What research means to you as an artist?

· Studio art practice is also a kind of research
  Use research as artwork
  Create a narrative to reveal the process

· Prototype
  Behind the scenes

· Process

· Context

· Site visit
  Investigate things firsthand

· Reading

· Artwork

· Working with people

  Making work with community
  Wider part of the society
  Develop a dialogue/thinking around a subject matter
  To understand/connect with the place where the artist  

  Talking about ideas/modes of working/developing/strategies  
  of making
  Rethink process and practice

· The artist's own exhibition
  Gather/reflect/install work
  Experimental/showing work

· Talks

· Writing

· Finding something by accident while looking for sth else
By Mona Hatoum

Though it’s Hatoum’s intention to record this performance, it can still be seen as a research on her body, which was foreign to her. It’s the process as well as the artwork itself.

Later, she used the performance as a part of an installation (from 3:53). She used her own artwork as research material and developed it to a new piece of work. The old work became a prototype/process in some degrees.

I got to know Hatoum’s work while working on my project IRRESISTIBLE, and I was especially attracted to these 2 pieces of work:

As I was exploring objects that are both attractive and dangerous, the neon tube and heating elements are among them. I actually really wanted to experiment on heating elements but I didn’t have enough time to find out how it worked technically.

Besides, I found the above work very interesting from the video. Hatoum’s use of materials speaks so much for the work itself. I understand the importance of research on materials more and more. I found myself especially interested in conflicting features in artwork. And I see that in a lot of Hatoum’s work:

Corps étranger:

“It is a piece that takes you in different directions,” she said. “On the one hand it is fascinating to feel like you are inside the body; at the same time it is disgusting. It is seductive and disgusting at the same time.”

Light Sentence:

There are also contradictions in the installation Light Sentence. The rigidity of the cages is contradicted by the fluidity of the moving shadows. It’s both mesmerizing, beautiful but also disturbing.

Lights strung within these utensils brighten and dim and the electrical current that connects them is amplified to a threatening buzz. She cleverly uses electricity to create an atmosphere of threat.

I like the use of buzz to create the effect of threat.

‘Displacement’ and ‘estrangement’ also interest me. Her ‘experimental attitude’ for her work ‘open to interpretation’ made me reflect on my own work again.1 Most of my work is very tight on specific meanings I project on every element till my last project. But I’m still worried that if I just loose it up, if I just let go of so many intentions, whether my work would turn out weaker or stronger… Do I have anything to lose?


FUTILITY (Performance)

To help understand your own methods:

  1. What are you trying to find out by making it? (Research question) Once I read this question, I immediately realised how close-ended my work had been. I’ve never tried to find out anything. I’ve only been trying to make a statement or express an emotion through the artwork. Artwork has been the end rather than a process/way of exploration of a question. That just really sounds limited. Making art to explore uncertainty, I have never thought about it this way. Even though I could say that I was trying to find if objectification of body could evidence self-existence by being useful/needed by others or becoming part of the world, the idea of this work is just to show the futility of this attempt, which is already a conclusion. Though I asked Marianne what if the work an artist wanted to make was simply to express certain idea/emotion rather than exploring a question, and she said it could be exploring that emotion/uncertainty, and the research question was just a standard norm, and the area of exploration could be anything, I’m still not sure because my idea is a certain statement, and the artwork is just a medium to show that. I built my idea before I made the work. It’s linear. The work doesn’t affect my idea… Is this why my work can’t speak for itself…
  2. What did you actually do to create this? (Research tools or methods) I’m confused about this question because the artwork itself already shows how it’s done. I used white cloth to cover my body and made my body shape similar to certain objects, and put my body out in certain public space. This idea was inspired by some other artwork I researched online and books. I took photographs indoors at the beginning and developed them to performances, influenced by a performance artist recommended by a tutor. Maybe this question is asking about the research process. Well it could also be about practical process as some work is harder to tell how it’s made.
  3. Why do these activities seem to work? I think most of the time when I’m impressed by some words from books or artwork, I agree with/understand/have the same feeling in those ideas. And then I would make notes of them or some would just linger in my mind. Reading helps me form concepts and other artists’ work helps me form practice to express those concepts. And tutorials are a platform where I can get viewers’ thoughts and advice, and sometimes a different way/aspect of reading my work. I think it’s important because most of time while working, my thinking is just one-way straight. My own process of making is also a process of development. The final work might not happen without the initial attempts. And the process of note taking and writing down my thoughts also help me reflect on my ideas.
  4. Could it be any other way? Not sure if it’s asking other ways of the research or practical work… In terms of research, Marianne and Mick both talked about site visit, and Marianne also shared about working with people. My work has never been site-specific because it’s just not related to places at all. Most are about abstract emotions. I guess it’s also because I’m never connected to any place so that I don’t have that motivation to work around a place. It has been difficult for me to work with people, even if just getting along with people… But I can see how powerful artwork can be if it’s involved with a community. I have been encouraged to visit more exhibitions. I love visiting exhibitions in free time but with time pressure, most of time it just doesn’t seem effective. So I do most of research online. I’m not sure if it could be any other way for research to be honest… In terms of practice, I was suggested to explore surfaces like membrane, something you can see through but you can’t actually go through.
  5. What assumptions? Not sure if it’s asking what assumptions I made during my work… I guess I just assumed that people would not interact with me but they might ask my classmates who I asked to help me watch the cameras, questions. So I wrote “PLEASE IGNORE ME & THE CAMERA. THX” on paper in advance. There’re still few people interacting with me or asking my classmates questions though…
  6. What has been modified by asking these questions and pursuing these tasks? What has been enacted or produced? Not sure if it’s about the above questions. I don’t know yet what I’ll be doing next, but those questions did have made me think a lot about the limitation of my work and research.
  7. Reflecting on the rhetorics of method disclosure. Ok this is completely confusing. I don’t know what it means at all… I guess it’s asking me to think about and conclude my method with all the above answers?

Mick mentioned that his work was not exploring a question and we should identify what we want to investigate, not so influenced by others. If it was me a year ago, I would agree immediately completely. I still kind of do. It’s just to work in this field, it’s difficult not to think what audience would like or not. Although I haven’t really been influenced, I would still think about it and doubt my work.

To connect what cannot be connected, this is exactly what my work as an artist is.

Hirschhorn in Jumbo Spoons and Big Cake, p. 32

Thought of my project FUTILITY, futility of attempts to build connections.

I think Alexandra said something like research is related to what knowledge you’re producing or what you’re contributing to your work. I only thought research as process, and never thought it should also lead to new insights. It’s a good point to think about in terms of the meaning of my body of work in certain context.

I like the description of voice to be fleeting/shifting, reminding of my project FUTILITY, as the flowing exisitence.

So the learning space changes, and this is in keeping with the open-ended character of art practice, for focus sometimes only emerges during and after the practice of artmaking.


I get new perspectives/ideas during and after the practice. That’s why I see practice process as a key research method/methodology.

It is generally accepted that learning in Art and Design is experiential. We learn most efficiently by doing – by active experience, and reflection on that experience. We learn through practice, through research, and through reflection on both. This active and reflective learning makes a dynamic relationship between practice and research. Practice raises questions that can be investigated through research, which in turn impacts on practice.

Visualizing research: a guide to the research process in art and design
Malins, Julian

Practice and research is cyclical.

Then came the difficult one, art as research where the methods and conventions and debates of research were perhaps embodied in the artefact itself.

Thinking through art: reflections on art as research

It especially applies to process based artwork when process is both research and artwork itself.