On essaying art (version 1) – SAR ARWEI Conference

9th International Conference on Artistic Research  “Artistic Research Will Eat Itself”

Society of Artistic Research at University of Plymouth (UK) 13th April 2018



Documentation of the lecture-performance:

Lecture performance:

art and science in potentia – essaying as an approach to artistic research

The essay form inherently embraces both the artistic and the scientific. It drifts in between the subjective and the objective, the experiential and the intellectual. Its mode is to express a train of thought and to critically reflect on those expressed thoughts: it experiments and speculates.

The essay is described as ‘literature in potentia’ (Obaldia 2004) because of its hybrid place between literature and science, as artistic research drifts between the sciences and the arts. ‘In potentia’ is derived from the Latin ‘potency’. Potency is the possible power of a person or substance. In-potentia is the possibility of power or influence — too much can be intoxicating. It also has a strong sexual connotation: the power of reproduction. A high potency has the ability to reproduce itself and therefore clone and copy versions of itself. The essay’s reproductive mode is the re-writing of versions and reflections of itself. It’s a cannibalistic introspective process which devours external substances and internalizes them. The essay destroys and recreates itself almost compulsively, potentially poisoning itself with an endless meta-behaviour nonetheless leaving behind a fruitful compost. This essayistic mode could be fruitful ground for artistic researchers to create potential scientific and potential artistic growths.

The essay is practically defined by essayists writing essays on the essay (Butrym 1989, Klaus and Stuckey-French 2012), but artistic research also uses other artistic forms besides writing. Therefore I use the multi-media predecessor of the essay, the Zuihitsu, and place it in the contemporary context of the online workspace of the Research Catalogue, as the space for essaying artistic research. This space can encompass contemporary forms of expression and many different artistic media simultaneously in a non-linear and constantly adaptable manner.

This paper presentation is based on the paper ‘Essaying art, an un-methodological method for artistic research’ which is expected to be published in academic magazine Ticontre in May 2018. It’ll be a performative presentation of and with objects and items, web pages, video, and video feedback-loops.