Art and Research

Art and Research is an online journal for ideas, contexts and methods. It provides a resource of downloadable finished papers, interviews and conference notes that are considered important and current to the discourse that surrounds artistic research. The journal is international and peer-reviewed with an editorial board, one of the main editors being Ross Birrell an artist researcher and staff member at Glasgow School of Art. As well as being an interesting artist, Ross is also an interesting writer and his editorial paper Jacques Ranciere and The (Re) Distribution of the Sensible provides ‘Five Lessons in Artistic Research’ that condenses and links ideas such Rancier’s notion of the ‘distribution of territories’, a commentary on the value of certain disciplines over others, to Mika Hannula (and others) notion of the ‘democracy of experience’ which is ‘the precondition of a non-hierarchical research environment’.

The new issue of Art and Research is due to be published in the very near future and will contain free downloadable access to all of the presentation papers from the initial Who is Afraid of Artistic Research? international seminar that took place on the 23rd May 2008.


idealism: fighting ghosts with ghosts

When flicking through the pages of this magazine, first I noticed that the page layout clearly is for print and not for online reading, as two column lay-out which makes you scroll down and then up again is inconvenient; secondly and more importantly, if the stated aim is to advance artistic research, I find it remarkable that what is presented is an idealistic discussion of idealistic philosophies. Surely Ranciere is an important starting point for discussions of contemporary art, and I sympathise with his ideas of equality and the notion that there should not be any apriori separation between manual and intellectual labour. however, this is exactly the topic I think, where the task for any 'artistic research' lies: rather than discussing idealistic concepts such as ethics and aesthetics, the connections between the material practice of art and theoretic concepts developed in relation to that needs to be explored much more richly. which toolsets would there be on such a path? Interesting I find Steve Wrights critique based on the notion of the art police: the critical branches in contemporary arts increasingly see themselves as one of the last open spaces for free thinking, yet this free thinking is at the same time without social agency as it happens within the autonomous space of the arts. can art get out of its golden or sometimes not so golden cage? and how does that relate to practices of non-professional artists which are nevertheless 'creative' yet lack the formal training and social networking to be recognised as art?

Idealism: Who’s Cage is it Anyway?

Thank you Armin for your comments and for highlighting once again the sealed container that we artists are meant to inhabit. Although I understand your concerns over the lack of co-joining between the relation of artistic (material) production with theories which may or may not enable ‘art’ as free thinking to renegotiate a way out of its ‘own box’, I must point out that without the refection on (I am speaking from an ever-changing Fine Art perspective) our philosophical roots, then we can only move round and not forward. I cannot speak for the philosophy of the Art and Research journal, but from what I can see, there is presented a carefully edited set of coherent essays that balance and oppose each other, setting a course for re-negotiation at the border of the tin. This is where I feel that many artists as researchers are at, questioning the larger structures of research and cultural politics through a meticulous and well-informed dissection of a large variety of discourses. This may seem an obvious statement, but getting back to your original point you only have to look at certain individual researchers (me included) to realise that this actually IS what we are doing, trying to (physically) find a way to allow the material aspects of our work to become that very agency of re-negotiation and change outwith the structure of ‘art’. In taking ‘art’ as a process rather than a name, a more poignant question would be to ask how does this relate to practices of professional artists who are 'creative' yet lack the formal training and social networking to be recognised as workers and valued as such? Through the renegotiation of the creative process in an interdisciplinary sense, by pinpointing creativity in differing disciplines and by reweaving the actual word ‘creative’ back into frameworks such as the ones held by scientific research, we can allow our material investigations to make sense and our research to be valued. I am slowly working my way through varying modes of thought and knowledge structures to address these issues in a planned series of interviews with scientists. Therefore in getting back to your main crux of cage-thinking and as a humourful afterthought to my reply, perhaps our seminar should not ne called ‘Who is Afraid of Artistic Research’ but be retitled ‘Who’s Cage is it Anyway?’, because it certainly is not mine…

I would hope that some of the more theory-minded contributers on the site will also address the issues that you have set.