Photo: Bengt Söderström
Artistic research comprises a broad spectrum of investigative and reflective practices, methods and concepts with artistic roots in architecture, visual art, circus, dance, design, film, fine art, photography, arts and crafts, choreography, creative writing, media, music, opera, performance and performing arts. New knowledge is created by means of artistic practice being orientated towards
research issues and generating concepts, processes, artefacts and performances. The researchers present these for peers (colleagues in their artistic field within the academy and outside it) and a wider public by means of exposition. Exposition constitutes a key concept in artistic research, and involves various forms of production, viewing, interpretation, presentation and documentation, which may include the whole of the artistic artefact or event, but can also be supplemented by other types of communication. The outcome is presented on its own terms. The encounter with the exposition of the research therefore provides a key to understanding its aesthetic, epistemological, ethical, political and social content.
As the Swedish Research Council points out in its 2014 overview of subjects:
Traditional demarcation lines between subjects hardly reflect the area’s whole dynamic development but show the diversity of skills, methods and research interests. The theme of the research is often artistically or thematically transdisciplinary and the area is shaped both by the differences between the art forms, their traditions and education programmes and the exchanges and continual hybridisations.
From The future of research! 2014 Overview of subjects: Artistic research, p. 5.
Our aim is to strive for artistic research that both strengthens artistic practice itself and expands the reach and audience of the artistic practice, i.e. its ability to connect with other areas of knowledge. On the one hand, the purpose of doing artistic research is therefore not for abstract, general knowledge, but rather concrete knowledge as is required to support and strengthen artistic practice, which involves a greater degree of subject-specific specialisation, reflection and skills. On the otherhand, artistic research can develop methods that join together and integrate knowledge areas that had previously been separate, which leads to the development of both interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary fields of research.
From Nils Claessons animated film "Epilog".
The research area Artistic Practices
The research area Artistic Practices is based on artistic implementation and creativity and the knowledge it generates and develops. Research in this area is steeped in interpretative processes, critical meetings and transdisciplinary dialogue. Methods are developed within the area that are integrated in artistic practice and lead to new relationships with material, technology, collaborations and audiences. At the same time the artistic practices’ boundary lines are being tested, as are the contexts within which they are articulated and performed and their ideological and departmental frameworks. These different methods and approaches stimulate new perspectives in terms of the aesthetic, the social and the political.
Artistic practice constitutes the basis for research that aims to create new knowledge within the area. At the same time the research provides critical reflection on the knowledge forming processes and problematises the area’s own way of contributing knowledge. Research in the area encourages methodological diversity that strengthens artistic practice and understanding. The methods are developed in accordance with the projects’ lines of enquiry and may be experimental, improvised
or unpredictable, thus leading to unexpected insights. This is how the methods used in the research can build bridges to other areas of knowledge and give new, interesting frameworks for transdisciplinary problems. The results of the research are to be considered as situated proposals rather than empirically verified proof, and are expressed as specific artistic solutions, ideas and insights. At the same time, the results contribute to the arts, to artistic research and to other fields of knowledge with methodological insights and opportunities, new tools that can support or extend artistic expression and insights that can contribute to an understanding of transdisciplinary or societal issues.
Exposition is an integrated part of artistic work in Uniarts’ research environment. Researchers present their concepts, processes, artefacts and performances for peers with the help of exposition where different artistic intentions and focuses can be clearly set out. Each research project must therefore present (stage, narrate, sing, choreograph and so on) its results in a way that is both rigorous and consistent. This means that the description of the insights and the results of the research can also be given in something other than written form. The encounter with the artistic artefact or performance becomes a central feature in the critical review of the aesthetic, epistemological, ethical, political or social dimensions contained in or demonstrated by the work. This requires research to be critically reviewed by peers who have the skills and competence to process the claims and arguments contained in the research results, often in a combination of different exposition formats. By developing different formats in which peer review can be carried out, research within the area also addresses the challenges that arise when research is formulated and presented in forms that communicate through an artistically performed experience. Research in the area thereby also contributes to pushing the boundaries that existing forms of publication and dissemination of research set for the ambitions of artistic research.
Uniarts’ research area is eclectic in that it is open to diverse contributions. At the same time it is important to identify research trends that are not part of the area of Artistic Practices. First of all, research that is done on a completely theoretical basis or without a grounding in practical experience is not included in the area Artistic Practices. Nor can research that uses art to illustrate one or more of its concepts – or research that is primarily focused on the history of the art form – be considered a central part of Artistic Practices. Even if research that develops tools, materials or technology to support artistic practice can be crucial to support and improve artistic expression itself, that research is not characteristic of the area of Artistic Practices – insofar as the knowledge and expertise was not developed by means of artistic processes and methods.
In summary, it can be said that the area of Artistic Practices primarily includes research that is carried out on the basis of artistic methods and artistic interpretation. The practical exercise of the art form – and the relevant exposition of the research results – are the trademark of the area.