27-28 June 2005, The Cinema, Goldsmiths College
workshop on practice-based research
method a particular procedure
for accomplishing or approaching something, from Gk methodos ‘pursuit
of knowledge’, Concise Oxford Dictionary
inventing methodologies? was an experimental workshop held in June 2005 for practice-based PhD researchers working with the still and moving image. The workshop aimed to provide an effective interdisciplinary platform for the discussion of the novel and highly contested notion of practice-based research. We called for practitioners to review their implicit methodological processes and works-in-progress instead of simply presenting their projects.
Practice-based researchers are faced with an interdisciplinary and bifurcated project in conjunction with the question of legitimising their practice within the University of London definition of PhD thesis research, i.e. that it "form a distinct contribution to the knowledge of the subject and afford evidence of originality by the discovery of new facts and/or by the exercise of independent critical power".
In response to the question encapsulated in the title, the presentations highlighted the centrality of process as a methodological guideline in place of generic research methodologies. The workshop demonstrated that by requiring the evolution of its own “methodology”, practice-based research may provide means of re-defining research through practice competence. There are currently several trends that highlight this possibility.
Our discussions revealed that methodological isolation was shared amongst practice-based researchers across departments, thus bringing about a new extra-disciplinary collectivity. The main challenge presented to the participants of inventing methodologies? was the task of establishing a common discourse. Faced with incompatible discourses we were immediately aware of the need to establish an effective interdisciplinary platform for discourse. Significantly this required the expansion of our vocabulary rather than a limitation or specialisation; setting a/the point of departure for inventing methodologies2.
Cultural Studies, Media and Communications, Visual Anthropology, Visual Arts, Design and the Drama Department.
inventing methodologies? was inspired and supported by the Screen School.
We thank the students and staff members who presented their work and offered their feedback by participating in the workshop. We would also especially like to thank those whose help has been invaluable in setting up the workshop: Julian Henriques and the 'Screen School' who inspired and supported this event; Tony Dowmunt for his constant attendance and support through out the workshop; Janet Harbord for her important theoretical input and replacement notion of 'assemblage' to the much troubled concept of methodology vis-a-vis practice-based research; Janet Hand for her ongoing support and her consideration in putting together a presentation in absentia under difficult circumstances; Chris Wright for providing inspiration in his paradigmatic unification of theory and practice in research; Nick de Ville for his moral and organisational support; Gareth Stanton for co-ordinating the production; John Hutnyk for his powers of 'propaganda' in the Cultural Studies Department; Jonathan Whitehall for his technical support; and last but not least Zehra Arabadji for her infrastructural co-ordination and support throughout the preparation of this event.
Organised by Pola Bousiou and Sophia Kosmaoglou:
Pola Bousiou is an anthropologist and filmmaker; she is currently a research student in the Media and Communications Department doing a practice-based PhD with film component.
Sophia Kosmaoglou is an artist currently doing a practice-based PhD in Fine Art in the Visual Arts Department.