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

A Discrete Continuity: On the Relation Between Research and Art Practice

Tim O'Riley
Published November 7, 2011
  • art & design,
  • image-making,
  • text-making,
  • technical image,
  • representational forms,
  • provisionality,
  • context of inquiry,
  • Vilém Flusser,
  • Juha Varto
  • ...More


This short article discusses the nature of research and art practice and makes a case for the necessary intermingling of these activities. It does not attempt to define a space for art to operate as research, quite the opposite: research is an operating structure for the process and production of, among other things, art. It is regarded as integral to the processes of thinking, making, and reflecting, and it is important to note that curiosity, creative enquiry, and critical reflection underpin much that is considered research in various fields. The author asserts that these processes are not necessarily discipline-specific although particular disciplines have specific procedures and goals. It is argued that "provisionality" is central to what art can offer other disciplines; it can make a virtue of incompleteness. The author suggests that art open itself up to quizzical scrutiny and help others to recognise that research has long been, and will continue to be, a driving force within its makeup. The article posits an expanded notion of the artwork that is essentially provisional and reliant on spectatorial involvement.