Selection (or a fragment) of an artistic research project



Step 0

Artistic experience


First I would like to add a step 0 to experience the work. Before starting to apply the survey it is important to experience the work. The actual experience of the artistic research is one of the most important elements of the action survey, as the experience will provide the raw material as data for the survey.



Step 1                    

Observation: an appropriate way to ascertain what is presented


In context of Artistic Research as Knowledge Production I propose to first observe the work. This is the step after experiencing the work. Observing the work triggers a sensitivity that can be helpful for the next step whereby the actions have to be described.



Step 2                       

Description of the actions


After observation, a range of actions is described. A description is given of the perceptible actions or fragments of the work. This implies the tracing of ‘rule following’ by the artistic researcher and the (visible) consequences of taken decisions. Transparency should be appreciated at this part of the process as it enables a discussion of the given descriptions.



Step 3                      



Understanding is the next step. To outline the different kinds of tacit knowledge the artistic research first has to be understood. Understanding implies interpretation, giving meaning. To understand the artistic research the unidentified and unrecognized patterns of affects (elaborate?) have to be related to the observation of the artistic research, the looking. This is a very delicate moment. In the artistic experience of the artistic research something(s) are understood that should incite ‘infinite thinking’. That what is ‘understood’ by the artistic researcher’ is transformed into an outcome that should trigger this process of infinite thinking. If you treat this moment rough (without delicacy) tacit knowledge production may vaporize. It is an ‘art’ not to apply frames that are familiar (to easily) onto the unidentified patterns of sensation.


Step 4                      

Distinction of the actions or traceable decisions


A distinction is made between polymorphic and mimeomorphic actions. This distinction is based on the theory of the shape of actions morphicity (Theory of action morphicity).[1] Mimeomorphic actions are similar as those seen with machines, as they are predictable in cause and effect. Polimorphic actions are context sensitive. Associations play a role in the responded behaviour. Behaviour is linked to the context and meaning. After distinguishing the actions, and tracing back the decisions, the actions have to be separated.


Tracing back decisions is tricky as it is the question if it is possible to trace back decisions taken in the process, outside of this particular moment. In A Thousand Plateaus Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari argue ‘the tracing approach’ should not ‘overlay the product on the process’. Any potential the process may have had of leading to a significantly different product is lost in the overlay of what already is’.[2]




In my opinion it is insightful for the analyses to make a distinction in what I consider as familiar and unfamiliar, as personal background and experience have an impact on the artistic experience.


[1]               Collins (2010) p. 137 The Shape of Actions What Humans and Machines Can Do

[2]                Massumi, "Like a Thought." (2002) p. XVIII



Step 5                      

Assign different kinds of Tacit Knowledge to the actions


In the distinguishing process the three kinds of tacit knowledge relational, somatic and collective tacit knowledge, are discerned.


Distinctions between familiar and unfamiliar actions, made at step four, are a precursor (forerunner) for the distinction of different kinds of tacit knowledge as it singles out the unfamiliar. To specify both the familiar and unfamiliar actions I complement the codes of Collins. Collins has developed three codes for three kinds of tacit knowledge: Relational Tacit Knowledge (RTK), Somatic Tacit Knowledge (STK), Collective Tacit Knowledge (CTK).


ñRTK (relational tacit knowledge)


ñSTK (somatic tacit knowledge)


ñCTK (collective tacit knowledge)


To these actions specific (sub)fields as academic and artistic could be connected. See the following codes with abbreviations in brackets:


·      Sub / Somatic - academic [Sub-AC STK] / artistic [Sub-AR STK]


·      Sub / Collective [C] - academic [Sub-AC CTK] / artistic [Sub-AR CTK]


·      Personal [P]


In the assignation of the origin of actions, especially between somatic and collective tacit knowledge, I try to be sensitive to the tendency of my decision. The third one, personal [P], I use as a forerunner to the next step to clear out the specificity of the artistic research project.



Step 6                      

Actions of strong tacit knowledge production









Which actions within the artistic research process are related to the articulation of tacit knowledge production? Which actual action is seen, that is related or connected to observable actions?




