Artistic research requires the ability to continuously tune and (re-)calibrate how to share work with people outside of the process, while still maintaining an adequate relationship to the project and the context in which it is developed. The doctorate is a good example of this process, as it is a significant multi-year project that requires artistic researchers to interface with a public at various stages. The academic framework places very particular demands on the researcher, to which this text attends, alongside the question of how to respond to such requirements without losing the thread or the connection to one’s artistic practice. We push against common notions of compromise here and instead encourage artistic researchers to develop and argue for formats that have high resonance and a dense relationship to their research processes. As authors working with(in) movement/dance practices and performance, we attend in particular to processes of publicly sharing body-based artistic research.
Importantly, academia is not the only environment for artistic research, but rather one particular structure in which artistic research is expressed, discussed, fostered and configured. This text examines the specific challenges of the academic framework and in particular, what might be useful to the doctoral candidate, but is also relevant to and aware of articulations of artistic research practiced elsewhere. While academic institutions are the only ones that have the power to award doctorates, artistic researchers are (before, after or simultaneously to their doctorates as well as unrelated to a doctorate) active in professional art and artistic research environments. Non-academic settings also often provide spaces and communities for sharing artistic research that stems from doctoral projects. We therefore think it relevant for the positioning of artistic research to divide less into academic and non-academic, and look instead for other qualifiers such as the clarity and scope of research questions or a transparent and productive engagement with research methods. We further suggest that a «clarification of intentions and objectives» of an artistic research sharing supports making choices and articulating requirements around dissemination formats, arrangements, environments and audiences during the research process.
Alongside the text we have placed sets of corresponding questions. We have found it useful to think of a variety of ‘defining forces’ to figure out the relevant markers of a particular context for dissemination. We suggest going through the themes and questions we propose here (or create your own) as you develop your format. Such sifting work supports deciding how to best present a work, what to leave in and what to take out and what kind of format (performance, exhibition, installation, workshop, score, lecture, mixed-mode etc.) serves the research best at a particular moment in time, in a particular setting.
Michael Schwab and Henk Borgdorff have both significantly influenced the European context of artistic research in the past decade1 and aptly flag one of the central challenges posed to artistic researchers: ‘as the art academy enters academia, art may be subjected to epistemic regimes that are not suitable to, and thus might compromise, the kinds of practices and knowledges in which artists engage’ (Schwab and Borgdorff 2014, 10). For many academic institutions, artistic research is a relatively recent paradigm and so submission processes and assessment options are limited or in development. Each new artistic research project presents different challenges to the existing structures and researchers sometimes encounter examination rules or publication criteria that do not fit artistic research, a lack of production or technical support, difficulties around dealing with the collaborative nature of many artistic practices (see also Järvinen and Pentti in this volume) or other restrictions that do not allow the presentation of the work in suitable ways. Such phenomena can be experienced in all steps of an artistic research journey and the dissemination of performance- and movement-based artistic research comes with a particular set of demands. Provoked by this challenging situation we develop here what we hope are useful considerations and strategies in the quest to create adequate formats for sharing artistic research.
1 For example through the Society of Artistic Research (SAR) and founding the Journal of Artistic Research (JAR) and developing the Research Catalogue (RC).
With «adequate» we don’t mean to say ‘just enough’ or ‘not great, but will do’, rather we use this word here to inspire and initiate thinking about what is just, fair, supportive and beneficial in the context of disseminating artistic research rooted in or expressed through performance modalities. Just like we might demand adequate payment for our work, we can also ask for and contribute to the creation of adequate conditions for the dissemination of body- and performance-based artistic research.
Artistic research of any genre most often requires some form of public output in order to come to fruition or to be accepted as a ‘work’. In the context of academic institutions, researchers may have to fulfil doctoral examination requirements or evidence how research funding and salaried time have been used. Simultaneously, researchers may want to share their research with peers and audiences in order to develop it further, to make it publicly available and/or to complete the work. In freelance situations, public showings or other forms of publication are equally commonplace measures of legitimising funding, while also offering an opportunity of engaging audiences with a creative practice and receiving peer responses through showings, commissions or residencies in relevant venues. In most cases, dissemination can propel a work towards more clarity and fuller expression.
We use a variety of terms in this text that refer to the moment of presenting artistic research to others. These include ‘showing’, ‘sharing’, ‘disseminating’, ‘making public’ and ‘publishing’. We decided to not settle on one of those, as formats and requirements vary greatly and each of these terms carries different nuances that are relevant to the endeavour as a whole. ‘Showing’ and ‘publishing’ have a stronger notion of displaying a completed work, ‘sharing’ associates more with works-in-process and peer-review. Dissemination may have connotations of a formed output for academic audiences; but we use it here more in the sense of ‘spreading’ or ‘distributing’, highlighting a generous outward motion. We use ‘making public’ as another way of articulating engagement with different kinds of audiences who might be beyond the academic or even artistic realm.
