Research: Seeing, Knowing & Doing

Last week I explored the idea of research for students in 1213QCA Indigenous Art, Protocols and Practices at Queensland College of Art, Griffith University. In the context of the student’s work, I focused on the idea of research as not being about the stereotypical idea of research (thinking here – lab coats, clip boards, pen in pockets etc), but about how we, each of us, engaged in:

  • seeing
  • knowing¬†
  • doing

Seeing: we explored how each of us “see” the world depending on our we see reality. The way we see reality is often programmed by our upbringing, and our culture. This video helps to illustrate this simple point:

Obviously “seeing” is much more complicated than in the video above, but it gives a bit of a starting point. In relation to looking at the visual arts, Vincent Lanier, an arts educator identified 9 filters through which we “see” art:

1) What other people say bout art and the particular work2) The setting of the art work
3) How we have learned to see
4) How muchw e know about the elements and principles of design
5) What we know about the particular symbols that are used
6) What the art work reminds us of
7) How much we know about the history of the work
8) How we judge the work
9) What relationship the work has to our life.

Knowing:When we explore the idea of knowing in relation to research, I asked the students to answer two questions:

1) What do you know about Aboriginal art? (just list them)
2) What are the sources of that knowledge (how do you know what you know, where did you get that information from).

Looking at knowledge and knowledge production, we identified that the majority of our knowledge about Aboriginal Art (for most of the students), was knowledge that was written down and passed on by non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – teachers, curators, arts writers, art academics etc. This leads us to explore power – and the power of knowledge production.

When we explore doing, we explore our role within the research process. I really love to think about critical theory as an approach to exploring this. I find it really empowering. What Critical theory does is:

  • Challenges accepted norms and truths
  • Challenges privilege and power
  • Is explicitly about liberation & democratisation
  • Acknowledges that there are no absolutes/truths

Has exploring seeing, knowing & doing helped to unpack the process of research? Can you think of additional filter’s to the nine identified by Lanier?