PLENARY FEEDBACK | 13 September 2003
Baz Kershaw: Shall we erm, shall, we make a start? I’m, sure everyone’s somewhat tired at the end of day 3, erm so I propose that we run this session exactly as we did last night with succinct and amusing performances by the reporters from each group in turn. And just to remind you, and I’ll say a bit about this at the very end, we have space in the morning, ah for other group meetings, and then a plenary session where we can hear more voices and hopefully we can set an agenda and tell you what we want to say, tomorrow. But if we could go quickly through the groups in turn do we have a reporter for group A, the first group? Please? Thank you.
It’s mildly amusing, isn’t it? Um, we looked at question 6, shall I read it or are you…? Read it, okay right, where is it in the book? It’s on the second page. Right, where am I in the book?
Okay, so question 6 is must practice as research include some form of disseminable reflection? Or is the practice, performance/screening contexts sufficient to stand as research outputs? And the sub-question to that: what might be the role of documentation across media?
So very quickly, err, what I scribbled down for group 1. Err, we recognise first of all that there might be a difference between err, recorded media and live performance media, but we agreed that screening or performance, um, is dissemination. That, erm, somehow the dissemination seems to be connected to evaluation by some body, erm.. often that by, err, peer review. Err, for example we spoke about that in Fine Art. Erm, Fine Art seems to operate on, or via peer review.
That peer review also, sometimes happens at the beginning of the process, for example, when you apply for a grant, err, what else? Erm, we got into a discussion about different subjects, so for example engineers make bridges (laughter) and err the bridge hopefully works, but erm, the construction of the bridge may not have been informed by some, err, err, some theory, that is, that’s only written about afterwards.
Erm, we spoke about how these thing should be made media specific, um, for example you might be able to put your reflection into a film….errr, sometimes. Yeah, we spoke about, you can see the outcome, but not necessarily the research that went into creating that outcome. Um, but that so often assessment is made on the writing, not the actual practice….or the writing about the practice, not the practice itself.
Um, there are two kinds of parallel notions here, first of all, the research is the work, but also the art made is the work as well, there is no kind of single model. Erm, we recognise that documentation might be an artwork in itself, erm, and that erm, for example a PhD thesis may well turn into a book, later. And that might actually be a very good way to disseminate work.
Err, there may well be other things other than a, than a book that can, can disseminate things, for example a DVD, or a website or an object, other than a book.
You may amass documentation anyway, through the process of undertaking your research you may have to document as well as under doing your research, was a point made.
Erm, one of the things is, the role of documentation might be to let someone into your process, if that is what your research is about, at a later date. Erm, however, that may not work for all media. For example, err, one of our members said, well, it wouldn’t be very good to, erm, film somebody, filming. If you see what I mean. (laughter) Erm — I’m just looking at my constellation here — um, err, right, err, yeah, err we, erm made a distinction between um, disseminable reflection may be different from documentation of the work itself and the, for example, um in ahh a DMus on music competition, composition, (or competition) DMus in music composition may well produce a piece of music itself, but it is not necessarily a reflection on the making of that music.
Umm, we concluded that what tends to get prioritised in regards to what contexts we are talking about, um..is writing, um, but that there are different ways to research. But what tends to happen is, that is, only some of that research tends to be validated.
And very final point, um, PhDs, we think, tend to want writing, but, there are different research enterprises other than PhDs, of course.
Erm, okay erm, (laughter). We had a bit of a funny one today (laughter) so erm, I don’t think the report will be so funny, but, er anyway, I think one of the problems we did, was, we sort of drifted away from the questions quite quickly, and got into some fairly wide-ranging debates about the conference and the different forms that conferences take, and so on. Erm, we did start off addressing one err, issue, I think in terms of question 1 and the idea of the professional, err, and what, how preferable the idea of the professional perhaps should be widened out a little bit, it has been focused on, in terms of maybe economic and industrial sort of relationships, and it was raised that there’s actually other, more perhaps pertinent relationships that, we should be looking at in terms of collaborations in relation to, you know, colleagues we’re working with, and the forms collaboration take, but also the relationship between, the sorts of subjects that we might be working with. This is particularly, raised in some of the erm sessions, earlier today which were based on personal testimony of various types. Erm, so questions of erm ethical considerations in relation to, authorship and ownership, and so on, should perhaps be brought into that general consideration of professionalism, erm in and in relation to practice.
