Conference: Knowledge Forms and Forming Knowledge – Limits and Horizons of Transdisciplinary Art-Based Research
Global contemporary art has witnessed a shift in the last decades where research-based practices have become a celebrated and prolific form. As we witness this methodological expansion, which has been labeled by many as a form of ‘knowledge production’, it seems urgent to pause within the flurry of buzzwords, press-releases and critical writings to ask ourselves if and how we measure up to such claims.
What kind of knowledge does contemporary art actually generate and what can it ramify? When many of the principles behind contemporary art celebrate the discipline as a territory for subjective interpretability, how can this ‘knowledge’ transcend the limits of the personal to articulate crucial distinctions between opinion and knowing? How does artistic transdisciplinarity function in epistemic relation to the manifold fields from which they draw conceptual and practical resources? How are the forms of knowledge that art generates transformed by the the destabilization of the anthropocentric foundations of epistemology, the rise of machine cognition and recognition of the limits of disciplinary humanities?
Within research-based art practices, transdisciplinarity has gradually become commonplace and therefore ubiquitous. Today, artists and curators increasingly delve into domains alien to the world of art in the hope of expanding our discursive and formal horizons. Yet long before this was a ‘standard’ practice, Louis Althusser warned us about the ideological myths behind the championing of transdiciplinarity’s older sibling ‘interdisciplinarity’ in and of itself, as a tactic for epistemic liberation. And while interdisciplinarity wishes to bring together different disciplines with the aim of construing a harmonious whole, transdisciplinarity’s claim has traditionally been that of transcending the traditional boundaries between disciplines. Do today’s forms of transciplinarity in art-based research reflect or embody this distinction? Are they merely a symptom of our condition mirroring a compulsion of contemporary art to get closer to ‘reality’ - is this merely a form of knowledge pilfering, or are substantial processes of cognitive cross-pollination instigated across fields? How does one operate in this sphere of epistemic co-dependency, that arguably requires extensive translation across knowledge(s)? What forms of transgressive knowledge can be forged through such crossed-investigations in order to construct new, post-capital epistemic scaffolds of trans-scientific knowledge we may actually require for addressing the urgencies of our, so-called, ‘end times’?
Through the public seminar, consisting of a workshop and a public conference a series of diverse interlocutors have been assembled to deliberate upon these speculative inquiries, ultimately probing the existing contours and potential horizons for artistic research.