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Zurich Yearbook of the Arts

Series edited by Hans-Peter Schwarz Art and


­A rtistic
Research
Edited by Corina Caduff, Fiona Siegenthaler, Tan Wälchli

Zurich University of the Arts


Scheidegger & Spiess
colophon 4

Zurich Yearbook of the Arts 2009, Volume 6


Series Editor . . . . . . . Hans-Peter Schwarz

Art and Artistic Research


Editors . . . . . . . Corina Caduff & Fiona Siegenthaler & Tan Wälchli
Design . . . . . . . NORM, Zürich
Copyediting . . . . . . . Jonathan Fox
Translation . . . . . . . Steve Gander (Caduff, Langkilde & Winter, Mareis,
Omlin, Schenker, Scheuermann & Ofosu, Schwarz, Toro-Pérez),
Jonathan Fox & Tan Wälchli (Preface, Görlich & Wandeler),
Mark Kyburz (Editorial)
Reproductions, Printing . . . . . . . Druckerei Odermatt, Dallenwil
Binding . . . . . . . Buchbinderei Schumacher, Schmitten
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. . . . . . . Replica Pro (otf) – Lineto.com

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© 2010 the authors for pictures and texts
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ISBN 978–3–85881–293–3

Zurich University of the Arts


content 6 7 content

Page 10 Hans-Peter Schwarz . . . . . . . editorial Places, Projects, Universities


Page 12 Corina Caduff, Tan Wälchli . . . . . . . introduction
Page 170 Hans-Peter Schwarz . . . . . . . from undisciplined to

transdisciplinary (zurich)
Art and/as Research Page 180 Kirsten Langkilde, Stefan Winter . . . . . . . new morphologies (berlin)

Page 190 Julie Harboe . . . . . . . art-driven research (lucerne)

Page 24 Nina Malterud . . . . . . . can you make art without research? Page 200 Arne Scheuermann, Yeboaa Ofosu . . . . . . . on the situation of

Page 30 Germán Toro-Pérez . . . . . . . on the difference between artistic research (bern)
artistic research and artistic practice
Page 40 Johan Öberg . . . . . . . difference or différance?

Page 46 Marcel Cobussen . . . . . . . the intruder Page 212 . . . . . . . contributors
Page 56 Michael Schwab . . . . . . . first, the second Page 218 . . . . . . . selected bibliography

Disciplines Page 224 Meret Wandeler, Ulrich Görlich . . . . . . . the archive of the place

Page 72 Henk Borgdorff . . . . . . . artistic research as boundary work


Page 80 Huib Schippers, Liam Flenady . . . . . . . beaut y or brains?
Page 88 Claudia Mareis . . . . . . . design research
Page 98 Corina Caduff . . . . . . . literature and artistic research
Page 106 Mats Rosengren . . . . . . . art + research ≠ artistic research

Artists’ Views

Page 122 Efva Lilja . . . . . . . throw the stones really hard at

your target or rest in peace


Page 132 Sibylle Omlin . . . . . . . guile of innocence

Page 142 Claire MacDonald . . . . . . . in her acoustic footsteps

Page 154 Christoph Schenker . . . . . . . value judgments


christoph schenker 154 155 value judgments

*
Value judgments
• It is right, as Buren says, that “it paints.”1
• It is right, as Lehnerer writes, that in my work I, the “artist’s con-
Christoph Schenker sciousness,” am only one factor among others.2
• It is right that in their individualism and autonomy the material,
the devices, and the machines that I use to create my work go beyond
what I know, what I can, and what I want.
• It is right that the success of a work depends on to what extent I
More than with the intention of taking up the theme of “art and research” allow these instruments to develop their own life.
as a writing collaborator, but rather to permit an art practitioner have • It makes sense to say that competences are embodied in the con-
his say, I turned to the artist A.S. We had an intensive conversation and crete, material conditions of artistic work that are no different than in
I reproduce a good part of his propositions here. They are declarations scientific experimental arrangements where, according to Rheinberger,
and assertions, which he almost exclusively expressed in the form of knowledge takes the shape of instruments, devices, and equipment.3
statements and value judgments. What I had originally found difficult • It is right, as Gertrude Stein writes, that things we know flow
became clear to me towards the end of the transcription. The artist is down our arm and that before we write them we do not really know that
someone who constantly makes decisions during the work process. I we know them.4
have bundled his statements into eight sections according to subject • It is right, as Newman states, that exhaustive research in the field
and quoted the references in footnotes with guidance from the artist. of art requires the most modern, highly developed technology—just
like research in other fields.5
• It is right that as an artist I can certainly create favorable conditions
for the success of a work, but that the actual success of a work cannot be
predetermined.
• It is right, as Lyotard says, that “it happens.”6
• It is right, as Rheinberger says, that experimental systems are
extremely tricky set-ups for the production of unanticipatable occur-
rences.7

