Methodology and practices of artistic research

Artistic research is the common denominator of the doctoral programme. In practice, this means that artistic research is understood as multisensory, multiartistic and multidisciplinary research in which cooperation, variation and comparison between areas of knowledge and skill serve as tools of knowledge production. How should such research be conducted, supervised and assessed? And how should its results be communicated? The doctoral programme allows postgraduate students, researchers in charge of postgraduate studies, teachers and supervisors at art universities to consider and develop, together with various other professionals, the methodology of artistic research and its theoretical basis. Only through such content-related discussion can shared criteria and good practices be established.


Art, aesthesis and society

The basic principle of the emancipation of modern society is that citizens transform themselves from objects of change to subjects of change. The arts and art institutions can support individuals in this emancipation only if they themselves are able to change; in other words, if they can find and justify their mission in the current historical and social conditions. How can various political imperatives – whether ecological, economic or administrative – be translated into the language of art? The language of art here means the various media of aesthesis in which art is created and experienced. Aesthesis, on the other hand, refers to those primary processes that might be broadly described as aesthetic and in which and through which the world makes itself known and knowable, experienceable and shareable. The question of the relationship between society and aesthesis, as well as of establishing and altering that relationship, is the question of art. Inasmuch as art is a shared concern for the doctoral programme and art universities, it also becomes for them a public affair, a res publica.
Art- and artist-based research is necessary not only for political or institutional reasons, but also because of the inherent urge in art and artists to address the question of the relationship between artand society. In the current historical context, experimental art, or the supposedly autonomous evolution of art, is evidently not enough. Artistic research constructs and justifies new or different forms of sensory experience through theory formation and then uses them to create new connections between art and other fields of knowledge, social practices and public discourses.

Academic artistic research will have a major impact on how art is practiced in future and how it manifests itself in society. Artistic research is expected and hoped to diversify artists’ public engagement and to develop new forms of involvement.


New artistic agency

Exploring the issue of today’s artistic agency requires further research. Academic artistic research approaches the issue from two perspectives: On the one hand, artistic research creates and justifies new models of artistic agency, challenges and renews traditional models, develops new forms of interaction and encounter between artists and audiences, opens up new fields of operation, reaches new audiences or expands those already in existence, promotes cooperation between various social functions, and develops artistic applications for education, social services and industry. Each artist addresses the personal questions “Who am I ?” and “How do I work ?” by articulating them through research in the form of more general questions concerning artistic agency, to which each research project provides its own answers. The latter are directly relevant when considering such issues as: “What kind of art instruction should be offered and to whom?”, “What kind of art and artistic agency should be supported?”, and “How is the relationship between art and citizenship justified at any given time?” The doctoral programme aims to establish a well-grounded vision of the opportunities provided by artistic research for artistic creation today and tomorrow.


On the other hand, a postgraduate degree in the arts creates not only certain research results, but also a new kind of artistic expert and practitioner whose future work is important for both the arts and societal development more generally. In practice, the relevance and visibility of research results depend on both the researcher’s own efforts and motivation as well as on institutional opportunities to continue along the path taken. How can the two converge and correspond? The status and role of postdoctoral artistic research is a much broader issue than that of equivalent career progression (“tenure track”) at science universities; the discussion has only just begun. In terms of the development of the field, it is every bit as challenging to expand and diversify the social applications of art as it is to enable doctors of arts to work as “independent” artistic postdoctoral researchers. The doctoral programme aims to suggest models for both development targets and to consider their mutual relationship.