I am finally able to pick up writing posts again, after a few months of relative digital silence. Shortly before the summer vacation came to its close, I visited Helsinki for the 6th Colloquium for Artistic Research in Performing Arts, CARPA. The title of this year’s conference was “Artistic Research Performs and Transforms: Bridging Practices, Contexts, Traditions & Futures.”

This was my third Carpa conference, after having presented our collaborative artistic research project IYANTWAY last time, in 2017, together with the team of the HKU Professorship Performative Processes. I continue to enjoy the broad spectrum of different areas within the performing arts, combined with a great wealth of presentation formats and work forms. This year, I came to Helsinki specifically in the context of my postdoctoral research on artistic research methodology, and presenting at the conference was a great opportunity to structure a lot of the material I have already gathered, and bring it into a more or less coherent argument.

Keynotes: Erin Manning, Sybille Peters and Adrian Heathfield

Erin Manning delivered the opening keynote speech, “How do we repair?” (abstract). In her talk, she elaborated on the exhibition Goat Island, We Discovered the Performance by Making it, and unpacked her own artistic process as a response to this exhibition, with fascinating materials such as written texts in notebooks made from canvas:

The second keynote by researcher and performance artist Sybille Peters had a comparable impact on me as the 2018 keynote presentation by Helen Marriage during the Reflective Conservatoire conference. Peters’ work is guided by a strong social and political motivation, by the notions of participation and collective research. Peters manages to make artistic research relevant and urgent for societal issues and she gives it a place at the forefront of the arts in society (see here for the open access publication “Performing Citizenship”).

Starting from the notion of “the right to research”, Peters elaborated on a number of participatory art-based research projects she has been involved in. Peters is artistic director of the Fundus Theater, “Theatre of Research” in Hamburg, a place of research and theatre making for and with children. Another project is the “Kaputt-Akademie” (“Academy of Desctruction”), first a project of Tate Modern London and now in Peters’ own theatre in Hamburg (see here for the Kaputt Manifesto – scroll down for video). Here, grown-ups work together with children and explore different kinds of destruction. Finally, the project “Animals of Manchester (including Humanz)” creates a huge participatory installation and performance in the public space, in which animals and humans are presented as being equal in the shared surrounding of a park in Manchester.

For ages human beings thought they were different from all other animals – they thought they were superior, they thought they were the masters, they thought only human beings had free will, they thought only human beings had language. Children always had their doubts about that, and today, finally, adults start to see, that the kids were right. We all are animals together. Imagine what Manchester, what any city, would look like if all animals in that city were equal, including humanz?

(quoted from Sybille Peters’ slides)

In the third keynote Adrian Heathfield reflected on works of performance art through creative writing. Heathfield explored the different layers of writing about other people’s work, elaborating on this process of watching, interpreting and translating to another artistic medium, creating writing, through writing

And further

Next to the keynote lectures, Carpa6 included a huge variety of presentations and presentation formats, indoors and outdoors, some performative, some participatory: a collective lecture performance by Esa Kirkkopelto and a group of actors; an outdoor workshop by Javier R. Casado, “devoted to the exploration and discussion of different ways of performing idleness.” (quoted from abstract) Elina Saloranta carried out a performative experiment on “Letter-writing as Artistic Research.” One highlight for me was the collaborative lecture demonstration by Annette Arlander, Hanna Järvinen, Tero Nauha and Pilvi Porkola; consisting of four seemingly independent talks read out loud, including a participatory disco event. It was a fascinating way to include four relatively independent research trajectories in one presentation, which gave insight into the four projects, while also made it possible to relate them to each other – a mode that reminds me of Heiner Goebbels’ “polyphony of elements” in music theatre, now in the context of a conference presentation.

Annette Arlander reading about holding hands with Juniper.
Participatory research disco!
Sometimes it is just a joy to experience unexpected encounters: Tanja Becher graduated from HKU MA Scenography last year, and I remember reading her MA thesis with fascination and great pleasure. Tanja is living and studying in Helsinki now, while still maintaining connections to the work we are doing at HKU.

My own presentation: The Common Ground Model

In this spectrum my own presentation, admittedly, had the form of a rather traditional paper presentation. Nevertheless, I think this mode was fitting regarding what the presentation was about and what I was trying to achieve: a consistent and transparent overview of what the approach is that I am working on, and to be able to start a conversation about its structure, arguments and potential usefulness.

