VIS about Artistic Research

Most art-forms have sufficiently long histories of scholarly enquiry, adequate sets of methods and more than ample questions to form research fields of their own, fertile enough to be inscribed in institutional systems. But artistically-grounded research in the Nordic countries has a short history within the academies, with pioneering work done in the mid 1990’s. During the period since then, two strands of knowledge accumulation and sharing have developed: a conceptualization and development of artistic practice; and a transdisciplinary approach where artistic methods are contextualized and linked to approaches originating within the humanities, natural and social sciences.

Artistic research is thus a form of subject development, not separated off from the basic training of art. It goes back both to a tradition of embodied knowledge residing within skilled artistic work and to the reflective texts and commentaries produced by practitioners with the aim of unfolding and uncovering the normally veiled inner workings of artistic processes. It is an attempt to articulate in a theoretical form what constitutes a specifically artistic knowledge, how it is formed and how it is connected to, for example, society and political acts. The concept of “the artistic process”, then, does not only refer to the practice/the methods/the making but also to the mechanisms, conceptual and cultural, that act to make sense in-and-of a work.

Within artistic research, the terms “method” and “methodology” are also to be understood in an expanded sense. All methods have their own aesthetics and carry their own gestures, discourse and history in a work of art. The concepts of “methods”, “making” and “practice” are thus all to be viewed as equally involved in the work’s sense-production and are, in different ways, made accessible in an artistic research project.

Artistic research is thus a ‘new-old’ genre; there are many examples that may be cited in virtually every artistic medium of individuals from earlier periods whom we would now regard as artistic researchers ‘avant la lettre’. But through the development of a dissemination and peer-review culture – to which VIS is proud to contribute – we hope to participate in its maturing as a recognised discipline. In the process, we shall encounter both playful and systematic expositions of, and reports about, the processes of art – emanating from within the art itself and from those closest to the practice.