Practice as Research: towards a methodology

Just as my work sits between the site and the gallery, my practice moves between the studio and the field. I take an interdisciplinary approach, using exploration into various other disciplines from science to geography, zoology to philosophy to inform my work. I have so far also been taking an interdisciplinary approach to the research methods I employ, drawing from various paradigms in order to see what is most effective in relation to my practice and to provide a strong basis for my reflections and conclusions. I have yet to align myself to a specific methodology but perhaps this will emerge through my continued use of appropriate methods.

Studio methods:

studio methods chart-1

Fieldwork methods:

field methods chart-2

After reading Visualising Research by Carol Gray and Julian Malins I have begun to keep a weekly record of the main problems, solutions and successes I am encountering in my practice, a method suggested in the book as a good way of “visualising the pace and progress of a project.” This method of charting has been key in helping me to identify barriers to production and allowed me to reflect on how I am working. It has also been beneficial to overcoming some issues as an exercise in itself.

Barriers

In response to the recent Social Intentions symposium at the CCA in Glasgow, Andrea Phillips gave a talk entitled Engaging in Research which explored how research might be understood as a process of social practice.

 

In opposition to the standard institutional notion of original, individually authored research, she postulates that research is “always already collaborative” in as much as ideas already exist in the social consciousness and that rather than producing an original idea, researchers “pick up and run with” existing strands of thought that are “already in the water”. Later in the talk Phillips questions how making research visible might act to damage or destroy the subject or even the research itself and asks how we might invite others into research in order to produce an equality of knowledge practice.

Having been considering my own research practice so much over the course of the MA largely from a standard academic perspective, these antagonistic views have given me pause for thought about what I want the nature of my research to be and how I might approach this in my Independent Project.

Much of my work this year has been concerned with stripping back the layers and borders that prevent people from being part of conversations, something which Phillips talks about as a way of ensuring that social hierarchies aren’t being perpetuated in research. My approach so far has been to try to orchestrate social engagement through curated scenarios and dialogic objects, however this approach requires a level of facilitation which I have found increasingly difficult due to life events which have affected my own wellbeing. Phillips’ talk offers an alternative; in reframing social engagement as a natural process within research rather than an outcome to be produced, I intend to explore how it might emerge from performative inquiry.

 

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