3. From Performance Studies to Artistic Research

ME21 operates on a different level, aiming not at ‘analysis’ of data, but at the generation of new and unprecedented sonic events. While the ‘performance-studies’ trend established itself as a sub-discipline of Musicology (analysing already existing technical objects, such as scores, recordings or performances), the endeavour articulated by ME21 is situated in the  field of artistic research, aiming at the generation of new phenomena relevant to knowledge development. The turn to the ‘making of art as research’ in music is a recent occurrence, strongly related to the activity of, a.o., the Orpheus Institute that emerged in 1996 as a pioneer and leading centre for artistic research in music, where a younger generation of artist-researchers is clearly focussed upon the development of artistic research (Coessens et al., 2009).

The understanding of artistic practice as research, and, therefore, as a generator of knowledge or episteme is at the core of an ongoing debate within the establishment (Borgdorff 2006 and 2008). The emergence of this field in the creative disciplines is part of a more general shift towards performance and practice (Knorr Cetina et al. 2001), a shift that has recently been associated with ‘mode 2’ knowledge productions (Gibbons et al., 1994; Borgdorff, 2008), and where research moves into applied and often transdisciplinary contexts. Practice-led research in music, as in other performance disciplines, offers a particular set of opportunities, since the artist-researcher both applies and develops new knowledge at the site of his/her performance practice (Coessens et al., 2009). How research in this field might be methodologically described is an open question, since neither experiential nor tacit (Polanyi, 2009) concepts of knowledge lend sufficient methodological structure to the development of knowledge outside a more general definition of practice as reflective (Schon, 1984).

Read further: 4. Experimentation: Reconfiguring the Field of the Audible