Week 6 //// Atelier Workshop #2
Post Qualitative & Artistic Research: Inventing Non-Methods
Like many of the social sciences, the discipline of anthropology has experienced a turn away from a preoccupation with research method design towards open and holistic approaches to research. Very generally speaking, this is often termed the ‘post-qualitative’ turn.
In anthropology, this turn can be seen in a tendency towards openness and multiplicity of approaches, towards understanding the researcher as a reflexive, feeling, social being, one that fully experiences and is implicated in the research process. In anthropology, this turn can also be witnessed in attempts to use bricolage as a means of curating and communicating the process of research. (e.g. see the set reading by Kerasovitis, K. 2020.) Bricolage simultaneously serves a self-conscious literary means of constructing the identities of the researcher/researched while deconstructing the extant genres of ‘academic writing’. (e.g. McLean, S., 2017. ‘Chapter 1: An Encounter in the Mist’, Fictionalizing anthropology : encounters and fabulations at the edges of the human, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. p1-20)
Art, in contrast, does not have a longstanding tradition of research method design. From the perspective of the social sciences, many of the underlying assumptions of artistic research could be said to be predominately ‘post-qualitative’ in character. Artistic researchers commonly present themselves as feeling, reflexive, social beings and tend to take experiential bricolage approaches that explicitly resist hypotheses, routes, goals and pre-determined structures in favour of flow and/or chaos (e.g. see the set reading by Ingold, T. 2018.) Artistic research has, also, recently invested in fictioning and fabulation; self-conscious literary means of constructing the identities of the artist-researcher/subject. Fictioning and fabulation are allied more with autobiography and fiction than they are with the non-fictional genres of ‘academic writing’. Fictioning and fabulation, importantly, involve generating the mise-en-scene of research within which the researcher and the research subject both reside. (e.g. see: Burrows, David, and Simon O’Sullivan. ’10. Myth Analysis: Lessons in Enchantment’, in Fictioning: The Myth-functions of Contemporary Art and Philosophy. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019. p175-198.)
The first Material you will examine, an art/anthropology project by the artist/anthropologist Hermione Spriggs, stems from these disciplinary overlaps and shadows. Drawing on painting as a metaphor, Spriggs, usefully, describes the ‘post-qualitative’ play here as a series of Figure–ground Reversals between Art and Anthropology. (See: Spriggs, Hermione. “‘Uurga Shig’ – What Is It like to Be a Lasso? Drawing Figure–ground Reversals between Art and Anthropology.” Journal of Material Culture 21, no. 4 (2016): 405-28.) We must – simultaneously – consider art to be the ‘ground’ for anthropological research and anthropology to be the ‘ground’ for artistic research. Equally, we must acknowledge the artist/anthropologist/subject as alternating between being a ‘figure’ (in painting: a distinct image that floats above the ground of the canvas) and an integral part of the ‘ground‘ (the socio-cultural material being ‘researched’)… Figure–ground Reversals are everywhere in ‘post-qualitative’ play.
In this Atelier, you will work with two materials and subject them to the different gazes of approaches developed within artistic research and post-qualitative anthropology In this, we seek to identify Figure–ground Reversals at play within the approaches we are working with. This, hopefully, will inspire and encourage you to bricolage your own (post-quals) approaches to research.
Ana Vaz: i prefer not to be but to Tupi: the age of the earth (21:45) from Sonic Acts on Vimeo (28 February 2016) SONIC ACTS ACADEMY, De Brakke Grond, Amsterdam, the Netherlands