PROF. ROBIN NELSON
DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH
WHAT’S AT STAKE IN PAR AND FOR WHOM?
1) Whether the investigative and innovative work of arts
practitioners might count as research in the academy
2) Whether cutting-edge professional practice claimed as
research in the creative and cultural industries
constitutes “academic research”
3) PaR is an institutional matter and misunderstandings arise
from a conflict of cultures and values;
4) Aim to negotiate this cultural conflict to the advantage of
practitioner-researchers.
WHAT IS “RESEARCH” AND WHO DEFINES IT?
Production of new knowledge or substantial new
insights – effectively shared.
 ‘knowledge’ as institutionally –defined within the
academy;
 entails contribution to knowledge accumulation;
 ‘shared’ across the academy and society, not just
within a subject domain;
 requires making explicit of claims and rationale
(meta-narrative or meta-discourse).
TWO KINDS OF INSTITUTION




University
Academic
Research
criteria
Theory



Conservatoire
Practitioner
Aesthetic criteria
 Practice
DIFFERENT WORLDS, DIFFERENT VALUES
“... two distinct sub-cultures: that of the academics and that of
the creative practitioners. We noted that each sub-culture arose
out of a distinct historical and social background in which its
characterizing values were coherent within the sub-culture but
quite different when compared with the other.”
(Biggs et al 2010)
CREATIVE PRACTITIONERS RESIST ONTOLOGICAL
CRITERIA
“there is a desire for maintaining the indeterminate qualities
afforded by the idealized professional because it serves to
maintain the culture as distinct. Thus the creative practitioner
maintains authority, and therefore identity and difference, by
resisting the determination of criteria.
… in the hands of the practitioners in the field, some of that
[ontological] determinacy was challenged and ultimately
converted back into indeterminacy.”
ISOLATIONIST: HUMPTY-DUMPTY VIEW
“... It is often necessary, for example, to argue whether a PhD in
fine arts should be awarded by a committee composed not only
of ‘creatives’, but also of engineers, psychologists and
scientists.
Our position is that it is advantageous to have equal conditions,
and we call this the Situated Position.
Its opposite, which claims that CCI is somehow special and
should be granted special criteria and regulations, we call the
Isolationist Position.
Humpty Dumpty resolved a disagreement with Alice by stating
that: ‘When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean,
neither more nor less’ (Carroll 2008: Chapter VI). This is an
example of the Isolationist Position.” (Beggs and Büchler, 2008)
CRITICS OF PAR ON BOTH SIDES




Arts academies resent that their customs and practices,
established within the artsworld have been unsettled by the
demands of PaR
Professional artists, finding HEIs to be a funding stream, may not
on occasion have adjusted to different demands of PaR
Universities, operating typically through propositional discourse did
not (cannot/ will not) see that arts practices might be knowledge
producing.
In sum, we have a “conflict of the faculties” (Borgdorff) but with
jurisdiction over “research” being vested in the university sector.
THE CASE OF VISUAL ARTS
According to Prof Judith Mottram, in the 1996 RAE, the Visual
Arts community realised the need for its work to be counted as
research but failed to distinguish research criteria from
aesthetic crieria.
In her study of PhDs, she found that: “On occasions, creative
practitioners assert importance, or originality, based only on the
evidence that what they have produced is creative, original, or
novel. The argument might go as follows: “I created it, thus this
expression of my individual experience/being/creativity/voice
has value”.
THE CASE OF MUSIC
Historically, Music has been part of the university curriculum
since the Middle Ages;
In the modern era PhD and DMus degrees have been awarded
for composition and performance with very little “exegesis”
As PaR has developed, some musicians have not been happy to
be asked to articulate and evidence a “research inquiry”
Some claim to have “won the argument” though where and
when, and on what terms remains unclear.
THE CASE OF MUSIC (2)
As RAE/REF audits have drawn criteria for the arts into a PaR
mode, many of today’s HEI-based musicians accept that:
“... [a]lthough much music making involves research, the latter
does not necessarily qualify all music making as research. Not
every rehearsal is a research project and not all performances
are research outcomes.... Much of what musicians do may
certainly be high-level professional practice, but all does not
necessarily constitute research.” (Schippers, 2007: 02)
THEATRE AND PERFORMANCE




