Artistic Research

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Artistic Research
1. 2. 3. 4. What is Artistic Research Art and Science: Differences and Similarities Scientific Art Artistic Science

What is Artistic Research
Informative Artistic Studies Until Now
Scientific study of art has today stabilized itself into a few paradigms or discourses of research, like history of art, aesthetics, and semiotics. Until today, each of these paradigms has produced thousands of reports. Nearly all of these projects have had purely informative goals, which means that the researcher tries to describe the object of study objectively and avoids generating any changes to it. In accord with the best principles of disinterested science most researchers have maintained the impartial nature of their study by avoiding too close contacts with people who might have strong opinions on art, including professional artists and the general public. The impartial, disinterested purpose has been reflected also in the selection of questions that are taken up in research. They have seldom concerned practical needs of artists or wishes of the public. Instead, because researchers did not need not sell their work to any users (being financed mostly from public funds), they were able to select their problems inside the scientific community, either among problems that are theoretically interesting, or simply among problems that have habitually been studied in the research community and for which there are well-tried methods. This common manner of scientific activity has been defined by Thomas Kuhn as "normal science", and it is often a quite rational technique for accumulating scientific knowledge. Its weakness is that because only few research projects originate from the needs of artists, the expenditures invested in research give relatively small benefits to art itself, to the quality of new work or to the processes of making it. Consequently, artists only seldom find any use for the reports of scientific studies of art.

Normative study of art
The basic reason why scientific studies of art so often fail to serve artists is in the very nature of disinterested research. Its goal is to describe impartially existing works of art, but such information is seldom of prime interest to an artist who wants to create new works which comply with contemporary requirements better than earlier works could do. The concept of 'better' entails necessarily evaluations, which reflects the general character of artistic creation which is essentially goal-oriented. Research that is intended to assist in this work must be oriented to the same goals, or in other words, it must be normative. Impartial description does not suffice. Normative research is generally categorized in two varieties, depending on the intended extent of

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using the results (see figure on the right):

1. General level, the creation of
general theory about how to produce works of art of a certain type. Besides works of art, the approach can be applied to industrial products or to any other new artifacts, cf. separate page on Theory of Design. In technology, normative theory contains exact models, standards and algorithms which help the designers to create products with desirable properties like usability, beauty or message, for example. As a contrast, the normative theory for arts consists more of exemplars, i.e. commendable earlier works of art. The 'general theory' level of research need not include any practical creation of artifacts (though it often includes testing the proposed theory).

2. Project-specific artistic development purports to assist the creation of a single work of art (or a
series of them) by defining its goals and providing the conceptual model on which the work of art shall be based. The research is usually carried out by the artist him/herself who is relatively free to decide on its results, i.e. which goals and principles he/she will select as a basis for the subsequent work(s) of art. For the development of industrial products comparable procedures are used, but there is the difference that usually customers, the manufacturing or marketing departments of the company have more influence in the content of the resulting theory and consequently the designer has less freedom to decide about it. Artistic research means combining some of the procedures of scientific research and artistic creation. The goal is usually normative and project-specific but it can be generally normative as well. In other words, artistic research can assist in producing a work of art based on a deeper analysis than usual, and it can also be used for producing theory for the benefit of other artists. In any case, it is research closely intertwined with the practical design and fabrication of a new work of art. Its philosophy and methods are discussed in the following paragraphs. Artistic research, at least in a small scale, has always belonged to the normal artistic creation process. "It belongs to the tradition of pictorial arts that artists want theorize, analyze and manifest their thoughts in respect to the paradigms of artistic tradition, philosophy and problems of presentation" writes Kiljunen (2001, 20). Likewise, Hannula (2001, 12) thinks that "the need and motives of doctoral studies for pictorial artists arise definitely among the artists themselves, from an organic purpose for enhancing and developing the artistic activity". Artists want to analyze their creations verbally, writes, among others, Kantokorpi (2001, 113 and 121): discussions between artists contain more and more references to research, and at every art exhibition you can find "an A4 sheet, where the artist or his friend more proficient in penmanship tells us what this is all about. Art is being verbalized more than ever." To sum up: Artistic theory that purports to help artists in their work, must meet two practical requirements: Theory must be arranged into a normative structure. Descriptive knowledge of works of art

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does not suffice. Normative theory of art cannot consist of explicit written knowledge only. It must be able to accommodate also exemplars of existing meritorious works of art, their details, and the procedures of creating them, not only as illustrations but as indispensable, integral components of theory. Embryonic theories that aim at these targets exist on a few fields of design, notably in architecture, and nothing prevents creating similar theories on any field of art. There would be no need for new, specific methodology of research because much can be done by simply combining the processes of scientific normative research and artistic creation. Of course, such a marriage requires adjusting both of these procedures in order to improve the interchange of knowledge and know-how. Some possible approaches to that effect are discussed below.

