The double indemnity model of practice-as-research in Higher Degrees has constructed a co-dependent relationship between writing and making; it is founded on notions of twin expertise in both written reflection, and studio practice, as a ‘double or nothing’ approach. Regarding the characteristics of recent PhDs in art and design, Judith Mottram wrote that: ‘There are also examples of theses which are apparently written to accompany studio work, but it is uncertain at times whether the contribution to knowledge is enshrined within the art works or within the thesis.’ (Mottram, 2009). This is the pivotal quandary of asking where the legitimised research now finds its house. We assume too deferentially that knowledge resides in the writing, and not in the art works or exhibition as the valid research outcome in and of itself. The University enshrines written validation as research in a practice-based PhD because the ‘gallery exhibition’ as research outcome is considered hermetically sealed away from ‘revision’… and the written thesis aligns in form with other ‘legitimate’ methodologies in other fields.
The practice-as-research PhDs which are most easily assimilated into the University are those located within a recognisable art history stream of relationship with the past. The future of the discipline is increasingly as disciplinary cringe to favour PhDs in practice that justify themselves through the imported methodologies of social science, philosophy, history, architecture, and education. Art/history courts piggyback methodologies to protect itself in (and from) the University. Concomitant studio art practice at HDR level needs to advocate diverse strategies of opposition.