New research studio: [art]ificial intelligence

New research studio: [art]ificial intelligence

Every year at the research centre for Arts, Autonomy and the Public Sphere, we develop a research studio (onderzoeksatelier): a course for art students where they explore a specific (societal, scientific) issue, using methods of artistic research and artistic engagement.

This year, the research studio takes place in the curriculum of the interdisciplinary art program iArts. Me and colleagues Nina Willems and Peter Missotten developed a research studio on the topic of AI. We aim to explore how artists and makers can create an artistic space and voice in debates about the social and ethical implications of AI, using theatrical and performative methods, as well as digital storytelling and speculative design. Students from the Theatre Academy, Conservatory, Fine Arts, Visual Communication and iArts are participating in this course. Exiciting!

This research studio is a collaboration between iArts and the two research centres of the arts at Zuyd: research centre of Technology Driven Art and the research centre for Arts Autonomy and the Public Sphere.

A research studio is a specific educational intervention. It functions as a hybrid learning environment with three characteristics: it is interdisciplinary, problem-based, and rooted in artistic research and engagement in the arts. Research studios are intensive research projects where artistic creative processes are linked to research skills. They are aimed at developing “craftsmanship in research” within the artistic process. Research studios are positioned at interfaces: between different art disciplines, between art and science or between art and societal partners. They preferably revolve around contemporary (societal) issues. Exchanging skills, methods, and discourses within a heterogeneous group, incites students to critically reflect on, adapt and ‘transfer’ skills and knowledge to an unfamiliar environment. It allows students to experiment with ways of making their work shareable and discussable with a variety of relevant actors, within and beyond the artistic realm (cf. Galison, 2010; Rabinow et al., 2008; Van de Werff & Benschop, 2017). [1]

The underlying epistemological vision of the research studio is a qualitative, empirical-philosophical and anthropological form of research through practices, that enables an exchange between making and thinking. The goal of artistic research in the research studio is not to explain the artistic practice, to objectify it, or to legitimize it. Nor is artistic research about instrumentalizing art. It assumes that the worlds of art and science are not fundamentally opposed or that they should be reconciled. Rather than striving for an artificial synthesis between art and science, or defending either discipline, the research studio takes the heterogeneity of arts and academic practices as a starting point. The multiple differences between academic knowledge and art practice are a productive starting point for artistic research.

[1] See: Galison, P. (2010). ‘Trading with the enemy’. In: Gorman, M.E. (Ed.) Trading zones and interactional expertise: Creating new kinds of collaboration, MIT: 25-52. Rabinow, P., Marcus, G. E., Faubion, J. D., & Rees, T. (2008). Designs for an Anthropology of the Contemporary. Durham: Duke University Press. Van de Werff, T. & Benschop, R. (2017). The Art of Inquiry: a Maastricht style of doing research in the masters of the arts, two-pager policy document for MTK and master development. Maastricht: Arts Faculty Maastricht.


Image: Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy generative Adversarial Network print, on canvas, 2018, published by Obvious Art, Paris. Emond de Belamy is the first artwork created using AI to be featured in a Christie’s auction.