Research marked by the tag Artist’s Poetics delineates an area of study in which the creative activities of the artist occupy a central place, not only as an object of academic inquiry but also as being generative of knowledge in its own regard. More than the final products, it is the progressive production of art and its eventual epistemological value that come into view here.
The research group’s interest in Artist’s Poetics proceeds from the conviction that any categorical view that places theory in fierce opposition to art is unproductive and in fact not tenable, since creative and reflective strategies have been (and increasingly continue to be) fostered through fruitful interactions between artistic praxis and discursive theorizations.
Artist’s Poetics therefore aspires to conjoin practice-based research with scientific academic investigations in order to gain a deepened understanding of the processes constitutive of the creation of art as well as to broaden the methodological scope of scholarly inquiries while maintaining scientific standards guaranteeing the quality of the research.
The research focus on Artist’s Poetics is in line with recent developments in the artistic and academic field that blurred clear-cut distinctions between theoreticians and practitioners. At the same time as art schools are attaching increased importance to the theoretical education of their students, academic institutions are progressively acknowledging the study of performing arts and film as legitimate analytical disciplines that, due to their intrinsically interdisciplinary orientation and the ensuing challenge to traditional methodologies, could profit from and exert influence on established fields of research, including history, philosophy and media theory.
The resulting rapprochement of theory and practice altogether reconnects with historical precursors that already blended creativity with discursivization, such as modernity’s scholars-as-poets and the historical avant-garde’s artists-as-critics, who in retrospect provide models for contemporary attempts seeking for productive convergences between art and research.
The current and perhaps more explicit interest in alternative models of research amounts to a growing number of artists who in the development of their work actively pursue a dialogue with scientific and discursive theories, while conversely, also scholars allow the work of art to infiltrate more notably into their studies, by developing arts-inspired methodologies, by taking up functions in artistic practice itself (such as dramaturge, curator, director, critic or performer) and by producing conceptual vocabulary in direct communication with the work.
Coinciding with this redistribution of roles in which artist becomes researcher and vice versa, the possibility of conducting doctoral research in the arts has been established, which marked the academic recognition of arts-based research as well as the validity of artist-oriented inquiries into both the practical and poetical circumstances that necessarily inform artistic production.
The hybrid category of Artist’s Poetics not only entails close collaborations between the artistic and theoretical field, but also engages artists to conduct scientific investigations and to develop discursive reflections on their creative practice. In this regard, analyses are centred on the preparatory and exploratory phases in which concepts and ideas are developed as well as the actual form in which to present these.
Concerning theatre and performance, specific attention goes to rehearsal processes and the diverse working methods that artists adopt to give shape to their poetical aspirations. Particular dramaturgical aspects are also researched with the aim of unravelling the different parameters (such as construction of meaning, rhythmic flow, colour composition, sound association, and so on) that determine both the selection and montage of scenes.
Important instruments enabling these analyses are director’s notebooks, in which sources, ideas, comments and other constituent elements of the work are documented and thus contain the inside information that underlies the artistic creation. A comparable but slightly different method is applied to film, and more particularly to the ‘microcosm’ of classic Hollywood cinema, which is studied from a semi-autobiographical point of view in which anecdotes and small histories of the key figures constitute the fundaments of an interpretative apparatus that aims to look beyond the formal poetics.
This approach is indicative of the research group’s more general interest in developing alternative hermeneutics that are aesthetic in nature as they are methodologically inspired by artistic ways of looking at reality. The Research Centre for Visual Poetics further promotes artists who, next to their creative capacities, have an outspoken talent to conduct scholarly research and aspire to develop a PhD in the arts.
In these projects, artistic praxis is combined with theoretical reflection, which eventually results in both the creation of artwork and a doctoral dissertation. Current topics include experimental research on the application of architectural principles to innovative fashion design and practice-based investigation of the use of public photographical material in contemporary figurative painting as a mode of pictorial flashback.
How to quote: De Laet, Timmy. "Artist's Poetics." Research Centre for Visual Poetics. Universiteit Antwerpen, May 2012. Web. (Date of access)