Erm, we then started talking about PARIP actually, erm, questions like what is it? Somebody asked what should it do? And there was a sort of one paranoid voice, sort of what is it up to? (Laughter) Erm, so erm, there was some positive and also positive things coming out, which I will go through, which I think are useful points in relation to, as we’re getting near the end of the weekend, err, eerm. One, the one suggestion, was there was a sense that it’s [PARIP] is a process. And perhaps seen as a process, and it’s something, a body that can produce useful, policy or suggest structures with which we can work in. And it’s really um, depending on the needs that are presented to it ah, as a as a sort of, beast organism, or whatever, erm, mechanism, in the various forums that it’s developing — either conferences or seminars and so on — so there is a process there and it’s sort of is a developing one, one that can be fed into and seen as useful in lots of ways.
Erm in relation to this there is also a general reminder that, we talk a lot about the Academy and industry and so on that, in the general mind, we are the academy, erm, that the academy is made up of, of all of us and obviously others as well, who erm, who may cause more problems than the group we have here. Erm, but we are the academy, and we can take from our actions or dialogues across institutions across disciplines which I think is very usefully, erm achieved here. We can take things back to our institutions and sort of, erm, help form better structures and better, places to work.
Um, again, sort of in relation to that, how PARIP, along with other subject associations, erm, are you know, should be, are useful bodies which we need to work with, ah, fairly closely in terms of erm, making policy, in relation to the sort of criteria that the RAE use and develop. To try and put pressure to develop clearer and more appropriate criteria, and maybe sometimes more appropriate personnel as well, erm and that the pressure that can come from PARIP, and other, these sorts of conferences and other associations, erm, can do, can create criteria which aren’t appropriate and accommodate the work that practitioners in the field consider as valuable research, so in a sense we need to perhaps say what we think is valuable as research, and not necessarily how the criteria given to us without question. Erm and there was other general stuff about, you know, perhaps we should not look for enemies where there aren’t any, and this is maybe a problem after talking for three days that, suddenly, you know, we’re all getting a bit paranoid, and tired and we’re looking for enemies where there aren’t. And people, and sort of people, raise a point at which the AHRB is actually perhaps quite a benign and liberal organisation, in lots of ways which provides money for a number of people to be able to do some very interesting, useful and challenging work. And therefore some of the other problems and enemies maybe slightly closer to home in terms of, the sort of bread-and-butter issues that affect us, as a result of macro and economic and political pressures. Erm, and someone made a very interesting point, at how the conference has made useful, to help individuals form a language, erm, to start to understand and discuss, how their personal work, which perhaps they haven’t previously seen as research, how by looking at it and listening to the type of erm, presentations and discussions can start to develop an understanding, or how the work can be research and how that can be a positive thing, um, which can both enhance the work and enhance their teaching practice.
Peter Reynolds: Is there any chalk here? How about under there? I don’t think so. Oh yes there is, even in colours.
I think I’m going to give a, a sort of rendition of what I heard, in the discussion (laughter). So I shall begin with the following…..it’s called ‘artistic license’ (draws on chalk board), you can see it down here too….so far so good (long pause) (laughter)…and in true research kind of theme, there is a footnote (laughter)…. here……………………………. (laughter)…………. I don’t need to comment on that, okay? (laughter).
Point 1 (laughter) ……. what’s missing? ……..they talked about, parallel tracks, that weren’t parallel………….. awful questions…….was another one I heard…………………. I heard the word PARIP and I heard, they kept saying PARIP, PARIP and eventually I kept hearing parrot parrot….(laughter)…. The one, one question that was presented was what does the artist/scholar look like? (laughter) So eventually they decided we must define a model and we must make it a good one, because we are really tired of all this, depressing sort of approach to what everyone is actually trying to say, or not. Ah, a good analogy is to work in the both ‘ands’ sort of mental state. Erm, you are both here…. ‘and’ you are not (laughter)………………there was a point, THREAT to practice as research, um, they didn’t come up with anything that would get round that threat, um, although they did mention words as strategic critique and proposal. Err we did agree on developing a language, in order for it to grow although one member did say to me well, it’s been there for twelve years. It took me a while to get that in (laughter) and then I said after a long pause… I don’t agree…….. (laughter)……is the language of the criteria serving these evaluations, erm……..
Don’t want someone up there telling us how to do things. This was actually something that was repeated in different forms like, here we are, a big group and there are some people who no one can define, and they are absent, and, and who is it that is actually defining what they think, or are they, by being up there defining how we respond to them there, in their absence, again (laughter)
Erm, some of this you may understand, and some of this …you may.. um. Non geographical international works should be acceptable. Therefore, if someone does something in their bath tub in southern Bristol, it may be erm, considered to be an international event. (Laughter)
Question dissemination — that’s what they were talking about. How does this structure account for a work in this field is disseminated. Is there a resistance to dissemination? Um..erm.. do most of our, our, our works, our PhDs end up collecting dust on shelves, and why should they? (laughter). As you can see I am, I am a sort of, err, it is an associative rendition of the, of the discussion. Do we want state funding? If the answer is no then we can all go home (laughter) One individual kept underlining the point that practice as research is great because, it makes it more popular and quantitatively you can actually reach more people. And I kept thinking…is that the only reason for practice as research? To make it accessible to a greater audience? Do we want this research actually to be accessible to a greater audience?…Perhaps not, (laughter) But then they mentioned words like paradigm, err, which actually I understood when he mentioned the word science because of my work in the department of theoretical physics in Lund. Erm so I understood it anyway and it had to do with creating a model where you have your, your, your whatever it is, in a paradigm for a while and we can call it research, and then you up turn the paradigm and you can still call it research. So, why have the paradigm at all? It’s rather an interesting way to sum up a discussion, I mean it’s an immediate response, I haven’t apologised yet, for my, my way of erm, interpreting what they said…
We agree with everything!
