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Material Research – Driven by Creativity

In recent years an increasing interest in including artists, designers and makers in research projects as well as market related development projects have occurred. Artists, designers and makers often have an unexpected approach and a way of thinking beyond a planned scope. This have been acknowledged in research where artistic and practice-based research teams have been formalised.

At the same time, there has been an increased focus on pushing boundaries in design thinking and market strategies using co-creation among business, consumers, creators, and users. Co-creation is used as a business strategy and the a common understanding that consumers are not and do no want to be passive consumers, have occurred. Approaching the market with a creative and material based co-creation strategy, the market is perceived as a platform where businesses and entrepreneurs meet with actively involved and contributing customers to share product ideas and capabilities even at an early stage. 

 Material Research Project 

Practise-based material research

The value obtained with co-creation is a more personal, unique and engaging experiences for customers/users as well as the company/author who can take advantage of the inter-relationship. If you add an aesthetic approach towards entrepreneurship it requires skills to produce knowledge and ideas from sensory experiences and from an interplay of surrounding experiences, bodily experiences and the flow of ideas that comes to mind meanwhile. Aesthetics is basically a notion of connectivity, interaction and how phenomena (human and non-human) relate, rather than separate from one another. Aesthetics deals with and is learning from the multi-sensory experiences that unfolds in the space between phenomena – often in an intuitively and tacit way.

The aesthetic dimension of entrepreneurship

The aesthetic dimension of entrepreneurship points toward a natural implementation of co-creation processes of novelty between entrepreneurs and customers. The creative entrepreneur has three major dimensions that stand out in the creative process of co-create: Embodied imagination, contemplation, and consensus  [Elias16]. Research shows that;

“Co‐creation offers firms and their network of actors, significant opportunities for innovation, as each actor offers access to new resources through a process of resource integration. Neither the entrepreneur nor the customer has the final say; rather, their embodied experiences combine with an evolving product to co-create aesthetic value”  [Elias18].

Art as research

As Pablo Picasso once highlighted “I never made a painting as a work of art, it’s all research”  [McNiff13], thinking of the creative practise as an integrated part of research in general and material research in particular is a clever move. Estelle Barrett states:

“The innovative and critical potential of practice-based research lies in its capacity to generate personally situated knowledge and new ways of modelling and externalising such knowledge while at the same time, revealing philosophical, social and cultural contexts for the critical intervention and application of knowledge outcomes” [Barrett10].

For Barrett the practice-based research is basis for innovation and critical thinking to happen. However, in the classic art research, which is still the dominant in our research community, practice-based knowledge is still facing challenges and is seen as less serious, less academic.

For artist and theorist of cybernetics and telematics Roy Ascott the hesitation towards practice based research from the humanities is slowing down the development and new ways of thinking, and is potentially widening the gap between universities and the society as such. In critical words he states that:

“The importance of practice-based research in advancing the field of interactive art is not widely understood. This in part is due to the shadow cast over art research by its big brother, the humanities, which has long appeared to many of us involved in this new field to be sandbagged against creativity, in defence of its methodological orthodoxies. In this respect we find so often the academic rigor has become institutionalised rigor mortis”  [Ascott11].

Roy Ascott have been one of the major pioneers of integrating artist and makers in research projects taking on from Picasso who never thought of his work as separate from research. Ascott’s success of artist evolvement is partly happening because of his way of institutionalising – or maybe exactly not institutionalising – how to make the collaboration happening. Artists have since the avantgarde in the beginning of the 20th century worked hard on dissolving and fighting against art as an institution.

Therefore, involving artist is involving people who will be pushing boundaries and asking questions to the framework and basis of a given collaboration!

Ascott, Roy: Preface in Candy, Linda and Edmonds, Ernest: Interacting – Art, Research and the Creative Practitioner, Libri Publishing, Oxfordshire 2011

Barrett, Estelle: Introduction in Barrett, Estelle and Bolt, Barbara: Practice as Research – Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry, I.B. Tauris & Co, London 2010 (2007)

Elias, Sara R. S. T. A.; Chiles, Todd; Duncan, Carrie M.; Vultee, Denise: The Aesthetics of Entrepreneurship: How Arts Entrepreneurs and their Customers Co-create Aesthetic Value. Organization Studies. 39. 345-372. 2018

McNiff, Shaun: Art Based Research in Knowles, J. Gary and Cole, Ardra: Handbook of the Arts in Qualitative Research: Perspectives, Methodologies, Examples, and Issues, SAGE, 2008

Text by: Hanne-Louise Johannesen