what?

To what else can it become connected?

With whom or with what else could it think?x

 

The Issue of Documentation and Dissemination


Insofar as artistic research stands in the tradition of academic research, it needs to satisfy certain criteria in order to qualify as (academic) research. One of the requirements is the documentation of the research and the appropriate dissemination of its outcomes.x Michael Schwab notes in relation to this that the standard conventions of academic writing have made “it difficult for artists to publish their research appropriately and, in turn, led to a writing culture far removed from practice – the site of their research”.x The feeling of unease that Borgdorff attributed to the relationship between art and academia more than a decade agox seems to persist. Similarly, Rouhiainen has observed more recently that the singularity of the knowledge created in artistic research “establishes a tension with the scholarly investment in knowledge production and generalizability that belongs to research”, and that “[t]his tension is notably tangible in academic artistic research”.x The relationship between art and academia thus remains complicated.

 

The problem that artist-researchers have to work their way through, time and again, has to do with negotiating what exactly is an ‘appropriate’ way of documenting and disseminating their research in an academic context.x What is appropriate when it comes to accounting for the singular non-discursive knowledge that is created by an artistic research project? How to preserve the performative power and the qualities that are essential in the experience of the research process as the work becomes transposed into a more representational, scholarly form of writing? How to articulate appropriately, and in a way that is characteristic of artistic research, the unfinished thinking that is engendered by artistic research?

 

“[…] Artists have found it very difficult to expose their practice in ways that are acceptable as research”,x Michael Schwab writes. The risk of translating the implicit, non-conceptual content embodied in the artistic research process into another medium—predominantly verbal language—is that its essential performative qualities will get lost in the work’s linguistic representation.x The methodological ordering of the knowledge engendered in creative practice through the application of method, and the separation between doing-thinking and thought-thinking that is created by critical conceptual reflection, threaten to make a cut into the research process that severely diminishes its potential.x

 

Exposition Writing


One of the ways in which the problem of finding the appropriate form for the documentation and dissemination of artistic research has been addressed is by the development of the Research Catalogue (RC) as a multi-medial platform for publishing artistic research, and by the launch of the Journal for Artistic Research (JAR).x The RC has been “a test bed for the possibilities of radically enhanced academic writing”,x while JAR functions as a peer-reviewed and openly accessible online journal that locates artistic research, and itself, in the tradition of artistic research.x Both the RC and JAR have been important in providing artist-researchers with the opportunity to publish their research in a manner that is, in many cases, most likely more appropriate than text-only publication formats.

 

How does the grammar of the practice

Condition the grammar of verbal language?

Is one the condition for the other?

That upon which the other is resting?

Can there be a kind of writing

That is not predicated

On a non-discursive mode of thinking?

Can spinal thinking come to expression

In the medium of words?

Or does it come to expression

By making felt the spinal affectivity of language?

Of language’s being affected by spinal thinking?

With a contribution from the ribs

The floorx

 

Parallel to setting up the RC as an online platform, Michael Schwab, editor-in-chief of JAR, developed the concept of ‘expositionality’ as a form of research writing. The aim of expositional writing is to keep alive the essential qualities of the research across its transposition into another medium.x Publishing research in JAR, as in the RC, does not primarily strive for a representation of the practice by the medium, but promotes its transformation through the medium. Exposing art as research, Schwab & Borgdorff write, is a

 

re-doubling of practice in order to artistically move from artistic ideas to epistemic claims. […] Through such re-doubling, artistic practice is able to install a reflective distance within itself that allows it to be simultaneously the subject and the object of an enquiry. In this way, practice can deliver in one proposition both a thought and its appraisal.x

 

The epistemic claim of a research exposition is first and foremost made from within the language of artistic practice, less than by discursively writing about it. Expositional writing aims to bridge the gap between practice and theory, between experience and writing, by extending artistic practice into writing through the medium of the RC or JAR,x thus keeping alive something of the essential quality of the work across the chain of transformations.x

 

There can be no default solution for how to accomplish this transformation. Each artistic research project has to determine for itself how best to accomplish the transposition from the realm of practice to its online publication format. However, in general terms, according to Schwab, a successful research exposition is able to “negotiate the gap between practice and theory by exposing the epistemological potential of a practice, thus making real the theory enacted in it. This process may simply be called ‘thinking’”.x

 

The ecology of practices and things

That make up the entire action complex

Of writing with the research score

How to expose this thinking and writing

With the research score

In and through the medium of the RC?

How to expose

The creation of space for thinking?

What can be transferred?

What gets left behind?

