Both kinds of Research: an example of linking ‘recognised’ research with a project-based arts practice

2005 Conference

In this paper, examination is made of a project-based arts practice being actively integrated with ‘traditional’ humanities research, through a case study of my own practice as an artist and a researcher who undertakes DEST-recognised research. While not suited to all forms of practice, linking these different forms of scholarship can be done in a way that benefits both written research and artistic production.

Classic humanities research methodologies can reflect the structure of both written and arts project research. For example, ‘grounded’ research, which facilitates the emergence of the theory from the data and therefore ‘grounds’ the theory in the data, and a method of inquiry that is naturalistic, with no a priori assumptions on the outcome, are common to both the studio and the library.

Lincoln and Guba have likened purposive research, which is not random or representative, to the ‘smart bomb’. They use this analogy to describe the human agent in an inquiry, on a mission to ‘identify and wend its way to (purposefully sample) the target without having been precisely programmed to strike it’. Reading this statement while studying for a PhD by thesis, I thought it possible that it reflected both the practice of researchers and artists. This is invaluable thinking for artist academics in the climate in which we now find ourselves, where pressure to publish competes with time to produce art.