Touching uncertainty with arts-based research

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    This paper works with the idea that ABR, as understood through a/r/tography, is always in a state of becoming (Spinggay 2008; Irwin and O’Donoghue, 2012), and that, when taking on an a/r/tographic disposition, I too am in a state of flux with the research process as waves of uncertainties disrupt assumptions and expectations, and touch un/known possibilities. Using vignettes from two recent research projects, I show disruption and flux in moments where uncertainty challenges my current knowing in arts-based research. Each vignette shares a participatory event provoked by important current issues. The events originate and proceed differently, and different approaches reveal different ways ABR moves into action. The first is an episode from the Museums, arts and wellbeing project (Robert Blackwood Seed grant, 2018) with Monash University and Museums Victoria. This event draws intergenerational connections between museum and community for health and wellbeing and aims to build a pedagogy of restoration among seniors and school children. Through it, I discuss how the shared gifts of each generation tug at stereotypes and connect us to an ecology of learning across the lifespans. The second explores POP!—a teaching/research provocation that thinks in/with our sea/land assemblages to explore our region through ecological intersections with art education. Through it, I consider how the weaving of self, community, and environment might create a both/and way of thinking (Vaai, 2017). At the same time, I refer to the Plastic Pacific Provocation – an event where educators/students from Tokyo Gakugei and Monash University met and continue to explore the materiality of single-use plastic while thinking on the plastic/ocean that joins Japan and Australia. Our ongoing email, writing, collage, live video internet intra-actions create co-autoethnographic ABR work that moves with the plastic/ocean currents swirling through our knowledge in the making (Ellsworth, 2005). Inspired by Spinggay, Irwin, Wilson Kind (2005), this paper encourages “ an understanding of interdisciplinarity not as a patchwork of different disciplines and methodologies but as a loss, a shift, or a rupture where in absence, new courses of action un/fold” (p.898). The projects manifest Barad’s concept that “All touching entails an infinite alterity, so that touching the other is touching all others, including the ‘self,’ and touching the ‘self’ entails touching the strangers within” (Barad, 2012). I return to what ABR offers and how it impacts future thinking about my teaching/learning/research events with students/colleagues, as well as how each might (or not) shift the academic situation within which I work. As each vignette unfolds, I ask what ABR does to the ‘academy’—in this instance, my local experience of ‘the academy.’—while also pondering what the academy does to ABR within the local, everyday situation of lecturing creative/art/s/design with pre-service teachers in early childhood and primary contexts. References Barad, K. (2012a). On Touching—the Inhuman That Therefore I Am. Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 23(3): 206–223. Ellsworth, E. (2005). Places of learning: Media, architecture, pedagogy. New York: RoutledgeFalmer Irwin, R. L. & O Donoghue, D. (2012). Encountering pedagogy through relational art practices. International Journal of Art and Design Education, 31(3), 221-236. Springgay, S., Irwin, R. L., & Kind, S. (2005). A/r/tography as living inquiry through art and text. Qualitative Inquiry, 11(6), 897-912. Springgay, S. (2008). Sleeping with cake and other touchable encounters: Feminist theories of touch and interembodiment. In S. Springgay, Body Knowledge and Curriculum: Pedagogies of Touch in Youth and Visual Culture. pp.21-41. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. Vaai, U. (2017). We are because we don’t have. In U. Vaai, & U. Nabobo-Baba (Eds.), The Relational Self: Decolonising Personhood in the Pacific. Suva, Fiji: University of the South Pacific Press.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages14
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2019
    EventArts Based and Artistic Research Conference 2019: The Intellectual Histories of Arts-Based and Artistic Research - University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
    Duration: 7 Jul 20198 Jul 2019
    Conference number: 6th


    ConferenceArts Based and Artistic Research Conference 2019
    Internet address


    • Art education
    • Materiality
    • Action
    • a/r/tography
    • Museums and wellbeing
    • art and wellbeing
    • plastic ocean
    • intergenerational arts-based
    • Relationality

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