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PARIP 2003


13 September 2003 | 14 September 2003 | Advisory Group Summary

PLENARY FEEDBACK | 12 September 2003

Baz Kershaw: In order to, um, err, give you time to have a little bit of a rest, might I plead with the reporters to be especially succinct, in your reports back, and err, make only the main points that you think were made in your discussions. Err, if I cut across you, then please forgive me, but I think that in the interests of enjoying the rest of the evening, you might want to sort it out later. So can we go to Group 1 first please.


Err, my name is Pete Bond. I, I um, teach in the research at err, Central St Martins. My background is in Art and Design, so it’s erm, slightly different, and not at all, like most people here I think... We started with the first question on the official agenda, and err, my colleague here who wrote the notes, is just going to go through them.

Err, my name’s Charlotte Croft and I am from film and media culture. So, OK the first question that we addressed was whether PaR problematizes notions of professional and academic practice, and I’ve just got rudimentary notes here, and they are from yesterday, so forgive me if I’m not quite sure what I’m saying. ‘The university context problematizes practice’ was something that came up. Um, something about ‘what drives research’ and ‘what resources are involved’ in terms of, err, ‘is it professional practice or is it practice that’s trying to fit into the RAE?’ Then we decided that PaR is a tautology and practice IS research, which I thought was very interesting. And then we added to that today which, do you want to comment on?

Pete Bond: Err, yeah, I mean it was, we talked today, our approach was slightly different we, we did it by osmosis, by, erm, asking ah, everyone to give a brief summery about what they saw, what experiences they had from attending the talks today. And one of the most important contributions was that actually the content of the work is probably more important, important, than the form. Um, and that research is often put at the same level as the work, but in fact, um, and it is, they are obviously equally important, but research is a use to make the work, but as an outcome the work is probably more important. And that was an outcome backed up by some of the, um, professionals, professionals that have perhaps recently joined the academy.

Charlotte Croft: There was comment on professionally funded practice, practice which took place in a professional context, then, um, in retrospect that is slipped into the RAE, or been fitted into the RAE, and that was quite interesting. Um, and we talked about the professional and academic being as two different types of accountability. I thought that that was really interesting. Um, a lot of talk about the divided community, um, from between practice and theory, that’s perhaps come out in a lot of the keynotes, and papers. And then it was going onto how do we shift the agenda? But we didn’t come up with an answer — that’s what the conference is doing. Um, but we also talked about the danger of orthodoxy and institutionalizing practice, um, and how PaR could be an agitative force, or antagonistic force, in a positive sense to the academy. So that was ‘problematizing notions of professional and academic practice’. What ‘counts’ and what methods of framing practice-based research, er, versus ‘pure’ research, was a question. Um and we focused very much on PhD students who are actually embarking on practice-based research and what counted as criteria, as that’s quite a, a concrete way of looking at this question. Um, a lot of PhD students were struggling to find a framework, some practitioners were saying they were alienated by theory. Um and there was an issue about the practical work having to come parallel or in tandem with a write-up and some found that liberating and exciting others found that difficult. Um, something to do with the written component implicitly validating the practice, and demanding a particular type of knowledge. Um, and lots of issues about documentation and reflection, which is another question.

Pete Bond: I think the most important thing about documentation is that it, especially with regards to live performance is, in fact, it’s a separate issue, it’s almost, can be, a separate artefact, and probably a new field, and that the whole point of live time-based work is that it’s not written down, and that’s, you know, according to the traditions of the epistemology of the subject, um. We only really had a stab at the next two questions on the agenda, and we’ve covered most of them, er. Err ‘What are the various epistemologies of and knowledges generated by practice as research?’ Um, well we feel that it needs more of a conceptual framework, maybe a post-structuralist, um, so that there’s more of an understanding of the vocabulary, and probably more of a dissemination of vocabulary, um, given that words such as, words actually are in themselves um, texts, you know, just like any text, that you know, they can be carried away and um, by people and given various interpretations and meanings and the interpretation um, is, is, is, is, is the problem, the crux of the problem.

