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

A Nomos for Art and Design

Tom McGuirk
Faculty of Arts and Media, University of Chester
Published October 21, 2011
  • epistemology,
  • art and design,
  • discipline,
  • Bourdieu,
  • Heidegger,
  • Gadamer
  • ...More


This article examines the relationship between reflecting and making in the context of the new institutional connection between research and art/design. The article argues that while this new dispensation offers exciting possibilities for fruitful cross- and interdisciplinary development, caution is necessary to ensure that the artistic domain retains a level of autonomy within the broader university. For elucidation, the article initially looks to the early history of education in our fields and to Pierre Bourdieu's account of the "early moments of the autonomization of the artistic field," in his critique of the "scholastic disposition." Bourdieu recognises "a repression of the material determinations of symbolic practices" within those early developments: in effect, a repression of those embodied, situated, and practical aspects of art and design production. He regards such repression as a trait of the broader academy, both then and in subsequent and recent periods. The article argues that this attitude still provides the impetus for what James Elkins refers to as "the incommensurability of studio art production and university life." The article further argues that a parity of esteem between reflecting and making is vital not only for the sake of the stability of the fields of art and design but for the ongoing development of the broader university. In this argument the article looks to the work of John Dewey, Martin Heidegger, and Hans-Georg Gadamer.