Our guiding question is: what supports the process of creating formats of dissemination that are in resonance and correspondence with as well as adequate to artistic research practices? Performative as much as reflective, artistic research outcomes can take many shapes and forms. They can be presented as full artistic performance pieces, or a range of other formats that assemble research artefacts and activities, with the aim of activating exchange, participation, conversation and insight. This text explores and widens the notion of adequacy through dialoguing first with expositionality as a key term in currency at the moment examining the dissemination of artistic research, and then move on to resonance and correspondence which we find equally useful for processes of making artistic research public. On the whole we seek to support and encourage artistic researchers in the forging of their own idiosyncratic formats that remain in connection with, speak from, and meet with their research practices.
We firstly discuss expositionality as a key concept feeding current conversations around disseminating artistic research and its epistemic contributions. Brought forth prominently in the works and writings of Schwab and Borgdorff (e.g. Schwab 2012, Schwab and Borgdorff 2014), it was developed in particular in the context of the Research Catalogue (RC), a public and open database of artistic research, and the online Journal of Artistic Research (JAR), a peer-reviewed publication platform based on the RC. In defining expositionality, Schwab suggests that the ‘purpose is first of all to expose rather than to archive research’ (Schwab 2014, 95). Artistic researchers are thus encouraged to gather and organise materials in a creative manner, reflecting the artistic process and moving it forward, rather than documenting or capturing it in a retrospective motion.
The creation of dissemination formats of artistic research involve a translation of the research process into a shareable form, and Schwab notes the importance that ‘«qualities» essential to the research are kept alive across those transformations’ (Schwab 2012, 25). We similarly consider this to be a key quality and encourage researchers to cultivate their ways of staying with and speaking from, rather than about, their research project. As communicating artistic research to others is only in some very specific cases exactly the same as doing the research, what is crucial is that the necessary transformations are developed in ways that allow for a tangible relationship with the research practice. For example, Janet Adler, one of the root practitioners of Authentic Movement, encourages movers to ‘explore writing the embodied experience rather than writing about it’ (Adler 2002, 154) or movement artist Helen Poynor similarly encourages workshop participants to speak from rather than about their experiences during movement practice (Kramer 2015, 46). A transformation of practice happens in almost any format of public sharing of artistic research processes, whether through exhibiting, performing, presenting verbally or otherwise, and a consideration of how to share artistic research from practice rather than about practice is relevant across formats and artistic disciplines.
Importantly such «exposing» of artistic research is not about illustrating ‘what the artwork is’ but about opening up its (philosophical) implications. Schwab (2012, 26) notes: ‘Positively put, successful research expositions negotiate the gap between practice and theory by exposing the epistemological potential of a practice, thus making real the theory enacted in it.’ Tweaking this sentence slightly so it reads ‘making available the knowledge enacted in it’, we likewise consider this process of unfolding latent knowledge one of the key challenges, but also defining properties, of artistic research. Clarifying the epistemological potential of a research process might on the one hand foster the creation of dissemination and publication formats and on the other happen through the reflection and evaluation of these.
One of the shortcomings of the RC from our point of view (which is fed by and dependent on live performance modalities and practices) is also acknowledged by Schwab (2014, 103): ‘through a publication focus, the RC may be biased in favour of a traditional presentation of knowledge, where the authority lies with the artist/author or work/text and where there is no space for a suitable and affective co-presence of audience or reader.’ We therefore seek to expand the discussions taking place around the RC and JAR, attending specifically to practices exposed in the medium of performance and dialoguing with an audience. We take with us the notions of moving forward rather than archiving, of exposing rather than explaining art and artistic research, of attending to qualities essential to the research across changed modalities, and of developing the epistemic potential of artistic research in formats of making it public. Yet we explicitly deal with activities that form an exchange with others and that enact artistic research in a primarily physical space, although there may also be mediated materials and environments involved. In this choice lies a commitment to the particular affective qualities of performing arts that are not and cannot be held in the RC and JAR modalities.
Resonance and Correspondence
We now turn to resonance and correspondence as terms that we have found to speak productively to how artistic research interfaces with an «audience». We introduce these two terms not as divergent approaches, but as concepts that offer orientation towards what adequate formats of dissemination might need and entail. For us, they are productive for making choices when generating dissemination plans, but also for claiming (as examples) infrastructure and evaluation systems that fit with the requirements of live and public disseminations of artistic research.
