The main purpose of this reflection is to present to the Spanish-language audience some recent changes in other fields of research that converge in the field of artistic research and which, I believe, provide fertile ground in practical and reflexive terms.

Estudio en Negación Epistémica Extrasomática: Cavex. Felipe Cortés. 2020.
Estudio en Negación Epistémica Extrasomática: Cavex. Felipe Cortés. 2020. Video

In recent decades, we can identify transformative dynamics in fields such as cognitive sciences, social sciences and humanities, which question the dominance of the linguistic and computational paradigms, and in return, offer us a renewed look at the materialist currents ignored throughout the history of philosophy (Witzgall, 2014), and a synergistic approach between brain, body and context, necessary to define what we can understand by mind and cognitive phenomenon (Anderson, Richardson & Chemero, 2012). In addition to the above, and with regard to the field of the arts, it is worth mentioning the gradual positioning of the field of artistic research, understood as the generation of knowledge through artistic practice (Ariza, 2021; Borgdorff, 2010). From this interdisciplinary point of view, I will emphasise a non-anthropocentric approach to creative processes, as it proposes an onto-epistemological revaluation of matter - the material - based on its fundamentally transformative, plural and contingent character.

In relation to artistic practice, I would like to recall that art escapes essentialist definitions, since thanks to the ruptures generated by the avant-gardes at the beginning of the 20th century and the practices that emerged subsequently, there is no aspect that can be taken as a basis for such definitions (Cazeaux, 2017). Now that we are in the present century, it is possible to understand art as a research practice in itself, and artistic works can be understood as strange tools (Noë, 2015), before which we must suspend the requirements of applicability and even relevance. Moreover, they are tools that allow us to question the set of relationships on which our experience is based, i.e. they demand from us a critical relationship with our context and with what we take for granted.

In this perspective, artistic research implements cross-cutting knowledge assemblages (Gansing, 2020), sharing its nature with artistic practice, and generates knowledge, experiences and perspectives that cannot be obtained in any other way. This knowledge in turn emerges and is embodied in artistic works and practices, and is an investigation into the nature of that emergence, and the embodiment of the different values and points of view implied in the works (Wesseling, 2016).

In relation to his piece Three Standard Stoppages (1913-1914) Marcel Duchamp commented: "if a straight horizontal thread, one meter long, falls from a height of one meter onto a horizontal plane twisting as it pleases [it] creates a new image of the unit of length" (Museum of Modern Art, 2023). Duchamp dropped three of these threads onto three stretched canvases, to which they were attached in order to preserve the random curves they adopted as they fell. The canvases were cut along the curves, thus creating a template for new units of measurement that retain the length of the metre, but undermine the rational basis (ibid.). From this example, the interest of artistic research in studying the contingencies of artefacts or the processes involved in their production becomes clear, as the relationship we have with what we conventionally assume to be materiality and form is explicit. In this sense, we can distinguish three notions that favour this field of research:

Diagram. Acción creativa: hacia ‘otras discursividades’/escrituras. Felipe Cortés. 2021-2023


  1. The practical turn, which represents a shift from text-centred research to action-centred research, whereby practices and products themselves become forms of material symbolic expression, as opposed to the verbal and numerical forms used by quantitative and qualitative research. Added to this is the fact that it foregrounds the experiment, showing the variety of roles it plays in the production of knowledge beyond the mere provision of data to test theories (Garbolino, 2013).
  2. The cognitive turn, related to approaches coming from contemporary cognitive sciences and philosophy of mind, insofar as they are critical of the Cartesian paradigm (Malafouris, 2013), emphasising the fact that experience is embodied in practices and outcomes.
  3. The material turn, as opposed to the 'linguistic turn', which highlights the fact that any kind of body - thing, matter, material - (Bennett, 2010), being intertwined in non-hierarchical networks with other bodies, affects and is affected, amidst fluctuating assemblages between nature and culture, between semiotic and material things (Witzgall, 2014).

