On: Unlearning & Not Knowing

On: Unlearning & Not Knowing

Baldacchino argues that arts-based research is an “indescribable practice” (2015, p. 97). His argument proposes that one can describe art based on interpretations of the narrative and through contexting but we cannot “reduce our account of art to one set of descriptions” (pg. 97). What is art the making of or the object created? Can it be reduced to just the object. Arts research can be seen as a means by which to engage in learning by doing or making but this learning can also be seen as a form of “unlearning the world” (pg. 99). Jones argues, “to work without knowing where one is going …is a necessary condition of creation” (2013, pg. 16) if we are to avoid being “tautological” (Baldacchino, 2015, pg. 99). The importance of “not knowing” as a means of learning has been amongst western thinkers as far back as Socrates and Nietzsche (Jones, 2013). When things become familiar they tend to become known creating complacency, the world dulls. Artist tends to retain a sense of “wonder” as Jones (2013) argues in their relationships with the world around them. Baldacchino argues, “in arts research the point of departure is art itself, arts research can only sustain art as research” (pg. 99). “Wonder is the passion that can accompany not knowing” (Jones, 2013, pg. 19). Baldacchino proposes we should unlearn what we think art to be. We should remove the boundaries we have placed on art. Art’s mistaken elitist position and separation from our daily lives “comes from how the interpretation of art is reified by those political, economic, scientific, and cultural expectations” and we see often in our classroom that as soon as “art reveals our daily living” it takes on the identity of “nonsense”(pg. 103). Jones argues that “Kant`s genius” argues there is a “delicate balance between knowing and not knowing” that in order for the work of art to be “more that mere nonsense” one “must nonetheless draw on other kinds of knowledge” (pg. 20) and by this she means technical knowledge of making. “Arts research…seeks to find through making and doing” (pg.104) and if the making and doing become the art then we have an opportunity to unchained art from its “bloated and voluptuous obligations” (pg.104). Jones also argues “teaching how to think means learning how to unlearn” (pg. 22).
References Baldacchino, J. 2015 (in press). Educing Art’s Indescribable Practice. Four theses on the impossibility of arts research. In a special volume issued by the Research group in art education i2ADS. Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Porto, pp.97-105. 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.

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