And there’s something about…(Chair interrupts)…can I just say one more thing, as it backs up what you said, about process and the ‘how’ of practice as opposed to the ‘what’, and the actual product, and that’s it.


Hello, um I’m Pete Bailie from the University of Bristol, and my group’s left me on my own, I’m afraid (laughter). Um, we had, er two days of interesting discussion we, we started off er, talking about musicology and err, the history of musicology and how in some people’s view, it’s actually indeed upsetting boundaries, err, to artistic development. Um, and this, there is a fearfulness that a similar thing may occur in, in, in performance. Um, also, err, there were comments from artists who said that actually they make very few distinctions between their research, their, their practice as practice and their practice as research. Um, the question of, err, funding and sources of funding was an issue and whether actually the academy is, is likely to become, to be seen as a new commissioning body. Um, whether artists, the feeling was, artists work extremely pragmatically to find sources of funding and they’ll find all sorts of, of, of ways of justifying their practice and, there is a danger — or opportunity perhaps (laughter) — that, err, that actually the academy might become another commissioning body um, in that sense. And whether actually that is a suitable role for it to adopt? And that there were, it has raised many contradictions. Um, there were various comments, some were in favour of working in HE, that, er, one wasn’t constrained by audiences. Some felt that students were more encouraged to experiment than the staff were. Um, there’s some, err, there was also some comments that the academy would allow, funding by the academy would allow, err, for process and failure, and that was seen, the fact that it allowed to experiment and failure was, is a positive idea. You’ll be glad to know, that we did actually address the questions, and came up with some, we offered some answers, erm, in a relatively succinct form.

The first one ‘How does PaR problematize notions of professional and academic research?’ Um, we suggested that it broaches the possibility of active intervention as well as, or, rather than, responsive historicism.

Err, to the second question, you might unravel that at some point, err ‘what might be the various epistemologies of and knowledges generated by PAR’. It’s a very succinct answer, both experimental and articulate. That’s experiential and articulate oh, sorry, right, ok, both experiential and articulate, thank you. Um, and the third question ‘what kinds of resourcing, plant infrastructures are needed for PaR?’ Once relieved from commercial marketplace paradigms as much as possible, where outcomes need not be entirely fully known.

Today we moved onto looking at the questions of pure and impure research, which I think was framed by the question. Err, and we found these terms quite problematic in many ways, whether ‘pure’ is meant as somehow liberated from financial constraints, and we felt that this idea of purity was something of an illusion and found the err, the whole idea between the distinction between pure and impure research was quite a problematic one. Um, we thought that also the notion of blue-sky research, we was mentioned a fair bit, again, was, was, probably an illusion. Um, we talked about the, also about the relationship between teaching and research, um, that firstly the ways in which one disseminates research, one disseminates research to one’s peers, but also to undergraduates, and that there’s, with the possibility of a separation between teaching and research, there’s a danger that PaR might actually not be disseminated to undergraduates. Um, that also there’s a danger of two types of research being done, one by students, aged 22, just left undergraduate degree, err, which is likely to be non practice-based research, and another by students who’ve left academy, gone and done practice and returned to do research and that there’s a danger of two-stream research.

Um, we then moved onto the question of, um peer assessment if you like, um, there was a suggestion that this might by done by subject associations, in the field of broadcast media, um and that there’s an opportunity here, to get a, a peer review system going, um, and there was also a suggestion of, a desire to see a multiplicity of ways of validating research other than peer review and within peer review. And I think that’s our lot. Thank you.


