Research Observations: 28/2


Some thoughts, reflections and observations from todays research meeting.


  • Importance of writing about the work as it is being created: tests whether one thoroughly understands the implications of what they’re doing, whilst clarifying and recording the processes by which it is done.
    –  Keep a diary open at all times so as recording observation and reflection become a continuous process.

  • Difficulty in Fine Art Phd’s is deciding what is relevant and important from the vast amount of content that is amassed from practical reflection and observation.
    – What is relevant to the reader in order to fully understand, and to replicate what one has been done if necessary.
  • Requirement in the writing aspect of a Fine Art Phd is finding and developing a style and approach that arises out of the practice – what one does. Rather than adopting a generic template or ‘how to’.
    – Demands a distinct way of writing about the work as every practitioners’ work is distinct from another.
  • Difficulty in dealing with ambiguous themes such as chance and improvisation is that if one is not fully committed and focussed on the task at hand then it won’t work.
    – Charlie Parker providing a running commentary on a saxophone solo e.g.


  • In practice-based research the knowledge and inspiration comes in the process of ‘doing it’. One cannot simply write about it and then ‘do it’ as the ‘doing it’ then becomes illustration of the writing.
  • About adopting 2 simultaneous personas in the studio: the artist practitioner, and the critique.
    Critical distance: asking pointed questions…
    Could it have been done a different way?
    What are the objectives here?
  • Nature of the Phd dictates that most of the time one is working in the dark with little help or assistance.
  • Symbiotic relationship between the writing and practical elements. Need to be completed hand-in-hand in order to critically digest and reflect upon the practice.
  • The importance of establishing the problem: Creative practice is by its nature discursive, one tends to follow their nose…
    – Phd requires a strict discipline to remain within the parameters, and the often broad, but rigidly straight theme.
  1. Clarifying the nature of the problem: total Phd
  2. Looking at the whole in the terms of its parts: considering the individual projects and portfolios etc.
  • Final exhibition most likely distinctly different and unrecognisable from its informing projects, yet entirely dependent upon them for its very existence.
  • Practical work: Testing…
    Approaches- Thesis should map, trace and track the logic of the progress from one portfolio to another.
  • Self-Trust: For many years my mind has been within a particular domain. My instincts and intuitions are circumscribed between certain things that will happen and will never happen because I’m not that type of an artist.
    – Whatever I do will likely never be too wide of the target.
  • What can be taken from a model of improvisation in a musical sense: what’s analogically transferable to visual improvisation?
  • Visual Improvisation: What’s improvisation and what is composition?
    – Jackson Pollock, Willem deKooning…
  • Constant in improv: working with pre-set material, parameters in which the activity is undertaken.
  • Highest Objective: Making art that reaches the bar of the best work one can create:
    – to make art that is visually engaging, quite apart from something that exemplifies and proves the thesis.
  • Consider Phd project with a teaching hat on: Design a module exploring the themes of the project…
    What is the module about?
    What will I need?
    What am I pointing people towards?
    Why am I doing this module?
    What will people get from it?-Not Phd but potentially a good exercise in getting to the crux of what the Phd project is about… What the problem is…
  • Consider these things from as many different dimensions as possible.
  • As outward going creatures, artists are willing to ‘dip their toe’ in the waters of many areas and disciplines. We’re curious of what lies beyond the boundaries of our own practice, even if at the risk of ‘putting our foot in our mouth’ and sounding ignorant – As by doing this we learn…

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