Zach Whitworth

Art as research

The word “research” often floats around art discourse. An artist might claim their work stems from some sort of research or that a project is the research itself. If research is involved in art practices, then we should understand and evaluate it with research guidelines.

Art as a hypothesis: In this case, an artwork would be an unsolved idea or proposal. This might be a question or suggestion, which an audience can respond to directly or indirectly.

Art as an experiment: If an artist looks for an answer to their hypothesis, they might construct a project that tests that idea. This may lead to further questions rather than a conclusion.

Art as a conclusion: An artwork at this level is usually presented as a statement, assertion, or experiment’s results, claiming something to be true.

If an artist is a researcher, then at what level of the research process does responsible art exist? A hypothesis or experiment leaves room for questioning and learning, but art as a conclusion could be closed to criticism. Artists should be careful not to jump to conclusions and present misleading information. Like any other research, a responsible conclusion needs to be accompanied by the gathered data.

(This essay is a hypothesis.)

Using Format