Err, Paul Rae, Middlesex University. You find us deep in the middle of the cut and thrust of debate, which is to say we haven’t got any answers yet! Err, err, err, and moreover, although I am here alone, I’m sure that anybody in the group who has anything to interject when I say something they don’t agree with, will do so, since that’s what we’ve all been doing in that last few days. (laughter) um, so I’m gonna take a broad view and make a few general points about how things are developing. Firstly, um, we’ve been taking issue with the questions quite a lot, err, that’s our responsibility I feel, and erm, for example the matter of the professional and the academic, um, there’s a sense that maybe that question is posed from a sort of a position that is, that presupposes one can be in the, one is either perfectly between the two or something, or outside of them in some way, rather than the fact, of here I am in Chemistry lecture theatre, in a venerable university, answering that question. Um, and there was also a, a, that question being passed, with an R, one part presupposing — Pete do you have anything to say on this matter? No Ok thank you (laughter). The second thing is that there are, some very productive internal differences emerging within the group, um, um, (laughter) I, I wouldn’t differentialise but there are, it has certainly come to our attention, um different practices, um, need to be differentiated and that film and television people, for example are clearly operating, have different priorities than people in theatre for example, dance or visual or fine arts. So, err, those are still developing, um, (laughter), I’ll keep you updated, err, but maybe just one thing I should say straight off, that it’s, there’s, there is an issue with our relation to industry, to cultural industry, err, the market etc. and my feeling is that that’s one of the places, a kind of point of significant differentiation. Anyone from the group want to disagree? Ok, tomorrow. (laughter).

Thirdly, err, just to think of a language that we’ve been using to address the question, metaphors that have been used to describe the various binaries, that do crop up that actually are, another thing that the questions inscribe quite heavily Practice/Research, Professional/Academic etc, and so, all the, all the, all of our discussion and lot of discussion has been attempts to kind of find a phrase to mediate between the two. Um, so for example, what is the relationship, or what might the relationship be between the academy and professional practitioners? Is it coercive? Is it seductive? Is it parasitical? Um, the rest of the list is, I, I haven’t got time to look through it (laughter) but, there’s a lot more. I’m promising so much, god, I’m not doing enough!

Um, yep, ok and the final, the final two points, sort of two strands, tracks, along which the erm, the discussion is developing and occasionally kind of jumping between the two, is err, on the one hand, a kind of, pragmatic, practical demands of RAE, AHRB and indeed PARIP itself, are questions, whether we are guinea pigs for PARIP or are, we are PARIP? What is PARIP? (Laughter). Um, and then on the other hand, um, err, a strand which I would just draw a little phrase out, which I call liberating ourselves, which is basically a more, kind of, Stalinist mode of self critique. (Laughter) Um, yeah, we, we, it was a kind of attempt to take ourselves very thoroughly to task without reference to these kind of instrumental and functional um, err, constructs. So, watch this space! (Laughter)


Um, I’m Simon Bailey form the University of Surrey Roehampton, I’m just gonna report back on our first session, and Bella will report back on the second session. In the first session basically we just painted a snapshot of the life world of the average person, in a way, that we were, that was in our group. And err, I think we sort of, we arrived at some questions later on, the last question we raised was why research? Beyond the sort of err, local expediencies, personal institutional expediencies, why do it? Philosophical imperatives, political imperatives, what were they? And then moving backwards through the session we kind of, we, the PhD seems to be the focus of research and there was a lot of people, this is my personal sense, of labouring with their PhD like it’s a milestone for up to ten years (laughter) and my implicit question to this is ‘is that a really good way to invest one’s energy, research energies — a 10-year project — err, which feels like an ordeal? A lot of emotional energy is invested in it, as well as time, why is that, why is the PhD such a big deal that it is? And do we have to go with the flow with that or can it be changed? And then again, working further back down the line from that was basically, the conditions, people, there seemed to be a sense that there are conditions that people are working in, were not very conducive to research, performing arts especially, and there were lots of reasons to do with those, but the basic upshot of that was that in departments that are having quite a lot of success in recruiting students, that they should use their, they should lobby more, they should use their activists in re-shaping the way courses are delivered, and the way research time is structured to their needs. Um, and maybe that they haven’t been so active in that way. On the other hand, we were looking at, there’s a sense or constituency that artists seeking refuge in the academy, undertaking undercover professional practice, (laughter) and that they weren’t really fussed about differentiation between the problem of professional, versus academic, there’s just not a problem and we’ll find a solution, a way to frame that because that’s what we’re good at doing. (Laughter) And that was the first session.