In the months since my last post on the methodology project Common Ground, the model has taken quite a different form: Initially I presented the four phases (collection, structure, timing and emergence) as a table, simply mentioning them and giving a short explanation what each phase entails. This representation has developed towards a form that acknowledges the interconnection between the different layers, specifically the layers of collection, structure and time (notice that “timing” has been changed to “time”, on which I will elaborate in a later post). It places emergences much more central, by giving it a place from which it can “do its work” on different elements of a research design, and presented emergence more as an underlying or overall counter-acting force, rather that a separate layer in a four-layer-system:

The Common Ground Model.

“Crafting Methods” is positioned in the centre of this model: This concept is inspired and influenced by Erin Manning’s 2015 article “Against Method”; it argues against framing “method” as something predefined in terms of procedure, participants/actors and outcomes and taken shape by tradition, but rather devised “from scratch”, from the very experience and reality of playing and making. And, again, I use the idea of interconnectedness, actually the metaphor of a network, to think about research methodology.

The concept of Crafting Methods contains four elements: Actors/objects, activities, data/information/knowledge, and reflection. Depending on the frame of reference, actors (from Latour and ANT) or objects (referring to Graham Harman and Object-Oriented Ontology). Essentially, this is about who/what is doing what, taking which role/function. The term actors or objects suggest a much wider framework than just the researcher (and/or artist), acknowledging both human and non-human subjects. Activities is thought from a practical and performative point of view: what are we (or any kind of objects) going to do, how are we engaging. Reflection can happen in many different forms: individual, collective, through conversation, writing, drawing, sketching, meditating, and so on. This is also an element that might be designed in itself, rather than just taken for granted in form and function. The somewhat clumsy element data, information, knowledge aims to indicate the outcome or output of a method: What is learned, what is taken further, possibly as input then, to the next method. What do we want to learn, what do we want to do, and what can we do in order to explore that?

 

The interconnected elements of Crafting Methods. 

Finally, these thoughts and visualizations result in a first careful suggestion of how “method” might be reframed: as a flexible network of actors/objects, activities, information/data/knowledge, and reflection. I would not call this framing “in-progress” but rather “pre-progress”, but I include the idea here nevertheless – it may spark some thought by others.

Obviously, there are still a number of gaps that need further elaboration and development in the coming months, and which I will try to address in future posts: the notion of time in research design; the just-mentioned concept of “crafting methods”, as being a flexible network, and as a re-framing of what a method is or can be; and a more decent framing of emergence as an essential force while designing and carrying out artistic research. Apart from the area of methodology in particular, the discussion after the presentation at Carpa opened a few interesting thoughts in the area of education, and the time we give master students for carrying out a research during their two years of study. For example, the mentioned category of time suggests an approach of taking time and giving time to activities, objects, people, spending the time it needs for developing more depth, learning, and so on – which is often the opposite of thinking in terms of tempo or efficiency. Yet, the short amount of time for research during a master programme suggests much more to think in terms of being effective while carrying out the master research. Hopefully this seeming mismatch will lead to a few more thoughts and fruitful critique on how we tend to approach research trajectories in MA programmes. 

To conclude 2018, I just want to provide some catching up, as it was a little silent on this blog for a few weeks. This was not because there was nothing to write about, on the contrary.

Bio Orchestra Installation in Arnhem and Wageningen

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Bio Orchestra Installation.

Back in October first results of the Bio Orchestra (see my August 2018 post for more information) were presented to a broader audience: KunstLAB presented a number of its projects, among them the Bio Orchestra installation, at the INNOVATE festival in Arnhem.

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Manipulating the sound.

The installation translates the four different growth phases of the plants (seedling, rosette, flowering, senescence) into musical material. Participants can manipulate the sound in different ways, as a parallel to different kinds of genetic manipulation that happens in the laboratory. Adults and children alike enjoyed stepping into the role of plant scientist Sander van der Krol and experience the manipulation of plants in a musical way.

 

 

 

Articulating Artistic Research seminar in Calgary

In my previous post in October, I already wrote about the Articulating Artistic Research seminar that took place in Calgary, Canada in November. The group of participants, lead and facilitated by Bruce Barton and Natalia Esling, worked for intense two days on forms of artistic research and its articulation. Participants came from all around the world: the UK, US, Canada, Europe, up to the Philippines.

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Seminar leader and facilitator Bruce Barton.

