Research Methodologies - Reflection - Temperature Check / by Ally McGinn

I'm over a month into the blog, and this seems like a great moment to pause and reflect, a temperature check. 

I write a lot, I work a lot, I create a lot (if I can use that term, which many theorists would disagree with). This is a fact. I find it very hard to dial this level of interaction back. Whether I should or not is a question that occupies much of my anxious thinking.

If I'm honest I feel I've hit a bit of a wall with the research, like I'm going around and around, which I need to remind myself is the point. I need a break for a few days (because for over a month I've been working on context at least once a day, without fail) and regroup.

For now, I'm seeing the research as in the gathering stage. I am working on creating texts that contain factual information with my own thoughts. The subjects of research have come through extensive mind mapping, which covers my interests and inspirations. I've come to realise that these terms, artists and theories are not totally involved with the meaning in my work, while there is certainly an overlap (DRAW VENN DIAGRAM)

This is an important thing to remember in terms of confusion about whether I'm researching the ‘right’ things.

I have regularly paused to reflect on the things I'm researching and I'm noticing the research affecting the ways I think. My reflective journal, voice memos and my writing in the blog itself, all reflect this deepening in knowledge.

By far the most interesting factor for me are observations of the ways I am researching, and the similarities between my research practice and studio practice.

In the studio, I often create work to explore the ways I make work. In this way, the pieces are incidental to my true focus, an observation of activity. Through this module, I have begun to apply this methodology to my research practice.

A few specifics;

The blog has encouraged me to date and better record my thoughts and ideas. The practical implications of this is a fuller practice, with fewer lost thoughts. Contextually this has led to an interest in lost moments, incidental thoughts and the development of ideas.

Thoughts as art. I'm thinking more about individual thoughts, and having them written (which I didn't always do before this) has led to a deepening of those ideas. I can return to them later and develop them further, or be inspired by them.

Using voice memos. I have begun to use voice memo software on my phone to record my thoughts while driving. These are thoughts that would normally be lost. Incidental thoughts. I often don't remember the thought when I listen to it back, there is a chance I wouldn't be able to think them again without the voice memos.

One side effect of my level of focus on this module is that I've spent less time thinking about my work.

I quickly realised that swapping regularly between research ‘mode’ and studio ‘mode’ was tricky and it was hard to get deep enough into either. So I decided to take a week out of the studio to work on context. That's been a very good idea, and it's been extremely productive. I am now on the Friday evening of the context week, and it's hard to picture what effect this week will have on my studio work next week, but I predict I will be a bit more focused.

I have been opening the studio practice up, allowing myself the freedom to experiment (research). I now have a very solid contextual background and have been considering the context of artists whose work is aligned in some way to my own. This can only support the creation of my work in the studio. As Danto suggests, the artwork relies upon the ‘Artworld’ and I am now able to invoke more of the artworld.

I'm currently excited about two ideas for next week. The ways we read painting and the notion of balance, both of which have appeared often in the research.