Art, Science, and Research-Creation

How bringing imaginative aesthetics and rigorous academics together in the ultimate form of interdisciplinary research.




My introduction to forms of research beyond academic writing occurred during the closing keynote for the “Energy In/Out of Place: A Virtual Energy Humanities Research-Creation Workshop” by Sheena Wilson and Natalie Loveless in June 2020. They described research-creation, relational art, (controversially) ‘academic writing as passé’, Hayden White’s book “The Content of the Form” and the idea that form delivers in excess of the content it has.


Wow.


While I can certainly appreciate these creative research methods, I struggle with their coexistence/fit with traditional research methods.

While learning of philosophical approaches in Geography, I couldn’t help but visualize each one as an art installation.

Academia can be expressed beyond journal articles and conferences?! I thought of an undergraduate course I took called "Nature: Art, Myth, and Folklore" in which we were encouraged to represent our understandings through pictures and sculptures; it felt weird, but beautiful.


In a Cultures of Energy podcast episode, Tim Ingold explains how science is or should be grounded in art and how art is inherently the ‘sensibility of noticing’. This, he says is where good science is done and he calls for a re-depolarization of art and science.


An announcement for a “Transformational Change Methodologies Lab” through the University of Guelph's ReVision Centre came via email in August 2020. The words excited me: creative, critical, interdisciplinary, arts-based. In my application letter I wrote:

I am hoping that this “Master Class” will help me to design a research project that can grapple with the cognitive/emotional and spatial aspects of my research that can be difficult to access with traditional qualitative methods in a way that is replicable and useful for environmental policy.


The class led me to counter-mapping (oh, and this blog!).


For more on art, science, and research-creation:


Boyer, D. and Howe C. (Co-hosts). (2019, March 21). 169 – Tim Ingold [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://culturesofenergy.com/169-tim-ingold/


Foster, V. (2016). Collaborative Arts-based Research for Social Justice. Abingdon: Routledge.


Loveless, N. (2019). How to Make Art at the End of the World: A Manifesto for Research-Creation. Durham: Duke University Press.

(you can watch her related presentation here)


Rice, C., & Mündel, I. (2018). Story‐Making as Methodology: Disrupting Dominant Stories through Multimedia Storytelling. Canadian Review of Sociology. 55(2), 211-231. https://doi.org/10.1111/cars.12190