This news release is available in French.
Montreal, July 16, 2013 – Advanced contributions to knowledge may take place in the science lab and between library stacks, but progressive universities are starting to realize that they can also happen in a sculptor's studio, at a composer's piano or in a choreographer's rehearsal space. A new research project at Concordia University has received $2.95 million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to explore this new approach to academics, which is commonly known as "research creation."
Under the direction of lead researcher Erin Manning, associate professor in the Department of Studio Arts and Film Studies, the project, titled "Immediations," explores how arts-based research creates new forms of knowledge that cannot be conveyed by the standard written dissertation, and investigates new ways of evaluating knowledge produced outside of the mainstream research setting. Immediations will be based out of Concordia's interdisciplinary SenseLab, which provides a space for artists, academics, researchers, dancers and writers to together to explore the active passage between research and creation.
"The process of sculpting a material is its own form of knowledge, the exploration of movement in choreography is a form of thinking in its own right", says Manning, who is SenseLab's founder and also holds a research chair in philosophy and relational art.
While the usual standard sees research-creation at the doctoral level accompanied by a written analytical component, Manning and her colleagues argue that research-creation also produces forms of knowledge that surpass the limits of language. Their goal is to identify how these forms of knowledge can be evaluated and determine what role such knowledge plays in the contemporary university.
The grant will advance other research topics within SenseLab's mandate, such as how archives have changed as a result of new digital media, and how designing events can be seen as a research practice. The grant will also support the lab's Inflexions journal and the launch of a new book series at Open Humanities Press. What's more, the grant will help SenseLab strengthen partnerships with artistic groups outside of the university, in order to offer students potential residencies and exhibition space, as well as to bolster collaborations between the university and these artistic spaces.
The project formalizes an existing network of collaborators from 11 universities from around the world, as well as 17 community partners, including art collectives and activist groups. With hubs in Australia, Europe, and North America, the new grant will also fund major events in each of these centres over the next several years. "Our events generate an excitement that leads to new forms of collaboration, so instead of coming to an event with finished work, participants leave with an enthusiasm about getting to work," Manning says.
One such event will take place in Montreal this August, when the lab will host a "Three Mile Meal" between Outremont, Mile End and Parc Extension. It will feature public kitchens and a "lack of information booth" that will convey to participants that gaps in their knowledge of each other's communities do not preclude finding creative methods of interrelating. The event is just one example of how SenseLab creates dialogue in new ways.
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