Research/Creation and Astro-Amateurism

At the moment my priority is to finish writing my PhD Dissertation Support paper. The PhD I’m doing is an examination of the disciplining of visual art practice through its ongoing entrenchment within the academic research institution of the university.

My Doctorate has proceeded from my position that the processes and practices of making art are different from the methodologies and methods of academic research, engaging different vocabularies and activities, and, most importantly, having altogether different values and objectives.

As part of the PhD I’ve been framing my art practice as one that blurs boundaries between categories operative within university research structures: expert/amateur, work/hobby; leisure/productivity. The specific bodies of work that I’m leveraging in that investigation are Blurry Canada, Potager, and a project having to do with the board game Scrabble.

Imaging Saturn, a new project, is further framed institutionally as research-creation and through it I persist in distinguishing the various values held by artists and Researchers [for more on little ‘r’ big ‘R’ research check out Christopher Frayling, 1993] within the university. With Imaging Saturn, I’m taking up the hobby of becoming an amateur astronomer and astrophotographer in order to collect images of Saturn from which to develop several bodies of art works. My contribution will be to the field of art, and not astronomy. What’s special about astronomy – and I couldn’t have planned this had I tried – is in the way amateurs and professionals alike contribute to research and new knowledge within that field. One great example is with the Galaxy Zoo project, featured in today’s Guardian.

So…in having acquired a feel for the game I’m able to frame this art project within the research-creation paradigm and the basis of the project is well suited to my persistence in upholding the uniqueness and range of visual arts practices against the external pressures of today’s university [and today’s financial and political economy].

If I am successful in my SSHRC bid, I will have been successful in receiving funding for a hobby; or a research project that is problematized by my positioning of it as hobby; or an art project that I’ve framed as both un-serious hobby and serious Research. I like that.

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