Art and Designs’ developing contribution to the frontiers of Contemporary Research Theory and Practice

Tara Winters
2015 Conference

As part of developing appropriate and meaningful framings of their practice as research, artists and designers regularly find themselves engaged in wider debate on the theory and practice of academic research. Conceptualising artistic practice in research terms appropriate to its activity, art and design is challenging long-standing research traditions and influencing interpretations of knowledge, serving to achieve a more balanced perspective. Barrett and Bolt (2010, p.1) have described practice-led research as a new species involved in generative inquiry that ‘draws on subjective, interdisciplinary, and emergent methodologies, that have the potential to extend the frontiers of research’.

Art and designs’ ideas about research can change how we think about research and its methods. This paper offers a brief exploration of this new and emergent theme, observing connections between values and practices integral to artistic practice, and the updating of principals and practices related to scholarly research. These include: the approach to questioning and the situation of methodology emerging through practice fundamental to artistic research; its relation to the progressive idea of concept as method put forth as a challenge to existing qualitative methodologies in social science research; the concern of artistic practice with human meaning-making processes and the potential insight this can offer to new areas of qualitative research; and the ways in which artistic research provides insight into alternative modes of knowledge.

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About the author

Tara Winters is a senior lecturer in Design at Elam School of Fine Arts, The University of Auckland, Aotearoa, New Zealand. Her research interests include art and design pedagogy, graphic design criticism and design as an interface between different fields of knowledge. Recent work includes the development of a structure for facilitating meta-learning in art and design education (see The International Journal of Art and Design Education, 30.1, 2011) and inquiry into the practitioner-researcher contribution to a developing criticism for graphic design (see Iridescent: Icograda Journal of Design Research, 2.2, 2013).