I participated in the ArtTech Sublime seminar yesterday arranged by the schools of performing arts at the Gothenburg University (follow this link for more information on ArtTech). I found visual artist Jan Kaila’s presentation on his thesis from 2000 especially interesting. The format of his thesis was rather traditional, a series of works discussed in an accompaning text, but I was impressed with the depth of his work. He also made a statement about artistic research that I found useful: <blockquote>There is a reason for all art - there is no such thing as art without a reason - and it is this reason that is the research.</blockquote>This may seem obvious, but in a time when the validity of artistic research as a phenomenon is debated as it is in Sweden right now, it is nice to hear somebody describe it as selfevidently as that.
It was also good to listen to Palle Dahlstedt whose thesis ‘Sounds Unheard of’ from last year, is in many ways related to my own work. As his thesis is done at Chalmers, and not within the Academy of Music, it is closer to a traditional scientific dissertation, a point stressed by himself at his presentation. Nevertheless it is an impressive piece of work, very skillfully carried through with an interesting historic review of similar techniques used in art.
On the night before this seminar Dr. Mika Hannula, principal of the Art Academy in Helsinki gave a lecture on method in artistic research. He gave a list of, according to his experience, ten important aspects of artistic research. I will not get in to the full list now (maybe in a later post…) but he stressed the importance of ‘contextualizing the self’. I find this very interesting because that is also the beginning of accepting the subjectivity of the research. By giving your work a honest perspective of your own background, your current position and your direction, you give the receiver a chance to understand the context in which the problem and the suggested solution has risen.
Finally I am intrigued by the amount of work that is going into this field at the moment. Let us hope that it doesn’t end with locked positions and schisms but that it can lead us towards a higher understanding and let us create new knowledge.