Artistic Research: In Conversation with Henk Borgdorff

The term artistic research is gaining popularity in Australia, particularly in music, where a number of conferences and symposia focused around this terminology including DDCA’s own 2015 symposium: The Outstanding Field: Artistic Research Emerging from the Academy. But what does artistic research encompass? Is it any different from other terminologies used to describe research in and by creative arts disciplines. 

The term is perhaps most closely associated with the work of Professor Henk Borgdorff, President of the Society of Artistic Research in Europe, who has published widely on the theoretical and political rationale of research in the arts.  Jenny Wilson caught up with him in Amsterdam in April 2016,  hot on the heels of his recent speaking tour of European and UK universities, art and music schools, to find out more about artistic research and European experiences of the politics of art and higher education...

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Art is Useless, Edgeless and Homeless

I have been in conversation about the relationship between art practice and research for quite some time. The questions raised ask us to think more deeply about what we believe we do as artists, educators, researchers, and cultural theorists. The title suggests why the visual arts is successful in taking on any role deemed necessary. Cultural, social and educational history is well served by aligning visual arts with a cause. Where we are less successful is explaining how the ever-expanding universe of visual arts practices makes a bang within traditional institutional systems. However, in the current business of educational incorporation, why is it a good idea to describe visual arts as useless, edgeless and homeless and how can this be defended?

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The Creative Arts and New Knowledge – Do We Aim For Questions or Answers?

'But what is the new knowledge you’re producing?’ Recently I was asked this question at dinner with a colleague from the social sciences, who didn’t intend to challenge the creative arts sector. She really wanted to understand how researchers in the arts went about their work. After explaining as best I could, I realised that having these conversations were eminently useful, because they make us, as creative artists, distill what we do. So what did I say?...

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Beyond a Doctorate in Music

It was not long after the Dawkins reforms that a disenchantment with the pure research PhD model emerged. Commentators began to ask why the preferred model seemed to serve the needs of academia and urged the development of models that were more relevant to the needs of society (Australian Higher Education Council, 1989). Less encumbered by a university-based history and highly focused on practice, the creative arts responded and the sector has since witnessed an exponential uptake in creative arts doctorates.

Yet university understanding of the creative doctorate has remained clouded by traditional expectations for higher degree research...

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Dancing Elusive Knowledges Across the Research Terrain

The narrative of knowledge is almost always underpinned by the cognitive but how we know the world is often through the experiential. Whilst we have moved a long way in redefining knowledge in research terms to include the processes and outcomes of our practices (artistic, creative, professional) and importantly have privileged the artist’s voice as the expert in this recasting of what a knowledge claim might look like, some art forms prove more problematic than others in this endeavour. What if the artist’s voice is embodied thought, articulated through movement, and not text or image or code? For dance artists our narrative of knowledge resides with and in the body...

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Critical Care in Creative Research

During the 1990s and 2000s . . . an intensive debate took place among art and design academics as to whether their practices and those of their graduate students could be called research, and if so what “contribution to knowledge” might be made by the creative output. . . . James Elkins famously characterised this “scientification” as a mere response to bureaucratic Research Assessment Exercises in the U.K. and related tertiary education systems. . .

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President’s Welcome

Over 2 decades the creative art academic community has grown and matured as a sector -  so have the questions of method and purpose of publically funded research, that influence the processes of evaluation. Discussions around impact and ‘end-user’ value is a live issue at the ARC and we look forward to the new thinking that will shortly emerge. The creative arts depend almost entirely on end-user experience, and the impact of these experiences aspire to have real and meaningful impact on peoples lives...

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Towards a State of Equilibrium

On my last outing in an ACUADS conference,  I was described by Flinders University’s Julian Meryick as the “artist’s ideal of a scientist… impatient with the reduction of everything down to short term utility.” So as I venture once again into the creative arts domain,  I draw on a scientific analogy. The principle of chemical equilibrium refers to a system in which the rate of consumption of inputs is the same as that at which outputs are produced so that the system is in a stable state of consumption and production...

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NTRO: A Model for Change

The decision by the Australia Research Council (ARC) to achieve the long-mooted merging of the Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) and the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) exercise by adeptly disappearing the HERDC has been welcomed by many discipline leaders, and not just those in the creative arts. With the inclusive ERA becoming the singular evaluation of research quality across Australia, there couldn’t be a better time to rethink the classification of research in universities.

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Perspectives of Artistic Research in Music

Internationally, a great deal of effort and discourse has propelled artistic research in music into new areas of academic authority, authenticity and autonomy. Borgdorff, de Ruiter, Nettle and Pressing have all championed performance and practice-based research as legitimate ways for creating new and innovative music. Concurrent with the development of experimentation in music has come the legitimisation of making music as research.

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