Practice-as-research proponent Robin Nelson uses ‘resonance’ (2013, 7) in his book Practice as Research in the Arts, underlining the importance, for example, of ‘resonance between complementary writing and the praxis itself’ (Nelson 2013, 11). Taking this to include an expanded notion of writing and performance, we similarly consider resonance to be a key term that allows for a tangible and conceptually productive relationship between artistic research processes and their modes of dissemination. To tune our understanding of resonance we turn in particular to the work of sociologist Hartmut Rosa, who has chiefly engaged with this territory in his book Resonance – A Sociology of Our Relationship to the World (Rosa 2019). This work is a sizeable attempt at formulating an answer to the rush of acceleration that characterises (late) modernity (see also Rosa 2015) and suggests ‘[I]f acceleration is the problem, then resonance might be the solution’2. It aims to contribute to the ‘sociology of a good life’3 (Rosa 2018, 14), making tangible and possibly available a ‘vibrating wire’4 (Rosa 2018, 296) between subject and world, as well as establishing resonance as a fundamental term in Social Philosophy and an analytical category in the Social Sciences (Rosa 2018, 281). Whilst such broad strokes are not the intention of this article, Rosa’s insistence on tangible qualities such as the vibrating wire offers useful cornerstones for practices of dissemination in artistic research that are based on or include performance practice.
2 ‘Wenn Beschleunigung das Problem ist, dann ist Resonanz vielleicht die Lösung’ (Rosa 2018, 13, transl. Kramer).
3 ‘Soziologie des guten Lebens’ (Rosa 2018, 14, transl. Kramer)
4 ‘vibrierender Draht’ (Rosa 2018, 296, transl. Kramer)
Rosa explains that resonance is ‘[…] a specific relationship between two bodies that have the ability to resonate […]’5 (Rosa 2018, 282). Importantly both resonate in their own frequency, and the German word ‘Eigenfrequenz’ Rosa uses here (Rosa 2018, 282) highlights this sense of particularity or distinctness with ‘eigen’ meaning ‘distinct’. However, the standard translations of ‘Eigenfrequenz’ seem to be ‘resonance frequency’ and ‘natural frequency’. In an example of tuning forks, he explains that the sound of one tuning fork activates the sound of the other. Importantly resonance does not describe the ‘linear-mechanical reaction’ (Rosa 2018, 282) that happens when two tuning forks were to be coupled in a way that a reaction is forced. Instead he explains: ‘Resonance only comes into being, when the oscillation of one body stimulates the own frequency of the other’6 (Rosa 2018, 282). For this process to happen, a ‘cooperative’ or ‘accommodating’ resonant space is of relevance7 (Rosa 2018, 284), which in the German original also has the quite literal meaning of a space that not only accommodates but is also ‘coming towards’. The example Rosa uses is that of metronomes that are beating asynchronously. If placed on a non-vibrating surface they continue their beat independently, if placed on a resonant surface they quickly attune to each other and continue beating synchronously.8
5 ‘[…] eine spezifische Beziehung zwischen zwei schwingungsfähigen Körpern […]’ (Rosa 2018, 282, transl. Kramer)
6 ‘Resonanz entsteht also nur, wenn durch die Schwingung des einen Körpers die Eigenfrequenz des anderen angeregt wird.’ (Rosa 2018, 282)
7 ‘entgegenkommender Resonanzraum’ (Rosa 2018, 284, transl. Kramer)
8 youtu.be/5v5eBf2KwF8 (accessed 16.03.2018).
Rosa’s propositions on resonance help to clarify what a «resonant» dynamic between artistic research and its dissemination might need and entail. Contrary to cutting oneself off from the research practice, shifting gear or changing format, we would like to encourage artist researchers to consider resonance as a relevant factor. Because, when following Rosa more specifically, the resonating bodies influence each other. We likewise consider artistic research and its public presentation to be co-productive and mutually influential configurations and therefore think of interfaces with the public not as a necessary evil, but of highly productive moments for a research trajectory. That is: the public sharing and dissemination of artistic research processes have a valuable and maybe still underestimated potential to inspire and move artistic research forward (or: to make it sound and re-sound). As elaborated above, environments strongly influence resonance. Whilst we don’t wish to highlight the point referenced above of beating in the same rhythm, what is relevant here is to consider that the space has a decisive effect on resonance. This means that in the making of dissemination formats, the choices we can make around spatial configurations chiefly influence how resonant relationships between research practice and research dissemination can flourish.
