From the very beginning, the notion of practice that JAR has employed has included its own communication – or exposition, as we call it – as research. This implies that key concepts relevant to contemporary art can be engaged with even in the context of something as scholarly – and for some boring – as a journal article. In this editorial, I would like to sketch the relevance of appropriation to expose the point at which stable notions of ‘research’ are jeopardised. Such instability is perhaps difficult to evaluate but, we believe, exciting to engage with.
JAR supports the exposition of practice as research. While we continue to highlight the ‘as’ construct – the folding of something into something as trace of difference and motivation – the notion of ‘exposition’ is often used as shorthand for what otherwise may be called a ‘journal article’. Still, even outside the intricacies of expositionality, what may look like a simple substitution of terms affects the kinds of objects that the word is meant to represent. Out of the wealth of associations, three may deserve particular mention.
The role of ‘process’ in artistic research is not necessarily clear. There is a general tendency to believe that a research process starts with a set of questions to which over time answers are given. Two fixtures, a beginning and an end, here bracket a process. Accepting this crude order for the moment, it seems that a publication in JAR must be associated with the later stages of this process – ideally perhaps a report on a research project’s findings.
After an artistic practice is exposed as research, it is easy to believe that it has always been research, regardless of its exposition. Conversely, if a case has not been made for something to count as research, a doubt on its epistemic relevance will linger over it. While a different attempt at an exposition may yield different results, we are tempted to see the research in the thing itself and not also in its exposition. This conjecture is problematic.
Welcome to the fourth regular issue of JAR! Over the last three years, we have demonstrated that the journal publication of artistic research and its associated peer-review is possible without overburdening artists and researchers with sets of criteria that can negatively affect the often quite fragile fabrics that are made by and, in turn, support artistic practice.