Volume 7 Issue 1 (2011): On Reflecting and Making in Artistic Research Practice
Provocative Idea

Critical Practical Analogy: A Research Tool for Reflecting and Making

Dino Alfier
University of the Arts London
Published November 22, 2011
  • practical analogy,
  • critical instrument,
  • interdisciplinary practice-led research,
  • art,
  • methodology


What contribution can visual art practice bring to interdisciplinary research? And how to give an account of practice-led research that acknowledges the need for interdisciplinary intelligibility? I consider these two questions by reflecting on the methodology--which I call "critical practical analogy" (CPA)--that I have developed while investigating the metaethical implications of French philosopher Simone Weil's notion of attention, during my practice-led PhD. In order to address the first question, I consider as a case study a research art project that employs CPA, and I explain how CPA proved instrumental in overcoming the impasse that I reached by purely theoretical investigation of Weil's discourse on attention and how it opened a distinctly artistic way forward in my research. In order to address the second question, I consider a problem posed by the interdisciplinary nature of my research (covering art and philosophy). I show how, through the application of CPA to the case study, I articulated an exegesis of my research that was intelligible across these two heterogeneous fields of investigation. In conclusion, I give some reasons for my hope that CPA may possess some heuristic and exegetical applicability in practice-led interdisciplinary research beyond my own research.