Aesthetic Experience and Innovation in Practice-led Research

Estelle Barrett
2010 Conference

Within the context of ERA, this paper addresses the question of how we might provide practitioners with a framework for understanding creative arts research as the production of new knowledge. Drawing on the thought of Julia Kristeva, it examines the aesthetic underpinnings of discovery and the implications and significance of this for research training and the development of more effective pedagogies both within and beyond the university.

Kristeva’s work constitutes both an implicit and explicit critique of science allowing us to conceive of artistic research as an experiential and performative production of knowledge. As a mode of enquiry, artistic practice reveals the inextricable and necessary relationship between practice and theory, interpretation and making, art and life. This interrelationship underpins the aesthetic dimension of revolutionary practice and its production of unfamiliar or mutant forms of knowledge that is often difficult to grasp in terms of its capacity to engender social change and innovation. In the context of creative arts practice as research, the notion of experience-in-practice indicates that interpretation and analysis must fall to the practitioner-researcher, himself or herself, rather than to another person who has been external to the procedures of making, to trace the significant experiential, subjective and emergent processes involved in the production of the work that allows it to reveal the new. This is necessary if the generative and revolutionary impact of artistic research is to be fully understood in the wider research arena. In the final part of this paper, I will apply and illustrate these ideas through an analysis of a number of artistic research projects successfully completed in Australia.

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About the author

School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University

Estelle Barrett is Associate Professor and Deputy Head of School in the School of Communication and Creative Arts at Deakin University. Her research interests include, body/mind relations, tacit knowledge, affect and embodiment in aesthetic experience and creative practice as research. Estelle has published reviews and articles in Real Time, Artlink, Text, Social Semiotics, Double Dialogues, The International Journal of Critical Arts, Journal of Visual Art Practice as well as at national and international conferences. Her co-edited book Barrett, E. and Bolt, B. (eds.), 2007, Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry draws on earlier work that explores the relationship between aesthetics embodiment and knowledge. In 2009 she presented a plenary paper, entitled “Kristevan Aesthetics:
Performativity and The Production of Situated Knowledge” at the Creative Practice Creative Research: Materiality Process, Performativity Conference at York St. John University UK and has recently completed a book, Kristeva Reframed as part of „Great Thinkers Reframed‟ series, IB Tauris London (forthcoming 2010).