I don’t know what I’m doing
Not practice, not research, but a hybrid Sphinx: what the hell actually is practice-based research? Most disciplines, professions and fields of research speak with confidence in public about the importance of the questions they ask and their ability to answer them. But what if the doubts we express in private were openly discussed in public? Might confusion and uncertainty in fact be our most valuable tools? And what would this mean for interdisciplinary practice – its processes and its outcomes?
As practice-based researchers operating in uniquely challenging contexts, how can we be honest with ourselves in developing our own modes and methods, tools and processes? In particular, in constructing modes of practice which build upon, rub shoulders with or critique other specialist fields (particularly when those fields are impenetrable, powerful or massive – such as science or institutional academia), what strategies can be adopted to ensure that we aren’t crushed in the process? How can we foreground the value of our work and our disciplines in situations of collaborative inequality? In turn, how can we remain mindful of the fact that occasionally our discipline is not always, as we might assume, the good guy?
Crystal Bennes is an artist and an architecture and design writer based in Scotland. She is currently in the first year of a practice-based PhD in the Cultural Negotiation of Science research group at Northumbria University. Through fine art practice and research, her project Indirect Observations explores observation and representation (data taking and analysis, computational visualisation and imaging processes) in contemporary particle physics.