Reflection on Research (2: Theoretical framework)

This post accompanies my submission for Research 2: Theoretical framework.

It’s been about five, almost six months since my previous and first assignment submission for Research. This current one contains an articulation of theory, methodology and form of essay, along with notes on the status of the practical work as well as a literature and resources review.

During those past months I was at times close of walking away from this degree and that is largely due to the nature of the Research module: I find it entirely repetitive, generating lots of material and yet not offering anything in a way of editing the material. Furthermore, it proposes processes of dissertation research which are almost entirely suited for a social science project and only barely make reference to artistic research. I see how it genuinely tries to be helpful in supporting students at this stage, yet the ways it does this: lots of activities, lots of angles, only poorly cohering (what is the relationship between the various bits of writing at ‘exercises’ and the final submission for each of the assignments??) — in this it appears prescriptive and thus entirely limiting: there is throughout a sense that planning takes the place of a creative practice, that constant articulation is the way to evidence one’s academic readiness and thus to pre-empt investigative and creative processes (I understand that part of this is again the limits of a distance-learning degree, another part is due to the wide range of practices coming together in Creative Arts, but the third part: to assume a step-by-step planning process ensures progression is counter-productive for at least half of the students, and a somewhat lazy administrative process currently so in favour in UK HE0.

The advice by my BoW tutor to disregard the coursebook(s) was given early (and in some way how I worked with earlier, similarly limiting coursebooks, notably: Drawing 1 and TAOP). Yet, at this stage this seems not helpful and in the absence of what else, it drops me into a void. — There are afaik five students on this pathway plus myself, three further along, two in earlier parts. Also, by doing two modules concurrently, the contact with each tutor seems distant and hardly present (both tutor and peer interactions were entirely different in Level 2, and these were both, along with two very good coursebooks, the reasons for me to continue).

— This means it takes considerable effort to articulate a way ahead with the dissertation module. I would like to make each stage useful to me and it took me several attempts to do that with the current submission.

At this stage, almost half-way through the current two modules I can see that BoW and the practice investigations drive and animate my work. That my work is theoretically informed and methodologically curious does not distract from the former. In the BoW tutorial in late July we discuss to use BoW 3 as experimentation and research stage: to investigate my key concepts and processes. I did this and this current Research submission is my first point of assembling and stopping to reflect on the content and process of the Creative Work and reflect it back to the initial Research Proposal. For this, the process to get this current submission ready involved the following:

[x]assemble the materials you have so far: create an inventory
[x]write-up of BoW and research within it
        (then check what you had written before)
        (this will form the overview for the ‘findings’ material for later on.)
[x]glossary as focus (Williams, Prouvost, Vourloumis, also: Wu Tsang)
[ ]key literature: expand and focus in from Res 1
So, effectively, much time was spent on assembling a review of the materials of BoW and to reflect back on what I had said a few months ago about the direction and content of this. I enjoyed this process, it was good to do and to reflect on what is possible to experiment with and notably, what remains difficult and fleeting. I also drew out three current investigations to explore the idea of near-space in performance/drawing and feel quite content with having found processes and materials to employ in this process.
My resistance to the Research course material arrives from the fact that I am well used to writing academic materials at an advanced level (for peer-reviewed journals, academic theses etc) — and for a 5k text I need about six weeks not the duration of the course. — I knew this before I started, and having just recently supervised 10k long social science dissertations has brought the difference of instruction to mind. In all this, I want the module and the dissertation to be useful to myself: there is stuff I want to learn in this field, in my writing and in my artistic practice. So, how can I realistically do that in the confines of the course?
The proposed format (creative writing + reflective + traditional, in the words of the coursebook; in my own words: auto-ethnography meets theory fiction meets methodology) is one way to hone and develop my articulation in this field; the investigation of an artistic research process around the themes identified another.
I have mainly resisted at this point to provide a literature review besides the one already included: I am currently working with notes and diagrams and images and reading and feel this is productive; I can write these through for the Draft of Research 4, but don’t want to get embroiled in a discussion over individual sentences in my materials.
Preparing this submission I discover the extent to which I am actually conducting research: the material I generate is of that nature and I am excited by this: it is at once a known process but also new as it concerns a different field, different form of enquiry and I am looking forward to the next stage of Research, the data collection.
I have included a number of links to the BoW material and remembered how useful I found the tutorial of Research 1 on the line, the resulting reading and the understanding of my research process and artistic practice.
The above is a comment on the course direction, it is not one on the tutorial process at all. I know that I can be quite literal with instructions and get frustrated by poor ones before stepping to the side and making them useful for myself. I hope that my submission will facilitate such process and I look forward to the tutorial.
My suggestion is to conduct both BoW 3 (almost ready) and 4 before submitting Research 3 (data) and Research 4 (draft) after that.
Shop front cover and reflection, Karlkrona, September 2019

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