Enabling Knowledge: The Art of Nurturing Unknown Spaces
Keywords:artistic research practice, unknown, methodology, non-method, non-representational methods, object-oriented ontology (OOO), performance, performance-lecture, new materialism, research-creation, epistemology
This article is both an exploration and a reflection on the process of generating knowledge from an encounter with the unknown. It documents what practising the ‘ethics of the unknown’ (Eeg-Tverbakk 2016) consisted of and what insights it led to in relation to two projects: ‘Childism’ (2015), based on documents from an informant who experienced child abuse, and ‘Embodied’ (2018), a performance lecture presenting both research and lived experience of involuntary childlessness. To reflect the fluidity, multi-directionality and, at points, messiness- of the process of practising the ethics of the unknown, theory and practice are not as rigidly separated in the text as the conventions of academic publication would normally require. The text alternates analysis, the voices of the authors, as well as sound files and images designed to offer experiential glimpses into the performances and the arguments. Theoretically, the concepts outlined are inspired by quite different strands of materialist thinking (object-oriented philosophy and new materialism). The research takes liberties when relating to different philosophical concepts that have proven to be useful in the practice of staging documentary material. We are not proposing a ‘method’ but rather arguing along with Erin Manning for ‘research creation’, where methods have to be invented and developed for each project. As such, this article also places itself within the discussions on post-qualitative, non-representational and performative research.
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