1 Daniel Buren, “It Rains, It Snows, It Paints,” Arts Magazine 44, no. 6
(April 1970), p. 43.
2 Thomas Lehnerer, Methode der Kunst (Würzburg, 1994), p. 105
[trans. S.G.].
3 Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, “On the Art of Exploring the Unknown,”
in Say It Isn’t So: Art Trains Its Sights on the Natural Sciences, ed. Peter Friese, Guido
Boulboulle, and Susanne Witzgall (Heidelberg, 2007), pp. 82–90.
4 Gertrude Stein, Four in America (New Haven, 1947), p. xi.
5 Barnett Newman, “Interview with Thomas Hart Benton” [1938], in
Selected Writings and Interviews (New York, 1990), pp. 14–18.
6 Jean-François Lyotard, “The Sublime and the Avant-Garde,” Art
Forum 22, no. 8 (1982), pp. 36–43.
7 Rheinberger, “On the Art of Exploring” (see note 3).
christoph schenker 156 15 7 value judgments

• It is wrong that art and intellectuality—according to the terribly


** simplifying view—are two separate spheres.
• It is true that artists have to continually struggle for the status of
• It is right to say that my studio is like a scientific laboratory, which men of thought and to fight against the accusation of inferior thinking
represents a sometimes more and sometimes less complex material en- —as Newman has already said.14
vironment for experimental arrangements. • It is wrong to believe—the whole history of art speaks against it
• It is right: to the same degree it is also the “intellectual catchment —that it is university research—embraced by the term theory—that
area”—an expression from Gerhard Merz, if I’m not mistaken—that brings thinking into art.
forms the basis of my work. • It is right, as Newman said, that art itself is an expression of
• And it is right to say that in artistic work making and thinking thought and is itself a realm of thought.15
mutually determine one another, interrelate, and work together.
• It is wrong to think that artistic work has no concept simply be- ***
cause it is not charged with theory or because it does not explicitly dem-
onstrate its intellectual aspects. • It is wrong to think that it is only the university context that
• It is right, as Musil says, that the writer, the artist, applies the same forms the basis and framework for artistic research.
kind and capacity of rationality and does not make less use of the intel- • But it is right to distinguish between artistic research at art uni-
lect than the scientist.8 versities and that outside universities.
• It is right, as Paul Valéry does, to summarize this thinking as • It is right to say that one of the differences between university and
literature “behind the scenes of production,” whether it is put down on non-university artistic research is how the research process and its re-
paper or not.9 sults are reflected upon and legitimized.
• It is right that the majority of my artistic work consists of a dia- • But it is wrong to assume that the forms of division of work and
logue with myself, a dialogue about the work in the process of creation, collaboration would not be more efficient outside the university con-
the already created, and the not yet created. text.
• It is right that thinking in art demonstrates various forms and a • It is certainly right to hope that the contribution of universities to
different character, and that the literature of artistic production has artistic research consists of accelerating the conceptual development of
different functions. art and that, through this, the preferences of market-orientated research
• It makes sense to distinguish between the artist’s knowledge10 and development are corrected.
and art knowledge,11 between the artists’ theories12 and art theory, and • It is right to say that there is no significant difference between
between philosophy and theory.13 artistic work and artistic research.
• This is right if we want to understand art as exclusively successful
art.
8 Robert Musil, “Sketch of What the Writer Knows” [1918], in Precision
and Soul: Essays and Addresses (Chicago, 1994), pp. 61–65.
• For it is right to ask what makes art into research, i.e., what makes
9 Paul Valéry, “About Corot” [1932], in Collected Works, vol. 12, Degas good art and what makes great art with far-reaching consequences.
Manet Marisot (Princeton, 1989), pp. 134–54: 135.
10 Tom Holert, Künstlerwissen: Studien zur Semantik künstlerischer
Kompetenz im Frankreich des 18. und frühen 19. Jahrhunderts (Munich, 1997).
11 Gernot Böhme, “Kunst als Wissensform” [1980], in Für eine ökolo- 13 See Jean-François Lyotard, interview by Bernard Blistène, “A Con-
gische Naturästhetik (Frankfurt am Main, 1989), pp. 141–65. versation with Jean-François Lyotard,” Flash Art 121 (March 1985), pp. 32–39.
12 Michael Lingner, “Reflections on/as Artists’ Theories,” in Bekannt- 14 Barnett Newman, “The Painting of Tamayo and Gottlieb” [1945], in
machungen: 20 Jahre Studiengang Bildende Kunst der Hochschule für Gestaltung und Selected Writings and Interviews (see note 5), pp. 71–77.
Kunst Zürich, ed. Studienbereich Bildende Kunst and Kunsthalle Zürich (Zurich, 15 Barnett Newman, “On Modern Art: Inquiry and Confirmation”
2006), pp. 231–38. [1944], in Selected Writings and Interviews (see note 5), pp. 66–71.
christoph schenker 158 159 value judgments

