Practice vs praxis: constructing models for practitioner-based research

Stewart, Robyn Anne (2001) Practice vs praxis: constructing models for practitioner-based research. TEXT, 5 (2). ISSN 1327-9556

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This paper considers differing understandings about the role and praxis of practitioner-based research for the arts. Over more than a decade the nexus between theory and practice has been a point of debate within the contemporary arts school both in Australia and overseas. This paper attempts to reveal ways of approaching this issue from within and across the disciplines. Discussions with colleagues from the arts representing fields as diverse as music, visual arts, creative writing, women's studies, dance and theatre studies indicate that the research principles explored, albeit briefly, here have resonance for each of these disciplines. Consequently, in an attempt to be broadly relevant for these diverse fields I have chosen to position the model as practitioner-based. Within this widened context I will be exploring the different ways in which studio-based practitioners and academics conceptualise the processes and characteristics of research in the arts and professional practice. However, as this is still work in progress, my exemplars will largely reflect my own field of the visual arts. Further research will enable this model to expand.

Presented is a way to conceptualise and explain what we do as studio-based researchers in the arts. In so doing I am recognising that contemporary practices in the arts reflect a meridian era of evolution, which requires us to be articulate practitioners. This includes being able to analyse and write about our practice in sophisticated ways. I see practitioner-based research and the resultant exploration of personal praxis as a way to achieve this. What I propose is that as artists we open up a larger domain by recontextualizing and reinterpreting aspects of standard mainstream research processes, looking at the resemblances, the self-resemblances and the differences between traditional and practitioner-based research methods as a logic of necessity.

It can be argued that the study of creative processes has shown that innovative thinking is often triggered by the joining of seemingly dissimilar phenomena. As Alverson and Skolberg (2000) suggest, to be creative it is important to be acquainted with material from several essentially different fields.

I am investigating the reasoning behind the representation that we use, and how we can decode and recode what we do in the language of appropriation and bricolage. In mapping the processes and territories, I am interested in the use of autobiography or autography as ways to incorporate and map a deep sense of the intricate relationships of the meaning and actions of artistic practice and its embeddedness in cultural influences, personal experience and aspirations (Hawke 1996:35; Jefferies 1997:5).

This paper reflects a study that explores possible parameters for practitioner-based research, questioning in what sense is it the best way to understand our relationship with traditional research fields. What I am finding is that, rather than cloning a process, there are potentially as many different approaches to research as there are practitioners in the field. However, what I also argue is that the underlying structures need a base that is informed, purposeful, rigorous and ethical.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Publisher: Griffith University, Australian Association of Writing Programs
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information (displayed to public): 'Copyright of all work published in TEXT remains with the authors.'
Depositing User: Assoc Prof Robyn Stewart
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Visual Arts
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2007 01:08
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2015 01:58
Uncontrolled Keywords: practice-led research, processes and territories, concepts, ethics, exemplars, personal praxis
Fields of Research (FoR): 16 Studies in Human Society > 1608 Sociology > 160807 Sociological Methodology and Research Methods
19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1999 Other Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 199999 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing not elsewhere classified

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