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.

VIS about Exposition

Exposition is a term rich in connotations for the arts; it can describe anything from the way an artist arranges his or her works for public display to the way a composer presents the main themes and tonal conflicts that are then resolved through the developmental processes of Sonata Form. Because of this richness of association, it has been a happy choice as the collective name for the different presentational formats by means of which the varied insights and results of the artistic research process can be communicated and different artistic intentions and focuses set out.

Exposition is therefore a key concept in artistic research, and embraces various forms of production, viewing, interpretation, presentation and documentation; these may comprise the whole of the artistic artefact or event, but they can also be supplemented by other types of communication. The outcome of the research is presented in 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.

By developing different formats through which expositions can be carried out, the community of artistic researchers aims to address the challenges that arise when research is formulated and presented in forms that communicate through an artistically-conceived experience. VIS hopes to use expositions as a means of pushing the boundaries set by existing forms of research publication and dissemination around the ambitions and potential achievements of artistic research.