Art and Science: Differences and Similarities
Art and science have common historical roots in antiquity, when the Greek term 'tekhne' and Latin 'ars' covered several areas of culture which only later were differentiated into arts and sciences, cf. a short account of it under the title Theory of Design. Even today they have much in common.

Goals
We all agree that the goal of scientific research is to uncover and publish knowledge, information about the object of study, which knowledge then other people perhaps can use for solving their problems. This target is in principle similar to an important goal in art, as is shown by Novitz (1984), among others. Another similarity is that the knowledge which is presented can be either informative (i.e. accepting the state of things as it is) or normative (i.e. explaining how you can change things). As well in sciences as in arts we seek primarily new knowledge that has not been published earlier. Moreover, we consider that the better the presented knowledge is generalizable, the more valuable it is, because more people can then use it. Despite of the common goal of science and art - to present generalizable knowledge - their modes of presenting the intelligence are different. A work of art presents information as a model of a singular case, but the mode of presentation is chosen so that it will be easy for the public to apply the knowledge to new contexts, for example to situations in their personal lives. One usual technique for this is that the artist first "studies" the motif on a more general level and then, when returning to the naturalistic level avoids unnecessary details in the presentation or makes deliberately the work ambiguous. It remains the task of the public, first to interpret the work of art into a more general level and thereafter to apply the content to their personal use (see figure on the left). These techniques differ from those used in the sciences, but the purpose is the same: make the model generalizable.

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Scientific researchers, too, sometimes make individual case studies, the content of which is generalizable to some extent, but a more usual method for presenting general knowledge is to make a conceptual model, see diagram on the right. A usual technique to attain a generalizable scientific model is to detect invariances in data by removing random variation, 'noise' and 'disturbances'.

The model of two worlds
When creating the work, the artist has to regard it in alternation from (at least) two points of view: from inside and from outside. The first view is an introspective one: the work of art is born as a part of the artist him/herself. The second, outward view imitates the one of the public, and it is necessary to make the work intelligible and interesting to the public. Without it, the work would remain on the same level as paintings made by monkeys who cannot think of the reception of their creations. A consequence of the fact that outsider speculation is, at least part of the time, present in the work of the artist is that the so called "model of two worlds" is a well founded (but not the only possible) model in artistic research which wants to respect and perhaps will apply the methods typical for the artist's mode of work. The model of "two worlds" (=theory and empiria) or "scientific realism" as it is sometimes called (fig. on the right) is used in many fields of study. Among its advantages are that it encourages explicit definition of concepts and provides reliable procedures for assessing the quality of the findings. Especially natural scientists have often regarded it as the only accurate method. Such an orthodox attitude is not appropriate in artistic research because it would be unnatural for an artist to draw a definite boundary between own thinking and the work that is the result of it. Artists themselves are accustomed to apply subjective and objective views in succession to their work, and assuming these two roles in alternation should not be too difficult for an artistresearcher, either. The two roles have, of course, close mutual relations and it is advisable to discuss them in the research project. "It is an integral part of the study to assess how experiences are guiding the development of theory precisely now and in this case, and reversely, how theory formation controls artistic experience" (Vadén 2001, 92).

