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Artistic Research Methodology

Narrative, Power and the Public

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Mika Hannula, Juha Suoranta and Tere Vadén

Artistic Research Methodology argues for artistic research as a context-aware and historical process that works inside-in, beginning and ending with acts committed within an artistic practice. An artistic researcher has three intertwined tasks. First, she needs to develop and perfect her own artistic skills, vision and conceptual thinking. This happens by developing a vocabulary for not only making but also writing and speaking about art. Second, an artistic researcher has to contribute to academia and the «invisible colleges» around the world by proposing an argument in the form of a thesis, a narrative; and in so doing helping to build a community of artistic research and the bodies of knowledge these communities rely on. Third, she must communicate with practicing artists and the larger public, performing what one could call «audience education». There is no way of being an engaged and committed partner in a community without taking sides, without getting entangled in issues of power. Consequently, the methodology of artistic research has to be responsive both to the requirements of the practice and the traditions of science. Here the embedded nature of the knowledge produced through artistic research becomes evident. Artistic Research Methodology is essential reading for university courses in art, art education, media and social sciences.
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2. Basic Formula of Artistic Research

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Let us try to sum up this view of artistic research as an open-ended, historical, context-aware and narrative enterprise. The goal of the following crystallization in terms of an oversimplified equation is not to look at artistic research from above, as if trying to explain or legitimate it, but to give a basic skeleton of something that otherwise can appear rather nebulous and amoebic, also on these pages. The forms and ways of doing artistic research are genuinely open and should stay that way. Let us not lock them up or tie them down. At the same time, we want to present our view in a nutshell for two simple reasons. First, as the saying goes, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. Second, while the identity of artistic research should be open and contested, we feel also that doing artistic research does not necessarily have to start from agonizing over the unclear nature and identity of the field vis-à-vis the established disciplines in science, since some sort of basic form is available and can be utilized.

As the second reason indicates, the purpose is also propagandistic. So let us borrow a formula from a master of that form of art, V. I. Lenin, who once summed up the following: “socialism = the power of soviets + electrification.” Borrowing the form of the equation, we get this: “artistic research = artistic process (acts inside the practice) + arguing for a point of view...

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