Instructive Complication: Thinking and Making in a Research Culture
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In general, art training teaches us to speak, principally, about artefacts through reference to theory and through analysis and interpretation of the work of other artists. These forms of contextualisation facilitate understanding of artefacts and the discourse or discourses that surround them. Yet while such contextualization plays a vital role in research it does not explicitly evidence the intricate making skills fundamental to practice-based research. It is only through analysis and dissemination of the intrinsic and explicit processes of making that artists will be able to construct reliable methods that clearly, and unequivocally, distinguish research from practice and, which demonstrate the significance of artistic process to the production and expansion of knowledge. This paper reflects on some of the mental and physical making resources underlying practice and these will be contextualised through reference to a current research project titled The Taxonomy of Antithesis and Wonder. The presentation will highlight an integrated, but by no means definitive, skill-set informed by the specifics of disciplinary and technical knowledge, and which, in practice reflect convoluted, complex and non-verbal states of knowledge building. Content will be framed by the work of Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein on synthetic learning that integrates many ways of experiencing and thinking, mental and physical, concrete and abstract and by the writings of Barbara Stafford on the critical function of analogy in creative invention.