Tacit knowledge
The knowledge inherited from earlier generations of artists, the tacit professional skill, has always been in extensive use in artistic creation. It should be included even when a researcher collects theory of design, knowledge to assist the work of future artists. The difficulty is how to handle the tacit knowledge. Operating with tacit knowledge as it exists, i.e. in the tacit mode, has often been condemned in science. According to the so called positivistic school of thought it is the researcher's duty to
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explicate everything into plain language and disregard those things that he cannot explicate. "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent" (Wittgenstein, B). Today [many] scientists think that the positivistic ideal is feasible in some fields of study, but in other fields it is [permissible to relax the requirements on explicity and precision of data if the alternative is to have no data at all.] This is the case, for example, in Forecasting and in Action Research. The attitudes towards tacit knowledge are thus today no more in sharp contrast in arts respective sciences. Cf. Explicit Knowledge and Tacit Knowledge. Each field of science, as well of art, possesses a long tradition for the mode and style of presentation. In arts this very mode is used to pigeonhole the various arts (like poetry, pictorial art, etc.) though today multimedia is tearing down this categorization. At first sight, it can appear that in sciences only the case study style resembles artistic presentation. Nevertheless, also most scientific types of general model (written language, icon, topological and analogous models) have originally been borrowed from various arts. Among modern scientific methods, closest to art has remained case study. Traditionally we regard an impressive presentation as an essential property for a work of art, and the aesthetic pleasure that its perception gives to the public has been regarded as a measure of the quality of the work of art, cf. Beauty Of Artifacts. It is interesting to note that an analogous "pleasure of discovering" can be experienced in sciences as well. A mathematical algorithm, for example the theorem of Pythagoras' triangle, can be perceived as 'elegant' or even 'beautiful' - one more similarity between art and science.

To the roots
When studied in historical perspective, the resemblance between art and science sets one wondering whether their divorce sometime between antiquity and Renaissance was indeed unavoidable, and whether it could still be possible to construct a third path, parallel to art and science, for gathering and presenting human experience and knowledge? The decisive turning point in the birth of modern science was the work Discorsi by Galilei, which created the basis for descriptive empirical study. Its spectacular success in the fields of natural sciences and technology led soon to the devaluation of an earlier base of knowledge: the tacit tradition of professional skill that the artisans (including artists) and their guilds had collected through generations. Tradition was unable to renovate itself fast enough (cf. Logic of Natural Development) and even in its home field, in technological manufacture, it was destined either to oblivion or to humbly assist the new scientific management in a few particular tasks. Renaissance brought great changes also into the field of artistic creation. Even here, the traditions of ancient guilds of artists were found too sluggish, and many attempts were made to construct a new, scientific basis for modern fine arts. From Baumgarten until today much descriptive research has been done, as was noted above, but nearly all the researchers of art have failed to observe two essential requirements that an artistic theory must comply with, if it intends to be used by artists: The main structure of the theory must be normative, likewise its point of departure. Disinterested studies can serve as a complement but not the other way round. The theory must incorporate relevant non-explicit (tacit) knowledge and attitudes. It is not admissible to exclude them just because the researcher cannot find a way of expressing

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them. How the first requirement can be fulfilled, was already explained above, and there is also a separate page about the philosophy of the Theory of Design. The normative main structure can be supported by earlier informative theory (figure on the right) and elucidated with new disinterested studies of details, if necessary. Some examples of normative studies of art are given on the pages about Normative Study of Beauty and Normative Semiotics. Suitable research methods are also discussed there. How to fulfil the second requirement: gather the tacit professional skill of the artist or the artisan, and transmit it to the next generation? The ancient method of master and apprentice, or of learning by doing, is still available, though it was regarded "unscientific" by positivistic scientists. Nevertheless, it has continuously been used, for example, in the education of architects and also in the dissertations made by students of architecture. Lately, the Finnish universities of art have begun to accept even doctoral theses which consist of a "scientific" part and a parallel work of art which elucidates, exemplifies or complements the scientific findings. In this way, those research findings that can be explicated are placed into the "scientific" part and the remaining tacit knowledge in the artistic part. There are also a few newer techniques for gathering and explicating know-how into a theory of design. Beside writing, you can use the modes of the arts themselves. Then there are multimedia and the modes of communication that scientists use when "demonstrating" their theories. Moreover, the traditional style of artistic coffee-table books with commented illustrations of art could be refined for scientific use, as well as the style of TV-lectures about art. One more example is the usual lecturing style of Finnish architects: they show two slides in parallel and explain verbally the theoretical differences. All these are methods where you can use the explicit format up to its limits, then explaining the rest in the tacit language. "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