On both days, a keynote in the morning was followed by a series of Pecha Kucha presentation of the participants, and two practical workshops in the afternoon. The workshops were prepared by four groups of participants prior to the seminar (see here for the complete schedule). I was personally most inspired by Lynette Hunter’s keynote, in which she talked about the difference between documenting and articulation of performance and about how documenting can move towards articulation. In her own work Hunter has developed a practice of “performative critical writing”, such as overlay texts or texts that combine academic/critical language with more poetic forms.

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Participants at work during one of the workshops.

There’s more…

There is more to come next year: I will start a larger project on artistic research methodology and ethics in early 2019, next to working on a publication on the musician in society, as a reflection on earlier seminars and recent developments in the institutions I work. The Bio Orchestra project will have a more performative follow-up in late 2019, and there will be more transdisciplinary work coming between artistic practice and health care. A lot to look forward to!

For now, I wish everybody a peaceful Christmas time. With best regards, Falk.

 

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From 14 to 17 November this year I will participate in the sixth edition of the Articulating Artistic Research seminar in Calgary, Canada. This international seminar facilitates embodied exploration, articulation and dissemination of artistic research in collaborative and performative fashion, and is hosted by Bruce Barton (University of Calgary) and Natalia Esling (University of Toronto.

The focus of this year’s seminar is context: how do the environments in which artistic research is conducted inspire, facilitate, determine, restrict and otherwise define what can be asked, explored, discovered and imagined. “Context” in this instance is understood as a multifaceted situation: person and communal backgrounds, training, education, institutional and other affiliations, material conditions and culture are just the most obvious of determinants. Through the intensive exchange during the seminar, participants are invited to experience the transposition of their familiar practices, knowledges, methods and objectives, and will be challenged to explore the emergent potential to be found in a diverse number of “border crossings.”

 

Studio 118: An environment for learning, doing and sharing research

This topic related exceptionally well to the development of the research environment at the HKU Utrechts Conservatoire, where Tet Koffeman and and I work on creating and developing the context of Studio 118, a space for research within the conservatoire. Envisioned broadly as an “environment for doing research”, Studio 118 is a physical location in the conservatoire that offers different kinds of “spaces”: artistic, laboratory/explorative, and educational. The objective of Studio 118 is three-fold:

  • providing a context and environment for literally doing research
  • a learning environment in which research is taught and “promoted” to students
  • a place for multiple ways of disseminating, sharing and connecting research

One of the project’s research foci was the relation between the different practical and reflective activities – experimental collaborative practice, study of sources (reading, watching, listening), conversations or collaborative writing situations – in the context in which they were carried out: Rather than utilizing different spaces (studio, home, library), these different activities all happened in Studio 118, thus in one and the same location.

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At work during the lab in Studio 118 at the HKU Utrechts Conservatoire.

This particular setting of encapsulated contexts – the live video research project itself in Studio 118 in the conservatoire – leads to several possibilities regarding connections between these contexts. As a pilot within Studio 118, the live video research project provokes multiple ideas: for a more intense relationship between practice and theory in one space, and for a utilization of this work in an educational setting by being a real-life example, rather than a case study to be talked about in lessons. These ideas and connections emerge directly from the practice of doing research as an artist-researcher-educator in a context such as Studio 118; it is this connection that I like to explore more fully during the Articulating Artistic Research seminar.

For more information about the seminar and conference, see www.symbiont2018.ca.

 

It is already some time ago that I presented a rough outline of the concept of my long term ongoing project “Artistic Research as Integrative Practice”, in November 2017 at the Protean Musician conference in Oslo. During the first weeks of this academic year, in September 2018, I had the chance to deliver a few lectures in which I could take the next step.

The essential point in Oslo was to frame the two overarching concepts of the project: the contemporary hybrid practice of musicians, and the 21st Century Skills as essential concept for being able to fully participate in our 21st Century society (see here for the blog post on the conference). In this post I make one further step and share some ideas on the understanding of research when framed as integrative practice. The theoretical-conceptual substantiation of these elements still has to be done; what you are reading is in process and relatively rough, yet at the same time grounded in my daily practice of making, thinking and teaching. This is also how I present the different elements to students, with a primary means to inspire, to spark ideas and exchange, rather than giving a coherent conceptual outline grounded in a scholarly discourse. I strongly believe that this should happen more, both in the contexts of education as well as academia: On the one hand, thoughts that are still in process can be explored not only alone, but primarily with others; and on the other hand it is fascinating to make students an active part of this exchange, and by this empower them and encourage ownership in current debates and developments.