I’m Bella Merlin, I have two weeks left at Birmingham University before I go back into the big wide world of the freelance actor. Err, today we looked at question number two which is ‘what might be the various epistemologies of and knowledge’s created by PaR?’ The first issue that came up was, is this question just too vast? Are there too many diverse practices here at this conference for us to actually present a coherent answer to this? That said, we are in this particular sphere, both at the conference and in terms of, err, the university and we need to embrace those complexities. However there seems to be an essential paradox underlying our work, we make music, dance theatre, documentaries etc, because we want to provoke, delight, educate, entertain, whatever, our audience. Yet in order to frame our research we are encouraged to provide such frameworks or epistemologies which then can assess it, or evaluate it, which seems to be a paradox, underlying what we might want to do. This threw up two key issues: first of all the paradigms need to be shifted and secondly we need to get those with the power and funding to recognise that shift. Yet how do we concretize the somatic? Suggestions arising from the two days so far that we really liked, we very much liked the idea of theoretical practices, we very much liked the idea of substituting ‘knowledge’ with ‘knowing’, and we very much liked the idea of finding the pleasure factor, (laughter), but of course questions arise, but how do you validate the pleasure factor and more importantly how do you assess that, who knows?

So really we’ve got to try and find and articulate that paradigm, so that we can acknowledge that the knowledge gained through our practical research, might not be linguistically available, it might not have a logic, indeed maybe we should not have to look for its logic. So on a final note, we have chosen as practitioners to enter the academic framework and few of us would question that the academic framework has had a very positive effect on our practical work, so we wouldn’t want to be denying the single-authored article as something that should be a part of what we’re doing. Um, and err, in many respects the traditional epistemologies have shaped and helped us create many of our research practices, so we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water but we do need a new paradigm. So, very last comment, is with baited breath we’ll be waiting to see, or I’ll be waiting to see — this is a personal comment — waiting to see in the next RAE which departments get a 5* for the paradigm of pleasure.


Um, I’m only going to talk about what we discussed today, not what we discussed yesterday. Oh, I’m Lib Taylor and I teach theatre in the Department of Theatre Film and Television at Reading. Um, but I didn’t scribe yesterday, so I’m not really prepared to represent what we talked about yesterday, although we did talk. (Laughter) um, and I’ll try and make something coherent, of what we talked about today. We didn’t really discuss the questions as such, they were a kind of background to our discussion, um, rather we, we, like some other groups talked about our experiences during today, and um, tried to find some common ground through those. And, err, to start with we focused on the idea of repetition, because repetition seemed to be something that was recurring, err, throughout many of the presentations, so the idea of repetition was addressed in presentations. Um, performances were, err, making use of repetition, the relationship between performance and documentation seemed to raise questions about repetition, and the moment of time in which repetition occurs, and the way in which a particular moment can change, err, what might appear to be a repetitive piece of work, so that a film or a piece of documented work that is documented through, um, electronic media is not the same in, in every moment that you re-see it. Er, this took us onto the idea of the notion of the incidental relic, um, which, um, had come up I think in one of the presentations. And the notion that a relic might be, um, a kind of element of the research which you return to at, um, some point and re-engage with it, either as returning to the roots of the research or returning to the ideas that stimulated the research in the first place.

From repetition we went on to talk about the notion of the idea of, of where is the show? That seemed to be another point that was coming out of many of the presentations, where is the show? Um, the idea that everybody was missing the show, or that what was the show or what is the show, or is it worth doing a show? (Laughter) Or, um is the research ultimately the show or is it just the traces and marks? Um, er, some historical research, well, not only, was concerned with traces and marks, um and a kind of um, excavation, err process. Whereas I don’t, and certainly they felt, they’d missed the show, because it happened hundreds of years ago, but (laughter) I don’t think anybody else was any clearer that they’d seen the show, at any point either. (Laughter) We then tactfully moved on to the idea, the notion of the professional. Err, and we thought that maybe this was a very slippery term but perhaps it was occupying our time rather too much. And that we shouldn’t worry so much about divisions between the professional and the academy and that we place too much focus on it and worry about it too much, and perhaps we should just, um, put that to one side for the moment.