Incremental advancement
Above were given a number of polished diagrams manifesting a recommended philosophy for artistic research. However, in reality a paradigm of research cannot be created as a project, or by realizing a blueprint. A paradigm will evolve incrementally, through many small advances made by a great number of successive researchers. Accordingly, in the following I am enumerating examples of such small-scale improvements which could assist in developing the prevailing artistic research methodology in the right direction, as I see it. The incremental progress towards a new paradigm of artistic research could start either from the prevailing paradigm of science, or of art. I envision that researchers planning a new project would like to start at their habitual methodology and complement it with a few procedures from the "foreign" camp, with modifications when necessary. The following two chapters indicate possibilities for such adaptations. In the first chapter, the starting point is artistic methodology, in the second the scientific one.

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Scientific Art
or art in which scientific methods are applied. Some research procedures which might be usable in artistic creation are enumerated below. We take first those processes that are possible for an artist that works alone.

Artist working alone
If the artist works alone a great deal of his/her work stays on the level of the artist's personal contemplation and even the subconscious. For the purposes of artistic creation it is essential to put on paper the gradually evolving drafts for the work to be created, not necessarily the underlying analyses. Nevertheless, these analyses would probably contain generalizable knowledge that could in time provide a basis for artistic theory, which is exactly what the universities of arts are wishing to create. In the following are listed such typical operations of artistic creation which could include analysis in the scientific style. The links refer to the research methods guide written by me, though it is to be admitted that the methods there are intended for scientific more than artistic work. 1. Personal sources of artistic creation, enumerating and analyzing them, is necessary for the same reasons which motivate doing a search and listing of literature in the context of a scientific study. The artist's sources are mostly other than literary, and consequently the artistic sources can be presented as, for example, a slide show in video or internet, exposing the relations between the sources and the resulting work of art. The artist should comment each source verbally: which earlier works, exhibitions, discussions made an impression or aroused productive ideas? Hannula (2001, 83) has made an excellent summary (in Finnish) on how to report the bases and sources of artistic research. On the pages of Arteology the topic is discussed under the titles Artist Monograph and History That Explains. 2. Analysis of goals of the work of art, or at least an enumeration of them, should explain what effects in the outside world the artist perhaps wishes to attain, if any. A characteristic goal for a work of art would be to give a symbolic message to the public, or to design the work so that the public can perceive it as beautiful. Another topic suitable to be analyzed is the expected public for the work, cf. Defining Target Customers. Analysis of goals is normal practice in product development though the methodology there is perhaps a little bulky for an artist working alone. When selecting a suitable method of presenting the goals, the artist should consider similar techniques as are used in the work of art itself. Perhaps they could be presented as kind of prologue or epilogue to the work. Alternatively, in the case that the work of art can be presented with a computer, one might consider linking the statements giving its goals and explanations into suitable positions of the work itself. 3. For the composition of the content or motif of the work of art, scientific disinterested methods are seldom suitable, because they are mostly designed for the management of unequivocal conceptual models which differ too much from the symbolic language of art. Those scientific methods which come closest to artistic analysis are Exploratory and Normative research and Case Study, especially the phenomenological variant of it. The results of analysis could perhaps be presented in the language of art, at least for the first attempts to explicate findings in a field which has not been studied and reported earlier. "If you try to fetch intelligence from nowhere it tends to