In relation to the first notion, it should be noted that it considers scientific methods as experimental methods, i.e. it posits that this set of practices embodies a procedural knowledge that cannot be fully captured by the notion of propositional knowledge. In short, research objects and material apparatuses come to play an active role - beyond a separately acting and perceiving subject - in the constitution of knowledge within the epistemic processes of science (Witzgall, 2014). It is worth mentioning, additionally, that since the 1960s we can identify the interest of several artists in approaching their artistic practice as research, with knowledge as its objective. That is to say, they considered that artistic activity did not specifically seek to create new objects, but, instead, it was an enquiry into what that activity is (Moeglin-Delcroix, 2009). In this regard, and as pointed out by Michelkevičius (2018), these artists or artistic collectives appropriated or simulated symbols, protocols, languages of scientific or academic institutions, and formats such as the laboratory, the scholarly article, lectures, experiments, methodologically rigorous visualisations and/or diagrams. In this sense, we can identify the shift in writing proposed by MacDonald (2009), when she points out that it is increasingly clear that the seams of what we considered writing have (slightly, gently and substantially) burst and the material that has emerged can no longer be defined in orthodoxies: creative/critical, discursive/poetic, or even functional/imaginative. Under this perspective, the role of writing in artistic research seeks to establish a channel of negotiation that complements the intentions of the research, rather than taking on the tasks of justification (Macleod & Holdridge,2010), in turn allowing a transformative process to occur (Murphy, 2014). Therefore, we can point out that this writing would initially aim (without ruling out other possible purposes): (1) to contextualise the work from a spatio-temporal perspective in relation to the work of other artists and scholars (Michelkevičius, 2018); (2) to account for the distribution of its significance through a common network of bodily, sensory and linguistic capacities, and historical and cultural associations (Cazeaux, 2017); (3) to critically and theoretically position a reflection on one's own practice (Wesseling, 2016).

To address the second notion I will briefly mention two aspects, on the one hand, Michael Anderson's (2010; 2014) neural reuse proposal, which offers us a new way of understanding how the brain operates, according to which, in exchange for a functional architecture in which individual regions would be dedicated to large-scale cognitive domains - such as vision, hearing, language and the like - neural circuits at a lower level would now be used and reused for various purposes in different cognitive tasks and domains. Thus, functional interactions between different parts of the brain and the fact that each part can play different roles in the overall system become important (Anderson & Penner, 2012). Moreover, within recent anthropological domains in evolutionary terms, such as art, abstract thought, language or music, among others, certain neural precursors present in other primates, or neural structures developed in distant evolutionary stages (Dehaene, & Laurent, 2007) may be involved in different tasks, cooperating in different patterns and with different structures. This raises a different way of understanding cultural practices, no longer as stark representations of thought, but as situated and embodied cognitive processes and skills.

A second aspect is related to the cognitive phenomenon and is based on the growing consensus in the field of contemporary cognitive sciences regarding a view of thinking, not in terms of the computational process that takes place inside the brain, but in terms of action with the body in the world (Cook, 2018). This perspective gives way to dynamic conceptions of the mind that allow us to define cognition as a biologically based phenomenon extended into the physical and socio-cultural world, integrated with an ecological niche and actively coupled with the external world (Grasso et al., 2022). As a consequence, these changes in the way we approach, on the one hand, the organisation and functional structure of the brain, and, on the other hand, the mind and cognition, challenge the classical modular and computational paradigm of neuroscience and cognitive science, based on the model of the mind as essentially internal, the model of the mind as brain, in which all human cognition depends only on neural activity (Clark, 2009).

In relation to the third notion, this extended definition of mind (Clark & Chalmers, 1998), which considers non-biological elements as constitutive of the cognitive phenomenon, we can relate it directly to the neo-materialist approaches that appear in the social sciences, science and technology studies, or political philosophy, and which recognise the permanent affectation -agency- of other 'non-human' material entities, as expounded by Manuel De Landa, Karen Barad, Jane Bennett, Bruno Latour, among other authors.1 From this perspective, matter ceases to be thought of as a permanent and immutable essence, and is instead approached as possessing inherent creative capacities (De Landa, 2011; 2012), in a permanent state of metamorphosis and morphogenesis. In this sense, matter is historically contingent and plural (Woodward, 2019).2

Therefore, and considering what Lambros Malafouris mentioned, this recognition of a material agency would imply, from the perspective of active externalism, assuming that pencil strokes on a sheet of paper are not a permanent and external record of the content of the mental state but, instead, an extension of it. That is, cognition and action emerge together, forming each other, "minds and things are interdefinable and continuous processes, rather than separate and independent entities" (Malafouris, 2013). According to this author, agency should be approached as an "open" concept. It cannot be assumed as an exclusive property of humans or non-humans, but rather as a process in continuous need of rethinking and rectification, as it constantly transgresses the physical boundaries of its constituent elements (Malafouris, 2008).