• In the context of research it is right to make a distinction in art • It is right that understanding art as research does not require an-
between “correct” and, as Wittgenstein said, “tremendous things”16 ; other type of artistic practice but a different perspective—which, how-
or, as Hirschhorn says, between “quality” and “energy”17 —partly com- ever, is not new—towards this practice.
parable to the distinction between “normal” and “extraordinary” science, • It is right that it is this change of perspective that draws attention
pointed out by Kuhn.18 to the work process and its preconditions and effects, and which has the
• It is right that an enormous requirement is thereby demanded of consequence that artistic work is now micrologically observed, analyzed,
us artists. and evaluated, which enables artistic practice to be understood as a
• It is not wrong to say that art as an activity can also be art research, process of research.
similar to science studies and philosophy of science, as an investigation • It is right to ask precisely what status the artifact has in this context.
and interpretation of a specific style of thinking and its contexts; but it • It would be wrong to regard the artifact only as a work, as the
would be wrong to say that it is exclusively art research. result or product of a process, or as a precipitate or representation of
• It is therefore right to make a distinction between artistic research experience and knowledge.
and art research. • It is right and important to understand the artifact as a tool, as an
• In artistic research it is right if we mainly orient ourselves on art instrument for the production and experience of insight and intensity.
and artists outside of universities. • It is right, as Newman writes, that the goal is not the voluptuous
quality in the tools but rather what they do.20
**** • And it is right, as Whitehead says—although today we would
express ourselves differently—that we do not find ourselves on a high-
• It is wrong to believe that there is something extra added on to art er level of imagination because our imaginations have become finer, but
practice, that it is advanced investigation or subsequent reflection that rather because we have better instruments.21
makes art into research.
• It is wrong to think that it is proximity to science or a connection *****
with theory—based on it, derived from it, or saturated by it, referring
to or including it—that makes art into research. • It is right that as an artist I do not primarily allow myself to be
• But it is right, as Merz says, that the artist must also be aware of guided by an interest in products—be they works or theories.
what is known outside art.19 • It is right, as Nauman says, that the concept of art is more attached
• It is utterly wrong to think that we artists would not carry out to the activity than the product, and that the product is of no impor-
studies and subject our work to a thorough critique, and that we would tance for the self-awareness of the artist.22
not absorb everything that is necessary for our work, and furthermore • It is right, as Rheinberger said in conversation, that science—and,
also not think about the consequences that the work can have in various we should add, art as well—is not to be understood from the structure
contexts of art and life. of its products but from the practices of its making and production.23

