Kerstin Mey (UK)
(Director Research and Enterprise, University for the Creative Arts)

Creativity, Imagination, Values – Why we need art as research

This proposal addresses epistemological functions and societal roles and responsibilities of art drawing on recent PhD research projects and by doing so argues for the need of art as research.

The proposed argument builds on the following premise:

1) Perception is fundamental to shift the value base that determines our behaviour, individually and collectively. Influencing the values by which we live and relate to our environment and to other human beings has never been as important as now.

2) Today, from secondary education level onwards the way in which knowledge and skills are provided and acquired is mostly separated by discrete disciplinary and often abstract concerns. A know what approach rather than know how methods. Sense perception and experiential, embodied and ‘relational’ learning are sidelined. Under the pressures of an exponential increase in (scientific) knowledge and technological advance, education and research in the arts are squeezed to the margins.

3) The relationship between sense perception (aisthesis), theory (both in the contemporary meaning and in its origins in the Greek theoria) and praxis (and poiesis) calls for a renewed consideration in the light of current brisk and radical societal change. The rapidly advancing of mobile and ubiquitous information and communication technologies pose new challenges to notions of embodied experience and re/sources of re/presentation that shape research agendas across and between different disciplinary concerns. It poses new challenges to the role of culture-based creativity in knowledge production.

4) Art, it can be argued, is crucial for the fostering of creativity and the imagination as learning tools, for shaping identities and values and for generating ways and means of ‘sensing’ alternative futures. By drawing on recent PhD research by Loraine Leeson, Mick O’Kelly and Aileen Stackhouse, whom I have supervised to completion, I will explore art’s specific contributions to the production of new knowledge with the aim to develop a rationale why art as research has never been more necessary than at present.