GrAB Kick-Off Workshop 15.7.-19.7.2013 Vienna

The start of a research project is always a challenge. 

Despite a strong proposal which indicates thoroughly the contents, aims and objectives of a project, including both work packages and a schedule; the first time the multi-disciplinary team convenes there is a period of adjustment as members get acquainted with each other and their respective work methodologies.  To co-define a starting point and consider the personal aims and visions of team members is both challenging and critical for the initiation of a project.

An arts-based research project cannot follow a well-worn path since the discipline is relatively new.  In the last 15 years artists, philosophers, scientists and individuals from many other disciplines have been trying to establish the field of arts-based research; to find common approaches and terminology in which to root it.  One of the platforms working in this regard is JAR – Journal and Society for Artistic Research, inaugurated only a few years ago. 

Research is experimentation.  The process sometimes crawls and at other times, it flies.  Both tempos can lead to a dead end or to an emergence of the unexpected.  This potential holds the beauty of research and its unpredictable nature is inspiring. 

In our first one-week-long-GrAB-workshop we approached the topic from a multitude of perspectives. We have reached into such ideas such as the QFD – Quality Function Deployment method, an engineering methodology widely used in Japan that creates blueprints for far-out proposals; one such being a skyscraper seed which grows into a tall building with roots like mangroves and a structure like a banyan tree.  We have discussed staircases and chairs on demand and processes of self-assembly in biology and technology.  We visited the Botanical Garden and peeped into the Angewante’s new robo-lab.  We got sparked by the idea of NextNature; the theory of cultivated nature meeting technology where biological life entangles with autonomous machinery to create wild systems and genetic surprises.  This idea points to a future environment and a different kind of nature as unpredictable as ever. 

In a lot of the discussions we got lost and then found paths and linkages to bringing us back on task. 

We have started our research in the field of “Growing As Building” and are becoming submerged in the vast theme.  Yes, everything under control; for now. 

Barbara Imhof, 1. August 2013

* Title borrowed from Volume #35: Everything under Control, April, 2013

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