If the term artistic research is used “to denote that domain of research and development in which the practice of art […] plays a constitutive role in a methodological sense” (Borgdorff 2006: 21), then writing about artistic research should create the opportunity to show how this constitutive role of artistic practice actually takes place in the strategies and outcomes of the project as a whole. It is doubtful whether classical academic writing is suitable for this purpose. If ever there was such a thing as ‘classical academic writing’, it would be represented by characteristics such as clarity, honesty, neutrality and authority. Because of this requirement for neutrality, for instance, the use of the first person in academic texts is rather unusual. Gianni Vattimo expresses this in the first few lines of his book ‘Belief’ (1999: 20): “But what if I were to take the liberty not just to pun but to write in the first person? I am aware that I have never written in this way except in debates, polemics or letters to the editor. Never in essays or texts of a professional character, whether critical or philosophical.”
And so Vattimo continues in a personal, conversational style – quite unusual but with engaging effect. The style does not prevent him, however, from showing a deeply critical and sharp analytical relationship vis-à-vis his subject (the theme of faith and religion as an inevitable feature of our cultural and personal lives). The basic requirements of the “classical academic writing” seem to be met after all. And yet, referring to Nyrnes’ plea for the use of a topos where an “own language” is being developed, the writing in the first person will probably by many be viewed as a sign of storytelling and anecdotal writing quite opposed to the language expected in academia.
These blog contributions show two concurrent styles of writing: a backbone of “classical” writing, adhering to the requirements described earlier; and, by way of putting flesh to this backbone, a more personal, sometimes almost poetic style of writing involving the first person, stories and metaphors. This other style of writing will hopefully aid the reader in understanding the aforementioned constitutive role of the artistic practice, the inextricability of these texts with the artistic projects they describe, and the direct or indirect involvement of sometimes very personal experiences and stories into the creative processes.
Hendrik Vanden Abeele – to be continued
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