AHRC Online Conference

Classical Music Hyper Production and Practice As Research

The structure of outputs

In the next day or so we should be able to put the 'live' panel discussions from last weekend's conference up and I hope that will stimulate some further discussion but I was struck very powerfully by one moment in the discussion. I suggested that the art work itself should not (necessarily) be the practice as research output. I made the point with the rather simplistic analogy that pharmaceutical researchers don't 'publish' the drug that is the result of their research, they publish a theoretical and practical description of how it was developed. The other panelists seemed rather shocked by this idea.

It was then pointed out that a diary isn't a research output - and, of course, that is true. Ian Pace suggested that anyone who is an expert in the world of practice should be able to reverse engineer the creative process from seeing the final artistic output. I don't agree. I think that carefully edited segments of (video?) documentation of the creative process, annotated by being tagged against specific features of the final output will illuminate the development of artistic 'knowledge'. And what of the artistic failures that teach us so much about our creative process? Who would be brave enough to submit a failed artwork for research assessment? And yet if there is going to be a 'level playing field' then we surely need 'dis-proof' as well as 'proof' of artistic research theorems.

I'm aware that what I am suggesting would disqualify the vast majority of practice as research outputs that are used for assessment purposes under the current system. But I would also question whether current outputs constitute a body of research that can be used to understand the development of practice in a systematic manner i.e. whether, for the aspiring pianist, dancer, artist etc, they are analogous to the body of knowledge that exists for the aspiring sociologist, cultural theorist or physicist. They demonstrate current 'cutting edge' practice but do they clearly expose and explain the tacit knowledge, the 'doing as thinking', that underpins them?

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