Can the body’s organization

Be transposed?

The body’s organism?

Or only the organism’s expressibility?x




[1] At the time, these were two published papers, Hug 2016a and Hug 2016b, as well as a draft version of Hug 2017a, and the ‘linking paper’ for my second artistic part (the purpose of the linking paper is to give the examiners an idea of how an artistic part is related to the entire doctoral research).

[2] See Manning 2013, ff.

[3] See the discussion of Erin Manning’s concept of ‘prearticulation’ further below in this chapter.

[4] See Hornblow 2006.

[5] See Manning 2013, 155.

[6] Manning 2013, 155.

[7] Excerpt from research score with ‘prearticulation’ (edited), 9 & 11 April 2019.

[8] Manning 2013, 156.

[9] Manning 2013, 156.

[10] Excerpt from research score with ‘prearticulation’ (edited), 9 & 11 April 2019.

[11] Manning 2012, 214.

[12] Excerpt from research score with ‘prearticulation’ (edited), 9 & 11 April 2019.

[13] Manning 2012, 215. She further elaborates on the relationality of autie-type: “Rather than disconnecting from the field of relation, it bridges it, conceptually, propositionally. This allows autistics to bring to expression the complex subtleties of the dance of attention that is at the heart of all incipient becomings. To bring this dance of attention to articulation is probably the biggest challenge any writer will face, as language invariably involves a certain sum of representation. To write-with language in the making is to dance-with experience rather than to exclude it from the dance” (Manning 2013, 157).

[14] Manning 2012, 216.

[15] Excerpt from research score with ‘prearticulation’ (edited), 9 & 11 April 2019.

[16] Manning 2012, 216. The concept of ‘preacceleration’ is developed in Manning 2012, 29-42.

[17] Excerpt from research score with ‘prearticulation’ (edited), 9 & 11 April 2019.

[18] Manning 2013, 158/159; original emphases.

[19] Excerpt from research score with ‘prearticulation’ (edited), 9 & 11 April 2019.

[20] Manning 2013, 159; original emphases.

[21] Manning 2013, 159.

[22] Excerpt from research score with ‘composing-with’ (edited), 12 & 16 April 2019.

[23] Manning 2013, 159.

[24] Excerpt from research score with ‘composing-with’ (edited), 12 & 16 April 2019.

[25] Manning 2013, 160.

[26] Excerpt from research score with ‘composing-with’ (edited), 12 & 16 April 2019.

[27] Manning 2013, 160.

[28] Excerpt from research score with ‘composing-with’ (edited), 12 & 16 April 2019.

[29] Manning 2013, 162/163.

[30] Excerpt from research score with ‘composing-with’ (edited), 12 & 16 April 2019.

[31] “What is significant about autie-type is that autistics come to this kind of writing intuitively. It is not learned or honed.” (Manning 2013, 157)

[32] The extraction of thought always necessitates a certain degree of subtraction from the field of relations. The question is, how much of that ecology can be preserved in the process of extraction.

[33] Manning 2013, 31. Manning’s notion of technique is different from that of Spatz, who considers technique in terms of habituation and automatization.

[34] Manning 2016, 125.

[35] See Manning 2013, 40.

[36] Manning 2013, 32.

[37] Manning 2016, 40.

[38] Manning 2016, 40.

[39] Manning further elaborates on technicity and its relations to technique as follows: “Think technicity as the process that stretches out from technique, creating brief interludes for the more-than of technique, gathering from the implicit the force of form. Think technicity as the field where movement begins to dance. Technicity: the art of the event” (Manning 2013, 33). “Technique and technicity coexist. Where technique engages the repetitive practices that form a composing body—be it organic or inorganic—technicity is a set of enabling conditions that exact from technique the potential of the new co-composition. Think the new not as a denial of the past but as the quality of the more-than of the past tuning toward the future” (Manning 2013, 32/33). “Technique comes out of practice as much as it is what goes into practice. In this regard, techniques are hard to come by – they demand the patient exploration of how a practice comes best to itself. Technicity is the dephasing of technique – it is the experience of technique reaching the more-than of its initial application. Technicity is a craft ­– it is how the field of techniques touches its potential. From technique to technicity we have a transduction. Technicity is a shift of level that activates a shift in process. This is how techniques evolve. Without transduction we would have only translation, mimicry. The copying of forms. Technicity captures the affective tonality of a process, a tendency, and catapults it toward new expression” (Manning 2013, 33). “Think technique as that which perfects a system and technicity as that through which a process is born that composes the more-than that is the body’s movement ecology” (Manning 2013, 34). “Technique is key, because of its rigorous method of experimentation and repetition, a method that allays any passivity in the passage from the form of experimentation to its force. Technicity—the associated milieu where form once more becomes force, where individual gesture becomes individuation—is the process through which the implicit is acted upon to generate something as yet unthought” (Manning 2013, 34/35).

