I attended the Creative Methodologies Workshop at Bath Spa University today, a session aimed at the vexed question of creative practice as research. I was keen to attend because since doing my Ph.D. I have found the subject of practice based research to be quite tricky to navigate at times. The written component is an integral part of the research but sometimes I wonder if more emphasis is placed on it by the academic field? I have been finding a lull in my research recently and in particular my practice based elements. It is Winter, January’s dark and cold month and it is impractical for me to visit the Hoo Peninsula at the moment. I can’t stay in my trusty camper van as the weather is too cold and the days are so short of light. However, since my transfer panel (or upgrade) in the Summer, I have found it increasingly hard to find a footing again in my research.
So this workshop today was perfect to re-generate some energy into my project. The workshop was delivered by Paul Geary of the University of Birmingham and Yiotta Demitrou of the University of Bristol. Both Paul and Yiotta laid out the issues around practice based research so well and gave a lot of context it. There were some interesting ideas about how you have to go out of yourself, without knowing what you might discover because only in taking these leaps of faith will you extend research. Geary talked about Heidegger’s ‘techné, where things are bound up together and of course, the writing and practice should be in dialogue, informing each other.
Demitrou talked about the process of the research being as important as reaching the culmination and final production of work. At each stage of my research I have wanted to immerse myself in it and enjoy each moment. I’ve waited since 2002 to do this research and I want to take time to understand it and observe all of those unexpected discoveries and ideas that happen. On the other turn of the coin though, there has to be a conclusion to the research.
There were some useful discussions about intuition and the value of it within a practice based research project. I thought of the recent exhibition that I saw at the Fortuny Museum in Venice called ‘Intuition’. In the introduction to the beautiful catalogue, Daniela Ferretti says that ‘intuition is the revelation of consciousness and a condition that reveals the unknown.’ In that sense, intuition should be a critical tool of practice based research and harnessed for it’s ability to go beyond what is seemingly already acknowledged and into new territories. Intuition is potentially problematic for Ph.D. research because it is mysterious and hard to define. It is also subjective and experienced individually and not a shared experience. I do think the phenomenon can be an invaluable tool in research based practice and even in the writing, there are moments where my writing seems to temporarily drift into a more fluid language where a spark of an idea appears on the page.