The main point of the idea of Artistic Research as Integrative Practice is that research is not something one does next to the main professional activities. Research, instead, can be understood as a perspective, and practiced as a habit from which any professional activities can be carried out. The point of departure is that the often scattered, extremely diversified activities of a hybrid professional identity can be seen as nodes in a network, in which research is seen as a “hub” that connects all of these different nodes. Research does not necessarily need to be a distinct activity in this network (however, it could be – “I am working on my research today.” – see the hashtag #PhDweekend on Twitter to see what I mean), but more of a habit and process how to carry out these different activities and how to interconnect them in one’s own professional identity (see the slide 6 and 7 “Hybrid Practice” of the previously mentioned presentation in Oslo).

In short, I understand doing research as an investigative activity and process, from which the student/artist/professional can work, think, develop and design. Research is then more of an attitude, behavior and habit that encompasses all aspects of the professional identity: fully integrated rather than a thing one does next to other work (or, as for some students, next to the “real” work such as performing or composing). I see the activity, behavior and habit of doing research as a central element in the network of the diversified activities of a hybrid professional practice, as an element that connects all of these different activities of the network: Composing can be connected to, and used in teaching, which in turn might connect to giving workshops, or feed back into the conceptual thinking regarding composing. Obviously these connections happen very often anyways, such as giving workshops will profit from earlier teaching experience. However, when these connections are made through research as a form of a habit, first, more exemplification and reflection is possible that ultimately results in much deeper learning. Second, particularly the connection between less obvious activities can facilitate unexpected connections, which might produce entirely new forms of practice, reflection, understanding and learning.

 

From pyramids to networks

The understanding that the different activities of a hybrid professional identity form a network resonates with the work of Dutch philosopher Henk Oosterling. He argues that, as a participatory and networked society at large, we have to abandon the understanding of pyramids (bottom up, top down) and start thinking in networks. For Oosterling, members of society are not autonomous, but nodes in a network, cross-linked and relational autonomous.

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Henk Oosterling

In music, especially in classical music, different professional profiles are traditionally often understood or perceived as some form of a pyramid, which translates to a hierarchy: Performing as a solo musician (in classical music) is seen as the top of the pyramid (in the case of performers), followed by working as a leader (concert master or leader of other sections) in a symphony orchestra, and by playing chamber music. After this playing as a regular member of the orchestra, and then, after quite some empty space, teaching comes, followed by working as a music teacher at secondary schools working as a music therapist. Of course I am terribly exaggerating here, but I do this just to make the point clear (however, try asking a third or fourth year classical music student to join an ensemble with students from the music education department).

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Two more pyramids on “Artistic Influence”, from William J. Stevens’ presentation at the Protean Musician conference in Oslo, November 2017.

 

Even if this exaggerated hierarchy might be more nuanced, and happening more unconscious in daily practice, I am sure it is not unfamiliar to many students and teachers in the field of music. Such kind of hierarchy can also be at work in how musicians understand the different activities of their own hybrid identity. Composing and performing are regarded as most important, and as the core of the profession for many, whereas teaching or writing grant applications might be considered less central to this identity, but rather as something necessary to carry out the actual core activities. I do not intend to make a judgment about any of these views. My point is that, by understanding these diversified activities as being part of an essentially non-hierarchical network, with the habit of research and inquiry as a central connection, all of these activities can be linked to each other, to achieve more deepened and sustainable learning and development.

 

Epilogue

I always feel grateful when I have the possibility to share a concept that it is still in development, especially by presenting for students. I believe not only that the moment of sharing is essential to research, but that specifically sharing the processes and moments in-between, rather than just the final outcomes, facilitates the possibility of feedback, of a mutual conversation; because the subject of discussion is not yet finished. This enables me to test, to review, to revisit, to discover yet unknown layers – and to change.

Together with the core team of the HKU professorship Performative Processes I am very happy to announce that the Perilous Experience CARPA5 Colloquium Proceedings are published, in the Helsinki Performing Arts Research Centre’s online publication series Nivel.

In late August 2017, Nirav Christophe, Henny Dörr, Joris Weijdom, Marieke Nooren and I gave a “polyvocal presentation” on the IYANTWAY project, in which we worked together with a group of youngsters who suffer from absence seizure. For more information on the project and a previous post on the colloquium see here.

