Artistic “Not Knowing”

Artistic "Not Knowing" ö

It is argued that arts based research teaches one to "not know" in order to think independently. It advances our ability to think critically so as not to be as Jones says, "thoughtless" (Jones, 2013, pg. 9) in our social practices.  Artistic process, and arts based research (ABR) (Leavy, 2009) have a few things in common: experience and reflection. An artist pushes and pulls and idea in out of harmony looking for unified solutions while experiencing all of the potential answers and during this experience the artist “does not shun moments of resistance and tension” (Dewey, 1934, pg. 14). Cahnmann-Taylor and Siegesmund argue, “the arts-based researcher can both create and critique, challenge and explain” (2008, pg. 233) and therefore research in that place of tension the knowing of not knowing.  It is “a state of being lost in order to find” (pg.234). The arts-based researcher “negotiates the tension of finding the resonance that provokes widening and deep conversations out of the particular” (pg.237). It evokes us to ask new questions and not to provide “summative conclusions” (pg.237). Eisner argues this tension to be “a psychological state that creates a feeling of mild discomfort, a feeling that can be temporarily relieved through inquiry” (2008, pg.17). Eisner also argues arts-based research creates „multiple perspectives“ (pg.22) which is what critical thinkers are suggested to find. Dewey argues the aesthetic researcher cultivates experiences seeking potentials in order to bring together a holistic union where as a “scientific man is interested in problems” (1934, pg. 14). However Dewey goes on to argue, “The odd notion that an artist does not think and a scientific inquirer does nothing else is the result of converting a difference of tempo and emphasis into a difference in kind” (1934, pg. 14).

Crafting vs. ABR

To work without knowing where one is going or might end up is a necessary condition of creation: of the generation of difference rather than the reproduction of the same.

Jones, 2013, pg.16

Working from a standpoint of "not knowing" allows one a higher possibility of "transformation" (pg. 18). Accepting the unknown and working with the strange makes us uneasy or takes us out of our comfort zone. It would seem to be the opposite of complacency. Complacency would almost seem to kill innovation as when we are too comfortable we do not search for new relationships.

Cahnmann-Taylor, M. and Siegesmund, R. (2008). Tensions of arts-based research reconsidered. In: R. Siegesmund and M. Cahnmann-Taylor, ed., Arts-Based Research in Education, 1st ed. New York: Routledge, pp.233-246. Dewey, J. (1934). Art as experience. New York, Minton, Balch & Company. Eisner, E. (2008). Arts-Based Researach in Education, Foundations for Practice. In: M. Cahnmann-Taylor and R. Siegesmund, ed., Arts-based research in education, 1st ed. New York: Routledge, pp.17-27 Jones, R. (2013). On the Value of Not Knowing: Wonder, Beginning Again and Letting Be. In: E. Fisher and R. Fortnum, ed., On Not Knowing: How Artists Think, 1st ed. Black Dog Publishing, pp.16-31. Leavy, P. (2009). Method meets art. New York: Guilford Press.

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