As a process-led artist my work generates potentially unbounded sequences and iterations. Actively thinking with complexity in mind, I encourage encounters between diagrammatic drawings, film and acts of modelling and remodelling.
In the spirit of contradiction, creative play challenges predetermined outcomes, thus, I form conceptual/visual propositions not to solve problems, but to frame them, intensify them and draw attention to them as things in themselves. In short, I curate and present decentred, constellations of signs and utterances, which actively converse but remain inconclusive.
In the context of artistic research, artworks are the generators of that which we do not yet know. They thereby invite us to think. Artistic research is the articulation of this unfinished thinking.
Borgdorff, H. ‘Art Works as Epistemic Things’ in Schwab, M. (ed.) Experimental Systems: Future Knowledge in Artistic Research, Leuven University Press, 2013, p117
As a member of the Society of Artistic Research (SAR) my practice-led research follows the ethos of SAR, to explore ways of negotiating the autonomy of artistic research, through artistic actions, which are considered an alternative mode of knowledge. Artistic research is experimental and proves difficult to render instrumental, making it difficult to measure and demonstrate the outputs and impact that contribute to the structural systems of academic research the that are in place. According to the Russian philosopher Boris Groys, the value of art is found through playing with conflict. Likewise the French philosopher Jacque Ranciere defines aesthetics as having the ability to think contradiction, so the value of creative play is to open-up what is systematically pervasive to find an entry point where societal impact may be found.
If a work, be it a work of art or science or scholarship has some value, then it will contain this philosophical element. It is something which has remained unsaid within the work but which demands to be unfolded and worked out.
Agamben, G. ‘What is a Paradigm?’ in European Graduate School Video Lectures (2002) [transcript]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9Wxn1L9Er0
So the idea of a research question existing prior to the development of the art practice is one fundamentally at odds with artistic research. I do not aim to answer research questions, but to create the questions. If the question proceeds the methodology in terms of artistic practice then the methodology is closed, so for me, artistic research is about creative exploration of research, rather than a research question per se. Since the research question is in-the-making, yet unknown, practice-led research could broadly speak to a research question that considers what new research methodologies could be generated by working creatively and openly.
What am I working on right now?
To fund my practice and research, for the last two decades I have worked within the data industry, and there is no doubt that thinking with data has impacted upon and fed my thinking. Currently I am a Data Fellow sponsored by the South West Creative Technology Network (SWCTN). Working with a cohort of fellows, with a range of skills and interests from creative, academic and industry backgrounds, I am approaching this fellowship as an artistic researcher, to explore the human-data realm as a supranatural force of life in the world.
Methodologies I am exploring, include;
- how to get inside the machine to encounter what lies behind human-data (dis)connections,
- ways to summon supranatural data,
- listening for a new form of human-data voice, and what form(s) of (mis)communication may evolve.
- My process began with a simple data set to explore matters of the heart and mind.
- Outside of the machine, a series of hand-drawn diagrams, diagrammatically reason with Sternberg’s triarchic theorem for love.
- The highlighter, a substitute for the digital luminance of the screen.
- A slow sequence of iterative data sets begin to mirror the dimensionless space of the digital world.
- Drawing data as a visual instrument, am I becoming algorithm?
- Patterns and associations are forming a literacy that is starting to speak to me beyond words.
In the chapter ‘Smashing Screens’, from ‘What comes after Farce’, Hal Foster draws on the condition ‘apophenia’; which is the tendency to perceive a connection or meaningful patterns between unrelated or random things, such as perceiving patterns in meaningless data. Writing about the artist Hito Steyerl and her use of the term ‘The algorithmic nonconscious’, Foster refers to the practice of Steyerl as one which attempts to identify with technology as a thing, in which the digital is against our interests and without our agency.
Similarly, in the book ‘Reality Hunger, David Shields presents a collage of unreferenced quotations that destabilizes genres and time, in which he accumulates associations, creating a rhythm that is both playful and perplexing.