Taking into account what has been presented up to this point, I will now turn to comment on the "hylomorphic" model, drawing on Tim Ingold (2010), when he points out that contemporary discussions about art and technology, and what it means to make things, continue to reproduce the underlying assumptions of this model, which assumes the imposition of form over matter, or the anticipated redirection of its flows.

According to this model, creativity is the generation of novel ideas and creative activity the imposition of such ideas on matter (Feiten et al., 2023). However, and due to the changes of mind and matter presented, creativity will now be understood as emerging during the very act of making, "the tactile and sensitive knowledge of line and surface" (Ingold, 2010), thus overcoming a certain more abstract stance, in which form is first understood through geometry and only then related to a material substrate. Deleuze and Guattari (2020) are equally critical of this model, precisely because it "assumes a fixed form and a matter considered homogeneous". For them, doing is following the and in the material,

“connecting operations and a materiality, rather than imposing a form or a matter: rather than a materiality subjected to laws, one turns to a materiality that possesses a nomos [smooth space]3 . Rather than a form capable of imposing properties on matter, one turns to material features of expression that constitute affects" (p. 522).

In that sense, these material features can be understood as the material's own singularities, which we must discover through active sensory exploration. In short, according to Ingold (2010, 2014), the maker, the artist or the designer are people who intuitively follow, through action, the path of the material, establishing a correspondence between the movement and flow of their consciousness and the flows of matter that give form to the work.

To conclude, I would like to comment that the changes briefly presented in this reflection seek to add to the understanding of the embodied knowledge present in our practices and attend, in that sense, to two of the concerns mentioned in relation to the field of artistic research: on the one hand, to address the intersection between artistic creation and contemporary cognitive sciences and/or the philosophy of mind, and on the other hand, the need to offer a more convincing cognitive basis in relation to the processes of research through art. It is stimulating, in that sense, to find theoretical developments and empirical findings from other epistemological fields, with which we can establish meaningful links around the study of our experience as artist-researchers.



Anderson, M. L. (2010). Neural reuse: A fundamental organizational principle of the brain. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33(4), 245–66.

Anderson, M. L. (2014). After phrenology: Neural reuse and the interactive brain. MIT Press.

Anderson, M. L. & Penner-Wilger. (2012). Neural Reuse in the Evolution and Development of the Brain: Evidence for Developmental Homology? Developmental Psychobiology. DOI 10.1002/dev.21055

Anderson, M. L., Richardson, M. J., & Chemero, A. (2012). Eroding the boundaries of cognition: Implications of Embodiment. Topics in Cognitive Science, 4(4), 717-730.

Ariza, S. (2021) De la práctica a la investigación en el arte contemporáneo, producir conocimiento desde la creación. Arte, Individuo y Sociedad 33(2), 537-552.

Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Duke University Press.

Bennett, J. (2015). Systems and Things: On Vital Materialism and Object-Oriented Philosophy. En Grusin, R. (Ed.), The Nonhuman Turn, 223-239. Center for 21st Century Studies, University of Minnesota Press.

Borgdorff, H. (2010). The Production of Knowledge in Artistic Research. En Biggs, M., & Karlsson, H. (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts, 44-63. Routledge.

Cazeaux, C. (2017). Art, Research, Philosophy. Routledge.

Clark, A. (2009). Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension. Oxford University Press.

Clark, A., & Chalmers, D. (1998). The extended mind. Analysis, 58(1), 7–19.

Cook, A. (2018). 4E Cognition and the Humanities. En Newen, A., Bruin, L. D., & Gallagher, S. (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of 4E Cognition. Oxford University Press, 875-890.

Dehaene, S., & Laurent, C. (2007). Cultural Recycling of Cortical Maps. Neuron 56, 384-398.

Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (2020). Mil Mesetas. Pre-Textos.

Dolphijn, R & Van der Tuin, I. (2012). Interview with Manuel De Landa. En Dolphijn, R & Van der Tuin, I. (Eds.), New Materialism: Interviews & Cartographies. Open Humanities Press, 43.

