Expositions of practice as research can be very precarious objects to create and handle. There are no readymade templates or tools – everything is in a process of negotiation, without ever really settling. In fact, the force field of shifting relations seems to work towards suspending any settlement, as if this highly specific non-place was the only site from which to make sense of it all.
Why have we not been talking more about ‘artistic research’ in relation to the MA (or the MFA) and, in particular, engagements with practices of research that are meaningful and rich but not sufficiently captured by standard definitions of the term? Why is ‘artistic research’ often conflated with the question of doctoral education in the artistic field disconnecting the vast majority of artists in education from the question of knowledge?
Ten years ago, when we started JAR, the journal was conceived to change how artistic research presented itself. This has meant, first of all, to show alternatives to the distinction between practice and theory that dominated the discourse at the time. While there were other, albeit few, journals and publishing channels around, there was something ‘theoretical’ about them, most importantly with regard to their form, which seemed to have allowed for only limited engagement with media, other than text.
Assessing new knowledges that emerge from expositions of practice as research puts a particular kind of responsibility on peer-reviewers (as well as editors, and ultimately also readers) that goes beyond a simple application of expertise. While a reviewer’s expertise may tell us which elements of a submission are already dealt with in a particular field, the other, arguably more interesting and innovative parts of a submission are more complex to assess, since they are by definition departures from the very field a reviewer is an expert in.