[-empyre-] the extents of learning experiences/practice as a means towards academic self-criticism

magnus lawrie magnus at ditch.org.uk
Mon Feb 27 08:14:56 EST 2012

Hi Ioana,

Forgive my late response.

On Sat, Feb 25, 2012 at 05:51:56AM -0800, I. J. wrote:
>    >
>    Yes, ad absurdum...I am not sure what to do with that at present, but
>    a position which I think lends weight to such an approach, comes from
>    a program of the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts which has, “...made
>    artistic research in a university context itself the object of
>    study....[where]... artistic research can be defined as a
>    methodological investigation of artistic practice or as
>    praxis-generated research situated within contemporary culture.
>    Artistic research operates in a methodical manner, is problem-oriented
>    and eclectic. It has its own grammar that is derived from its own
>    interferences and spaces for negotiation, which are constantly being
>    re-constituted through praxis...as a space for negotiation, a space in
>    which action-reaction are fundamental modes of working and where
>    openness and indeterminacy are not seen as flaws of the system, but as
>    advantages. � [1].
>    >
>    Magnus, thanks for bring this to our attention. I am quite taken by
>    this approach to artistic research, especially to the part highlighted
>    above. I wonder what concrete forms this approach can take  - in other
>    words, what the products of this kind of artistic research would look
>    like. And are these products to be discussed under the rubric of
>    aesthetics, still? Is talk in terms of aesthetic value relevant as far
>    as they are concerned?
>    To push this question one step further: What is the relation between
>    artistic research and the category of aesthetics?

One of the most exciting moments of the workshop in November, for me,
came on the last day, when the panel discussion turned to
non-representational forms in art. I think your question touches on
this thread of the discussion so far. 

In terms of concrete forms that might come from such an approach, your
question really goes straight to a possible (possibly fundamental)
weakness in my line of thinking, because so far, I do not have a
clear answer (but bear with me please!). In my PhD, I am evolving a
recursive way of working, describing processes which come from their
own set of processes and institutional conditions. I might be charged
with making a completely self-referential project and that's a risk, I
would agree. However, one aspect of institutional experience (for the
uk, certainly) is to be facing cuts, so on this count at least, there
is hope that my PhD results will attach to problems of precarity,
relevant beyond the academic world. That for me, is a concrete form,
because it means at least some kind of action (which implies also
practice, however defined).

In other concrete terms, my PhD attaches to a public funded project
with its own set of specific deadlines and anticipated outcomes. I
suggest that therein lies a possible incompatibility, but one which I
think must be intrinsic to other PhDs - there can be a tension between
a student's research interests and the constraints of time and the
research format (because ultimately, it is expected that defined
outcomes will be communicated in a defined space during a defined time

But is this what you mean by concrete forms? I suspect you mean
something like 'products of practice' and I could mention then
physical computing, software and other simple project components which
can embody the metaphors of recursion and negotiation which emerge
from observations of my research-as-entity, where I am treading the
boundary between material and immaterial forms and looking for
interfaces between the two (so I am on about FLOSS, Open Hardware,
Commons and Ecology).

But these products of practice arrive quite late in the process. In my
own strange world of research, ideas and experiences are sited and
anchored through reading. Reflection follows this, where content is
re-interpreted, especially through mapping, when an editing process
takes place. And somewhere after this, there are the appreciable
products of practice, (ideally) crystalized embodiments of
process-driven artistic research, which may then fold back in on the
process (I am supposing).

Perhaps you will see from the above that my approach to my own PhD
has been for ideas to lead the re-constitution of my creative
practice. But if products of practice do not appear at the beginning
of the process of artistic research, then there is a clear
incompatibility with the idea of the practice leading the research.
For the moment, I am going on with looking for interfaces and for the
possible boundary between the category of aesthetics and artistic

Best wishes,


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