16 Ludwig Wittgenstein, “Lecture on Aesthetics” [1938], in Lectures 20 Barnett Newman, “The Plasmic Image” [1945], in Selected Writings
and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief, ed. Cyril Barrett and Interviews (see note 5), pp. 138–55.
(Oxford, 1966), pp. 1–40. 21 Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (New York
17 Thomas Hirschhorn, during a seminar with art students at the Zür- 1970 [1925]), p. 114.
cher Hochschule der Künste (ZHdK), December 3, 2008 [trans. S.G.]. 22 Bruce Nauman, interviewed by Ian Wallace and Russell Keziere,
18 Thomas S. Kuhn, “Logic of Discovery or Psychology of Research,” “Bruce Nauman Interviewed” [October 9, 1978], Vanguard 8, no. 1 (February 1979),
in Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, ed. I. Lakatos and A. Musgrave (London, pp. 15–18.
1970), pp. 1–23. 23 Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, at a research seminar at the Institute for
19 Gerhard Merz, “Interview,” in Binationale: Deutsche und amerikani- Contemporary Arts Research at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste on January 19,
sche Kunst der späten 80er Jahre, ed. Jürgen Harten, et al. (Cologne, 1988), pp. 226–28. 2007.
christoph schenker 160 161 value judgments

• For it is true that as an artist I am essentially interested in the de- external framework conditions of “research,” to check “research find-
velopment of material structures, the development of those moments ings” in accordance with their axioms and precepts, and to control access
that make it possible for unpredictable occurrences to happen, that to the “research community.”
show the previously unseen, and lend a voice to the speechless. • It is right that a great many criteria important to the sciences are
• It is right, to say once more with Rheinberger, that it is the produc- also important to the art system: the paradigm, the state-of-the-art, a
tion of epistemic—and aesthetic—things, that it is the making available diversity of skills, the relevancy of the problems, the criterion for rele-
of phenomena, that it is this space of creation that constitutes the core vance, the new, verifiability, and so forth.
of scientific experimentation as well as artistic exploration.24 • It would be wrong to say that the art world and the art market have
• It is right when Wittgenstein inquires how a work is made, when been left behind in this respect, and that science and the universities
he wants to understand why the artist has done something in a certain should therefore be given preference.
way.25 • It is right that the decision about norms and power structures in
• And it is right, as Valéry says, that every artwork desires to be one field or another is tantamount to a decision in favor of a belief system.
answered, that the primary cause of any work is the wish to be spoken
about.26 *******

****** • It is right that basically we artists do not have at our disposal a


number of standardized methods that are accepted by everyone and
• It is not wrong, when inquiring into the singular characteristics generally practiced and which are comparable in function and status
of research in art, to look for differences between artistic research, sci- with methods in the system of science.
entific research, and philosophical work, as well as for points of com- • And it would be wrong to cite the experiment—which has its be-
parison and similarities. ginnings in physics—for the specific characterization of artistic research.28
• It is wrong to think that scientific paradigms would thereby be • It is right that in the traditional arts, such as painting, tools are
adopted or that a scientific concept of research would be transferred to used which are applied exclusively in the field of art and which here also
art. constitute the specific instruments of research.
• It is right, as Busch writes, that research and knowledge should • But it is right as well that art is also increasingly using means that
not be hastily abridged and equated with scientific methods.27 are not only also used in other contexts of life but are part of the research
• It is right that it is often not easy to separate what belongs inalien- equipment of the sciences too.
ably to the internal conditions and precepts of the research process, and • It is not wrong to say with Musil that the realm of values and
what is external to research. valuations, the realm of ethical and aesthetic relationships, constitutes
• It is right that, in relation to the pragmatics of research, the two the core area of art.29
systems, of “art” and of “science,” are not essentially different. • But it is wrong to say that this area is the exclusive preserve of art,
• It is wrong to think that the art world does not also have a dif- and it is right that there is hardly a field of knowledge with which art is
ferentiated peer review system that serves to define the internal and not also concerned.