To clarify which actions within the artistic research process relate to the articulation of tacit knowledge production I elaborate on the three kinds of tacit knowledge. Familiar actions: these actions can be fully described from beginning to end. They have a function, and are functional actions in the situation of the set-up.

Tacitness of strong tacit knowledge, defined as strong because of its strong tacit character, is more complex. This collective tacit knowledge is present in culture. The knowledge is part of a collective as network.[1]


[1]           Keep in mind Collins is a sociologist.



/_\        Tacit Knowledge Production




Interpretation of the model


These steps might not seem sufficient, but the presentation of artistic research must supply the viewer with an articulation that is sufficiently ‘serving’ the academic and artistic field with outcomes the artistic research provides.


The actions in the survey that will be distracted from the artistic research are taken from the (visible) process. The question is if and which actions can be traced back from the outcome. Are there 'unspoken' suggestive decisions? Like for example (with humour): the unsaid or the pause or silence. Might this be tacit knowledge? In trying to construct and formulate a hypothesis on tacit knowledge production the suggestion of 'unspoken' for tacit is 'coincident'.


Another point of attention is in the case of applying the Action Survey and by going back to a work of art while writing about it, the experience is not the actual artistic experience anymore. The writing and re-experience of the work is not the same as the artistic experience. You can re-experience the work while writing (similar neural net might be, but this is in a different moment, different time, and it won’t be a repetition of the previous experience.[1]


One more point of attention is that in evaluating an artistic research project you are evaluating the artistic experience as well. Do you already bring back a conclusion of this experience before the ‘real’ or ‘proper’ evaluation starts? If not, and if the conclusion takes place later, a part of the artistic experience might be left out.


[1]        Mieke Bal, previous head of Cultural Analysis (ASCA), has written on the reconstruction of aesthetic experience in writing about artworks in A Mieke Bal reader (2006)






Outcomes for Tacit Knowledge


The role of tacit knowledge in the artistic research process is at first in the personal tacit knowing of the artistic researcher, a contextual understanding. Through a process of personal tacit knowing, ‘material thinking’, ‘tacit thought’ is materialized. The precise intended unforeseen articulation of materialized tacit thought is presented to the viewer. The perceived 'emergings' (that what comes out of it) are contextualised outcomes.


The application of the concept of tacit knowledge helps to direct the focus to a ‘(re-(tacit) know’ a never-ceasing ‘understanding’ in a certain scope of specific ‘not yet known (tacit) knowns’.

Outcomes for Knowledge Production

I pointed attention to the possibility of tracing back decisions by their visibility or their presence. The question is which actions will allow to be traced back from the outcome. And the question is what happens to the intensities in an attempt to report in an analytical way. Intensities are outcomes in interreaction with the totality of the artistic research (including provided information beforehand). The different elements are analysed by zooming in, but at first they are part of a totality. To my opinion the knowledge is produced in the instant reception, ‘instance of emergence’ of the artistic research and digestion of this experience.

Outcomes for Artistic Research as field of practice

The evaluation of artistic research projects is complicated by the fact that the outcomes of the artistic experience of the viewer are not fixed. Going back to an artistic experience by writing about it will never recreate the same experience. And every artistic experience will be different. An artistic (research) experience has never-ending divergent outcomes.

For the affective valuation and evaluation the Action Survey might be of help to map the tacit territory of artistic research. 


Borgdorff, Henk. The Conflict of the Faculties: Perspectives on Artistic Research and Academia. (Amsterdam): Leiden UP, 2012.


Collins, H. M. Tacit and Explicit Knowledge. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2010.

Gascoigne, Neil, and Tim Thornton. Tacit Knowledge. Durham: Acumen, 2013.

Polanyi, Michael, and Amartya Sen. The Tacit Dimension. Chicago, Ill. [u.a.: Univ. of Chicago, 2009.

Polanyi, Michael, and Marjorie Grene. Knowing and Being; Essays (Chicago): University of Chicago, 1969.

Polanyi, Michael. Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-critical Philosophy. London: Routledge, 2002.