Arts Based Research in Practice

Arts Based Research in Practice,

Kara, H. (2015) Creative research methods in the social sciences. A practical guide. Policy Press, Bristol

The chapter; Arts based research in Practice (P22-23) is especially interesting to me, Kara starts by saying that; “Inquiry through creative practice privileges such things as play, intuition, serendipity, imagination and the unexpected as resources for making sense.” This statement resonates with my SIP and what I am trying to achieve. She goes on to say that “Art can contribute to research by being documented and theorised. And research, in turn, can inspire and contribute to art, in an ‘iterative cyclic web’ (Smith and Dean 2009: 2). Kara then quotes Kershaw in this paragraph; “What are methods for, but to ruin our experiments?” (Kershaw et al 2011: 65) I don’t know how I feel about this statement yet but it has given me food for thought.

Kara mentions the TEDex talk by Swiss artist and photographer Fabian Oefner ‘psychedelic science’. What I am trying to do as a photographer, as an artist, is to bring the world of art and science together… What I find very intriguing about those two [Art and Science] is that they both look at the same thing:They are a response to their surroundings. And yet, they do it in a very different way.If you look at science on one hand,science is a very rational approachto its surroundings,whereas art on the other handis usually an emotional approach to its surroundings. What I am trying to do is I’m tryingto bring those two views into oneso that my images both speak to the viewer’s heartbut also to the viewer’s brain” 

The measurability of emotion in a research capacity is complex, my instinct (which may also constitute an assumption bias) is that there are some research methods, i.e. interview, email interview, whose rigid format might serve to remove the instinctive and organic response to my research question. This lead my to try to understand more about why this research methodology would be useful for my enquiry, Kara says;

“While the following is not an exhaustive list, arts-based techniques can be particularly helpful for: 

  • Exploring sensitive topics
  • Working with Participants whose native language is different from the language in which the research is being conducted
  • Working with people who speak different languages from each other
  • Working with people who have cognitive impairments such as mild dementia
  • Working with children
  • Honouring, eliciting and expressing cultural ways of knowing”

The final point is especially interesting to me, as the sense of belonging is such a subjective term. Two considerations should take place; the first is that our verbal language is poorly equipped to define ‘a sense of belonging’. The second is; it seems as though a written or verbal response might be mistranslated or differ depending on the language of the respondent. Harnessing the students visual languages as a prompt may insight a more diverse and emotional response.

On page 24 Kara says ‘Arts-based research is often particularly useful for investigating topics associated with high levels of emotion (Prendergast 2009: xxii-xxiii) Emotion is linked with creativity, and some specific emotions, such as happiness and sadness, have been found to promote creativity (Hutton and Sundar 2010: 301).