For the direct link to the professorship’s contribution to the proceedings click here. The article works well as a complement and introduction to our recent book publication on IYANTWAY. Next to the information on the specific project the article includes our more imaginative and provocative Prague Provocations and Helsinki Hindsights. Enjoy the read!

From 1-3 November I attended the conference The Protean Musician: the musician in future society in Oslo, a joint initiative of the four research centres of the Norwegian Academy of Music (NMH):

  • The Arne Nordheim Centre for Artistic Research in Music (NordART)
  • The Centre for Research in Music and Health (CREMAH)
  • The Centre for Educational Research in Music (CERM)
  • The Centre of Excellence in Music Performance Education (CEMPE)

Were the ICON seminar in October aimed at the questions how we as artists and educators are relating in and to society, did the ”protean conference” focus on the institutions, education and students, the upcoming music professionals in the society of the future. This provided me with a new perspective for my own work on the subject of artists in the society of the 21st Century. Tradition and hierarchy were some of the most intensely discussed aspects of contemporary teaching. For this post, I chose just to write about four of the many presentations: the opening by Darla Crispin, the two keynote lectures of Geir Johanssen and Dawn Bennett, and a brief closure about my own presentation. Besides these examples, there were numerous other inspiring contributions from a large variety of backgrounds, including heartwarming projects such as Cheryl Dileo’s work with musicians and music therapists, working together to enhance quality of life in homeless persons in Philadelphia.

Oslo Harbour

Opening by Darla Crispin

In the opening session, Darla Crispin, Head of the Arne Nordheim Centre for Artistic Research in Music, gave a warm welcome to the community of practitioners, students, educators, music therapists, artistic researchers, musicologists and leaders, starting off three days of intensive exchange and discussion. It became immediately clear that participants from a great diversity of disciplines were brought together in this conference through the common theme of the musician in future society, and that this subject is of enormous importance in all of these disciplines.

Darla Crispin.

Crispin introduced the conference theme via the route of Greek mythology and the sea-god Proteus. He could foretell the future, but would change his shape to avoid having to. This attribute of being a shape-changer led to key features of the protean, such as being versatile, flexible and adaptable to change. What Darla offered as being particularly useful for us as musicians and educators in this moment of history, is that the protean also means thinking ahead of the changes, and that we are not here to stand aside: ”We are willing to risk, to participate.” She closed her introductory speech by referring back to its beginning and the interdisciplinary community of the conference: We are aiming “to be better through a shared understanding – the world needs it.”

Geir Johanssen on the conservatoire and the society

In the first keynote, professor of music education Geir Johanssen mapped the terrain of the conference theme by elaborating on the conservatoire and the society. In his keynote speech, Johannsen made four main arguments. He suggested that

  1. conservatoires contribute in shaping society,
  2. solely focusing on “delivery” what is “ordered” limits our self-understanding,
  3. conservatoires should separate between their social intentions and functions,
  4. conservatoires should separate between their social assignment, contributions and responsibility.

Especially the notion of “‘delivering’ what is ‘ordered'” was striking, as it is in a constant tension with what the richness of our self-understanding might be. Johanssen suggests that “a conservatoire is not about results in the next quarter; it is not even about who a student has become by graduation. It is about learning that molds a lifetime, learning that transmits the heritage of millennia, learning that shapes the future.”

Geir Johanssen.

Instead of focussing on the question what the ”market” asks, conservatoires should rather have “a moral obligation to critically inspect and constructively contribute to changing society, even if it may be at odds with prevailing, political priorities.” A striking thought here was the turning around of concepts about who is the ”customer” of us as institutes: Rather than providing the students with ”what they need” during their studies, we might also consider asking if we as institutes (want to) offer society students who are agents of change. Johanssen mentioned, very powerfully, the values of depth of slow processes, and the values of the non-measurable; thus questioning parts of our implicitly-agreed-upon ideal of efficiency.

Rather than providing the students with ”what they need” during their studies, we might also consider asking if we as institutes offer society students who are agents of change.

Another term that Johanssen discussed was employability as one of the key objectives within education nowadays. He enriched this fairly straightforward concept with the idea that employability suggests to be employed not only by an employer, but also by a society. This carried the discussion about employability to an entirely different level and made it useful especially in the context of the musician in society.