Following from ideas of resonance in artistic research practice and its dissemination, anthropologist Tim Ingold’s engagement with the term ‘correspondence’ is equally relevant to our discussion. Ingold describes correspondence in ‘how we come to know things […] through joining with the things themselves’ (Ingold 2017, 5), which aligns well with knowledge generation in artistic research. He describes how materials and people join up through fitting together, forming a relationship, corresponding, connecting, and affecting each other. He gives the example of joints in furniture and hands holding, noting that ‘In answering – or responding – to one another, they co-respond. Accordingly, I propose the term correspondence to connote their affiliation’ (Ingold 2016, 14). In the process of making artistic research public we also join with our virtual and / or tangible materials; and these are brought in connected relation to others during dissemination, by which new affiliations are created. We have explored how dissemination can be in resonance with practice, and correspondence similarly helps us to consider how to set up relations and conditions for sharing (even in less obviously suitable situations). Resonance highlights attending to key qualities of practices and working with vibrational potentials when forging publication formats. Meanwhile, correspondence explores processes by which the confluent and divergent forces of artistic research join (and are joined) together.
In practical terms, we can first consider what kinds of affiliations already exist in a research practice – what kind of spaces it takes place in, what kinds of materials are worked with, who is usually there and so on. In making artistic work public, we might choose to present it ‘in situ’ or the work might also have to shift environments for example in the «context» of a doctoral examination, a conference or a festival. In these situations, a new set of correspondences will be set up, and the researcher will need to reflect on how to join with these in a way that adequately meets the practice. In addition, it is a moment to negotiate what kinds of mechanisms might be needed to support or understand this new set of relations generated by a different space or new audience, such as including supporting materials or feedback tools. Presenting artistic research therefore needs to be thought of not just outputting complete research into a new environment, but rather as series of phenomena that continue to correspond with each other. Shifting to an environment or format that is entirely different from the artistic practice will substantially alter the work, which will produce new information. The researcher needs to be clear on the intention of sharing, whether to test new ideas or present the ongoing artistic practice, thereby setting up the most adequate context for this to occur.
Relevant to our focus on body-based practices, Ingold describes aspects of correspondence through the structure of joints in the body. In the formation of joints there are interstitial materials that separate and connect bone in relation to other tissues in the body. Working with this idea, Ingold explores the value of ‘interstitial differentiation,’ which he describes as ‘the way in which difference continually arises from within the midst of joining with, in the ongoing sympathy of going along together’ (Ingold 2016, 13). Correspondence is thus not a process of merging, and instead difference is negotiated within the meeting. Returning to the artistic research process, we suggest that this differentiation could be a useful way of understanding how artistic research components connect together (researcher, materials, environment, examination conditions and so on), and need to be negotiated. This differentiation is also valuable in examining the role of the audience (whether academic, artistic, examiner or public) as they come in contact with an iteration of research practice, joining with it, pushing up against it and potentially changing it. Through their often surprising ways of engaging, audiences can prompt a range of new ideas. As a result, ways for the audience to join and leave an event needs to be considered, reflecting how those who join the experience impact the research (or even take it away with them). We thus suggest that the concept of interstitial differentiation can dialogue productively with artistic research projects, supporting considerations of contacts and spaces occurring between researcher, materials, environment, conditions and audience.
Ingold states that the joint ‘like the rest of the skeleton, was never actually assembled but has rather grown with the person to whom it belongs’ (2016, 12). This equally happens in the development of adequate formats for sharing, where elements of the research and presentation situation all meet, forming joints and support structures that together grow into a format. In this sense, the concept of correspondence encourages the artistic researcher to allow the format for sharing to grow incrementally with the materials, environment, collaborators and audiences. Ingold describes how correspondence happens, not through volitional choice, but through being immersed so that forms evolve together – ‘not consciously directed by a subject… rather emergent in the event’ (Ingold 2016, 19). The dissemination process generates new joints and structures and this necessitates giving additional time to allow correspondence to occur. Some constraints may be set externally, such as the site of a conference or time frames in which you can share doctoral practice with examiners, and these will impact on, join with and develop the artistic research. It is sometimes necessary to actively request additional time to work within any new constraints, for example, to test out different formulations with friendly audiences or to adapt to a new space where work will be shared. Ingold notes that the body ‘exists in the continual movement of its coming-into-being, its ontogenesis’ (Ingold 2017, 38), and likewise, artistic research is evolving through each sharing of it.