24 Ibid.
25 Wittgenstein, “Lecture on Aesthetics” (see note 16). 28 Gunhild Berg, “Zur Konjunktur des Begriffs ‘Experiment’ in den
26 Valéry, “About Corot” (see note 9). Natur-, Sozial- und Geisteswissenschaften,” in Wissenschaftsgeschichte als Begriffs-
27 Kathrin Busch, “Artistic Research and the Poetics of Knowledge,” in geschichte: Terminologische Umbrüche im Entstehungsprozess der modernen Wissen-
A Portrait of the Artist as a Researcher: The Academy and the Bologna Process, ed. idem schaften, ed. Michael Eggers and Matthias Rothe (Bielefeld, 2009), pp. 51–82.
and Dieter Lesage, AS Mediatijdschrift, no. 179 (2007), pp. 36–45. 29 Musil, “Sketch of What the Writer Knows” (see note 8).
christoph schenker 162 163 value judgments

• It is right to conclude that it is neither methods nor specific instru- tion and action without them also having to be shaped in verbal lan-
ments, nor that it is a particular field of knowledge that characterizes guage.34
artistic research as a particular type of research. • It is right that it is the experimentation with concepts—whether
• It is right that research in art, as thought, creation, and action, in the field of the senses or the intellect—that is the specific form of
does not only orient itself on the criterion of truth but also on the cri- activity which art shares with philosophy.
teria of justice and happiness, correctness and efficiency. • It is right to say that this activity is not research in a dogmatic,
• It is right that the knowledge of art, beyond epistemic competence, scientific sense, even though it is explorative experimentation and part
as Lyotard says, also includes “‘good’ performances” such as know- of a long tradition of artistic problems.
how, knowing how to live, knowing how to speak, and knowing how • From a conservative point of view it is thus not wrong to say that,
to listen.30 strictly speaking, artistic research does not exist, comparable to philoso-
• It is right that this knowledge, again in Lyotard’s words, is to be phy, which, according to Hampe, should also not be understood as re-
understood as a tightly woven web of various competencies and that art search.35
is the form and producer of a condensed knowledge.31 • It is right that in the context of art the term “research” in everyday
• It is right to say that it is this form of knowledge production—as use is more fruitful: as an investigation of a new field, as a development
it is customarily called today—which basically distinguishes artistic of a new perspective, and as an effort to want to understand something.
work from scientific research. • It is right, as Filliou says, that research is not the prerogative of the
• It is right: art of this type is not an expository project like science knowledgeable but, on the contrary, the domain of the unknowledge-
and theory, it is principally a non-expository, an explorative, problem- able, and that each time we direct our attention to a subject we do not
atizing project. know, we carry out research.36
• But it would be false to claim that this form of knowledge produc-
tion was only inherent in art.

********

• It is right that philosophy, as Hampe states, can be understood as


a specific form of activity, as a practice of conceptual experimentation.32
• It is right that philosophical activity is thus a creation and testing
of other, new abilities to distinguish, because, as Ros says, in the under-
standing of pragmatism terms are habits of distinction.33
• It is right that, as Hampe puts it, concepts can be rooted in percep-

30 Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on


Knowledge (Minneapolis, 1984 [1979]), pp. 18, 21.
31 Ibid., pp. 20, 21.
32 Michael Hampe, Denken, Dichten, Machen und Handeln: Anmer-
kungen zum Verhältnis von Philosophie, Wissenschaft und Technik (2004), http://
www.phil.ethz.ch/fileadmin/phil/files/Antrittsvorlesung_Hampe.pdf (accessed
7/10/2009). 34 Hampe, Denken, Dichten, Machen und Handeln (see note 32).
33 Arno Ros, Was ist Philosophie? (1997), http://www.uni-magdeburg. 35 Ibid.
de/iphi/ar/content/t97a.htm (accessed 7/10/2009). 36 Robert Filliou, Sans titre – Sans tête, video, color, sound, 17 min., 1983.