Visual Intelligences Research Project

Symposia : The Documentation of Fine Art Processes and Practices : Mike Jarvis

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Articulating the tacit dimension in artmaking
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MICHAEL JARVIS, Artist & PhD candidate, Lancaster University

Articulating the tacit dimension in artmaking

It is important for artists not only to acknowledge the often ‘tacit’ nature of what they do, but to attempt to articulate their practice to suit a variety of contexts. In the presentation I refer to Donald Schon’s ideas about reflective thinking and problem solving, and Guy Claxton’s different ‘ways of knowing’ within the context of intuitive practice.

There are a number of pressures for the contemporary artist at the interface between their public and private personas, where artists and makers are required to ‘legitimate’ their practice, and to be accountable in the development and outcomes of specific projects. This is mirrored by the burgeoning of creative and practice-based MA and PhD routes in universities in which there is posited a close relationship between theory and practice, and where the practice is required to be explicated, not only to validate the creative self, but for a wider professional validation and critical acceptance across the whole spectrum of other academic disciplines. However, I think there is a deeper, more complex cultural level which might be affected by such ‘articulation’ and which should be seen as beneficial.

Developing knowledge about the complicated processes of making art must inevitably lead to a more enlightened grasp, understanding and encouragement of the artist in the contemporary climate. Thus, the common multiplicity of roles assumed by the artist (eg the artist as curator or teacher) should have greater acknowledgement and lead to an enhanced sense of the worth of art in our society. A more effective articulation of practice can enable the subsequent relationship between artist, artwork and viewer to become closer. The analysis of ‘tacit’ and often hidden artmaking processes and meanings should help to develop a more informed viewer. The question for us is not about the worth or value of articulating our practice but how can we achieve an ever increasing clarity of utterance?

Michael Jarvis is an artist, writer and lecturer. He works part time at Northumbria University, contributing to undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in teacher education and fine art. He is a consultant and researcher in primary and secondary schools.  Currently he is studying for a PhD at Lancaster University. The research is concerned with questions of visuality in the contemporary practice of painting. A provisional title is ‘How Painting imparts Sense to Vision.’ The research aims to analyse painting as a practice grounded in phenomenology, which attempts to identify the essential qualities of objects and to re-present them. A critical component of the study is to analyse how the painter makes and ‘performs’ a work and how the viewer in turn ‘performs’ the work during the active process of perception.