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remain so disjointed and fragmentary, and it expands so uncontrollably, that it is better to use fiction in describing it to others" (Varto 2001, 56). Instead of disinterested research methods it is often possible to use a normative approach, especially the methods of developing an industrial product which includes procedures for the analysis, synthesis and evaluation of the future product. 4. The process of creating the work of art which is the purpose of the project can be presented with the normal methods of observation, complete with copies of the successive drafts of the work of art and with comments and possibly ideas for improvement which you could perhaps develop with the methods of Action Research or Methods Engineering. Here again, an appropriate format of presentation could be found in hypertext, perhaps linking it together with some of the items presented above. 5. Presenting the results of the artistic study includes typically elements from both art and science. When planning such a presentation the first question is, which of the two languages you should select for presenting the main essence of your work? To this primary structure you can then attach the rest of your findings. Some possible combinations of scientific and artistic expression are given below. Their order is selected so that the first ones give the main logical structure in typically scientific presentation, and the final ones in artistic exposition. Written report with illustrations arranged in the traditional scientific way so that the logical structure is given as text and the illustrations are inserted where needed. Hypertext. TV lecture with demonstrations. The emphasis can alternate between text and picture. Picture book with written explications. The pictures are arranged in a logical sequence and the captions give additional explanations. One possible layout is to present two (or more) slightly different objects side by side, and explain in writing how the differences influence the final effect (cf. Comparative Study). Computer graphics allow presenting objects where the form is gradually changing, or which have alternative forms. Explications as above. Exhibition or other presentation of one or more works of art which exemplify the results of your research project, together with written or oral explications. Workshop where you demonstrate and explain how a work of art is done, and your public can try to imitate you or surpass your achievement if they can. [In principle, this is not far from] the classical master-and-apprentice method. 6. Testing the work of art as a prototype of later works. There are well-tried methods of prototype testing and general methods of experimentation in the positivistic style. Cf. reflections on this topic by Nevanlinna (2001, 65, in Finnish). In any case, you should continue the experiment with analyzing its results and presenting them to be used for improving the subsequent works, either by yourself, or by any artist in the field. The format of presentation can be either a work of art as an exemplar, or a scientific-type generalizable model, cf. Normative Research and Theory of Design.

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7. Obtaining feedback for the work of art that was created during the project, from either the public, critics or colleagues in the field of art. Pitkänen-Walter (2001, 129..., in Finnish) has written about the importance of feedback to the artist. For collecting opinions there are proven methods of Thematic Interview and Customer Feedback. For registering other than verbal feedback you can use Observation or Experiment. Before you start registering feedback, i.e. opinions on works of art you should note that the opinions in itself can be difficult to decipher without some additional information. Of primary interest are the person's original expectations. A layman's expectations are often simple and easy to satisfy, while an expert on art has perhaps ostentatious expectations and few works of art can fulfill them. Therefore you should try to register beside the opinion, also an indication of the person's level of expectations, and of course all those characteristics of the person that could give background to the opinion. 8. Testing the validity of theories that have (earlier) been presented in the field of descriptive aesthetics, by making a series of variants of a work of art. Possible methods are enumerated under the title: Beauty of Artifacts: Research Methods. - For theories in the field of descriptive semiotics possible methods are similarly found in: Semiotics of Artifacts: Research Methods.

Research Procedures for Artists Working in Group
All the procedures above are applicable even for the study of those types of art that are made as team work, like presentations in a theatre or on tv. In addition, many other conventional methods of scientific study are possible, cf. a summary of these. The reason is that teamwork necessitates frequent recording of all the preliminary results and drafts into definite documents to serve as the basis for common discussions or statements from outside parties. This means that the process has to be conducted on a concrete and relatively exact level in line with typical scientific operations. Another possibility is to regard artistic teamwork as an activity which you can enhance with the normal approach of activity development, particularly the so called intrinsic methods. These include Action research (figure on the right) and Developing the Use of a Product.

Artistic Science
or Artistic Procedures Usable in Scientific Projects. Artistic methods could be used especially for those operations in the scientific study process which require intuitive discovery, like: The problem of study, or at least its preliminary draft, could be presented as a work of art. It could perhaps help discovering through analogy a few more proposals among which could well be the most fertile alternative. You could also perhaps define your working hypotheses in the format of artistic presentation. On the right, is a kind of working hypothesis, concept for a new product (a combination of telephone and remote controller held on the wrist,

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from Keinonen 2000, 217). Compressing empirical data into a model. Especially in explorative study a model made in scientific style would sometimes give an unduely exact-looking impression, and you might instead consider presenting the findings as a work of art. When an interview is used for collecting people's attitudes, it is necessary to present an object for the attitude. This could be made in artistic presentation, likewise when you need to present the stimulus of an experiment. You could use the modes of art when presenting the results of the project, especially the examples and illustrations which show the possibilities for generalizing and applying the results. Conventional scientific models are often difficult to comprehend and the public fails to see how they could make use of the findings. An artistic presentation could help them to find analogies to their own lives. If your research project includes forecasting you could consider presenting it as a work of fiction (cf. utopias), pictorial or multimedia presentation.

January 2, 2004. Original location: http://www2.uiah.fi/projects/metodi Comments to the author:

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