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Artistic Research Methodology

Narrative, Power and the Public


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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11. Mikko Kanninen: Seer/Doer


Mikko Kanninen is an actor, director and artistic researcher who teaches at the University of Tampere in Finland and is artistic director of the Tampere Theatre Festival. His doctoral dissertation, “Theatre as a Project of a Body” (, was examined in 2012. He plays in the KONEV band (

Juha Suoranta: What do you do when you do what you do as an artistic researcher?

Mikko Kanninen: I usually discover that there is something in the (surrounding) observed reality that puzzles me. So it’s quite simple: I come up with the research question and then I start to work within its “environment” (usually that is a performance or a framework for it). Research questions in my case (which usually is practice-led research in performing arts) are mostly artistic “hunches” or observations that something quite important is missing from my work. Research work itself involves work with theories (reading and writing), laboratory work (performance rehearsals and workshops) and critical evaluation (performances, discussions and seminars). I am quite concerned about the “third party” in my research. During research (artistic theatre work), these works (or the “information gained in them”) go through such processes where the existing information has to be interpreted outside the actual performance practices of the works—outside the direct performer/audience interaction. The information existing of art thus must be translated in a way that the practical perceptions made by the performer and audience can also be understood by the “third party”—the research...

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