Following the ground-setting writing so far, this section is comprised of four practical scores that were developed in the context of exploring modes of disseminating artistic research. They stem from our own practices as well the work of dance artists and artistic researchers Amy Voris and Susanne Martin. We share these scores to offer concrete springboards and points of inspiration for the realisation of future formats for performance-based and embodied artistic research. Each score in its own way explores ideas of exposing artistic research, the resonance between artistic research and formats for sharing, as well as the correspondence between different elements of the artistic research presentation. Voris’ score offers a way of harvesting artistic research material from an ongoing process which may then feed into a presentation output, or support reflection following a sharing. Kramer proposes ideas for assembling artistic research materials into an installation, considering how to make it accessible and how to gather feedback from the process. Meehan investigates the embodied role of artistic researcher in relationship to the presentation of their own work, providing a score for preparing the researcher to host artistic research events. Finally, Martin explores the conundrum of how to share artistic research at conferences, suggesting the form of danced lectures, and addressing topics such as verbal framing and preparing the audience. We offer these scores as unfixed resources for testing, adapting and altering to suit different formats.
The Ongoing Process of Harvesting – Amy Voris
My current research is concerned with articulating the experience of forming movement material within a solo, contemporary dance-making practice. As I am also a practitioner of Authentic Movement (Adler 2002), the deep synergies it already has with my dance-making practice allows me to develop out of it a reflective framework that still speaks directly from the voice of the dance-maker. Following the format of Authentic Movement, my own studio sessions punctuate periods of moving with periods of reflection which seek to articulate the experience of moving (using transitional processes of writing and drawing). Authentic Movement and in my dance-making practice alike, the practice of reflecting following moving is not merely an act of remembering – of transliterating moving experience into language or drawn image – it is itself a generative process.
In my research exploring the overlap between Authentic Movement and my dance-making practice, I identify certain phases of developing movement which I refer to as opening, harvesting,9 returning and deepening. In order to describe, animate and communicate my practice, I developed scores for each of these phases. Below, I offer an excerpt from one such score related to the phase of harvesting. Harvesting is the phase that relates most closely to reflection, and specifically to reflection in its generative capacity, feeding forward into the next cycle of moving. In the awareness and selectivity that it brings to movement practice, harvesting contains the seeds of the transition between the openness of the practice itself and the forming and performing of work.
9 ‘Harvesting’ is a term which I knowingly borrow from Contact Improvisation teacher Nancy Stark Smith, who uses it to refer to a period of active reflection following moving (Buckwalter 2010, 67; De Spain 2014, 50).
The score below outlines an embodied reflective process that might also be used in preparation for sharing or exposing one’s research, especially in the context of creating a performance. Or it might be used to reflect following such an event.
taking time to
of the experience
the option to
map the whole
the option to
what took place
what is taking place
in the moment
of the experience
as a continuation
of the experience
with the process
at your consciousness
what is ready
to be returned to’
(Olsen and McHose 2017)
of what that thing
to return to
(after Lee and Pollard 2010, 28)
Research Installations – Paula Kramer
I found it useful, in various iterations, to transfer my movement and writing-based PhD into an installation. In this way I could walk through my PhD with my supervisors, make it accessible for audiences in a conference, studio or gallery, gather feedback and make it manifest in a different way, also to myself.
Rather than ‘Dance your PhD’10 it’s more ‘Materialise your PhD’ (which can be a good companion when constantly dealing with ephemeralities).
10 ‘Dance your PhD’ is an annual competition for PhD students in the natural and social sciences: gonzolabs.org/dance (accessed 25.06.2018)
1 Clarify context, intention and most pressing needs
Use the questions alongside the main body of text above, clarifying in particular: is this supervision, exam, conference, peer review or something else? Who do I invite into this installation and why? What would I like to take with me when I disassemble this work (feedback, comments yes / no? If yes: what kind?)
2 Assemble things, objects and materials
A: If my PhD was made of things, objects or materials, what would they be?
B: What are the things, objects and materials that I constantly have in my hands when doing this research?
C: What of the things, objects and materials that I have so far employed in my research has most resonance for me, most strongly activates my thinking / feeling / doing?
Gather some or all of the above in a space with you.
3 Build and adapt
Begin to build a structure in the space that you are in. Is it three-dimensionally built into the space or does it occupy the floor, one or several walls, the ceiling (alone)? Is the structure built so that someone can enter it or is it more to be looked at from outside? What sensory qualities play a role in reading and being with this work – smell, touch, sound – etc.? Does what you make here ‘feel’ like your doctoral research (i.e. are there resonances)?
Make sure you have time to leave and return to the work, time to make changes and adaptations.