Partly because of its emergence from English departments,
Theatre Studies embraces Humanities-style historical and
conceptual research;
Performance Studies overlaps with a range of other disciplines
(Cultural Studies, Ethnography, Archaeology etc);
practice-based departments have burgeoned in the UK over the
past two decades and research has become increasingly situated
in practices;
Theatre and Performance have had fewer problems following a
multi-mode PaR methodology
DANCE




eager, because of its extensive embodied practices, fully to
embrace PaR;
some practitioners have been challenged by the demand to
articulate and evidence a research inquiry;
but there has been less resistance;
indeed, an appetite to find resonances with other disciplines
from ethnography to neuroscience.
GEOGRAPHICAL PERSPECTIVES

•
•
•
Continental Europe: strong TheaterWissenschaft tradition has
militated against acceptance of PaR;
Nordic countries: until recently have side-stepped
confrontation with universities because many institutions
remain arts academies and award DCAs;
In the USA where MFA is “terminal award”, early resistance in
Visual Arts to PaR PhDs has made Performing Arts wary;
Carlson notes that the theory/practice split in HE and a
ineluctable association with entertainment has militated
against taking theatre research seriously and against PaR
CONTEMPORARY CULTURE DISPOSED TO
INTERCONNECTED DOMAINS
demarcated disciplines ↔ complex links between
knowledge domains
 artsworld ↔ lifeworld (impact factor)


Modernist separation ↔ postmodern hybrity

digital interconnectedness
OVERLAPPING SPHERES
Artsworld
Media sphere
Academic sphere
CAN AN ARTWORK SPEAK FOR ITSELF?
in exceptional circumstances, it may be that an arts practice
can both articulate and evidence a research inquiry;
 most likely to be the case in rare paradigm shifts;
 Biggs argues that a work of art can never take account of the
context of its reception, placing it in an historical and
critical context;
 do we compromise practice if we talk/write about it rather than
dance, paint or build it?;
 NO - documentation and complementary writing (“exegesis”)
are typically required.

LINGERING ISSUES
vocabulary: PaR, PlR, PbR, Artistic Research (Wittgenstein: the
impact language has on what we can and cannot think);
 can experiential modes of knowing be accepted in “the
academy”?
 to what extent might subjective experience be shared to build
a body of knowledge (tacit→ explicit)?
 are there non-linguistic modes of knowing communicable to
the satisfaction of academic protocols?

Modes of knowing: multi-mode epistemological model for PaR
Know how
“insider” close-up knowing
-
Experiential, haptic
knowing
performative knowing
tacit knowledge
embodied knowledge
ARTS PRAXIS
theory imbricated
within practice
Know what
the tacit made explicit
through critical reflection,
:
-
know what “works”
know what methods
know what principles of
composition
know what impacts
know what’s distinctive
Know that
‘outsider’ distant knowledge
-
spectatorship studies
conceptual frameworks
cognitive propositional
knowledge
NELSON’S MODEL

foregrounds praxis and names that foregrounding in the
term “Practice as Research”

affords a frame to embrace all kinds of arts and cultural
practice as research, acknowledging the specificity of
each project

challenges binaries and exclusions by “both-and” thinking;
acknowledges
various modes of knowing in dialogic inter-play;
NELSON’S MODEL (CONTD.)
establishes
PaR as a distinctive methodology, connected to a
spectrum of established academic methodologies;
promotes convergence of evidence in a hermeneutic spiral in
place of arguments in propositional discourse (including PhDs);


opens up inter-disciplinary space within the arts and across
the academy

encourages further developments in understanding of
aesthetic knowing
A TERMINUS WITHOUT CONCLUSION
the PaR initiative has achieved a great deal in the UK;
 it has challenged and changed “the academy”;
 arts praxis is demonstrably submissible for PhD and for REF;
 its achievements remain fragile and we should avoid
unsettling them with careless wrangling;
 we can continue to challenge “the academy” but we cannot
ignore its protocols; isolationism is not an option.

REFERENCES
Biggs , M & Buchler , D (2008), ' Eight criteria for practice-based research in
the creative and cultural industries ' Art, Design and Communication
in Higher Education , vol 7 , no. 1 , pp. 5-18 .
Biggs, M., D. Büchler, R. Rocco and C. Schjerven (2011) The Production of
Academic Research and some Barriers to Academicization in the
Creative and Performing Arts. Proceedings of the International
Conference of Education, Research and Innovation (CD)), 378-385.
Mottram, Judith ‘Researching Research in Art and Design’ in James Elkins,
ed, (2009) Artists with PhDs. Washington DC: New Academia
Publishing
Schippers, H. 2007. ‘The Marriage of Art and Academia: Challenges and
Opportunities for Music Research in Practice-based Environments’.
Dutch journal of Music Theory, Vol. 12, 34-40.
Download

Robin Nelson Keynote Presentation