A second session on research, this time from a different approach, was going to be good – AND here in Paignton at the local library!!

Seventeen had put their names down and 14 arrived with 2 new students – excellent result.

It was the first time that we were going to have one person addressing the group for the entire day, but, having had Michele Whiting before, I knew it was going to be packed.

Main points of the day of interest to me:

  1. 1993 started the ball rolling of seeing artists as researchers, of seeing artistic practice as research , and of seeing research as a commodity. Curious to see if I had understood the term I looked it up:

“A commodity is a basic good used in commerce that is interchangeable with other commodities of the same type. Commodities are most often used as inputs in the production of other goods or services. The quality of a given commodity may differ slightly, but it is essentially uniform across producers.” (Investopedia)


“A reasonably interchangeable good or material, bought and sold freely as an article of commerce. Commodities include agricultural products, fuels, and metals and are traded in bulk on a commodity exchange or spot market.” (www.businessdictionary.com/definition/commodity.html)

This association with money or as ‘goods’ surprised me as I had not seen practice as research in those terms – why not? Perhaps because I had not seen academia as ‘goods’ to be sold and bought but, I guess it has to be as so much money is involved in it. Since education is not government sponsored, other businesses / enterprises have to be involved thereby making it a monetary transaction. I had reflected on money and art in the video on Martha Rosler. but that was different because I was not considering it in terms of art practice as research but art curation in commercial / private galleries. It was rather naive of me not to link the two, I suppose.

2. Seeing the subject of research in 360º = seeing the life force around it = considering every possible aspect of it. As Michele suggested in her example of a lemon – seeing its lemonness.

3. We discussed ‘tacit knowledge’ that knowledge that we have inside us about something brought about through experience or cultural beliefs.

4. How do we set out our research sources? Michele suggested thematically which I had not used explicitly before. Others suggested various online platforms like Zotero or Jstor but there were reservations on using these because they would be attached to our OCA systems and therefore not transferable. For me, a paper/card-based system is transferable and easily accessed.

It was suggested that we write short notes on the entries for various articles what those articles / essays are about.

5. We were reminded of Matt WHite’s ‘Research cycle’ that he spoke about in his January talk.https://annasyp.wordpress.com/2019/01/17/oca-sw-january-meeting-review/

6. Documentation: As we produce work write a reflection / draw a diagram at the end of each day and include: the process; where am I? What am I thinking about? Articulate what your work is about.

Reflect in, on, for action. This is all part of the documentation you can hand over to a curator who will have to hang your work. Michele said that sometimes she was very surprised at how her work was hung for an exhibition – she had never seen it in that light.

Michele broke her documentation in 2 parts:

Output : what you produce in terms of work, reflections, writing.

Outcome: your body of work. = Very useful breakdown.

Michele brought along a mini library for us to consider & she spoke about the values of each book. the ones that spoke to me were:

Anthropocene Feminism: Richard Grusin

Critical thinking skills. Stella Cottrell

Visualising research: Grey and Malins.

Reflecting on the day:

+ We had a lot to take in which was excellent for me.

+ I was glad to see the resources and to think about researching a different and analytical way rather than just work through a list of what to do.

  • It would have been better to have activities interspersed with listening over the 5 hours.

6 thoughts on “April 2019: OCA SW study Day

  1. I hadn’t thought of research in commodity terms either but I guess that, in the end, everything comes down to money or some form of ‘currency’.
    I remember making notes on index cards in the past but, somehow, that hasn’t occurred to me to use nowadays. I’m going to have to think about that.
    The Grey and Malin book sounds interesting but it is quite old (2004) so I’m wondering if there is anything more up-to-date. A web search on visual research came up mostly with visual research in connection with the social sciences and humanities (I do have a book by Gillian Rose on that). Having pondered more I came to the conclusion that the book “Photographers Sketchbooks” could be very useful here as it shows so many different methods used by Photographers. I must re-read it and get some inspiration.


    1. I too think that index cards are the most ‘transportable’ method of keeping tabs on your research. The ideas in the Grey & Malin have stood the test of time, I think, and as such , have held they currency. I too think that the sketchbooks book has a huge range of ideas worth investigating. I am looking forward to reading the Anthropocene and feminism book.


  2. Hi Anna,
    It was good to see you last weekend. Thanks for this write up, it fills in the gaps that I missed.
    Michele recommended the Anthropocene Feminism book at our last tutorial, it is very good though quite dense reading in places. It presents a good selection of the varying views within the field. Very relevant to what is happening on our planet. Hope you find it interesting. The other books look very useful too!
    Hopefully see you at the next study day in May.


    1. Thanks, Sue. I have not yet got the Anthropocene Feminism & , yes, it seems quite topical. I am still trying to get the images for my exhibition into shape. Sweat, sweat! Yes, see you in May.

      Liked by 1 person

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