4 Prepare to share
Ask yourself if any preparation is needed for visitors to view and experience the work, and if yes, what kind. Is a physical warm up useful for engaging with the installation? What would you like to say to people before they see / enter / engage with the work? Is written information enough or do you prefer to be present in the space yourself? Where are you located in relationship to the materials?
5 Gather and sift
Consider if and what kind of feedback you would like to receive from visitors and put the necessary materials and invitations in place. Feedback might be supported by your presence in the space. In intervals or at the end, gather the feedback and mark it with date and place of the installation. Plan for time to spend time with it quite soon after the installation and take notes or otherwise materialise and record your responses. Sift through the material several times to decide what is most relevant for you as you take your research forward.
(For more info on research installations and example of ‘The Walk-In PhD’, see also: Kramer 2015, 48–52)
Hosting Artistic Research – Emma Meehan
In this score, I examine the role of the researcher as a guide or host when sharing artistic research. Hosting is a way of being in relationship to the artistic research event, making choices around if and how you will be in the space, and how you will interact with audiences. In this particular iteration, I focus on the artist in the room with the audience – although the audience could be hosted virtually or using diverse media. Hosting (as I have developed it in my own work) is a guiding, supporting, creative and investigative role. It involves sharing materials with others through qualities of attention and models of behaviour, which resonate with the research materials and process. Artistic researchers can use this score as a template to prepare for meeting an audience in the dissemination of artistic research and consider how their body will act as a medium of sharing knowledge, guiding the process, probing directions and gathering new information. What things need to be considered when entering the environment and contending with the audience in your specific context? How will you prepare your body for this so that the practice is somehow brought with you and not forgotten in the haze of new sensory input? How can you pursue your own intentions and desires in negotiation with what arises in the process of sharing?
Preparing in the space
Eyes open and closed
Receive my condition
Sensations, thoughts and feelings
Moving lightly with sounds, tactility, smells, tastes, sights
Gravity, weight, scale, atmospheres
Familiar and unfamiliar
Feeling into layers of bone, muscle, organs
Nervous system finding its timing
Thoughtful, physical, organisational, emotional readying
Massaging, shaking, twisting, sounding, releasing, energising
Feeling my position, proportion, scale and substance in relation
Testing boundaries of skin, bone, muscle, fascia
Breathing inside and outside
Moving around the whole space
Feeling its expanse or intimacy
Sensing 360 degree awareness
Refining a physical intentionality
Preparing also to disperse attention
In relation to the event
Reflective cycles of attention to myself, space and others
Watching feelings, habits, actions
Arranging and organising
In relation to the dynamics of people, place, objects
Moving myself, materials or people
Guiding, prompting, offering, suggesting, modelling
How do I contain and release
The changing emotions, actions, stories, conversations
As I keep track of the overall atmosphere and timing?
Shifting eyeline, considering touch
Moving in and out of proximity
Or simply being there alongside
Sensing emotions, desires, words of others
Being with their needs and pursuing my own
Moments of relaxing and resting attention
Opening, contracting, approaching, pausing
Do less and wait
With thanks to my teachers Joan Davis and Sandra Reeve
Performing Danced Lectures – Susanne Martin
My research in contemporary dance aims to articulate and further the potential of dance to question, dismantle, and deconstruct normative representations and disempowering concepts of age(ing) that are not only a part of dance but also our everyday culture. Since I started my PhD process, I worked on what I by now call Danced Lectures. My Danced Lectures are performances/presentations that include live dancing, theatrical and scholarly speaking, and possibly some strange while friendly experiential interaction with the audience.
I believe it is the privilege of artistic research presentations to widen and deepen our understanding of the world by creating a space in which knowledge and experience, creative play and analysis, fact and fancy, reflection and action can blend and blur and challenge us. I am curious to see what new knowledge might arise when insisting on ambiguity, multiplicity, irony, and shared aesthetic experiences.
Ideally, I present my research within the framework of theatres, with a stage, lights, sound system, and a technical staff at my disposal. Ideally, I sometimes work with artistic collaborators in the making and performing of my Danced Lectures. Ideally, such a performance takes between 45 and 120 minutes. As argued above, the academic context hardly ever offers such conditions. However, I am very interested to disseminate my research and also my mode of research presentation beyond the frame of theatres and also beyond the specific frames of artistic research environment. Therefore, lately I have worked on Danced Lectures that can function within conventional academic conference settings. What makes it possible to do a Danced Lecture, for example, within a conference of cultural gerontology, with the typical lack of space, technical facility, set-up time, and a maximum presentation time of 20 min?
