Action research. Informed teaching. Creative practice. New knowledge.
My creative practice promotes action research and scholarship for the purpose of making new knowledge. Desired outcomes include understanding how digital media can contribute to (humanities) research and scholarship, exploring opportunities for digital media to inform narrative and storytelling, and providing multiple perspectives for solving problems. I pursue creative practice by investigating sound as the basis for narrative and storytelling, and exploring best practices for exhibiting and curating sound.
Prior to my arrival at Washington State University Vancouver, in Fall 2006, my creative endeavors included the use of computer technologies to facilitate information archiving and curating. My efforts with digital archiving and curating provide a good example.
Since Fall 2006, I have sought opportunities to use computer technologies to create and share multimedia narratives. Since 2013, I been interested primarily in the creation of sound-based narrative works, and the challenges associated with exhibiting and curating them.
A central theme of my creative endeavors is action research. Advocated by Stefano Vannotti, action research combines design/creative practice with critical academic research. Action research involves a "systematic enquiry conducted though the medium of practical action, calculated to devise or test new, or newly imported, information, ideas, forms, or procedures and to generate communicable knowledge" and essentially "undertake[s] research through practice" (Vannotti 2008, 55).
More about action research
Action research is a systematic inquiry conducted via practical action, calculated to devise or test new information and communicate knowledge. Action research offers three different approaches: research into/about design, research for design, and research through design. Action research thus allows us to position design at the center of our research endeavors and suggests that digital media, for example, is not merely something that we study but rather the reason for our exploration.
This focus comes from the product of specific material, social, and historical circumstances that produced the practices, and by which they are regularly reproduced through social interaction in the particular setting. From such in situ situations, knowledge can be created. If open to construction, then the same efforts must be open to reconstruction and extend beyond the realm of traditional solutions, including the potential for borrowing and remixing. From this perspective, the action researcher is an insider, part of the fabric of the inquiry in which everything and everyone is interacting. Historically, researchers have tended to distance themselves from their work, as if to distinguish their results as more plausible, credible, scientific. But action researchers contend that the researcher stands at the center of his or her life space and that any understanding of that space can only come from understanding the perspective of the individual involved in the practice, the making of that space. The researcher must then attempt to do something, to make something, learning from the effects of this doing on the solving of real world problems.
As a scholar engaged in action research, it is imperative for me to engage in the production of media art and digital works, as both examples of my scholarship and creative expression inspired by that research. The creative practitioner can uncover tacit knowledge that theoretical studies alone cannot reveal. Much of my creative making has been focused, with my scholarship, on sound as the basis for narrative and storytelling. My efforts are realized both through traditional scholarship and peer-reviewed international radio art broadcasts and/or juried gallery installations and exhibitions. Concurrently, I am interested in the challenges of how best to exhibit and curate sound art, installations, and performances.
My creative efforts are based on the following conceptual framework. Sound was the original and remains a fundamental sensory input and communication channel for human culture. Sound conveys deep, rich information; is capable of providing immersive, interactive contexts for listeners. Through the act of careful listening, listeners can derive a great deal of information about the world they inhabit. Sound transforms space to place. Sound is the phoneme for speech (verbalization of abstract thought). Sound is the central component of narrative (the recounting of a sequence of events and their meaning). Sound is the driver of storytelling (the addition of setting, plot, characters, logical unfolding of events, a climax). Sound is the basis for literature (written works considered to possess lasting artistic merit) and the various practices and cultures associated with its production and consumption (reading, writing, and listening).
I am inspired by radio as a site to exhibit and curate sound. Radio is a medium based on sound, especially the sound of the human voice, speaking. Radio subsumes and extends speech (McLuhan 1964). As one of the most significant (perhaps the most significant) technologies of the 20th century, radio has long been considered either an art form in its own right, or a medium with which one can create art from sound. The radio art artist is one who uses sound to make art. This interplay provides an intermedia framework and prompts a multiplicity of practices. As a result, the relationship(s) between artist and audience, transmitter and receiver, can be redefined, along with the telecommunications airwaves as the site for its practice. See my Radio Nouspace project.
Radio (or "transmission," based on the interaction with the transmission technologies of radio) art addresses the imbalance of sight over sound, how the visual overly influences the way we relate to and think about our daily lives. Upon this thesis Michael Bull and Les Beck advocate for "deep listening as a way of attuning our ears to listen again to the multiple layers of meaning potentially embedded in the same sound." Deep listening, they say, also involves "practices of dialogue and procedures for investigation, transposition and interpretation" (Bull and Beck 2003, 3-4).
My interest in sound+radio art considers sound, listening, and hearing as real and concrete participatory practices involving aural experiences across a wide range of theory and practice. Sound art focuses on sounds conveyed in installations, exhibitions, festivals, and concerts, all often site specific. Radio art utilizes relationships between listeners, producers, and the radio medium. Radio art is not sound art, but rather radio created by artists using the radio medium as their art form and channel of distribution. See my Portfolio for descriptions and listening opportunities regarding my sound+radio art.
In short, radio (transmission) + sound art provides opportunities for sounds from various sources and cultures to create and sustain new narrative strategies and subvert historical media conventions.
Bull, Michael and Les Back. 2003. The Auditory Culture Reader. Michael Bull and Les Back, eds. Oxford, UK: Berg
McLuhan, Marshall. 1964. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw Hill
Vannotti, Stefano M. 2008. "Let Us Do What We Can Do Best: But How Can We Produce Knowledge by Designing Interfaces?" In Interface Cultures: Artistic Aspects of Interaction. Christa Sommerer, Laurent Mignonneau, and Dorothée King, eds. Transaction Publishers: New Brunswick, NJ. 51-60.