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The Practice of Research

A Methodology for Practice-Based Research in the Creative Arts

Lyle Skains

on 11 February 2016

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Transcript of The Practice of Research

Thank you!
The Practice of Research:
A Methodology for Practice-Based
Research in the Creative Arts

Lyle Skains
School of Creative Studies & Media
@lskains | r.l.skains@bangor.ac.uk

Candy, L. and Studios, C., 2006.
Practice Based Research: A Guide
. Sydney: Creativity & Cognition Studios.

Csikszentmihalyi, M., 1996. Where Is Creativity? In:
Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention
, 1st ed. New York: HarperCollins, pp.23–50.

Finke, R.A., 1996. Imagery, Creativity, and Emergent Structure. Consciousness and Cognition, [online] 5(3), pp.381–93. Available at: <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8906409>

Flower, L. and Hayes, J.R., 1981. A Cognitive Process Theory of Writing.
College Composition and Communication
, 32(4), pp.365–387.

Flower, L. and Hayes, J.R., 1984. Images, Plans, and Prose: The Representation of Meaning in Writing.
Written Communication
, [online] 1(1), pp.120–160. Available at: <http://wcx.sagepub.com/cgi/doi/10.1177/0741088384001001006>

Garfinkel, H., 1967.
Studies in Ethnomethodology
. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Hayles, N.K., 2002.
Writing Machines
. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Makri, S. and Blandford, A., 2012a. Coming Across Information Serendipitously : Part 1 – A Process Model [Open Access Version].
Journal of Documentation
, [online] 68(5), pp.684–705. Available at: <http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1309396/1/1309396_Makri & Blandford - Coming Across Information Serendipitously (Part 1).pdf>

Makri, S. and Blandford, A., 2012b. Coming Across Information Serendipitously : Part 2 - A Classification Framework [Open Access Version].
Journal of Documentation
, [online] 68(5), pp.706–724. Available at: <http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1341009/1/1341009_Makri & Blandford - Coming Across Information Serendipitously (Part 2).pdf>

Sullivan, G., 2009. Making Space: The Purpose and Place of Practice-Led Research. In: H. Smith and R.T. Dean, eds.,
Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice in the Creative Arts
. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp.41–65.
Practice-Based Creative Research Method
Establish Research Problem
Conduct Background Research
Rhetorical Problem
Planning - Generative, Goal-setting

Domain, Field
Long-term Memory
Planning - Exploration

Long-term Memory, Planning (all),
Translating (all), Reviewing (all),
Monitoring, Serendipity

Conduct Empirical Research
Conduct Empirical Research
Domain, Field, Long-term Memory, Planning - Generative,

Conduct Contextual Research
Conduct Contextual Research
Domain, Field, Long-term Memory,
Planning (all), Reviewing -Evaluation,

Form Argument/Discussion
Domain, Field, Long-term Memory,
Planning (all), Translating (all), Reviewing (all),
Monitoring, Serendipity

Write Exegesis
Rhetorical Problem, Planning
(generative, exploration, goal-setting)

Revisit Research Problem
Rhetorical Problem, Reviewing
(evaluation), Serendipity

Revisit Research Problem
Area of Research Interest
Creative Writing & Digital Media
Multimodal Creativity
Rhetorical Problem:
How does transitioning from a prose writing practice to a digital writing practice affect the writer, the practice, and the narrative itself?
Use HTML & Javascript to create a Hyperfiction.
(Hyperfiction located here: http://lyleskains.com/FW/Streams/index.html )
Background Research
Engage in the Practice
Contextual Readings/Analysis
Critical Readings
Chapter in a larger work. Themes of exploration, being lost, seeking a savior, adventure. Drawing on
The Wizard of Oz
Reviewed hyperfiction written in Javascript & HTML from Andy Campbell, Alan Bigelow, others. Reviewed websites that made use of Javascript for functionality.
Viewed source code.
Broad readings at this stage:
Scholars in e-lit theory (Hayles, Ryan, Landow, Moulthrop, Bolter, Ensslin)
Practitioners & practice-based researchers in e-lit (Weight, Amerika, Sondheim)
Long-term Memory:
Planning (Exploration):
Creative Writing, Literature, Literary Studies, Electronic Literature, Media Studies
Writers, Critics, Scholars, Examiners***
Prose writer. Some early '90s experience with HTML. No exposure to e-lit. Not a gamer.
Write, read, review.
Revisit Research Question
How does transitioning from a prose writing practice to a digital writing practice affect the writer, the practice, and the narrative itself?
Rhetorical Problem (unchanged):
Planning (generative, exploration, goal-setting):
Draft story. Build a fantasy map (displayed online, through HTML & Javascript) that the digital reader can explore, unlocking the narrative (in hyperfiction - image + text) as they do. Explore functionalities of Javascript.

Conduct Empirical Research
Long-term Memory:
Planning (all):
Translating (all):
Reviewing (all):
Prose writing; increasing technical (HTML, Javascript), critical (e-lit), & contextual (digital works) knowledge.
Story outline, how to build the site, seeking images online for inspiration.*
Writing the story, building the site, constructing images, recording voiceover, seeking out music.
Evaluating and revising the text-produced-so-far.
Contextualizing work, practice, self within actual world, progress, etc.
Enters during the overlap between Planning and Monitoring.
Planning: clickable "fantasy" map
Given that I have no visual artistic skills whatsoever, I planned to collage together a clickable fantasy map, similar to the one pictured, using Adobe Photoshop Brushpacks of map icons from deviantart.com.

