Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Experimental methodologies in art and design research
What are the effects of methodologies created by art and design researchers? Do they have the potential to challenge, and contribute to, research in other disciplines? Yesterday I was part of a one-day seminar on experimental methodologies at Wimbledon School of Art organised by, and for, PhD students in art and design to examine ways of thinking about, and doing, practice-based research, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The other speakers were Paul Halliday, urban photographer and sociologist from Goldsmiths, and Malcolm Quinn, reader in critical practice at Wimbledon. Paul Halliday drew our attention to the Surrealists (and others) whose use of the playful and chance in their practice is, he argued, an important contribution to sociology. Malcolm Quinn suggested there was an opportunity for the humanities to learn from artists: from how they approach context, and from the methods they invent, especially the necessity of fabrication. I talked about some of my projects (mostly art commissions) in which I use/disrupt methods of data gathering and presentation common within social sciences. Listening to the PhD students, whether working with paint, lens-based media, performance or drawing, I was reminded of the practices and approaches that constitute art and design education (at least in the UK) but which are not so evident in my current academic context, a school of management in an ancient university. I wonder to what extent playful fabrication is possible within the social sciences - what value it might have here?