A friend of mine was surely over generalising when he called contemporary artists ‘professional amateurs’, commenting on artist’s ability to move from one technique or artistic approach to another and from subject to subject therefore never really becoming proficient or specialised on a skill or technique. And rightfully to an extent because of the appearance of a new code of practice predominately defined by an interdisciplinary mind set towards new social challenges that invite the artist to become a form of social carer.
The way I understand it is that in the Academy at least artists are still expected to use traditional and non traditional means for their research to create very clear outcomes and have an in depth understanding of the implications of their artistic gesture to certain audiences that they work with. An analogy of that would be that of the artist as a “conscious dreamer”, being both asleep and awake which is the equivalent of being “Free in spirit” but also bound to the rules and demands of the social situation one ought to respond to.
It is still widely acceptable for artists to conduct “strange experiments”. Trying to merge incompatible parts with one another, to bridge concepts, to bend and transform the epistemological way of thinking. Moreover, artists can be known for misconstruing facts and common knowledge for the benefits of an imaginative and idealised objective. The outcomes of artistic research are often based on associating disparate facts from different spheres of knowledge driven by an emotional and spiritual intelligence.
In our efforts to somehow pinpoint artistic research one thing we could possibly agree on is that it welcomes happy ‘accidents’ as much as artists allow these to happen in their workspace in the form of various bodies of knowledge battling or reacting against each other. To be able to appreciate research at this point is one of the biggest challenges. That is why artists in their strife to distil and conserve some form of wisdom might resolve to note keeping and writing…
At first sight it might seem that artists conduct superficial studies over a vast body of information – Easily accessible information found in various sources. Those can be: Urban myths, popular scientific facts or, information of any sort at a tourist guide level, looking at artworks, buildings, literature, maps, wikipedia articles, photographs and popular films and others. However what needs to be pointed out is that this well spread approach to research is an attempt to merge disparate bodies of human creative output. That leads to a more multidimensional and integrative way of thinking about the things around us, that in my view overcomes the cliches of traditional industry based disciplines.
Through that approach, not only there are mergers of different themes and bodies of knowledge so new combinations in the form of ideas and concepts are attained but those are infused further with the immense complexities that emerge from the intent of their authors as projections or derivatives of their own world-views…
So what do we do about skills and techniques? We elevate them to the point where these rightfully express our conceptual research. A hard but noble task demanding our patience and hard work for transforming ourselves and allowing our ideas to change to what can become truly attainable.