11th July 2019: Mapping the methodological framework and structuring research

I spent the morning in the library, going through Smith & Dean (CHAPTER 1 Introduction: Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice – Towards the Iterative Cyclic Web) and mapping out a structure for my methodology.

I believe the reciprocal relationship between practice-led research and research-led practice could be a useful model for structuring my research. Defining practice-led research in two ways – the creative practice and work generated, and the insights, conceptualisations and theorisation that emerge through the documentation of practice, and research-led practice as the scholarly research that can lead to creative work, Smith and Dean describe this relationship in a number of ways → symbiosis, hybridisation, transference and alternation:

SYMBIOSIS between research and creative practice in which each feeds the other.

HYBRIDISATION of the many discourses surrounding them.

TRANSFERENCE of the characteristics of research onto practice and vice-versa.

ALTERNATION between research and creative practice, often within a single project.

Smith and Dean provide a diagram showing the complex and interconnected research process – drawing parallels with Deleuzian Rhizome – they point out that there are multiple points of entry and exit, many paths to travel.

I’m drawn to this methodological structure – by acknowledging that the creative practice and more traditional research methods can interact and that the research cycle is iterative with many points of entry and exit. I feel this gives me the scope I need to explore different aspects as they emerge. For example, the (brief) research I have done into the representations of Blackwork in portraits has given rise to several lines of creative enquiry I want to pursue (research-led → practice), while reflecting on the problems I am having emulating materials and techniques is leading to an interesting conceptual position regarding reconstructions and replicas (practice-led → research).

I’m also struck by their two fundamental modes of working – process-driven and goal-driven. The process-driven mode is one with “no particular starting point with no preconceived end” (p.23), this mode describes an emergent practice, while the goal-driven mode has a start and end point, a plan and an objective. What they make clear is that these two modes interact, a goal may emerge from the process and an objective can shift during the process. This, I feel, is a particularly useful way to think about my research, as some aspects do have a specific goal in mind (i.e. creating digital interactive pieces) while other aspects of the research are less directed (i.e. my experience of making embroideries).

With this methodological framework coalescing in my head, I went back to the studio to work on my structure some more. I wanted to clarify the three ‘R’s of the project – REPLICATION, RECONSTRUCTION and REINTERPRETATION. I’ve had three board themes in my mind – EMBODIMENT, AUTHENTICITY and MATERIALITY and I felt that these were starting to connect in slightly different ways to the three ‘R’s:


•    EMBODIMENT: The physical experience of the object from the point of the maker → a ‘knowledgeable’ looking, feeling and reading.

•    AUTHENTICITY: ‘aura’ of the original; methods of making accurate copies – enhanced looking via scanning; documenting decay and preservation → the story of the object.

•    MATERIALITY: Testing materials and translating into other materials (drawing, photography, scans etc.)


•    EMBODIMENT: The process of making; ‘tacit’ knowledge, “hapticality” (a knowing in feeling) and “skill” (coordination of perception and action), “wayfaring” (finding a way through) [Tim Ingold]; Re-enactment

•    AUTHENTICITY: “composite biographies” – the biography of the replica is woven into that of the original, “original authentic reproduction” [Sally Foster]

•    MATERIALITY: ‘true’ materials – historically accurate vs. ‘imaginative authenticity’; “ghosts” – recreating the absent; translation into other materials; notions of access.


Emergent through practice??

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