Research Policies for Artists

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Students report in a few articles on the website of the hybrid platform about their impressions from the seminar "New Forms of Research - Artists in Dialogue with Science" by Prof. Nina Fischer and Christina Landbrecht.

In this review we (Qingyun and Toni) write about the two classes with Pip Day. Which was part of the seminar "New Forms of Research - Artist in Dialogue with Sciences". She is a curator and writer from Montreal.



In the first class we talk about knowledge, research and methodology. How are the topics related to each other? How do we see the different approaches between art and science?

Pip starts the class with the question about what we think is knowledge. In summary we get the opinion that the people who have the knowledge have also the power. Like an old saying: "Knowledge is power." Of course it is one parameter of the equation. Another parameter is that knowledge can also be seen as a collection of information. Throughout our own experience and observation we get some excerpts of the reality which transform into information.

According to the UNESCO definition, research is "any creative systematic activity undertaken in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge about humanity, culture and society, and the use of this knowledge to devise new applications." (OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms, 2008)

Information is also an important part of research. How to begin and what we expected? These days a lot of research begins with the internet you look up if there are any related topics or subjects. If we use related research we may see this as a guideline. Because there will be no model to follow it is always some kind of perception. Some kind of an approach. An important thing is that it is suggested not to patronise your subjects or audience who you want to do the research with. Don’t patronise them with too much information and content. There will be many ways to start a research.

Methodology can be this kind of approach. For a lot of things in life we can use the tools and methods to improve our work. Also, for research reasons. There are two main kinds of methods. One is quantitative and the other one is qualitative methods. We can also mix methods. Quantitative methods are good for measuring. Qualitative methods used for describing. Every method can depend on the discipline.

We can take art as an example. Because art has its own method. And it is a dialogue with different disciplines. Often called as artistics research. You can go through every discipline and take every experience to develop new direction and perspective. Create new ways of progress ideas. This is why art has its own language besides the different disciplines.

In the end everything is entangled. Somehow the things we know and also the things we do not know are connected to each other. Connecting the dots after we make an experience is a part of work which we learn in the progress of researching.



In the second class, we firstly review the video "William Buckley interviews Huey Newton on firing line" and discuss about it. At the beginning of the interview, William Buckley appear arrogant, when he is facing the African-American political activist.

He introduces Huey Newton, who was convicted of killing a policeman. And then ask Huey Newton to explain the concept of his new book “revolutionary suicide.” At this time William Buckley control the power of discourse. Huey Newton doesn’t answer the question directly. He replies with a question back to William Buckley. He asks: "What side would you have been on when you are in revolution 1776 the United States of America broke away from England?" The choice of William Buckley is the side of George Washington, the revolutionary. Huey Newton basically change the perspective and made William Buckley aware. What William Buckley is going to do as him on this certain issue. Huey Newton knows how to balance the power during the conversation, he tried to redirect the question to the person that is in the position of power and control.

Through the video we can also see the power of camera. The camera already is set up for the audience. Like when William Buckley say that Huey Newton was convicted as a murder, the camera also zoomed to Huey Newton’s face. The setting of camera leads the audience attention. In a sense, it supports the message of William Buckley.

Actually, "how to open a conversation" is a question that everyone has to answer. Either as artist, curator, writer, or educator. The challenge is, how to do that? What kind of structures should we set up, when we engage in an interview? So how to facilitate Q&A sessions become the topic, which we want to focus on next. Pip shows the opinions about that from Eve Tuck, who is Canada Research Chair of Indigenous Methodologies with Youth and Communities.

She provides some advices, which are very practical to facilitate Q&A sessions for example: Before asking, the speaker may invite the audience taking 5-10 minute to talk to each other, so that they have time to peer review their question. Or asking question to the particular people in the room, for example: indigenous graduate students. In this way, audience are able to be active and reciprocal between them and speaker. Also, the question asker should figure out, if the question needs to be posed and answered in front of everyone.

Lisa also shared a good Q&A example after the panel, which she went through before. The panel is about asylum seeker in Finland. The moderator gives the priority to the audience who have relevant experience. So the audience could give some more meaningful feedback to the speaker. It can push the speaker to think maybe in a new direction. This kind of Q&A sessions are more likely to lead to reciprocity.

Then we saw a video together, named: ‘Audition for a demonstration’. It’s all about events that take place right before the wall broke down. There were a lot of demonstration after the fall of the GDR in 1989. Artists invited participants to remember their personal history and then reenact collective moments. In a durational performance the audience firstly came into a make-up room, where they got customs and would be told like who you are, like you will be a radio reporter. Then they would get dressed up. Then they came in another room, seat in front of green screen and would be asked couple of questions about the experience at that time. In the end of the video, the participants play their role in some kind of either from old TV news or footage of the demonstration from that time. For example, a participator would say the speeches, which people gave in demonstration.

It is always a big issue and challenge no matter for researcher or artist, to set up a conversation in an appropriate way. Before the class started, we read a book – Decolonizing Methodologies from Linda Tuhiwai Smith. It points out, when people do research about indigenous community, there are always ignorant and missing points about them. Because the researchers have their own background. They couldn't perform indigenous people’s roles and can’t fully understand their perspectives. Also, sometimes the indigenous people just tell the researcher the truth what they expected to hear and hide their private thoughts. In the video, the performer changes the role, evoking collective memories, they tell their own stories with the customs, which doesn’t belong to them, actually. So that the performer takes some distance, when they represent their personal experience. And create a new personality in this moment through the "protective coloration".

And how to ensure the objectivity is also a part of a research. In the video, the organizer has already set up the interview questions so the participants answers are predictable. The organizer (of event, interview, theatre. etc..) still determines the priority like interview questions, roles of the performers. So we couldn't obtain the objectivity.

*Thanks to Fang, Lisa, Hara and Elisa for additional information.