The rôle of ‘the work’ in research
The paper opens with the definition of research made by AHRB UK that art and design research must 'advance knowledge, understanding and insight'. The paper goes on to consider the rôle of designed artefacts, art objects or performance; 'the work', in communicating this advancement, and whether 'works' have the capability to embody knowledge. Comparisons are made with archaeological and other museum exhibits, and criticisms of embodiment from museological studies are compared with claims for embodiment made by artists. The conclusion is that interpretation is a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, and that in order to communicate effectively control must be exercised over the extrinsic factors by providing a context. Although commonly achieved through words, this is owing to the utility of words for explicatory purposes rather than because words have primacy over objects and performances in art and design research. It is therefore the content rather than the form of this context that is important. Arguments in favour of 'the work' as integral to practice-based research should therefore address how the context is managed to facilitate effective communication through 'the work'.