Magda Wegrzyn's notes about Robin Nelson's Practice as Research in the Arts: Principles, Protocols, Pedagogies, Resistances.1 The Introduction: The What, Where, When and Why of 'Practice as Research (p. 3: 22) 'Practice as Research' by Robin Nelson can be understood as: ,,(..) research project in which practice is a key method of inquiry and where in respect of the arts, a practice (…) is submitted as substantial evidence of a research inquiry”(p.9). But as we can read in a previous page according to Nelson who agrees with Schipper not every artistic practice is the research (p.8). From this points he stays in tune with Borgdoff thinking who is making a distinction between art practice on itself and art practice as a research. 2 Nelson notices that for this situation the crucial question is ,,how art practices which constitute research differ from those which do not” (p.9) especially when ,,artworks, and other material practices, are often very complex, resonant and multi layered, while the articulation of research inquiry needs to be as clear as possible” (p.10) I agree with the sentence of the author that: ,,the suggestion that writing may be helpful is not to demand a verbal account of the practice, and certainly not to require a transposition of the practice into words” (p.11). Nelson in his text is looking for ,,a resonance between complementary writing and the praxis3 itself” (p.11) and he writes about ,,additional ways of articulating and evidencing the research inquiry” (p.11) This seems to me reasonable. According to the author ,,it is possible to make a significant distinction between documentation ( by way of translation) of a practice and documentation of a research inquiry based in practice.”( p.6) From Practitioner to Practitioner-Researcher ( p. 23 : 47) In second chapter the author formulates ,,a model in which different types of evidence arising from a multi mode research inquiry can be effectively mobilized. (The chapter) shows how 'know- how' combined with 'know- what' in relation to 'know that' maximizes the potential to knowledge which 'academic' research entails.” (p.20) Also in this part he writes about a distinction between: ,,personal research - involves finding out, and sifting, what is known, professional research - involves networking, finding sources and collating information and academic research - involves conducting a research inquiry to establish new knowledge” (p.25) Nelson coins the term 'complementary writing' which purpose is according to him ,,not transpose the artwork from its own medium into that of words. ” (p.36) but he on the other hand he claims that ,,Research in the arts needs however, to demonstrate a rigour equivalent to that of the sciences” (p.39) because it is not sufficient to say ,,that knowing in arts is personal, embodied and tacit” (p.39) He quote van Gelder and Baetens sentence that: 'the research methods of the hard sciences are closer to those of research in the arts than the methods and models of the humanities” (p.40) and claims that ,,the attempt to make tacit knowledge more explicit involves a process of dynamic movement from the closeness of subjectivity to a greater distance, if not quite achieving objectivity as traditionally conceived”. (p.20) 1 Borgdorff, Henk, The Production of Knowledge in Artistic Research. In: Michael Biggs and Henrik Karlsson (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts, London and New York: Routledge, 2010, pp. 44-63. 2 Nelson Robin, Practice as Research in the Arts: Principles, Protocols, Pedagogies, Resistances, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003 3 Praxis according to Nielson: ,,theory embraced within practice” ( p.5), (more p. 40)
For me text made by Nelson is quite clear. I see thought some risk which may appear if we try to apply it to strict. I am specifically worried about art made in academic environment and artist which might turn into 'academic' artist (with bad connotations of this word) if they follow his model to strictly. I am a little be worried also when he writes that: ,,On rare occasions I do believe the practice alone my evidence a research inquiry. But an artwork cannot take account of the context(s) in which it might be experiencedâ€? (p. 36) Pointing the question toward this sentence I wonder how rare may be the rare occasions? Is it not possible to artwork to place itself in meta-level position? I think thought it is. He is writing also about documentations and evidences. Speaking about evidencing putting me in unpleasant situation that I must defend myself if my PaR is enough 'academic' PaR one. In the last session Jan asked me also about the bureaucracy in context of the academy I was trying to make my point by making a connection to the victim and perpetrator situation. Here I would like to make some clarification. The situation from where I come from vary differently from situations states by Nelson. I understand thought that Nelson is writing about doc. new knowledge as a result of PaR as inquiry and that his intention are good. In my university bureaucracy as general (not the one connected with doc. PaR) is a huge problem, what is is still a relict of past time and communism. Lack of trust and all-pervading invigilation change mentality of many representatives of polish intelligence. As an example I can say that sill very popular are sign paper forms: 'podanie' in which student kindly ask a clerk or a professor for a permission of doing something, by that I do not mean only big issues but even small daily one which sometimes appear in normal functioning of the institution. The hierarchy is evident and strong. The grade system occurs also for DFA level. On the other hand the word outside the academy is difficult for artist too. Polish art market is not as highly developed as in England. By joinig DFA community, despite of many inconveniences, the university is still the place of support for development of artistic practice production. For those one who have remembered the artist from this year polish Pavilon at Venice Biennale: Konrad Smolenski I would like to show his very early work when he still was a student: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dig7ct3vShs. It is good to see his work because it may put a little bit more light on the problem.