Art-based research, like research-based art, is a wide-ranging term that, due to the tolerance immanent in its methodology and the intentional openness of its content, is difficult to define in concrete terms. Here we want formulate a few basic thoughts about our approach to research. On the basis of Shaun McNiff‘s „idea of researching human experience through the arts“ —a research strategy in which “the use of systematic experimentation with the goal of gaining knowledge” is an approach it shares with the classical sciences—the project crew‘s mission is to arrive at results and findings that emerge by means of and during the process of artistic practice.
The process of artistic confrontation brings forth new differentiations on the levels of perception, emotion and intellect, experiments with new varieties and forms of differentiation, and engenders, over the course of these processes, novel aesthetic, emotional and ideational constellations. Thus, art-based research, in addition to demanding that intellectuality be brought into play, also calls for sensory and emotional attention. Accordingly, we consider the capacity to engage in reflection (interactively, dialectically and in other ways) on these various levels as a key skill of all crew members who will be dealing with the substantive content of this project.
And as McNiff suggests, in order to configure the artistic research process and to formulate the insights that result from it in ways that are comprehensible and methodologically reproducible by others, we will be working with a project design that is simple yet systematic and that will remain constant over the duration of the research project. Needless to say, however, there must also be a modicum of leeway for new ideas and discoveries to emerge and unfold in this context. The shared objective should be to blaze new trails and thereby to come upon things that we do not yet realize now. Therefore, it is also important to pose questions and, if necessary, to reformulate them as part of the artistic research process. We very intentionally do not wish to give answers from our current perspective.
Art-based research addresses two dimensions—on one hand, there is the demand for clarity, form and method; on the other hand, the vital basis of the creative process that can and should lead to surprising results. In contrast to artistic work in a private-sector context in which these conditions are not always fulfilled, this proposed project configuration (due especially to its generous timeframe) endows the research process with precious freedoms that will make it possible in a lab setting to amass fundamental competence in several areas and, of no less importance, to come up with new strategies for doing artistic work.