Um, we then talked, you see we were very wide ranging, we then moved on to talk about PaR in terms of knowledge and asked the question about whether this is the only dimension of work that we can, um, concern ourselves with in PaR and I think that relates to some other things that other groups have been talking about. And we talked too about the notion of pleasure, and whether that was a very valuable way of, um, err, discussing our research, but also the idea of melancholy, I’m afraid as well (laughter). So where is the pleasure, but also, where is the melancholy in our work?

Um, we then wondered about whether, um, universities kind of hijacked, um, or we felt that, that universities were kind of hijacking, um, research practice I suppose, and other contexts in which research in practice goes on are important, although of course the context of the HE institution, um, was always significant for any of the work is done, that might be presented to the RAE etc and we felt that we shouldn’t return to arguments we’ve already had, I mean that, having discussed the importance of repetition, we didn’t want to go back to ideas that were discussed in the 1970s, maybe, to kind of repeat all of those.

We then discussed paradigms, I suppose, and models of, um, practice. We were kind of wary of the common currency of transmission, of the written word as being the only transmission medium that we could use for documentation, and that we thought that other disciplines outside the artistic discipline, that we’re concerned with here, we might find paradigms for documentation and for dissemination and that.

Finally, we thought that we should question, are we relegated to the margins as a set of disciplines, and actually is that a very valuable position to operate from?


Err, Franc Chamberlain, University College Northampton, um, I’m not sure that we were a ‘we’, except that there were a group of people who gathered together in the same room for two days running to discuss the questions that were asked, and um, you missed it (laughter). Um, we started off by trying to think of definitions and what we meant by practice and research and asked all the usual questions that people have asked so far. Um the only thing I really think, we had to add, was the idea of whether or not artists, practicing artists coming into the academy and academics already in the academy, moving towards practice as research, whether or not there was a kind of hybrid performance, err, occurring, so that, um, something added, something new occurring. We asked that as a possibility. Um, I wish I’d known I was going to do this, otherwise I wouldn’t of err… I think we got stuck very much on, on discussing, we got stuck discussing on the, what research is, what counts as research, so we stayed with that today, talking about, err dissemination, um, what counts as dissemination. Can a piece of art stand on its own, whether it’s a performance, whether it’s an artefact, can it stand on its own, does it, does it require, um, written support in some way? And the issue of, of citation was, was brought up, was brought up yesterday and brought up again today. That it’s, it’s not the intention of the artist that counts, it’s not whether or not it's my intention to make a piece of work, that’s less significant, whether or not that’s viewed as a piece of research by, by my peers or by the research community. Um, there’s also the question of, um, different, er, levels of research, that’s different. If we have a product that, that’s there, that’s viewable that’s accessible, then it may need a different kind of supporting document. For example, if the research goes into the process of devising, or if the research goes into the training of the performer then each of these different things would each need different kinds of documentation, because, because they would be more or less accessible. Have I missed anything out? Martin? Sorry (laughter) anything important I’ve missed out? (Laughter)

Baz Kershaw: Ah, thank you very much, for that. It’s a really good, obviously incredibly tricky job to represent such a rich part of the dialogues that have been going on in the groups, and thank you very much for today. Um, there’s obviously a kind of symbolic, err, aspect to all things that people, the voices that have taken the floor in a sense and there will be more of that tomorrow — speaking succinctly, speedily, with humour and passion as we’ve heard. One quick announcement from Angela.

Angela Piccini: Um, the dinner is starting at 7.00 and it is an informal dinner. There will be no speeches. The restaurant opens at 7.00. You can go there and have a drink. There will be food served here at quarter to eight.

Baz, I’ve been asked, Marianne Sharp, wants to make a very quick announcement

Marianne Sharp: Very quick. Um, I’m doing a shameless plug. Some of you may have seen this on the SCUDD mail list recently, I have a show called Juliet Stream 3, which is a PaR project, we’re calling it a research event. It’s actually a show, and we can bring it to your department (laughter). For free, from October, if you’re interested, it’s appropriate for MA and PhD students, but it’s also appropriate for undergrads who are doing devising theatre, so if you are interested, or think you might be, or want to know more about the project, please have a word with me afterwards. Thank you very much.

13 September 2003 | 14 September 2003 | Advisory Group feedback

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