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RAE 2008

Rearch Assessment Exercise 2008

Chris Smith

Chris Smith is Convenor of the Visual Arts Practice Research Group and editor of the Journal of Visual Art Practice published by Intellect.
His research interests lie in the field of art and design philosophy, particularly the connection between theory and practice, and a concern with praxis in art and design. He collaborates with others from the Visual Arts Practice Research Group in projects related to the relationship of imagination and image, and with Art & Language on the question of "What work does the artwork do?" This has led to various national and international symposia and exhibitions.
Chris supervises a range of doctoral students drawn from art and design as well as the crafts. He has run a number of workshops in collaboration with the Centre for Learning and Teaching in Art and Design, University of the Arts, London, on supervision of Masters and Doctoral students. He also sits on the Council for Higher Education in Art and Design AHRC working group, examining issues related to practice-led research.

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Research Outcomes

Outcome 1 - Critical Objects: the practice of research through making
This paper, in Working Papers in Art and Design 3, was concerned with two themes related to issues of research and making in crafts and fine art:
1) The iconophobia that has affected recent debate about the artefact, particularly the artwork. This is to be found in the strands of postmodernism that have set foundations for debate and critical discourse on what has been the "linguistic turn". In contrast to this there will be an advocacy of the debate surrounding what WJT Mitchell recently called the "Pictorial Turn".
2) The development of the idea that in research through practice, new artefacts stand not only linguistically in relation to other artefacts but in a critical and comparative stance to other artefacts through their materiality. In particular, this reveals itself through the body of an artist’s work.
The paper arose from the debates and collaboration with colleagues in the department and from issues raised at the What work does the Artwork do? symposium.


Outcome 2 - Now they Are Surrounded
The event at the Guildhall Art Gallery, inclusive of the exhibition, Now they are Surrounded and Symposium, What Work Does the Artwork Do? 2, was an extension of the debate initiated at the event What Work Does the Artwork Do? (This was in itself constituted of related exhibition and symposium, the initial collaboration with Art & Language who we invited to join us in the collaboration to explore the above question that was initiated in discussions with the then Art and Praxis Research Group, now the Visual Arts Practice Research Group).
Now They Are Surrounded extended the questions into aspects of what we wanted the artwork to do and considered questions of definition, autopoesis, autonomy, internality and institutional theories. The exhibition was itself an essay in practice. The placing of the 144 piece work was an intervention that made Now They Are Surrounded low against the assurance of late C19th early C20th works. Could internality be maintained in this circumstance?


Outcome 3 - What Work Does the Artwork Do? A question for art?
This article acts as an introduction to the other articles in this special edition of the Journal of Visual Arts Practice, which is devoted to the question: What work does the artwork do? It explores the advantages of this question over the definitional "What is art?" question as a vehicle for debating the roles and purposes of artworks — the work artworks do — for arts practitioners in particular.
Given the care needed in the forming of questions (since the work questions do is conditioned by things such as implicit/explicit epistemological considerations), it raises as an issue to be considered and attended to, what questions could usefully be posed and debated in relation to art practices. In other words, if disciplines are characterised by questions, let us consider the questions appropriate to practice-led research.


Outcome 4 - Now They Are Surrounded: Reconfigured
Now they Are Surrounded: Reconfigured is an interactive work which forms part of an exhibition of the work Now they Are Surrounded: Reconfigured. This in turn is part of an event of exhibitions and a symposium that is a sustained discussion on systems-theory and art. Speakers and collaborators have been drawn from an international basis to discuss art’s relationship to the operation of social systems, and to provide a basis for an account of the diverse art practices that occur after modernism in terms of a systems aesthetic and explore a definition of artistic media which is not materially specific. This has particular reference to Nicholas Luhmann’s Art as a Social System and current debates in regard to autopoesis, autonomy and post autonomous art practices.


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