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Issue 2


October 2017

This issue tackles reliability, effectiveness, correctness, plausibility, and the value of facts in practice based research across the disciplines. Inspired by Patti Lather’s alternative criteria for judging research outputs – including ‘ironic’ and ‘voluptuous’ validity – this publication explores the practical manifestations of knowing and not knowing within research projects, the relations between soundness and affect, and current understandings of the maxim ‘truth to materials’. Combining research essays, fragmented narratives of research, moving image works, experimental translation, and proposals for linguistic method, the contributions gathered here at once address and test pressing considerations pertaining to validity.


Fari Shams’ cover superimposes a plate from her work European Civilization, Peter the Great and the order of things with excerpted descriptions of the 145 images that defined this work. An investigation through practice of obsolete validity criteria, the cover is based on Adanson’s 1763 classification system for Senegalese plants.

Cover – Crop from a Plate Found in the Installation European Civilisation, Peter the Great and the Order of Things (2014)

Fari Shams

An introduction to the issue of validity in practice based research as explored by OAR, written by its editors Jessyca Hutchens, Anita Paz, Naomi Vogt & Nina Wakeford.

Introduction - Is this Enough?

Jessyca Hutchens, Anita Paz, Naomi Vogt & Nina Wakeford

Equipping students with a practical sense of research methods and custodial responsibilities to make curatorial acquisition decisions demystifies museum practice. What validates these selections is a matter for institution-specific and field-wide consideration. Derrick Cartwright explores the terms of such experiments in art-historical pedagogy.

Acquired Tastes: Experiments in Campus-Based Art Museums

Derrick R. Cartwright

Clive Scott uses Bergson’s thinking on intuition, duration and movement to re-envisage translation: while it can help language recover its corporeal and experiential values, this involves us distrusting validity as a critical criterion and reimagining the reading experience.

Movement, Intuition and the Validity of Literary Translation

Clive Scott

Rescued documents from an abandoned dwelling disclose the story of a former inhabitant, but provide contradictory information regarding her death. Connecting the project with archive based art practices in post-war Beirut, this paper by Gregory Buchakjian questions notions of reality, fiction and parafiction.

The Lives and Deaths of Inhabitants in Abandoned Houses

Gregory Buchakjian

Echoing the 1919 Expressionist Gläserne Kette architects and artists through digital technology, Cath Keay and an international group of practitioners generate a crystalline structure of dematerialised exchanges, raising questions around reenactment in a negotiation between authenticity and context.

Truth to Visions

Cath Keay

By navigating through the history and potential efficacies of contemporary music visualizations, Max Bowens investigates the ongoing questions raised by practitioners in the cross-terrain of music and visual art.

Forms and Transgressions Regarding ‘Music Visualization’

Max Bowens

Exploring the relationship between Pierre Huyghe’s work L'expédition scintillante: A musical (2002) and Edgar Allan Poe’s novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838), Fiona Curran’s article traces the use of fiction and topology as speculative methods that question existing epistemological frameworks and appeals to verification.

A Geography Without an Author: Unreliable Facts, Fantastical Fictions

Fiona Curran

Kat Austen discusses the multiple knowledges engaged in the making of ‘Coral Empathy Device’. This artwork, created by the author, attempted to function as a means to forge empathetic connection between humans and non-humans to provide an embodied way of knowing about climate change.

Mediating for Climate Change: Falling Up to Hyperignorance, Diving Down to Deep Waters, to Touch Other(s) (and Ourselves)

Kat Austen

Using ideas drawn from psychoanalytic thought, Sheila Gaffney reflects on the use of her old sketchbook pages to make current work. The article draws on the memory of seeing Eva Hesse’s work for the first time and the transformative potential of a shift in what is seen as legitimate in the making of art work.

The Sickness of Being Disallowed: Premonition and Insight in the ‘Artist’s Sketchbook’

Sheila Gaffney

In an age where digital versions of artworks are readily available, this piece argues for the practice of close looking at paintings in situ, considering what makes painting a valid means of expression. Nathan Cohen considers four paintings that ‘place the human being at the centre of our gaze.’

De Pictura: Journeys Through Painting

Nathan Cohen

Starting with Fari Shams’s 2016 installation Paradise in a square, and progressing through a montage of historical sources, Pierre Von-Ow’s essay seeks to explore the underpinnings and motivations of the action of naming, questioning the omission inherent to representation.

The Burden of Names

Pierre Von-Ow

Alyssa Grossman describes a counter-colonial, artistic-anthropological exploratory method of working with contemporary collections of ethnographic artifacts. Her article addresses the aim of unpacking these objects’ histories and the precarious art of constructing new stories through affective and evocative provocations in museological practice.

Counter-factual Provocations in the Ethnographic Archive

Alyssa Grossman

Here, Alícia Fuentes-Calle proposes that the manifestations of the art of language are triggered by two core elements: linguistic dimensions that are activated poetically, and latent linguistic ideologies. While the human ‘conceptual potential’ is explored, poetic effects are presented as the validity test for theoretical linguistic constructs.

Poetic Effects of Language Theories

Alícia Fuentes-Calle

In response to the challenge of validating the efficacy of applied theatre, Ola Johansson argues that assessments should consider the efficacy of the very application of participatory performance projects, and makes a case for prefigurative and democratising effects as validating factors.

Democratization as Validation of Applied Theatre and Vice Versa

Ola Johansson

Using invisible hyperlinks, this interactive contribution by Clair Le Couteur offers the viewer-reader the chance to experience associative validity as they explore a collection of images from the John Affey Museum’s Warrington Collection, juxtaposed with a set of quotations on systems, language and representation.

Two Slide Cases

Clair Le Couteur

Carrying out artistic research within an academic setting faces one with contradictory demands. Henryetta Duerschlag’s article recounts this personal experience, approaching the notion of validity in practice based research through a thought experiment on the concept of the double bind.

The Double Bind of Artistic Research: A Thought Experiment of a Witness

Henryetta Duerschlag

Seeking to curate the Animist Museum of Lake Texcoco within the fictional space of her paper, Adriana Salazar’s guided tour questions linear, closed, and rhetorical forms of validity, while addressing the transformations of a violently desiccated basin formerly located in today’s Mexico City.

A Guided Tour Through the Animist Museum of Lake Texcoco

Adriana Salazar

A moving image work by Eiko Soga explores the making of shoes from salmon skin, a practice which the artist learned in Japan and replicates for the camera. The text which appears onscreen offers another narrative of the encounter and the cultural context.

Autumn Salmon

Eiko Soga

Using an episodic structure which engages the indeterminacy made evident in the writings and short videos, as well as references to Lacan, this contribution by John Seth begins with an evocation of vagueness, listening, and angel wings. It will be expanded via a series of further work uploaded on the OAR platform until the launch of Issue 3.

A fleck. A piece of dust. A smudge. Stain, spot, blur. (Listening for the outside: angels, messages and …).1

John Seth

Written by artist Simon Pope to one of the editors as a contribution to this issue, this letter documents a series of issues about the legitimacy of research approaches, troubling any simple idea of dialogue in the context of participatory or relational art. New questions need to be addressed as we look beyond conventional/human collaborators.

You Asked About Validity

Simon Pope

An edited audio recording of a telephone call between OAR and Patti Lather. The resulting audio track begins with an updated declaration on validity and research, offered here as a response to this issue, and then returns to Lather’s autobiographical account of why ‘validity has been very very good to me’.

The Field Is Our Best Friend

Patti Lather

Call for Responses to Issue 2