De Landa, M. (2011). Mil Años de Historia No Lineal. Gedisa Editorial.

Feiten, T. E., Peck, Z., Holland, K., & Chemero, A. (2023). Constructive constraints: On the role of chance and complexity in artistic creativity. Possibility Studies & Society, 1(3), 311-323.

Gansing, K. (2020). What Artistic Research Does – International Center for Knowledge in the Arts.

Garbolino, P. (2013). What the Scientist’s Eye tells the Artist’s Brain. En: Ambrožič, M., & Vettese, A. (Eds.), Art as a Thinking Process: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production. 74-86. Sternberg Press.

Grasso-Cladera, A., Costa-Cordella, S., Rossi, A., Fuchs, N. F., & Parada, F. J. (2022). Mobile Brain/Body Imaging: Challenges and opportunities for the implementation of research programs based on the 4E perspective to cognition. Adaptive Behavior. 2022;0(0).

Ingold, T. (2010). The Textility of Making. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 34, 91–102.

Ingold, T. (2014). An Ecology of Materials. En Witzgall, S., & Stakemeier, K. (Eds.), Power of Material/Politics of Materiality, 59-65. Diaphanes.

Latour, B. (2009). Reensamblar lo social: una introducción a la teoría del actor-red. Editorial Manantial.

MacDonald, C. (2009). How to do things with words: textual typologies and doctoral writing. Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 2(1), 91-103. DOI: 10.1386/jwcp.2.1.91/1

Macleod, K & Holdridge, L. (2010). Writing and The PhD in Fine Art. En Biggs, M & Karlsson, H. (Eds.) The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts, 354-367. Routledge.

Malafouris, L. (2008). At the Potter’s Wheel: An Argument for Material Agency, En Knappett, C & Malafouris, L. (Eds.), Material Agency: Towards a non-anthropocentric approach, 19-36. Springer.

Malafouris, L. (2013). How Things shape the Mind. MIT Press.

Michelkevičius, V. (2018). Mapping Artistic Research: Towards a Diagrammatic Knowing. Vilnius Academy of Arts.

Moeglin-Delcroix, A. (2009). Documentation as Art in Artist’s Books and Other Artist’s Publications. En Schade, S & Thurmann-Jajes, A. (Eds.) Artist’s Publications. A Genre and its Investigation, 19-34. Salon Verlag.

Murphy, S. (2014). Writing Performance Practice. En Borgdorff, H & Schwab, M. (Eds.) The Exposition of Artistic Research: Publishing Art in Academia, 177-190. Leiden University Press.

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Noë, A. (2015). Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature. Hill and Wang.

Wesseling, J. (2016). Of Sponge, Stone and the Intertwinement with the Here and Now: A Methodology of Artistic Research. Amsterdam: Valiz.

Witzgall, S. (2014). New Materialists in Contemporary Art. En Witzgall, S., & Stakemeier, K. (Eds.), Power of Material/Politics of Materiality, 127-140. Diaphanes.

Woodward, M. (2019). Metaplasticity rendered visible in paint: How matter ‘matters’ in the lifeworld of Human action. Phenom Cogn Sci 18,113-132.



Felipe Cortés Salinas

His proposal for creation and research addresses artistic practice understood as a process of material participation (engagement), being in turn informed by dialogue with other fields of knowledge. He has obtained different grants for the promotion of creation, training and research, presenting his work on different occasions in countries such as Germany, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Spain and the United States. To date, he has received support from various institutions, including the following: National Agency for Research and Development (ANID-Chile); Botín Foundation (Spain); Ministry of Science and Culture of the Federal State of Lower Saxony (Germany); Kunstakademie Duesseldorf (Germany); Ruhr University (Germany); HBK Braunschweig (Germany); Instituto Distrital de las Artes de Bogotá (Colombia); Universidad Católica de Chile and Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

  • 1Bruno Latour (2009): “no science of the social can even begin if the question of who and what participates in the action is not first of all thoroughly explored, even though it might mean letting elements in which, for lack of a better term, we would call non-humans". In a similar perspective, Jane Bennett (2015) notes that we are daily confronted with evidence of non-human vitalities actively acting around and within us.
  • 2From Landa (2012): Neo-materialism is based on the idea that matter possesses inherent morphogenetic capacities and does not need to be guided to generate forms.
  • 3The addition is mine.