I have just had a proposal accepted by Nordisk Sommeruniversitet who will be holding their Summer Symposium in Falsterbo, Sweden, July 30th – August 7th, 2011. NSU is organized by a Swedish non-profit organization sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers. It focuses on fostering cross-disciplinary research networks in the Nordic countries

There are eight study circles and I will be doing a practical workshop in study circle #7, Artistic research – strategies for embodiment.

The study circle will invite distinguished researchers and artists in the field, who have contributed to this emerging discipline. Building on the experiences from the upcoming anthology of the previous study circle 7, the new study circle will end with a new publication. This publication will focus on sharing methodologies and specific examples of artistic research and dissemination through applying multimedia. The aim is to reach out to our peers and art students interested in the field of Artistic Research.

Researchers and artists from all fields will take part in discussions about development of strategies for embodying and disseminating the experiences drawn from the field of Artistic Research on the theme: Strategies for Embodiment within Artistic Research; questioning and probing ways of embodying and communicating artistic research processes and their outcomes.

Previously I gave a paper at the NSU Winter Symposium held at Arkitektskolen in Aarhus. This unusual and lively three day symposium included choreographers, theatre and dance researchers, sculptors and animators and filmmakers, photographers, philosophers, art historians and drawers from Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, UK, Greece, USA, Germany, Ireland, Portugal and Czech Republic.

A healthy array of PhD candidates presented. Some used the symposium as a platform to ask questions around their own research and others looked for responses and criticism. Elina Saloranta a doctoral student at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts presented her paper ‘What does silence sound like?’. This included a video and a script of a conversation between herself and her sound technician Eduardo Abrantes, a PhD student at the Center for Subjectivity Research at the University of Copenhagen, who investigated the phenomenology of voice as a medium for sharing in his presentation ‘On the uses of the voice-sharing through resonance and other metaphors’.

Some like Angela Rogers who uses drawing to investigate dialogic interaction, held workshops. Others, like Francis Halsall a lecturer in Modern & Contemporary Art Theory at National College of Art and Design, Dublin, were art historians and theorists but not practitioners at all. His paper ‘Embodiment and Drawing: De Duve on Robert Morris’ caused lively debate amongst those of us who are academics and also practitioners.

My paper, ‘Drawing your way into understanding’ examined how we can come to know something by drawing it. It claims that the relationship that develops between object and viewer that occurs during the process of drawing, is central to the viewer gaining greater understanding of an object. Furthermore, the nature of drawing means this information can be communicated to others offering new insight and knowledge. The use of drawing here is based on a simple but poignant premise: that we do not look at things closely enough. By not looking we don’t see and without seeing we do not gain knowledge. I presented evidence of drawing as a research method based on previous investigations into understanding the experiences of a rare disease, Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva and from data taken from groups of non-artists who have used drawing as a method for investigating medical artefacts.

The NSU Summer Symposium takes place over five days. The first three days will focus on ‘knowledge generation’ and the final two will focus on ‘knowledge sharing’ and issues regarding the often problematic question of the means of dissemination of the knowledge generated through artistic research in the academic context and beyond.

Here is my proposal for the Summer Symposium.

Engaging with the unfamiliar

This is a proposal for a practical participatory workshop. The aim is to bring to the attention of the group, something unfamiliar which they will then have an opportunity to get to know.

Using observational investigative methods, the group will be asked to engage with an object. The journey of how they come to understand the object will be evidenced through the phenomenological activity of drawing. By this I mean the action of moving the tip of a pencil on paper in correspondence to the observational investigation they make. The emphasis is not on the drawing as a noun – a finished artefact, but on the verb – the action of making and experiencing the encounter they have with the object.

The question I will be asking is, where is knowledge embodied? Is it purely in the act of looking, in the act of looking while drawing (looking ‘through’ the tip of the pencil) or is knowledge embodied in the realized outcomes?

I understand knowledge to be embodied within this fugitive collection of experiences that formulate a breadth of understanding through each unique encounter. But I would like to find out where and how participants come to understand an object they encounter. Perhaps they will confirm my theories or maybe they have a whole new perspective on how actively engaging with an object can bring knowledge.

Study circle #7 then aims to publish an anthology in 2013 focusing on communicating methodologies, specific examples of artistic research, and the dissemination of knowledge through various media and multimedia solutions.

Proposals for presentations in various formats were welcomed, ranging from demonstrations and presentations/excerpts of artistic work, to theoretical reflections in the form of short papers and suggestions for panel discussions.

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