Importantly, unlike flickr.com or Google Image Search, deviantart.com has
no Creative Commons filter. So in searching for inspiration maps, I was seeing ALL images, including those I usually excluded, as they were not labeled for reuse or derivatives.
anna-terrible. 2011. childhood dreamspace map. deviantart.com. Web. 23 Apr 2012. <http://anna-terrible.deviantart.com/art/childhood-dreamspace-map-207434534>
In my image search, I found this image, which was highly inspirational, just the sort of thing I wanted to use (but could never produce my non-artistic self) - but it was the dreaded "All Rights Reserved."
So, instead of being able to use this image, I used it for inspiration (and not a little tracing), using its basic structure to create my clickable map.
My implicitly collaborative image.
I wrote about it on my research blog, hashing out my thoughts on the process...
(The blog post is online here:
http://lyleskains.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/art.html )
(Continue) Contextual Research
Domain & Field
Long-term Memory
Planning (Generative)
remain the same.
continuing to incorporate
knowledge gained from reading e-lit, reviewing critical literature, engaging in the practice.
is adjusting planned
story/site to new ideas, revisions.
entering into the project in the form of
external stimuli.
How does transitioning from a prose writing practice to a digital writing practice affect the writer, the practice, and the narrative itself?
Overall Rhetorical Problem remains unchanged:
But as a result of Serendipity and Reviewing (evaluation), new "sub-" research questions emerged:
Revisit Research Question
(Again...and again...and again...)
How does appropriation affect
narrative composition
(process and narrative)?
When does appropriation become (implicit) collaboration? Who 'owns' it in what proportions?
Do effects vary according to material (e.g., image vs code)?
...calling for further Contextual Readings and Critical Research
Campbell's 'Changed'
Fan Fiction
"Fanfiction sites have fostered a review culture where the process of writing is laid bare, and where the story is subject to constant updating, discussion, and revision in a way that is simply not possible with a print text (Thomas, forthcoming). The ability to publish stories online also contributes to the
sense of ownership and investment
fans have in the fictional worlds they write about" (Thomas 2010, p146).
Analysis of my own work
Image use, code borrowing...
Appropriation in art & writing
Mark Amerika
Kenneth Goldsmith
Johnson-Eilola, et al.
Henry Jenkins


compound mediation
"The great thing about the Net is that if you see something you like, whether that be 'content' or 'source code,' many times you can just download the entire document and manipulate it according to your anti-aesthetic needs" (Amerika 1997, n.p.).
uncreative writing
"Uncreative writing" has "as many decisions, moral quandaries, linguistic preferences, and philosophical dilemmas as there are in an original or collaged work" (Goldsmith 2011, 119).
Process of Composition
Collaboration: Economies & Ethics
Sinnreich, et al.
Andrew Currah
Creative Commons
Creative, collaborative internet gift economy
Form Argument
Working in multiple modes, particularly with easily transferable digital resources, can lead to an artistic practice of
implicit collaboration
This implicit collaboration, shown to be widespread in internet gift economies, has significant implications for questions of
authorship, ethics, and commercial economies
Paper or Monograph
My argument (stated conclusion)
Context (background, state of the art)
Purpose (why did I do this research?)
How did I do the research?
Models for practice-based research
Models for creative practice
Models for critical theory
Why was this method appropriate?
Results of the research
Analysis of my creative practice (process &/or artefact)
Comparative analysis of contextual research
Practical & theoretical implications of my analysis
Practical & theoretical significance of the findings
Direction/questions for future research
Practice-related research
Cognitive approach to creativity
Media-specific analysis
Overview of Method

Practice-related research
Cognitive approach to creativity
Media-specific analysis
Overview of Method

Practice-Related Research
Practice-led Research
Practice-based Research
Focus is the
nature of creative practice
to new knowledge of operational significance for that practice. Results may be communicated in a critical exegesis without the creative artifact.
The research
consists entirely of the creative practice
, with no critical output deemed necessary.
Creative artifacts and critical outputs are disseminated separately, while
knowledge acquired from the creative practice informs the critical
Creative artifact is the basis of the contribution to knowledge. This method is applied to
original investigations seeking new knowledge through practice and its outcomes
, disseminated through both the artifact
the critical exegesis.
Auto - Ethnomethodology
Retrospective, dependent upon memory ==> unfortunately
Often fails to offer insights into the cognitive processes of creation
Documentary Method of Interpretation
Make "everyday" activities (e.g., creative practice) visible by applying a “special motive” to make them of “theoretic interest” (Garfinkel 1967, 37).
Semiotic approach to activities: treats the actual appearance of an activity (arguably the signifier) as evidence “documenting” that activity’s underlying pattern (that which is signified).
*Clearly defined research question
*In situ
observations & logs supplemented with
media specific analysis
Foundations of the Cognitive Model
Flower & Hayes 1981, p.370
Finke, Ward, & Smith in Finke 1996, p.388
Cognitive Process Model
Geneplore Model
The convergence of the knowledge and experience to make the mental connection and to recognize the significance of that connection, with the skills necessary to exploit the connection and produce a worthwhile outcome or artifact (Makri & Blandford 2012a, b).
Practitioner Model of Creative Cognition
Systems Model of Creativity
Csikszentmihalyi 1996
Media Specific Analysis
Hayles 2002
Post-textual analysis
grounded in relevant critical theory
Semiotic analysis
Visual grammar
Literary theory
Source code analysis
Structural analysis
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