Great, great. We did touch very shortly on trying to find the individual who is somehow both a practitioner and an academic and this was this problem of how do you get a practitioner into a academic situation when they are, all they’re trying to do is make money? And how do you get a research… you could turn it the other way round, um, how do you get someone in research to go out in the practitioning world when they are poor, and aren’t making money, they’re just sitting there, researching (laughter), so you had this vision of this dual individual, both ‘ands’, both ‘ands’, quantum, you know, that’s the way we’re going, quantum physics, quantum confusion.
We agreed that you do need an informed reader, for the discipline, um, although, not necessarily so…. (laugher)…..I gotta finish this off! For Christ sake! Arrggh! [searching through flip chart paper] ummm……….improve….there was a suggestion to improve practice, but this may not lead to knowledge. Can one improve knowledge through improved practice? If you are practising something, can you say that you’re learning anything from it? If you are actually gaining knowledge is that going to affect or inflect upon your practice? These are the same of, kind of, reversal, ideas that seem to be coming up out of that, what becomes interesting is how can we, from a practice as research point of view, how can we play with the terminology or the research field so that you are suddenly upsetting it, turning it round and doing this with it or that with it and the parallel lines are interesting because, yes parallel lines are like this, why can’t they be like that [draws] (laughter) you might learn something I mean (laughter) we’ll invent a train [turns over page] (laughter) err, oh no… language, there was a discussion about language, and I wrote up, big words, small minds, small minds, big words. I didn’t point my finger at anybody, in the sense it has to do with us all, we’re all trying to find some kind of recognition from what we know nothing about, erm, or are we trying to access something we may or may not recognise by dipping into an area which is absolutely, unknown, um, I, I, I think what’s interesting here, no stop! (laughter).
Peer pressure again, interesting,
Police violent……. (laughter) I’m going to bring this up only because he brought it up….somebody suggested that we don’t need any police (laughter)…Wait!… but of course he then said we do because there’s violence, the, there is, what comes out of this is, do you need, do you have police because there’s violence, or do you have violence because there are police? (laughter) And you could place this analogy onto practice as research? (laugher) Perhaps, no? Do we need practitioners because we have research? Or do we need research because we have practitioners? Or and, and you go on, you know, on and on. So there was what needs who and who needs what? At that point we realised we had been immensely self indulgent (big laughter)… thank you very much!
Baz Kershaw: I’m delighted to see an accurate report has been unmasked by performance practice, so group number 4 follow that!
Double dare! Well I’m a humble documentary maker, so I’m going to adopt the expository approach on this occasion. So what we discussed was, pretty much the same as everyone else, but in a maybe more boring way (laughter) Erm, so I’ll recount it in an appropriate style (laughter) um, so we, we discussed the differences between different disciplines. Erm, we thought there needs to be more discussion about this, for example, the difference between performance and film, which I think we’ve seen quite well demonstrated right now. And err, the documentation needs to be seen as a research practice in itself. And that people, err, need to be more disciplinary and that they can do that in their documentation. And in fact the documentation can be a collaboration, and it needs to be, and in fact it often is. (laugh) And, some people are disadvantaged in terms of documentation, with a lack of resources, and so they need to share them. And erm, err, regional groups could let them do this, and they could help each other make applications. Erm, err and above all the documentation needs to be fit for the purpose, so if it is just to be read by an RAE panel maybe it doesn’t matter if it’s written on J’s toilet paper. I don’t know, if no one else is going to read it does it matter? Do we actually need resources for it? But if we want to disseminate it to somebody else, if it is part of the practice then obviously we need some money for it. And we need examples of what sort of money we need and why.