Johanssen closed his keynote with a few remarks on “hidden curricula” in conservatoires. With this, he referred to, a.o., the question if the master-apprenticeship model is actually the only valid model for teaching and learning an instrument, a crucial question within our education. And: “To what degree are our notions of the labour market different to how it actually is ‘out there’?

A few more questions stayed with me while thinking and reflecting on this inspiring keynote speech: How do we bring up our students through hidden curricula, concerning world view, vision on (contributing to) society and hierarchies? By teaching according to the master-apprenticeship model, a teacher embodies and enacts a particular world view, just as another teacher does by joining a student group in an improvisation lesson as an equally contributing musical voice. How does our very own teaching not only facilitate learning about music, but also reflect a world view and a view on our society?

Dawn Bennett about the Protean Musician

The Australian professor of Higher Education Dawn Bennett took a closer look at the concept of the protean musician itself, and the consequences of this for us as educators and institutions. She called for institutions to engage in collaboration much more, as they often share not exactly the same, but nevertheless similar issues.

Dawn Bennett.

Bennett argued for an education of “whole musicians” rather than educating violinists, conductors and composers. This led to a term that remained to be discussed during the conference: The portfolio musician. Portfolio is a term coming from the business world, but has been used within arts contexts since recently. The term describes practitioners who have already established a career – mostly according to traditional role models and pathways, think about classical soloists or concert masters — and built capital around them, and then choose to do something different: To build a portfolio of the work and professional identity, which is balanced around their own wishes and needs. It is a voluntary move, a reaction, something which one decides to go for. According to Bennett this is something musicians actually rarely do. Most of musicians’ activities are reactions, rather than being proactive. Bennett characterizes the type of musicians that students usually bring with them as: “The mythical musician” – a type that is usually far away from being protean.

That brought the discussion to an important point concerning education: Rather than being promoted as innovative and belonging to the 21st Century developments of the professional life as musicians, it is important to communicate to students that being protean in itself is not a new thing at all! As early as in the 14th Century, musicians were working in very diverse contexts, such as playing on the street, at court, at weddings and parties – just as later during the 18th Century, and not particularly different from musicians today. Being protean is about going out into the world — just as Brahms, Händel and Mozart did. Not to forget ”the protean virtuosi” such as Liszt, for example: they ran ”amazing businesses”! These musicians knew how to build new markets, first and foremost by traveling.

It is an essential task for us as educators to communicate to our students that the protean is what musicians – and artists in general – have always been doing, and that this all seems new, but in the practice of musicians and artists, this is not new to us at all. This lead Bennett to ask the question:

How do we portray ”succes” in music?

The term Dawn Bennett offered, and which returned on a number of occasions during the conference (including Geir Johanssen’s contribution mentioned above), was Employability, or rather EmployABILITY: ”The ability to find, create and sustain meaningful work across the career lifespan.”

And this sparked an inspiring thought about making and sustaining meaningful work. In conservatoires, still many young classical students enter with the aim of becoming soloists or concert masters in orchestras, only to be disillusioned during the time of and after their studies. However, when the amount of classical soloists is one in a million, it is not the point that as a student one can hardly be that one who makes it as a soloist. The question is, what are the other 999.999 doing? This is what our students (and their main subject teachers) need to learn, understand and embody: Most of them are doing great work!

Concluding, Bennett made a few suggestions and final thoughts about how to work with these ideas in our practice of educating professional musicians. Despite that haven’t covered all of these in my text, they are are all powerful and useful to develop further in the future:

  • Help students learn how to think and reflect
  • Teach the practice of the musician
  • Educate the whole person / the whole musician
  • Create strong networks
  • Ban the words job, employment and employer
  • Redefine employability development as lifelong
  • Engage alumni
  • Place ’Create your Future’ at the centre of the curriculum
  • Make it compulsory

One size fits all?

In my own lecture I presented a concept on which I am working for some time now: Artistic research as integrative practice. The main argument for the lecture in Oslo is that, despite research being a fairly commonplace part of conservatoire education nowadays, still it is often undertaken as separate from the students’ core activities of practicing, performing and composing. Nevertheless, I am convinced that a heightened amount of integration of research in the artistic study would likely equip students much better for their professional future, with its manifold variations of practice that asks for a constant process of critical reflection and experiment. Artistic research as integrative practice is a concept that offers a close connection between research and musicianship.