[40] Manning’s critique is directed against the Kantian notion of ‘reason’.

[41] Manning 2016, 32.

[42] Manning 2016, 32.

[43] Manning 2016, 33/34.

[44] Manning 2016, 31.

[45] Manning 2016, 32.

[46] Manning 2016, 30/31.

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

[48] Barbara Bolt (2016, 140; footnote 140) describes this as a shift from the performative to the constative.

[49] Murphy 2014, 183.

[50] Murphy 2014, 183.

[51] Badura & Selmbach 2015 write that the encounter between a non-propositional mode of thinking in and through art, and a conceptual mode of reflecting on and about art, has the potential to open up a new realm of experience. Under the altered conditions of this new realm of experience, conceptual reflection is put to the test at its own limits; it is confronted with itself and forced to think differently. Artistic practice thus has the potential to create new modes of thought, and to become a medium for the critical (self-)interrogation of conceptual thinking, leading to its change and to its thinking differently.

[52] Excerpt from research score with ‘unfinished thinking’ (edited), 28 October 2015 & 12 May 2019.

[53] Borgdorff 2010, 44. Borgdorff’s notion of a ‘non-conceptual’ content of art seems to be at odds with the idea developed in Chapter Three, according to which it is actually impossible to make a clear-cut separation between the conceptual and the non-conceptual, the reflective and the pre-reflective. These are not separate entities, but always already fundamentally intertwined. In my understanding, unfinished thinking exists in the midst of relations between these two. What artistic research seeks to bring forth is a specific articulation of the relations between modalities of expression that are not-yet-known and that escape existing registers of formal knowledge.

[54] Borgdorff 2010, 61.

[55] Excerpt from research score with ‘unfinished thinking’ (edited), 14 May 2019.

[56] Borgdorff 2010, 47.

[57] Excerpt from research score with ‘unfinished thinking’ (edited), 14 May 2019.

[58] See Borgdorff 2010, 54.

[59] Schwab 2012, 19.

[60] See Borgdorff 2010, 59.

[61] Rouhiainen 2017, 146.

[62] In the current degree requirements of the doctoral programme of artistic research in the performing arts at the Theatre Academy in Helsinki, the publication format of the (written) dissertation is the so-called ‘commentary’. What this commentary needs to accomplish is regulated as follows: “The commentary shall demonstrate an ability to analyse, articulate, conceptualize and theorize the artistic designs of research, and to contextualize these in ways that are characteristic of artistic research. The commentary can be realised in many ways: a monograph with a recommended length of 150-200 sheets; an article-based doctorate comprising at least three peerreviewed publications and a summary; a web publication or other multimedial form. The publications can include co-authored publications if the author has an independent contribution to them. The doctoral research can consist of the commentary only when so conferred. The doctoral research commentary shall present the aims, methods, structure and results of the research” (original emphasis).

[63] Schwab 2014, 92/93.

[64] See Schwab 2012, 20. See also Schwab & Borgdorff 2014, who quote a study on practice-based PhDs from 2007, which “has shown that the tension between art and writing is one of the central problems experienced by both students and their supervisors in the degree programs” (12). Based on my own experience as a doctoral student at the Performing Arts Research Centre and as a participant at many events with fellow colleagues throughout the years of my doctorate, the relationship between (artistic) practice and (academic) writing continues to be a major concern.

[65] See Manning 2016, 33/34.

[66] See Schwab & Borgdorff 2014.

[67] Schwab 2014, 100.

[68] See Schwab 2012, 20.

[69] Excerpt from research score with ‘exposition writing’ (edited), 7 May 2019.

[70] See Schwab 2012, 25.

[71] Schwab & Borgdorff 2012, 15.

[72] These are the references for Schwab and Borgdorff. Other multi-medial online publication formats are not considered by them.

[73] See Schwab 2012, 24/25. The notion of the ‘chain of transformation’, i.e. the act of transforming the material world through a successive chain of operations into abstract language, is borrowed by Schwab from Bruno Latour 1999.

[74] Schwab 2012, 26.

[75] Excerpt from research score with ‘exposition writing’ (edited), 7 May 2019.

 

Chapter Six

Reflecting with Practice:

The Research Score as a Medium of Artistic Research?

(Second Artistic Part)