Err. There was an issue raised of the adequacy of the record, in terms of authenticity. Err and others felt that this was err, a red herring, and that it was up for the artist, the scholar — whoever they are — to decide whether they felt the representation or the record was accurate, and it wasn’t a problem. And it shouldn’t be a question of production values, and we need to get away from thinking, that we’re all subject to Big Brother — we’ve obviously been watching too much reality TV. And the them and us mentality, the RAE versus us, particularly as there are people here who are on the RAE panels, and they are part of this community, and it is particularly, we recognise the importance of this conference in, erm, helping us to define the terms of our own research and that this was the most concrete example that many people felt, that they had a chance to do that, so they wanted to thank the organisers, for that. And there was a clarification for the role of PARIP again, it’s not them, it’s us. And that it is just a conduit for our views. And finally a couple or more points, that again, there needs to be a recognition of diversity, across different practices, err, both in terms of different needs in terms of documentation, and in terms of funding. There’s a need to foster the interdisciplinary and collaboration. Erm, and at the same time it must be recognised that collaboration is a valuable form of research in itself and this is something that we keep coming back to in our group, in the whole conference. It seems to be a key thing to me, that collaboration must be recognised as a valid research method and that we must get way from the thing of the ‘author’.
Fiona Wright: There’s not much, don’t worry. It was a small group and a quiet group. Okay, it was mainly a discussion about resourcing and plant — strange word — and structures. The conversation I think carried on from the people’s experience of earlier in the day, being in the so-called regional groups, about the kind of what, what kind of stuff can we now get up to? People seemed to be talking about, and the conversation was about, there just bullet points: research culture, fertilisation, laboratory, outcomes? Symposia, the forums, creating circuits, maybe institutional or national, or applying to AHRB, and maybe sharing rounds, something about sharing rounds of funding applications, all very practical.
Um, the idea of funded administrators to do stuff like this, and technical help with that, and, so this was all circling around people’s interests in peer review and dissemination and, yeah, process and feedback. Does that make sense? Enough? I think it’s what people have been touching on today anyway.
Here I am, last again. And we were small in number and off task I’m afraid. So we came up with some practical proposals which really are centred in a lot of the regional discussions we had earlier on in the day. So we thought that the regional groups might be a good forum for some of the peer viewings that we might be engaging in, um, particularly performance. And we wondered, if we are moving towards defining or delimiting PaR, that we’ve really got to have some practice around, to engage in that process, um, and so those regional groups, we thought would be a good place for of those definitions to emerge organically in the process of watching practice. Um, and we didn’t see them as being secondary RAE moments, erm, but actually being about a way of airing practice, having feedback on it, and slowly through that process, coming up with, some err, more defined about what the RAE might be. We felt that, err, there’s a need for a sub group, within PARIP for screen and media. We strongly felt that supervisory training is absent for PaR, and there might be some training for PhD supervisors, would be a good development.
Erm, we were slightly concerned about the, evolution that was implicit in some of the discussions, away from documentation and towards a, a, a, a time where in twenty years time a piece might stand entirely alone, and we wondered whether that left no foundation for further research work to be built on, after that work. Erm, and that was it I think. Any other things?
Baz Kershaw: Thanks to all our presenters, very much. I don’t have very much to say now you’ll be really pleased to hear. I’m sure some people are tired at the end of the day, I’m sure that’s why some of the groups got smaller, I’m sure, then they have been before. But I would urge the people to be at the groups in the morning. Um, the one point I wanted to bring up was what is PARIP. I’m not going to answer that, because I don’t know, but I do know that it’s not supposed to be, in this forum, a kind of institutional thing. It’s meant to be an open space, somebody put it as a ‘conduit for our views’. And tomorrow is the opportunity to bring those views here. It’s good to see some of the groups moving towards action points, things that the regional groups might do, for example. We would like those people to move the debate on, I’m sure, we feel that this week, I’m not sure whether we can formulate that in terms of the answers to the six PARIP questions and I know that some people feel that those questions might not be the best ways of putting across the points you want to make. But can you bring that tomorrow. I mean if you want to ask different questions, or unpack those, please bring that to the group sessions first thing in the morning, and then to the plenary session, when we’ll have more time for discussion and debate. But PARIP is an open space as far as I’m concerned, and I for one would be very disappointed if we went away thinking, it’s someone else over there and we’re not sure who it is who is running this and telling us what to think. I don’t feel it like that at all. As part of the advisory group, this conference is about finding out what people want to do by way of moving forward and personally I would like to see us have some kind of collective sense, a share of language, as some people have put it today, developing ways of erm, mobilising our views within the academy. Because clearly there are politics involved, and if we are going to move and take that leap across the paradigm shift that Simon talked about in the first keynote we certainly need to do that. And I’m also pleased to see that we’re not seen to be alone doing that, and the reference to other disciplines that are also going through parallel debates, and maybe we need to work with them to take the whole debate forward.
Is there anything people want to say particularly now? Because they are welcome to if they want to? Everyone’s a little bit tired. So we’ll have a good night tonight, and come fresh in the morning and pull all of this together. Okay. Thanks very much for getting that all together, have a great night and see you all in the morning.