The essential shift made by viewing artistic research as integrated practice is that the otherwise often scattered activities of hybrid contemporary musicians – performing, composing, teaching, writing, making websites, etc. – become conceptualized as elements of one integrated professional identity as artistic researcher. Research itself might be seen as a ”hub” of all these diverse activities, which is functioning through an investigative attitude and habit. As such, this not particularly new, but it reflects and frames advanced practice of researchers already working in such ways, and positions research as a combining framework rather than something external.

ARIP Hub

Concerning education, I linked what I understand as elements of an ”investigative attitude and habit” to the 21st Century Skills. Without proclaiming that this list is exhaustive or even already underpinned by sufficient research, it is strikingly obvious how the different items on the list differ from traditional elements of conservatoire education and the traditional master-apprenticeship model, specifically in classical departments. I will continue to develop and specify this in the coming months.

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On August 31st, the core team of the Professorship Performative Processes presented a collaborative lecture at the 5th Colloqium on Artistic Research in Performing Arts (CARPA), at the University of the Arts Helsinki, entitled Perilous Experience – Extending Experience through Artistic Research.

True to its title, the conference included a large variety of papers, presentations and workshops that were exploring ”borders”: from the speculative via voice hearing to the paranormal. We were particularly impressed by two keynote speeches on the first two days: Etzel Cardeña presented From Monkey-mind to Embodied Performance Presence (see here for Cardeña’s abstract and bio and here for the registration of his keynote), and Lisa Blackman elaborated on Speculative Science, Threshold Experiences and Transubjectivities (see here for her abstract and bio and here for the registration of her presentation).

The beautiful entrance hall of the University of the Arts in Helsinki.
The beautiful entrance hall of the University of the Arts in Helsinki.

Readers who follow the work of the professorship, or this site, will know the project If You Are Not There Where Are You? (IYANTWAY) already: science and art were connected to make absence seizures (a light form of epilepsy) experienceable. As artists and researchers we worked with a group of children and youths from a performative and co-creative perspective, in which knowledge has not only been described, but generated through artistic utterance: artist and artwork are not only objects of research but its main actors. Artists worked alone and in pairs with the participants, in a creation process that transformed from collaboration into sheer co-creation.

From right to left: Marieke Nooren, Falk Hübner & the Unicorn.
From right to left: Marieke Nooren, Falk Hübner & the Unicorn.

Children who suffer from absence seizures have little ways of sharing their experiences. Language does not suffice to explain the often fearful multi-sensory hallucinations, and the moments of ‘not being there’. Neurologists can measure brain activity to help the diagnosis, but fail to grasp the actual experience of these children.

In the presentation we aimed to show how artistic research as methodology has helped us to re-create experience, to realize impact on reality, and to strengthen our conceptions of co-creative work forms. We addressed several questions this project has raised on ownership, co-creation and ethics, illustrating the perilousness of engaging with absence seizures.

Marieke Nooren introduces the IYANTWAY project.
Marieke Nooren introduces the IYANTWAY project.

We chose for a kaleidoscopic and polyphonic approach to the form of the presentation, which aimed to address not only the various aspects of the project itself, but also the different personalities, and ways of working within the team of artist-researchers.

After Marieke Nooren’s brief introduction and a film trailer, Nirav Christophe talked about co-creation and creation strategies from the perspective of the artists, after which Falk Hübner shed light on the aspects of ownership and creation on the side of the participants.

Henny Dörr elaborates on the work process from rehearsal space towards the final installation.

Henny Dörr and Joris Weijdom followed with a staged “Q&A”-like dialogue on their approaches to the creative work in their respective collaborations, in order to ”re-create the experience” of the participants. In particular they elaborated on the relation between the abstract and the concrete, which worked differently in both cases – Henny went through a process in which the material became more and more abstract, and Joris exactly the other way round, towards more concrete material.

Joris slide WP
Visualisation of the two “moves”: Henny went from concrete to abstract, whereas Joris started with abstract shapes and moved towards the concrete and physical.

In the third part, Marieke presented a number of quotes from participants and stakeholders of IYANTWAY to illustrate the impact of the project. The quotes were projected on the screen and the team was provoked to react on these quotes quickly and intuitively, recalling the mode of a quiz show.

We closed with the first step of Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process (CRP), a form that specifically aims to facilitate qualitative feedback.

The audience space in the CARPA theatre.
The audience space in the CARPA theatre.

The presentation was paralleled (or counterpointed) with the Helsinki Hindsights, a page containing statements or provocations that resulted from our work in IYANTWAY. These statements were provided to the audience by simply laying them on the chairs.