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WÜRTH Chair of Cultural Production

Research Projects

On Subjectivity and Synchrony in Artistic Research Ethnographic Insights

Project Description

Given that in a number of research fields, artistic research seems to be the current mode of research and knowledge production, this study analyzes the emerging research dynamics in transdisciplinary research projects. While recent publications offer important insights into methods and practices underpinning artistic research, the analyses of these projects are seldom founded on an in-depth theoretical approach. Therefore, I carried out a long-term ethnographic study and used three complementary theoretical concepts to analyze my findings. The following questions guided my research: How do researchers from artistic and scientific disciplines actually work together? What are the topics, practices, politics, chances, and problems at stake? Which role do boundary objects play? And which criteria can be found to evaluate artistic research projects? Over a period of one year, I carried out three field research stays in two artistic research projects each (six research stays in total). These were located in Berlin (Germany) and Basel (Switzerland). During different project phases, I carried out participant observation, performed qualitative interviews, and took field notes as well as pictures. The data and material collected was translated into two detailed case descriptions. Afterward, the combination of boundary objects (Star & Griesemer, 1989), affordance (Gibson, 1986), and affect theory (Seyfert, 2012) enabled an examination of the research settings in their entirety—comprising, for example, spaces, institutional contexts, researchers, objects, material, and atmospheres—while simultaneously accounting for the researchers’ subjective moods, abilities, disciplinary backgrounds, interests, and behavioral patterns. The notions of attunement and synchrony (Koole & Tschacher, 2016; Wheatley, Kang, Parkinson, & Looser, 2012) were specifically useful in examining how the researchers integrated different time-management strategies and research logics into their research collaborations. A key finding of this analysis is that current criteria to evaluate artistic research projects (research output and results) might need to be reconsidered. Attunement and synchrony might be more fruitful than for example the number of published articles to indicate whether researchers’ individuality is productively integrated into a transdisciplinary research setting.


Project Duration

from 01.01.2013 through 31.12.2017

Project Head

Prof. Dr. Martin Tröndle

Project Execution

Johanna Schindler