On the 28th November 2020, the artist and artistic researcher Steven Dutton, spoke at the Transart Institute (https://www.transartinstitute.org/intensives-20-21#artasresearch, reflecting on art as research. Dutton referred to the verb ‘to research’ to consider what it would mean ‘to art’, ‘to be an arter’, and ‘an agent in the process of ‘arting’. Defining the term ‘the arter’ as one which is ‘not to supplant or wrestle the researcher’ but proposition ‘through the lens of arting’, Dutton referred to a ‘something which is taking place’, that ‘may enrich the taking place and doing of research ( and vice versa )’.
Elaborating on the process of ‘arting’ as an act of ‘seeking amongst that which is generated or found…not so much regenerating, but generating generation’, Dutton emphasised how ‘arting’ is ‘not to supplant the research terms seeking, finding, articulating and disseminating’, but to ‘acknowledge, listen and bear witness to other forms of appearance, hauntings and becoming’s of something and mattering’s in the world’.
Considering Donna Haraway’s terms; ‘being with’ or ‘being alongside’, Dutton emphasised that ‘other forms of informing and sharing’ could ‘exist literally in-forming’, which takes place when ‘information is taking shape… before or after it crystallises into that which can be rightfully termed a contribution to knowledge’.
In ‘Diffracting Diffraction: Cutting Together-Apart’ (2014) Dutton quotes Barad, to consider meaning not as an ideality but ‘meaning as material’, and proposed research and knowledge as potential materials, alongside meaning, through which, the term ‘arting’ could be considered ‘the process by which that material matters.’ Barad refers to the term ‘re-turning’ as actively turning material meanings ‘over and over again’, which reflects on the momentary placing of meaning, as material, that can undergo a process of positioning and repositioning.
Working within the foggy din of Big-data, where moments of interpretation, clues or indications can be formed, yet do not land, but yield to the productivity of rethinking anew, by thinking around and through practice-led research as a generative process, and allowing the accumulation of accidental encounters to be formed as matter, where the mattering can be probed within situationally significant contexts, I think this is what Harraway may have meant by suggesting we stay with the trouble!
Reflecting on the generative nature of Barad’s term ‘re-turning’ as a means to momentarily recombobulate and think-through a discombobulated state, by re-thinking meaning as a material, could knowledge as a form be considered robust enough, if the meaning of the method is in the form of a scattered awareness, that does not aim to be physically robust? Could knowledge that is formed within practice-based research processes be positioned as a porous material, net-like, where the context of knowledge as a form shapeshifts, with a vitality that could be experienced through mattering’s which are actively re-turned and repositioned, over and over again?