However short the lecture has to be, it needs some minutes to transition / warm up / tune (with) the audience in the beginning, to open their channels for receiving through their multiple sensory and intellectual faculties.
Create a 2-minute prelude.
2 The relation between dance and verbal framing
To my experience, the less presentation time you have and the less theatre facilities you have at your disposal, the less your dancing is able to ‘speak for itself’. You need to explain, frame, give interpretative help much more than when doing a full stage performance. From an artistic point of view, this might be a bit painful and might feel like making a joke and then explaining why it was funny. However, in the complex situation of an academic conference, with an audience not necessarily used to seeing dance, consider that this is what you need to do.
3 Dealing with knowledge creation
The fundamental difference between presenting art and presenting artistic research is that in the research context you offer a contribution to knowledge and therefore you make an effort trying to articulate an argument / a relevant question / a new piece of information / an insight. You are and should be really interested in making it understood (even if never for everybody, but that is the case in any research dissemination). That leads again to the importance of verbal framing. It is not a problem if the body or the dance cannot fully convey or make understood such an argument. As a presenter of embodied research, you need to find a way to make such gaps or challenges transparent and comprehensible, and thereby support the audience to engage with the specificity of bodily and artistic modes of knowledge intellectually.
4 Insisting on the ‘thing’ itself
For most dancers, the interest, the artistic practice, and the mode of inquiry and theorising is about and coming from performance-making and from one’s own body dancing. If your own living and performing dance body is at the core of your artistic research you should insist on putting this actual, material, dancing body also at the core of your academic lectures. To push yourself to do that, avoid using photographs and videos in a Danced Lecture and instead make the detailed effort to combine moments of live dancing meaningfully to verbal arguments. This is an effort not only for the presenter but also for a conference audience. However, each time I did it, the unconventionality of the attempt and the stirring presence of a bodily artistic activity finally was highly appreciated.
However and whatever your dance and your verbal framing will be, it has to fit into the given time limit. To find out how to distribute your time and how long your dance moments will be you have to try it out for real. Book studio space and rehearse. Timing cannot be figured out at the computer.
Conclusion: Terminology, Scores and Adequacy
In this chapter, we have considered ways of making artistic research public. We tended, in particular, to structures that do not always consider the specificities of disseminating artistic research, especially body-based work. We proposed some productive terminology for insisting on continuously developing adequate formats for showing and sharing artistic research. By making such parameters of artistic research clear, it may be easier to make a case for requesting adequate settings and procedures in different contexts. Expositionality asks us to reflect on what of the artistic research process needs to expose its epistemic potentials and how this might be done in a forward motion and through the practice. Resonance emphasises finding formats of dissemination that vibrate and re-sound with the practice, while correspondence explores how artistic research components fit together and shape each other. Each of these terms provide starting points from which to examine what form artistic research outputs need to take to be productive, and what conditions are needed to interact with audiences. The accompanying scores and questions take this further by offering practical anchors that artistic researchers might find useful at different stages of the process. We encourage you to use these as road maps and sign posts in your own research journeys, supporting wayfaring towards what is adequate for making artistic research public.
- For example through the Society of Artistic Research (SAR) and founding the Journal of Artistic Research (JAR) and developing the Research Catalogue (RC).
- ‘Wenn Beschleunigung das Problem ist, dann ist Resonanz vielleicht die Lösung’ (Rosa 2018, 13, transl. Kramer).
- ‘Soziologie des guten Lebens’ (Rosa 2018, 14, transl. Kramer)
- ‘vibrierender Draht’ (Rosa 2018, 296, transl. Kramer)
- ‘[…] eine spezifische Beziehung zwischen zwei schwingungsfähigen Körpern […]’ (Rosa 2018, 282, transl. Kramer)
- ‘Resonanz entsteht also nur, wenn durch die Schwingung des einen Körpers die Eigenfrequenz des anderen angeregt wird.’ (Rosa 2018, 282, transl. Kramer)
- ‘entgegenkommender Resonanzraum’ (Rosa 2018, 284, transl. Kramer)
- youtu.be/5v5eBf2KwF8 (accessed 16.03.2018).
- ‘Harvesting’ is a term which I knowingly borrow from Contact Improvisation teacher Nancy Stark Smith, who uses it to refer to a period of active reflection following moving (Buckwalter 2010, 67; De Spain 2014, 50).
- ‘Dance your PhD’ is an annual competition for PhD students in the natural and social sciences: gonzolabs.org/dance (accessed 25.06.2018)
Reference List and Additional Resources
Adler, Janet. 2002. Offering from the Conscious Body: The Discipline of Authentic Movement. Rochester: Inner Traditions.
