The role of artist's experience in a research
Department of Visual Culture University of Art and Design Helsinki Helsinki, Finland
In my paper, I'll present a case study of research where artistic work is a significant part of the whole. The objective is to deal with the possibilities of combining artistic work with more customary research methods. My special interest is in the potential of opening up the artist-researcher's experience when focusing on the artistic work. The artworks are going to be exhibited and evaluated as a part of the research, but what is the role of the artistic work behind the works? As an artist-researcher I find including artistic activity to research meaningful and necessary, but how does it contribute to research as a whole?
The case study I'm presenting is the first artistic project included in my research concerning the relations of the visual arts and the sports. This project was an artistic inquiry of distance running. Instead of observing running from the quantitative viewpoint of measuring and exercise or as an ethical enterprise, I made an effort to treat it as an artistic possibility and very much as an aesthetic and social entity. I didn't only monitor other runners, but also myself as an active runner. The project was exhibited in gallery space, images are available at my website (www.mattitainio.net/Ontherungallery.html).
My premise is the artistic work as an aesthetic process, an experience, where the raw material is formed to the artworks as well as the forming of the material chances the way artist understands the subject matter of her work. If the artist is an artist-researcher, she should be able to decode and use this comprehension in her research, not only the analysis of the finished works of art. In my work, I see the artistic work as a way of formulating questions, which cannot yet have formed verbally. The finished works have the possibility to provide the answers. For me, this is the most significant benefit of combining the artistic work with my research. The problem is how to make this tacit portion of the artistic practice visible in the written research. I'm suggesting that it is not visible when observing the works of art only.