Employed in the significant expansion of such institutions in the U.K. in 1968



Research on and

from within Creative Practice

One view of art-making is that it is fundamentally a

research process. Each art object, performance or

realized concept is sometimes seen as an experiment

from which the artist learns and from which new ideas

and goals emerge. In some ways, then, it is possible to

see a compatibility among art, science and technology

practices. Obviously, much of the content of this journal has always consisted of reports on active collaborations across these areas. However, it is also clear that

the kind of evaluation or proof used in these three

areas can be quite different. In fact, there is much that

each can still learn from others.

In technological research, particularly in the area

of interaction design, there has been an increasing

interest inexperience, a concern in fact not unlike

some of the research questions of artists. In interactive

art, the artwork exists only in the context of the audience

behavior. We need to understand the experiences of

the audience in considering both their reflection on

the artwork and the interaction design that must be a

a key component of such work.

An important development in research methods

relevant to our field has been the emergence of

practice-based research. The first U.K. polytechnic

was formed in London in 1880. When the concept was

employed in the significant expansion of such institutions in the U.K. in 1968, the goal was to add a ser-

vice element to the mainstream of higher education.

The polytechnics were expected to teach and develop

knowledge with an emphasis on value in practice.

Higher education was no longer to be seen as the

center of new understanding, of knowledge that

described the world, but as the center of new ways

of doing things, of knowledge that improved our ability to act in the world. That emphasis encouraged a

a new look at research around making—for example,

the making of artwork—with less concern for traditional subject boundaries.

When the U.K.’s Council for National Academic

Awards (CNAA) drew up its regulations for the higher

degrees to be awarded from the new polytechnics,

they included a critical clause: “The written thesis may

be supplemented by material in other than written

form.” This enabled students to include artifacts, or

the records of artifacts, as integral parts of their Ph.D.

submissions. Practice-based Ph.D.s today are most

simply identified by the inclusion of such artifacts

within the submission.

The crucial point is that in certain disciplines,

knowledge can be advanced by means of practice. The

the idea has developed that research students, for example, could take as the subject of research the practice

of their own disciplines. The research program would

consist of a continual reflection upon that practice

and on the resulting informing of practice. The examination would be based upon both the results of the

practice and on a thesis presenting reflections upon

the process undertaken. Thus, artifacts would form

part of the candidate’s submission for the degree. The

practice-based Ph.D. can be understood within the

traditional context of the purely written Ph.D. without

any major revolution in education being required.

We need more universities to ensure that their rules

include statements such as the CNAA’s.

These developments have created a rich and exciting-

ing space in which more and more artists and collabo-

creative teams are conducting practice-based research,

particularly in the areas of interest to Leonardo. In

our new initiative, the Transactions section of the

journal, we are publishing refereed papers on a fast

track to the dissemination of key new results, ideas and

developments in practice. Of very special interest are

research reports that draw upon or develop these

newer research approaches. The first set of Transactions papers arose in the context of a symposium held

in Sydney in 2006: “Engage Interaction, Art and Audience Experience.” These papers come from a context

in which collaborative practice-based studies are the

norm. Art, science, and technology are informing one

another through this work in a way that matches the

very first aspirations of Leonardo, successfully employ-

ing methods from one discipline to enlighten another.


Creativity and Cognition Studios

University of Technology, Sydney


E-mail: <ernest@ernestedmonds.com>

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