Borgdorff, Henk, and Michael Schwab. 2014. “Introduction.” In The Exposition of Artistic Research. Publishing Art in Academia, 8–20. Leiden: Leiden University Press.
Ingold, Tim. 2013. Making: Archaeology, Anthropology, Art and Architecture. London: Routledge.
Ingold, Tim. 2016. “On Human Correspondence.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 23, 9–27.
Ingold, Tim. 2017. Correspondences: Knowing from the Inside. University of Aberdeen.
Kramer, Paula. 2015. “Dancing Materiality. A Study of Agency and Confederations in Contemporary Outdoor Dance Practices.” PhD Thesis. Coventry University, Centre for Dance Research.
Lee, Rosemary, and Niki Pollard. 2010. “Writing with a choreographer’s notebook.” In Choreographic Practices 1, 21–41.
Meehan, Emma, and Hetty Blades. 2018. Performing Process: Sharing Dance and Choreographic Practices. Bristol: Intellect.
Nelson, Robin. 2013. Practice as Research in the Arts. Principles, Protocols, Pedagogies, Resistances. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Olsen, Andrea and Caryn McHose. 2017. Body and Earth [workshop] five day retreat. Skipton, Yorkshire.
Rosa, Harmut. 2015. Social Acceleration: A New Theory of Modernity. Columbia University Press.
Rosa, Hartmut. 2018. Resonanz – eine Soziologie der Weltbeziehung. Wissenschaftliche Sonderausgabe. Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag.
Rosa, Hartmut. 2019. Resonance – A Sociology of Our Relationship to the World. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Schwab, Michael. 2012. “Exposition Writing.” In Årsbook Konstnärlig (Yearbook), 19–27 and 220–221. Stockholm: Swedish Research Council.
Schwab, Michael. 2014. “Expositions in the Research Catalogue.” In The Exposition of Artistic Research. Publishing Art in Academia, 92–104. Leiden: Leiden University Press.
Paula Kramer is a dance researcher and movement artist living and working between Berlin and Helsinki. She has a background in Political Sciences (M.A. 2005) and holds a practice-as-research PhD in Dance from Coventry University (2015). Her work focuses on site-specific movement practices and she is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Artistic Research (CfAR), the University of the Arts in Helsinki. She explores outdoor dance and movement practices in the light of new materialist thought, collaborating with materials of many different orders as active agents in the creation of movement, performance, daily life practices and sense making. She is part of the editorial board of the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices, a founding member of AREAL (Artistic Research Lab Berlin) and part of the research team of ADiE – Artistic Doctorates in Europe. www.paulakramer.de
Emma Meehan is Research Fellow at Coventry University’s Centre for Dance Research. Edited collections include Dance Matters in Ireland: Contemporary Performance and Practice with Aoife McGrath (Palgrave 2018) and Performing Process: Sharing Dance and Choreographic Practice with Hetty Blades (Intellect 2018). Recent artistic research projects include the Live Archive performance and exhibition (2016–2017) funded by the Arts Council of Ireland; and Home Practice presented at the shrine to women’s work group exhibition curated by Amy Voris, supported by Arts Council England. From 2013–2017, she was co-convenor of the Performance as Research Working Group at the International Federation for Theatre Research. She is Associate Editor for the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices.
Susanne Martin is a Berlin-based choreographer, performer, researcher, and teacher in the field of contemporary dance and theatre. She presents her work internationally in solo performances and collaborative stage works. Her artistic practice and research focus on improvisation as choreographic practice, critical narrations of the age(ing) body, contact improvisation, and practice as research/artistic research. Festivals that presented her performances include: International Dance and Theatre Festival (Gothenburg), Aerowaves (London), Nottdance (Nottingham), Opera Estate (Bassano del Grappa), Tanec Praha (Prague). Her PhD dissertation Dancing Age(ing) was published 2017 by transcript. In her current postdoctoral research at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne she focusses on the collaborative aspects of improvisation. www.susannemartin.de
Amy Voris is a dance-maker based in Manchester. Her practice is process-oriented and collaborative, driven by the desire to develop enduring relationships with people and with movement material. Her doctoral research (University of Chichester) is investigating the process of forming, returning to, and deepening the relationship with movement material over an extended period of time. Alongside her studio practice, Amy has worked in higher education since 1999 delivering a range of dance-related subjects within conservatoire and university settings. he completed training in Integrative Bodywork and Movement Therapy with Linda Hartley in 2012, an approach to the body that underpins her holistic and enquiring approach to dance-making. www.amyvoris.com